Best Small Towns in Idaho

Idaho, known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures, is home to many charming small towns that offer a unique and idyllic living experience. From cozy mountain villages to historic mining towns, Idaho has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an active lifestyle, these small towns in Idaho are sure to capture your heart.

Nestled in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley is a picturesque town that is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. With its stunning alpine lakes, rugged peaks, and world-class fishing and hiking opportunities, Stanley offers endless adventures. This small town is a gateway to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, where visitors can explore pristine wilderness and soak in the beauty of nature.

Sandpoint, located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, is a vibrant town that combines natural beauty with a thriving arts scene. Surrounded by mountains and forests, Sandpoint offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including sailing, hiking, and skiing. The town is also known for its lively downtown area, which is filled with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. With its friendly community and stunning surroundings, Sandpoint is a hidden gem in Idaho.

Another charming small town in Idaho is McCall, a year-round paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Located on the shores of Payette Lake and surrounded by national forests, McCall offers endless opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, and skiing. The town is also known for its vibrant arts and music scene, with numerous festivals and events throughout the year. With its natural beauty and recreational activities, McCall is a small town that will captivate you.

These are just a few of the best small towns in Idaho. Each town offers its own unique charm, making Idaho a great place to explore and discover. Whether you’re looking for adventure or tranquility, these small towns in Idaho have it all.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a charming small town located in central Idaho. Known for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, Sun Valley is a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

One of Sun Valley’s main attractions is its world-class ski resort. With miles of pristine slopes and top-notch facilities, it’s no wonder that skiers and snowboarders flock to Sun Valley during the winter months. In addition to skiing, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, ice skating, and even sleigh rides.

During the summer, Sun Valley transforms into a haven for hikers and mountain bikers. The surrounding mountains offer breathtaking trails for all skill levels, allowing visitors to explore the area’s natural wonders. The nearby rivers also provide opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting.

In addition to its outdoor activities, Sun Valley has a vibrant arts and culture scene. The town hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing local artists, musicians, and performers. The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is a hub for creativity, offering exhibitions, workshops, and performances.

Food lovers will also find plenty to enjoy in Sun Valley. The town is home to a variety of excellent restaurants, serving everything from hearty American cuisine to international dishes. From trendy bistros to cozy cafes, there is something to satisfy every palate.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural experiences, Sun Valley has it all. With its picturesque landscapes, outdoor activities, and vibrant community, it’s no wonder why Sun Valley is considered one of the best small towns in Idaho.

Sandpoint

Sandpoint is a charming small town located in the northern part of Idaho. This picturesque town is situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Pend Oreille and surrounded by the stunning Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains.

One of the main attractions of Sandpoint is its vibrant downtown area, with an array of locally-owned shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Strolling through the streets of Sandpoint, visitors can enjoy the friendly atmosphere and discover unique treasures.

Nature enthusiasts will also find plenty to love in Sandpoint. The town is a gateway to outdoor adventures, with opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, and skiing. The nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort offers world-class skiing and snowboarding in the winter, as well as mountain biking and hiking trails in the summer.

One of the highlights of Sandpoint is its annual events. The town hosts the Festival at Sandpoint, a summer music festival that attracts national and international musicians. The Winter Carnival is another popular event, featuring ice sculptures, parades, and other winter-themed activities.

Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures or a charming small town experience, Sandpoint has something for everyone. Its natural beauty, friendly community, and endless recreational opportunities make it one of the best small towns to visit in Idaho.

McCall

McCall is a charming small town located in central Idaho, known for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities. Nestled on the shores of picturesque Payette Lake and surrounded by the Payette National Forest, McCall offers visitors a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One of the main attractions in McCall is Payette Lake, which offers a variety of water activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The lake’s crystal-clear waters and beautiful surrounding scenery make it a popular spot for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

In addition to its natural beauty, McCall also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. The town is home to several galleries and art studios, where visitors can explore and appreciate local artwork. There are also various events and festivals throughout the year, showcasing the community’s talent and creativity.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities in McCall. The Payette National Forest, which surrounds the town, offers miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as camping and wildlife viewing. In the winter, McCall transforms into a winter wonderland, with world-class skiing and snowboarding resorts just a short drive away.

McCall is also known for its friendly and welcoming community. The town has a small-town charm, with local businesses, shops, and restaurants that offer a unique shopping and dining experience. Visitors can also enjoy the local hospitality by staying in one of the cozy cabins or lodges in the area.

Overall, McCall is a hidden gem in Idaho, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a welcoming community. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventurous getaway, McCall has something to offer for everyone.

Ketchum

Ketchum is a charming small town nestled in the Wood River Valley of central Idaho. Known as the gateway to the Sun Valley Resort, Ketchum offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure, culture, and natural beauty.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Ketchum. The town is surrounded by mountains and forests, making it a haven for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. Sun Valley Resort is just a short drive away and offers world-class skiing and snowboarding during the winter months. In the summer, visitors can enjoy golfing, horseback riding, and fishing in the nearby rivers and lakes.

In addition to its outdoor activities, Ketchum is also home to a vibrant arts scene. The town has a number of art galleries, theaters, and music venues, where visitors can enjoy local and national talent. Ketchum is also known for hosting the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference, which attracts renowned authors and literary enthusiasts from around the world.

When it comes to dining, Ketchum offers a variety of options to suit every palate. From casual cafes to fine dining establishments, visitors can enjoy a range of cuisines, including local favorites and international fare. The town also has a thriving craft beer and wine scene, with several breweries and wineries offering tastings and tours.

With its stunning natural surroundings, vibrant arts scene, and diverse dining options, Ketchum is truly one of the best small towns in Idaho. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a culture lover, or a foodie, Ketchum has something to offer everyone.

Driggs

Located in Teton County, Driggs is a charming small town nestled in the Teton Valley. With its stunning mountain views and close proximity to popular outdoor recreational activities, Driggs is a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

One of the main attractions in Driggs is the Grand Targhee Resort, known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding. During the summer months, visitors can enjoy hiking and mountain biking trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty.

Driggs also has a thriving arts community, with several galleries and art studios showcasing the work of local artists. The town hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Teton Valley Balloon Rally and the Teton Valley Great Snow Fest.

In addition to its natural beauty and cultural attractions, Driggs is also known for its friendly community and welcoming atmosphere. The town has a variety of shops, restaurants, and cafes, allowing visitors to explore and experience the local flavors.

For outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a peaceful getaway, Driggs is a must-visit destination in Idaho. Whether you’re skiing down the slopes in winter or hiking through the scenic trails in summer, Driggs offers something for everyone.

Hailey

Hailey is a charming small town located in Idaho’s Wood River Valley. With a population of around 8,000 people, Hailey offers a peaceful and close-knit community atmosphere.

One of the main attractions in Hailey is the beautiful Sun Valley resort, which is just a short drive away. Sun Valley is known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding during the winter months, as well as its pristine hiking and biking trails during the summer. Visitors can also enjoy golfing, horseback riding, and fly fishing in the nearby area.

In downtown Hailey, you’ll find a variety of boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious restaurants. The town is also home to numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the annual Northern Rockies Folk Festival and the Sun Valley Harvest Festival.

If you’re a history enthusiast, be sure to visit the Blaine County Historical Museum, which showcases the rich history of the Wood River Valley. The museum features exhibits on the area’s Native American heritage, mining history, and early settlers.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring the nearby Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which offers breathtaking views, hiking trails, and camping opportunities. The area is home to numerous alpine lakes, including the popular Redfish Lake.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or a quiet retreat, Hailey has something to offer everyone. Its picturesque scenery, friendly locals, and vibrant community make it one of the best small towns in Idaho.

Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene is a charming small town located in northern Idaho, known for its picturesque setting and outdoor recreational opportunities. Situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene, this town offers breathtaking views and a tranquil atmosphere.

One of the main attractions in Coeur d’Alene is the Coeur d’Alene Resort, a luxurious lakeside retreat that offers stunning accommodations, exquisite dining options, and a wide range of activities. Visitors can enjoy a round of golf at the award-winning golf course or relax at the spa overlooking the lake.

The downtown area of Coeur d’Alene is filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious dining options. Visitors can stroll along the charming streets, explore local art, and indulge in unique cuisine. The town also hosts various festivals and events throughout the year, showcasing the vibrant community spirit.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Coeur d’Alene. The lake offers opportunities for swimming, boating, and fishing, while the surrounding mountains provide ample hiking trails and camping spots. Visitors can also take a scenic bike ride along the Centennial Trail or explore the beauty of the nearby national forests.

No visit to Coeur d’Alene is complete without experiencing the famous floating boardwalk, a quarter-mile-long path that stretches over the lake. This iconic attraction offers stunning panoramic views and is a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts.

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, outdoor adventure, or a lively downtown scene, Coeur d’Alene is a small town that offers something for everyone. With its natural beauty, friendly community, and diverse attractions, it’s no wonder that Coeur d’Alene is considered one of the best small towns in Idaho.

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Moscow

Moscow is a charming small town located in northern Idaho. Known for its beautiful natural surroundings and vibrant downtown area, Moscow offers a unique blend of outdoor activities and cultural attractions.

The town is home to the University of Idaho, which adds a youthful energy and intellectual atmosphere to the community. Students and professors can be found at the various cafes and bookstores that line Main Street.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the nearby Palouse region, known for its rolling hills and picturesque landscapes. Hiking, biking, and fishing are popular activities in this area. The Moscow Farmers Market, held every Saturday, is a great place to explore local produce and crafts.

Moscow also has a rich arts scene, with galleries and theaters showcasing the work of local artists. The Third Street Gallery and the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre are must-visit destinations for art lovers.

If you’re a history buff, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Appaloosa Museum and Heritage Center. This museum celebrates the history and heritage of the Appaloosa horse breed, which has deep ties to Idaho.

Whether you’re a nature lover, art enthusiast, or history buff, Moscow has something for everyone. The town’s friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it a wonderful place to visit and explore.

Lewiston

Lewiston is a charming small town located in northern Idaho, nestled in the beautiful Clearwater River Valley. With a population of approximately 32,000 residents, it’s the second-largest city in the state. Lewiston offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and a vibrant community atmosphere.

One of the main attractions in Lewiston is its stunning outdoor scenery. The town is surrounded by picturesque mountains, rivers, and forests, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, and camping in the nearby Clearwater National Forest and Hells Gate State Park. The tranquil beauty of the area is truly breathtaking and provides endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.

In addition to its natural beauty, Lewiston also boasts a rich history and vibrant culture. The city is home to several museums and historical sites that offer insight into the area’s past. The Nez Perce County Historical Society Museum showcases exhibits on local history, while the Lewis-Clark State College Center for Arts and History features rotating art exhibits and educational programs.

Lewiston is also known for its active arts scene, with numerous art galleries and theaters showcasing the work of local and regional artists. The city hosts regular art walks and live performances, providing residents and visitors with a variety of cultural experiences.

For those interested in shopping and dining, Lewiston offers a range of options. The downtown area features a mix of boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants, where visitors can find unique treasures and enjoy delicious cuisine. From charming local cafes to upscale dining establishments, there is something to satisfy every palate.

Overall, Lewiston is a hidden gem in Idaho, offering a small-town charm with plenty of recreational opportunities and cultural experiences. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, historical exploration, or a taste of local culture, Lewiston has something for everyone.

Population Approximately 32,000
Main attractions Outdoor scenery, museums, art galleries
Recreational activities Hiking, fishing, boating, camping

Boise

Boise is the capital and largest city of Idaho. Nestled in the Treasure Valley, Boise offers a mix of urban amenities and natural beauty. With a thriving arts scene, vibrant downtown, and an abundance of outdoor recreational activities, Boise has something for everyone.

Known as the “City of Trees,” Boise is home to numerous parks and green spaces, including the beautiful Julia Davis Park and the Boise River Greenbelt. Here, visitors can enjoy biking, walking, or even floating down the river.

Boise is also a haven for food lovers, with a diverse culinary scene that ranges from farm-to-table restaurants to international cuisines. The city hosts the popular Capital City Public Market, where locals and visitors can sample local products and indulge in delicious street food.

For history buffs, Boise boasts a rich heritage and is home to several historic sites and museums. The Old Idaho Penitentiary, a former prison turned museum, offers a fascinating glimpse into Idaho’s past, while the Idaho State Capitol showcases stunning architecture and offers guided tours.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do in Boise, with easy access to hiking, fishing, skiing, and more. The nearby Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, or a relaxed pace of life, Boise has it all. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Boise consistently ranks among the best small towns in Idaho.

Stanley

Located in the heart of the Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley is a charming small town in central Idaho. Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, this town is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering endless opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, and more.

One of the highlights of Stanley is its proximity to the majestic Sawtooth National Recreation Area. With over 700 miles of trails, this area is a hiker’s dream, offering everything from easy walks to challenging multiday backpacking adventures.

For fly fishing enthusiasts, Stanley is a hidden gem. The nearby Salmon River, known as the “River of No Return,” is famous for its abundance of trout. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, you’ll find plenty of spots to cast your line and enjoy the peacefulness of the river.

If you prefer camping, Stanley has numerous campgrounds with stunning mountain views. Many of these campgrounds are equipped with picnic tables, fire pits, and pit toilets, ensuring a comfortable experience in the great outdoors.

In addition to its natural wonders, Stanley also offers a taste of history. The town has a rich heritage, with buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Take a stroll down the main street and you’ll find charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants that showcase the local culture.

Stanley truly captures the essence of small-town Idaho. With its stunning landscapes, outdoor activities, and friendly atmosphere, it’s the perfect destination for those seeking adventure and a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Population Elevation Area
63 6,253 feet 2.17 square miles

FAQs

What are some of the best small towns to visit in Idaho?

Some of the best small towns to visit in Idaho include McCall, Stanley, Sandpoint, Ketchum, and Coeur d’Alene.

What makes McCall a great small town to visit?

McCall is a great small town to visit because of its stunning natural beauty, with the Payette Lake and surrounding mountains offering plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and boating. The town also has a charming downtown area with shops, restaurants, and a vibrant arts scene.

What are the attractions in Stanley, Idaho?

Stanley, Idaho is known for its breathtaking scenery and outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains, exploring the Salmon River, or fishing in the nearby lakes and streams. The town also has hot springs and natural hot pools to relax in.

What is there to do in Ketchum, Idaho?

Ketchum, Idaho is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It is located near the Sun Valley Resort, which offers skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and golfing. The town itself has a charming downtown area with art galleries, shops, and restaurants.

What makes Coeur d’Alene a great small town to visit?

Coeur d’Alene is a great small town to visit because of its beautiful lake, which offers opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. The town also has a scenic waterfront area with shops, restaurants, and a popular resort. Visitors can also explore nearby hiking trails and golf courses.

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Mackenzie Roche

Mackenzie Roche, part of the content operations team at TravelAsker, boasts three years of experience as a travel editor with expertise in hotel content at U.S. News & World Report. A journalism and creative writing graduate from the University of Maryland, College Park, she brings a wealth of literary prowess to her work. Beyond the desk, Mackenzie embraces a balanced life, indulging in yoga, reading, beach outings, and culinary adventures across Los Angeles.

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