Idaho is celebrated for much more than just the ever-versatile potato. It’s nicknamed the “Gem State” for a most marvelous reason—it’s one of the hidden gems of the United States! (In actuality, though, the nickname stands because almost every known variety of gemstone has been discovered in this state.)

Despite being landlocked, Idaho makes up for its lack of ocean access by being home to numerous lakes that serve as refreshing swimming holes and fishing spots. Replete with nationally recognized state parks, reserves, and wildlife refuges, Idaho is the ideal place for nature lovers to bask in the glory of the great outdoors.

5 Wonderful Places To Visit In Idaho

1. Lava Hot Springs

Nestled in the mountainous valley of southeastern Idaho is Lava Hot Springs, a place that welcomes visitors seeking the comfort of hot mineral water baths. The geothermal hot springs vary in temperature from 102˚F up to 112˚F. For visitors who prefer unheated water, Lava Hot Springs also offers an indoor swimming pool and water park for children.

What it’s known for: The hot springs, of course. Additionally, some people believe the hot mineral water possesses restorative properties.

2. Coeur d'Alene Lake

Located in northern Idaho is the majestic Coeur d'Alene Lake, a natural lake that has two popular recreational trails running along its shores. In the summertime, the lake is a popular tourist destination providing over 100 miles of shoreline and breathtaking scenic views. Moreover, visitors can occasionally view bald eagles feeding on sockeye salmon during certain seasons.

What it’s known for: Divers have discovered numerous Model T Fords at the bottom of the lake. In the winters of the early 20th century, people tried driving across the frozen lake instead of navigating around it in an attempt to save time and distance. Unfortunately, the ice often broke amid these endeavors.

3. Idaho Botanical Garden, Boise

Operated by a nonprofit organization, the Idaho Botanical Garden (IBG) is a delightful destination for plant admirers of all ages. IBG features diverse plant collections such as the heirloom rose garden and herb garden. Throughout the year, IBG holds special events including garden parties and exclusive tours for families and children.

What it’s known for: Before IBG became what it is today, it was a farm and nursery belonging to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. After the prison’s closure, the land was abandoned for over a decade until a nonprofit turned the area into a botanical garden.

4. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is a nationally recognized protected area situated in south central Idaho. The area boasts lava fields, fossil sites, and numerous different plant and wildlife species. Craters of the Moon is the go-to destination for nature lovers and history buffs.

What it’s known for: Part of the conservation area includes one of the most well-preserved flood basalt (the product of a massive volcanic eruption) areas in the country.

5. Silverwood Theme Park

Nature isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, northern Idaho features Silverwood Theme Park, an amusement park featuring live entertainment, restaurants, and more than 70 rides. Best of all, Silverwood Theme Park offers free ticket giveaways and special discounts on its website.

What it’s known for: In 2012, Travel Channel named Silverwood Theme Park’s “Aftershock” as the best hanging coaster in the United States. “Aftershock” stands at 191 feet and reaches speeds up to 65 miles per hour.

This article was written by Justina Tran.