With its breathtaking mountains, emerald valleys, pristine lakes, and rushing rivers, Idaho is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream vacation destination. Look forward to enjoying seemingly endless opportunities for swimming and sunbathing, as well as water sports, hiking, cycling, and many other fun recreational activities. Book a stay at one of numerous Idaho vacation rentals for an unforgettable summer getaway. That said, take a look at the most prominent cities and towns in Idaho.

1. Cascade

Creek through the woods.
Source: Flickr/Frank Fujimoto

The town of Cascade lies at the mouth of the Payette River on the southeastern shore of beautiful Lake Cascade in western Idaho. White sand beaches are scattered around the lake, which also offers excellent fishing for rainbow trout, brown trout, and perch. One of the main area attractions is Kelley’s Whitewater Park on the Payette River. River Gear, near the entrance, rents canoes, kayaks, tubes, and stand-up paddleboards for use at the park and on the lake. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the lovely two-mile Cascade River Walk. For further relaxation, have a soak in natural hot springs at Gold Fork Hot Springs in nearby Donnelly.

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2. Idaho Falls

River running through a mountain region.

Located along the Snake River in southeastern Idaho near the Wyoming border, Idaho Falls serves as a western gateway to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park. Rent a bicycle at Idaho Mountain Trading, and tour the beautiful River Walk that runs along the bank of the Snake River. The Museum of Idaho offers fascinating displays on regional history. For a unique experience, check out the summer dinner theater at the Mountain River Ranch in nearby Ririe, which features horse-drawn wagon rides, a western-style barbecue dinner, a musical variety show, and a Wild West shootout. Special summer events in Idaho Falls include the Taste of Idaho and the Snake River Roaring Youth Jam.

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3. McCall

Docks and boats in a body of water.
Source: Flickr/billandkent

The resort town of McCall lies on the south side of Lake Payette in the midst of the Payette National Forest in western Idaho. Gravity Sports offers canoes and kayaks for fun and exploration on the lake as well as various types of bicycles so you can pedal the many lakeside cycling trails. Alternatively, enjoy relaxing sightseeing aboard a full-service 62-foot boat with McCall Lake Cruises. Play 18 holes in a magnificent setting at McCall Municipal Golf Course or Jug Mountain Ranch. During the summer, McCall hosts a large annual Fourth of July celebration, the Taste of McCall food tasting event, and the Payette Lakes Arts and Crafts Fair.

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4. Pocatello

Dead tree in the middle of the desert.
Source: Flickr/John Baker

The city of Pocatello sits along the Portneuf River in southeastern Idaho. The Portneuf Greenway offers over 13 miles of beautiful walking and cycling trails. Take the kids to Zoo Idaho at Ross Park, which displays animals endemic to the Intermountain West such as grizzly bears, cougars, bison, pronghorns, and elk. When you need to cool down, hit the pools, waterslides, and lazy river at the Ross Park Aquatic Complex. Special annual summer events in Pocatello include the Bannock County Bluegrass Festival, the Greek Festival, and the Southeast Idaho Harvest Festival.

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5. Coeur d’Alene

Ariel view of a body of water.
Source: Flickr/Orin Blomberg

The city of Coeur d’Alene is on the north shore of beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene in northwestern Idaho. Tour the lakeside on a comfortable two-deck boat with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises. Alternatively, rent pontoon boats or kayaks at Harrison Pontoons and Rentals, and explore the lake on your own. Timberline Adventures offers a thrilling zip-lining experience over the evergreen treetops bordering the lake. Just north of Coeur d’Alene is the Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park, which has over 70 rides and other fun activities. The Car d’Alene is an annual summer auto show. Coeur d’Alene also hosts the yearly summer Coeur d’Fondo, a bicycle race around the lake, and the Coeur d’Alene Crossing, an event in which swimmers attempt to cross the lake.

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6. Boise

Body of water surrounded by mountains.

Located in southwestern Idaho, Boise, the state capital, is renowned for its vast emerald expanses of urban parks. Boise Whitewater Park allows you to go surfing, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding in the middle of the city. The beautiful and extensive Idaho Botanical Garden includes a native plant garden, a meditation garden, a rose garden, and a children’s adventure garden with tree houses and a wildlife area. Don’t miss a visit to the World Center for Birds of Prey, which has an interpretive center featuring live presentations of California condors, peregrine falcons, golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and other raptor species.

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7. Twin Falls

Aerial view of a river.
Source: Flickr/jjac

The city of Twin Falls lies on the south side of the Snake River Canyon in south-central Idaho. Three majestic waterfalls are nearby: its namesake Twin Falls, Pillar Falls, and Shoshone Falls. The Twin Falls Visitor Center at the edge of the canyon offers photos, videos, and exhibits on area attractions. Spanning the canyon is the majestic Perrine Bridge, and Tandem Base offers equipment and instruction so that you can experience the unforgettable thrill of base jumping off the bridge. AWOL Adventure Sports rents kayaks and paddle boats for fun on the river. The company also offers zip line tours along the Snake River Canyon.

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8. Sun Valley

Woodsy valley between mountains.
Source: Flickr/Miguel Vieira

The mountain resort city of Sun Valley lies in central Idaho in the midst of the Sawtooth National Forest. Rent a mountain bike through the Mountain Bikes Rideshare program, and test your skills at the Ketchum Bike Park or Hailey Bike Park. Alternatively, join Sawtooth Adventure Company for a mountain bike tour of Stanley Valley and the Sawtooth Range. For an incredible panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, take a lift to the summit of Bald Mountain. Nearby attractions include the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and the amazing Crater of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. The annual summer Hailey Days of the Old West Celebration features a parade, a rodeo, live music, and costumed Wild West dramas.

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9. Bonners Ferry

Densely covered forest.
Source: Flickr/Tyler M. Yates

The town of Bonners Ferry sits along the Kootenai River near the Canadian border in northern Idaho. Beautiful natural attractions such as the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge, the McArthur Wildlife Management Area, and the Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area surround the town. For expert guidance in finding the best locations for fishing and white water rafting, check out 3 Hearts Outfitters. Head for Blue Diamond Marina at nearby Priest Lake to rent ski boats, pontoon boats, jet skis, and kayaks for fun on the water. Kootenai River Days is an annual summer event at Bonner’s Ferry that features car shows, wine tastings, live music, dances, and plenty of activities for children.

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10. Lewiston

Waterfall cascading over a cliff.
Source: Flickr/Bureau of Land Management

Lewiston lies at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers in northwestern Idaho near the border with Washington State. The city is a gateway for the amazing Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area. Snake River Adventures takes you on exciting jet boat tours into the deepest river gorge in North America and also offers charters to fish for bass, trout, steelhead, and sturgeon. Enjoy tastings at the excellent area wineries with Twisted Vine Wine Tours. Take the kids for a refreshing swim at the Asotin County Family Aquatic Center, which has several pools, water slides, a lazy river, and a special exciting adventure pool.

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