Payette Lake in McCall, Idaho sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet in the mountains of Idaho, surrounded by the natural beauty of Ponderosa State Park. Many of the Payette Lake vacation rentals are situated just minutes from both the park and water, perfect for families that enjoy outdoor recreation. From fishing, boating, and relaxing on the beach in the summer, to elk feeding and snowshoeing in the winter, this welcoming resort town has plenty to offer. Without further ado, here’s a list of the top 11 things to do with kids in the Payette Lake area.
1. Go Fishing
For a fun day on the water and the opportunity to bring some tasty fish back to your vacation rental for the ultimate cookout, head over to Payette Lake and do a little fishing. Stay on land and fish off the shoreline, or rent a boat from the Mile High Marina and navigate the waters. An abundance of fish call Payette Lake home, including bass, rainbow trout, and brook trout.
2. Take a Family Kayak Trip
For a little daytime adventure, explore the scenic Payette River in a family-sized tandem kayak from McCall Backwoods Adventures. Sign up for a guided tour, or rent canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddle boards for full or half-days and venture out on the water on your own. The water in the designated kayak area is in a “non-motorized zone,” so it’s easy to navigate without making too many waves. As you glide down the river, check out the beautiful scenery, and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for eagles, otter, moose, and deer.
3. Go on a Nature Hike
Payette Lake sits right next to Ponderosa State Park, a 1,000-acre peninsula with hiking trails, bike trails, a beach, and picnic areas. Pack a family picnic and spend the day hiking the trails, and then take a rest at the scenic overlook of Osprey Point and enjoy a tasty outdoor lunch. If you want to learn more about the park, sign up for a guided hike with one of the on-site naturalists.
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4. Spend the Day at the Beach
For a relaxing day at the water’s edge, head over to Ponderosa State Park and spend some time at the swimming beach. Lay out some beach towels and soak up the sun as your kids make sandcastles and play; then, gather everyone together for a beach picnic. The beach area is also nearby the park’s boat ramp if you feel like doing some boating.
5. Paint Some Pottery at Mountain Monet
If you’re feeling a little creative, take the kids over to Mountain Monet art studio so they can create their own take-home works of art. Each guest picks out a piece of pottery to paint and take home, and the studio also offers glass blowing and jewelry-making classes. As your ceramic pieces dry in the kiln, pop into the coffee shop next door for a snack. The studio will also ship pieces that need to dry overnight.
6. Take a Boat Tour
For a scenic tour of Payette Lake and its surroundings, sign up for a 90-minute pontoon cruise with McCall Lake Cruises. Knowledgeable crew members fill you in on everything you need to know about McCall history while the captain takes you past beautiful natural scenery and wildlife. For something truly special, sign up for a sunset cruise and take in the views as day turns into night on the lake.
7. Take a Whitewater Rafting Trip
For an adrenaline-pumping day filled with excitement and the beauty of nature, book a rafting trip down the main Payette River with Cascade Raft and Kayak. Cruise down the rapids at light-night speed with the entire family and a trusted guide in a tandem family raft; then, end your day with a delicious catered outdoor meal on the facility’s redwood deck.
8. Go Horseback Riding
If your little ones love animals, Yahoo Corrals is a great place to spend the day. Sign up for a guided 90-minute tour through the peaceful mountain trails, or enjoy a sunset ride complete with dinner and beautiful views. If your kids aren’t ready to ride on their own, the corrals also offer horse-drawn carriage rides.
9. Take a Sleigh Ride
If you’re visiting during the winter months, get into the holiday spirit with an old-fashioned sleigh ride. Book your adventure with Happ and Florence Point Sleigh Rides, and sit back and take in the views as horses take you through the snow along the banks of the Gold Forks River and through the high meadows. As you travel along, you may spot elk feeding, so make sure to have your camera ready.
10. Visit Gold Fork Hot Springs
Gold Fork Hot Springs sits a few miles outside of McCall in Donnelly, Idaho, and this popular attraction is fun for both kids and adults. The spring pools are filled with warm spring waters packed with minerals that soothe muscles and help you relax. Your kids are sure to love the sand bottom pools and the giant chess board with movable pieces that are set up on the grounds.
11. Go Skiing
For some fun winter recreation, head over to Brundage Mountain ski resort and do a little snowboarding or skiing. Lessons are available for beginners, and you can also take your time learning the ropes in the Easy Street learning area. If you’re a family of experienced skiers and snowboarders, choose from 46 trails of varying heights and skill levels along the 7,600-foot summit. The resort also offers guided snowmobile tours through the mountain trails if you’re up for an adventure.
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