One of the best things about Idaho is all the free and affordable things to do. Whatever your budget or level of adventure, here are 20 options to consider for your Idaho itinerary. The items on this list range from $0 – $30 per person.
Picnic Beneath Towering Trees
Pack a picnic and spend a day exploring the DeVoto Cedar Grove, home to gigantic ancient western red cedar trees. Walk the ADA-accessible paved trail and picnic with views of the Lochsa River.
Historical Museum Stop
With a rich, in-depth collection focusing on the history of North Central Idaho, the Historical Museum at St. Gertrude tells the stories of local characters, the Nez Perce people and the Benedictine sisters.
Oregon Trail History
History comes to life at The National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier. Situated along the original Oregon Trail route, this center shares the stories of the pioneers through living history reenactments and interpretive exhibits. You’ll find other signs of the Oregon Trail at Massacre Rocks State Park when you visit Register Rock, and at City of Rocks National Reserve (look for Camp Rock).
Stop and Smell the Flowers
The Sawtooth Botanical Garden in Ketchum is 5 acres of unique gardens that represent Central Idaho. From a wildflower garden to ponds and babbling streams, this garden destination will set your mind at ease. During the spring and summer months, take part in free wildflower walks. You can also explore the dazzling Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise for another flora-and-fauna-filled adventure.
Museum at The Brig
Located at Farragut State Park, this museum captures the history of the Farragut Naval Training Station and World War II. Farragut was once the second-largest training facility in the world.
Center of the Universe
You’ll find this unique landmark in the historic town of Wallace. The marker sits at the intersection of Bank and Sixth streets in the downtown area.
Native American History
Explore the rich history, culture and traditions of the Nimiipuu people at the Nez Perce National Historical Park Visitor Center in Spalding. It’s one of more than three dozen historical sites that span Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Find other Native American experiences and exhibits at the Fort Hall Replica and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Museum, both located in Pocatello.
Nature’s Balancing Act
This precarious rock formation will have you doing a double-take. Balanced Rock is 48 feet wide at the top and only 3 1/2 feet wide at the base. Picnic at Balanced Rock Park before snapping a photo with this unusual formation.
Rent a tube (and life jackets) or bring your own inflatable ride for the waters of the Portneuf River in Lava Hot Springs. The full river ride takes about 25 minutes. Once you reach the end, hop out and make the short walk to the river put-in and do it all over again.
Check Out the New Digs
Following a 4 1/2 year expansion, the Idaho State Museum now offers a fun, interactive experience where people of all ages can come to explore the story of Idaho. Wander through over 500 artifacts and dozens of multi-media and hands-on displays. If you’re in town on the first Thursday of the month, take the opportunity to visit the museum for free as part of First Thursday. Adjacent to the museum is Zoo Boise, home to over 300 animals. Zoo Boise’s newest addition is a 1.5-acre expansion celebrating Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, Africa. The state-of-the-art exhibits feature more than 20 species. Zoo Boise offers discounted admission every Thursday.
Located in Boise, the Idaho State Capitol building is open for visitors to explore at their leisure. Start at the Garden Level, and work your way through the only capitol building in the country heated with geothermal water.
Wings of Adventure
Make friends with eagles, owls, falcons, and California condors at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. Plan to attend the Fall Flights
mid-September through October to see these raptors show off their aerial skills.
Cruise the Canyon
Enjoy stunning views of the Snake River while strolling along the 12-mile Canyon Rim Trail system in Twin Falls. You’ll find scenic overlooks, waterfalls, views of the Evel Knievel jump site, and access to Shoshone Falls Park along this path.
Each winter, from approximately November to February, hundreds of bald eagles move into the area around Lake Coeur d’Alene and Lake Pend Oreille. Spot these birds at Wolf Lodge, or board a lake cruise at either lake location for another view of these majestic animals.
Yellowstone Bear World is a drive-thru wildlife park offering visitors an up-close look at some of the animal species that live in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. Elk, bison, deer, mountain goats, moose, black bears, and grizzly bears are all part of the experience.
Fall in Love with a Waterfall
Fall Creek Falls located outside of Rexburg is a great road trip stop. These falls tumble 60 feet to the Snake River below and are easily accessed from the road. Sunsets and sunrises here are worth the detour. Make sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes if you’re going to do some exploring.
Visitors will find the Stanley Museum in the rustic town of Stanley, at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains. Built in the 1930s, the building was used as a ranger station until 1972. Now it houses a variety of exhibits on mining, ranching and life in the surrounding area.
Explore one-of-a-kind historical collections at the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa. Exhibits include historic warbirds, warplanes, memorabilia from World War I and World War II and historic archives from the Iraq War, Persian Gulf War, Vietnam War, Korean War and Cold War.
Big Springs & Johnny Sack Cabin
See one of the largest natural springs in the world at Big Springs (near Island Park), home to crystal-clear waters, rainbow trout, muskrats and moose. The beautifully crafted Johnny Sack Cabin is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open for visitors during summer months.
Find more adventure inspiration in the Idaho Travel Guide and don’t forget to share your Idaho adventures! #VisitIdaho
Published on January 16, 2020