Southwest Idaho is a vast landscape that’s punctuated by variety. With everything from mountain vistas to towering sand dunes and glacial lakes, there is something to make every adventure unique. Enjoy outdoor dining, waterfront playgrounds, and epic sunsets because after all, summer is about making memories.

1. Boise

Begin your southwest Idaho adventure by exploring the City of Trees. Downtown Boise is the perfect balance of sprawling green public parks, modern comforts, unique local shops, and a booming culinary scene.  Spend an afternoon scoping out the public art, paddleboarding in the local park, walking or biking the Greenbelt and then do as the locals do and take an evening stroll down 8th Street as the sun sets and the street lights come up.

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2. Gold Fork Hot Springs

A scenic view of Gold Fork Hot Springs in the summer.
Gold Fork Hot Springs, Near Cascade. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Just outside of Donnelly, you’ll find that relaxing soak you’ve been craving. Nestled in the foothills of the North Fork Range, Gold Fork Hot Springs, is the perfect stop any time of day. Kick off your shoes and soak your worries away in one of the five pools as the sun sets beneath the pine trees.

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3. Lake Cascade

Make Lake Cascade your temporary summer playground with a stay at one of the numerous campsites that line the shore of the beautiful lake. Spend the day swimming, boating, and fishing or explore the landscape around the lake, but be sure to prep s’mores as evening approaches. When the colors in the sky morph from blue to orange hues, look to the west for a breathtaking sunset dipping over the mountains.

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4. McCall

The lakeside charm of McCall is undeniable. Take a casual stroll down the city’s streets and stop by the local shops and mouth-watering eateries along the way. Whatever you do, make sure to treat your whole crew to a hand-crafted cone at McCall’s iconic Ice Cream Alley. Make your way down to the shore of Payette Lake for a picturesque view and a sun-drenched swim during and then post up on the sand for a show from Mother Nature as the evening light fades.

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5. Ponderosa State Park

Ponderosa State Park is all about summer fun. During the day, hike numerous trails for great views of the lake and the surrounding area and be sure watch for the local wildlife that calls this park home. Cool off the in the waters of the lake or rent a kayak to quietly cruise the shoreline. This park is perfect for any type of adventure with a variety of campsites and even cabins available for those looking for an extended stay. As the sun sets, head to the beach to watch the sun dance on this mountain lake.

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