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By: Sara Sheehy, Angie Ivie, Katie Williams and Kimi Smith
It’s no secret that Idahoans are proud of their state, but we all have different reasons why we love Idaho and the regions we live in. We partnered with four local adventure seekers who came together to share some of their favorite places within the Gem State.
By: Sara Sheehy
Mountain biking is the closest I’ve ever come to flying under my own power. I bask in this feeling of flight as I thread through the trees on the Senate Meadows Loop, a winding, 2.85-mile singletrack trail 30 minutes north of the resort town of Sun Valley.
The smell of pine pitch, sharpened by the warmth of the sun, reaches my nose as I lean into a banked turn. When the trail straightens out, I’m greeted with a panoramic view of 11,153-foot Galena Peak. The peak, one of the tallest in the Boulder Mountains, provides a stunning backdrop for the area’s 47 miles of trail, laid out in a stacked loop with community-owned Galena Lodge—the only remains of a once-bustling 19th-century mining town—at its center.
I love Galena’s trails not only for their beauty but also for their diversity. Linking together several shorter loops puts seven miles under my tires, which is plenty for me, but it’s barely a warmup for my husband. As he takes off for a 17-mile ride on the challenging Grinder and Spring Creek trails, I slip into the Lodge for a fresh scone and hot tea, which I enjoy on the bustling and sunny patio. Perhaps, when I’m done, I’ll head out for another round of flying through the trees. Or maybe, I’ll sit right here, soaking in the views of the mountains.
By: Angie Ivie
As a mom of four young kids, we spend A LOT of time visiting parks here in Idaho. While there are many that we enjoy, our favorite has to be Mallard Park in Caldwell. This park not only offers something for the whole family, the landscape around the park is a perfect depiction of the picturesque nature of Idaho. Mallard Park is nestled between Lake Lowell and surrounding farmland with amazing views everywhere you turn. The 30-acre park is also within close proximity to the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge, so it’s not uncommon to see local wildlife nearby.
At Mallard Park you’ll find a large playground area and plenty of open space for kids to run around and play. One of my kids’ favorite things about the park is the walking path where they love to ride their bikes and scooters. The walking path is also widely used by joggers and runners. Other recreational areas include a basketball court and a disc golf course, which is pretty unique. Additionally, the park offers lots of wide-open grassy areas for recreation, an amphitheater, six picnic shelters and bathrooms located on both the upper and lower levels of the park. Whether you live in the area or just plan to visit, Mallard Park is truly a gem worthy of your time.
By: Katie Williams
It isn’t often that you find a menu in Boise as robust as the one at Westside Drive-In. This nostalgic diner has a wide range of cuisine from big, hearty ribs to crisp, fresh salads. Once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Westside Drive-In is not only one of the most popular drive-ins in the city, it has been a Boise staple for dine-in and take-out since the 1950’s.
Try one of Chef Lou Aaron’s comfort food creations starting with the Prime Rib Dinner or the Philly Cheesesteak, and polish it off with the famous Idaho Ice Cream Potato (it looks like a real potato but is actually made of ice cream!) or a thick, hand-spun milkshake. Order your food by phone for pickup, go through the drive-through, or dine in the 1950’s style diner. The staff is inviting, warm and always willing to give you recommendations based on your cravings. After trying a plethora of takeout options in Boise, I can honestly say that Westside Drive-In is the best choice—especially if you’re looking for comfort food with fresh ingredients. There truly isn’t anywhere like it!
By: Kimi Smith
As a resident of Idaho’s capital city, I am fortunate to have a plethora of local businesses so close to my doorstep. Downtown Boise is home to multiple local shops selling a wide variety of Idaho-made products, and two of my favorite shops to find goodies are Idaho Candy Company and Taters.
Founded in 1901, Idaho Candy Company has been producing candies at their factory on 8th Street in downtown Boise for close to a century. They’re most famous for their Owyhee Butter Toffee and their Idaho Spud Bars (a dark chocolate, marshmallow and coconut confection—no potatoes in this creation). However, they also offer a variety of other sweet treats, including hot chocolate made with wild huckleberries, Idaho’s state fruit. You can find Idaho Candy Co. products in stores all over Idaho, including Love at First Bite Mercantile in Idaho Falls. If you find yourself craving some of these delicacies even after your visit to Idaho, these candies are also available in local stores all around the country and online.
Located in the Grove Plaza, Taters has been offering Idaho-made products and gifts going on two decades. They sell all kinds of fun souvenir-type gifts including mugs, magnets, postcards and keychains as well as made-to-order tees, puzzles, books, locally-produced food products and candies (Idaho Candy Co. treats can be found here). And of course, as the name would suggest, Taters offers plenty of products inspired by Idaho’s most famous crop—potatoes!
If your travels take you through other parts of Idaho, including mountain communities like McCall or Sun Valley, make sure to swing by their local shops and trading posts for even more Idaho-made goodies. There are so many local gems to be found in the Gem State.