Idaho’s well-known for its outdoor adventure, but sometimes you just want to enjoy a more predictable activity where bathrooms and snacks are available and youngsters can play themselves to exhaustion. Idaho’s fun parks are easy to get to, and conveniently located near plentiful lodging and dining.

Idaho’s only theme park and the largest in the Northwest, Silverwood Theme Park has more than 70 rides, slides, shows and attractions, including four roller coasters, a steam engine train, live entertainment, restaurants, and lots of kid-friendly distractions. A Silverwood pass also gets you into Boulder Beach Water Park, where kids from age one to 100 can cool off on crazy slides, a lazy river, and toddler-friendly splash zones.

Families really enjoy Silverwood’s relaxed, unhurried feel and, with its location just north of Coeur d’Alene, there are plenty of lodging options and stay-and-play packages. You can even buy your tickets online and save. The Silverwood RV Park is located across the street from the park and features 132 full hook-ups, 71 tent sites, shady surroundings, and quick and easy access to Silverwood and Boulder Beach via an underground tunnel. Make your reservations early—the RV park fills up quickly with summer travelers.

little boys watching people ride a twisting roller coaster at Silverwood Theme Park
Find a variety of roller coasters at Silverwood Theme Park. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism.

Triple Play is a family fun park also located in northern Idaho near Coeur d’Alene, but this one features an indoor water park. At the Fun Park portion of Triple Play, your family can play laser tag, arcade games, and mini golf, bowl, ride bumper boats, drive go karts, and scale the climbing wall. A recent expansion added a three-story ropes course and tripled the size of the laser tag arena, adding more floor space and a second level for those who like a bird’s eye view of the competition.

Raptor Reef, the indoor water park, has a wave pool and a children’s lagoon with a two-story play structure, slides, and a tipping bucket. Thrill seekers can ride three squeal-inducing slides, including one that’s 390 feet tall, and parents can relax on the lazy river or in the indoor/outdoor Jacuzzi. Triple Play is conveniently connected to the Holiday Inn Express, which offers stay-and-play packages. Other area hotels also offer discounted tickets and packages.

Kids sliding down slides at Lava Hot Springs Olympic Swimming Pool & Waterpark.
Lava Hot Springs Olympic Swimming Pool & Waterpark, Lava Hot Springs. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism.

Lava Hot Springs is another water park that’s fun for all ages, with heated indoor and outdoor pools, play areas, speed slides, and a natural hot water spa. Located in southeast Idaho, Lava Hot Springs is named for thermal springs commonly found near Yellowstone National Park. Kids love the outdoor pool’s exhilarating

Waterslides: The curly tube slides send riders down a spiraling corkscrew while those brave enough to try the six-story body flume slides face a 60-foot drop before they splash into a shallow runout at the bottom. Little ones will enjoy the outdoor kid-size slides and the indoor Portneuf Kiddie Cove. The zero-slope pool, heated to a toasty 92 degrees, features toys, sprays, and slides. Kids love weaving around the geyserinos and waiting anxiously for the giant yellow bucket to tip over. In summer, wide doors open to the grassy lawn surrounding the outdoor pool complex.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​There are several other fun parks around the state, including Roaring Springs and Wahooz Family Fun Zone in Boise. Guests at Silver Mountain’s Morning Star Lodge can enjoy the indoor Silver Rapids water park year-round.

indoor waterpark
Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark at Silver Mountain Resort, Kellogg. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism.

When planning your trip

  • Check the parks’ websites for reduced ticket prices, multiday passes and packages, and off-season specials. Ditto for local hotels, which may offer stay-and-play discounts.
  • Avoid crowds by arriving early (before noon), or later in the afternoon. Lines are usually much shorter during the week, too.
  • Try splashing as the sun sets! Roaring Springs hosts Friday & Saturday Family Slide Nights from 6–10 pm in July and August—and tickets are about half the price of day passes.
  • Most parks don’t allow you to bring your own food. If you’d like to pack a picnic and eat outside the gates, make sure the park offers re-entry.

Laurie McConnell

Published on March 3, 2015