Destination Cities

Idaho is a state with a small-town, friendly nature. The population of its largest community, Boise, is just over 205,000 and the next largest, Nampa has a population of more than 81,500 people. Meridian follows with over 75,000 residents and Pocatello's population stands at 54,000. Idaho communities are rooted in nature, most of them with a history tied to agriculture, ranching, mining or timber. As some of these resource-based communities experienced economic hard times, many turned to tourism. Read on to learn more about our major cities and follow the links directly to each community's web site.

Boise

Also known as "The City of Trees," Idaho's capital city is home to more than 205,000 people, making it the fifth largest city in the Pacific Northwest. Over the past few years, Boise has become a hot spot for business in the United States and continues to attract new companies annually, giving it top rankings in publications such as Forbes, Inc., and Business Week. Aside from its great city appeal, Boise boasts a huge variety of outdoor recreational activities. Situated below the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, Boise is only a 30-minute drive from Bogus Basin Ski Resort, which offers both Nordic and Alpine skiing, snowboarding and a tubing hill. During the spring and summer months, activities such as hiking, camping, horseback riding and mountain biking are available. Other activities in Boise and the surrounding areas include whitewater rafting, kayaking, hunting, camping, fishing, backpacking, hiking, mountain biking and snowmobiling. In addition to being popular for its outdoor recreation, Boise is a community with an appreciation of art and culture and is home to numerous museums and art galleries including the Discover Center of Idaho, Idaho Historical Museum, the Idaho Black History Museum, Old Idaho State Penitentiary and the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. The city also plays host to performing arts theaters, many festivals and a wide variety of events each year including the well known Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Jaialdi, a Basque festival held once every five years. The city is also proud to be home to the largest Basque community in the United States, as well as the Basque Museum and Cultural Center located on the Basque Block, in downtown Boise. Boise's restaurant scene features as wide variety of cafés and bistros that boast unique and delicious cuisine from all over the world.

Coeur d'Alene

The name Coeur d'Alene comes from the French fur traders and trappers who first encountered the Schitsu'umish Indians. The term actually means "heart of the awl" referring to the sharpness of the trading skills exhibited by tribal members in their dealings with visitors, as thought by the traders. Situated on the shore of beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene and nestled against the Bitterroot Mountains, this city has been named an "All-American City." Coeur d'Alene has a population of more than 44,000 people and is a popular international resort destination. Well known for the lake and its local golf courses, one of which includes a floating green that sits off the shore near the beautiful Coeur d'Alene Resort. The city is also just 15 miles away from Silverwood Theme Park and Boulder Beach Water Park, the largest theme park in the Northwest. Lake Coeur d'Alene itself is 26 miles long with hundreds of miles of shoreline which allows for water sports and lake cruises. Other activities include fishing, camping, horseback riding, hiking, biking, skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and sleigh rides.

Idaho Falls

Situated along a driving route to Yellowstone National Park, Idaho Falls is a popular resting place and has much to offer visitors. The city straddles the Snake River making it an ideal spot for outdoor activities. During the long, mild summers, residents and visitors enjoy golf, swimming, camping, hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting and wildlife viewing. The city's relatively mild winters also allow people to keep busy with hunting, skiing and snowmobiling. For those not interested in outdoor recreation, Idaho Falls has several museums, a city zoo, and a two mile greenbelt trail that winds its way around the Snake River and is ideal for runners, walkers or inline skaters. The city also boasts a symphony, opera group, theater and many different musical groups for people of all ages. Visitors also enjoy many annual events and festivals in the area. Idaho Falls is a great place to explore nearby attractions such as Craters of the Moon National Monument and the Teton Basin.

Lewiston

Named for the famous explorer Captain Meriwether Lewis, the city of Lewiston was Idaho's first territorial capital. Located in north-central Idaho at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers, the city has a population of over 31,000 people and has much to offer to its residents and visitors. The area east of Lewiston consists of national forests and private land and the climate is great for wildlife. This combination makes hunting and fishing two very popular activities for both locals and tourists. Hiking, camping, picnicking and berry picking are also popular and easily accessible activities in the area. Hells Gate State Park is located just three miles outside of Lewiston and has its own camping facilities, beach, marina and hiking and horseback riding trails. For those wanting a real adventure, Lewiston is also home to many outfitters and jet boat operators. The Clearwater and Snake River Recreational Trail is a 25-mile greenbelt easily accessible and great for walkers, runners and cyclists who just want to enjoy the scenery. Aside from all the outdoor activities offered by the surrounding area, the city of Lewiston is rich in history and culture. Home to the Lewis-Clark State College and the Lewiston Civic Theater, the city offers professional opera, ballet, music and other theatrical performances. Lewiston is also the very proud host of the annual Dogwood Festival when the city bustles with arts and crafts fairs, garden tours, sporting events and concerts for an entire week.

McCall

Located about 100 miles north of Boise, McCall is one of Idaho's most popular resort towns. Set on the shores of Payette Lake, McCall sits adjacent to Ponderosa State Park and just below Brundage Mountain, the area's well-known ski resort. McCall is also home to the U.S. Forest Service Smokejumper Base. This quaint mountain town has a population of approximately 3,000 people and is just a few miles away from other popular resort destinations such as Cascade, Donnelly and the new Tamarack Resort. Due to McCall's mountainous surroundings and lakeside location, outdoor recreation is extremely popular to both its residents and visitors. Some winter activities include Nordic and alpine skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice-skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, tubing and sleigh rides. In the spring and summer, camping, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and golfing are all quite popular activities. Due to the town's lakeside location, water sports such as jet skiing, boating, water skiing, windsurfing, wakeboarding and sailing are also very popular. McCall is also famous for its annual Winter Carnival. During this well-known weekend event, as many as 45 ice sculptures carved by locals and local businesses can be seen on display throughout the area. Visitors will also enjoy a parade, dances, games and plenty of great food at this family event.

Pocatello

This southeastern Idaho city is located in the western foothills of Idaho's Rocky Mountains and sits along the historic Oregon Trail. Pocatello got its name from a Shoshone Indian chief who granted the railroad a right-of-way through the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. The coming of the railroad provided further development of Idaho's mineral resources and "Pocatello Junction" became an important transportation crossroads as the Union Pacific Railroad expanded its service. Now this railroad town is home to a Fort Hall Replica. Aside from its rich history, Pocatello is now a city of over 54,000 people, making it one of the state's largest cities. With a total of 32 parks, a zoo, museums, theaters, shopping malls and a state-of-the-art aquatic complex, visitors have no trouble keeping busy. Located just minutes away from the Pebble Creek Ski Area, skiing and snowboarding are not far away. The city's surrounding area includes more than 250 miles of groomed snowmobile trails for more wintertime fun. Pocatello is also proud to be the home of the Dodge National Circuit Finals Rodeo and holds many other festivals and events throughout the year. Like Boise, Pocatello has also been recognized by Forbes Magazine and was ranked as a "Best Small Place for Business" four years in a row.

Salmon

The famous Salmon River, a.k.a. "The River of No Return," runs right through the middle of this central Idaho town. With a population of approximately 3,100 people, the town of Salmon is rich in history. It is the birthplace of Sacajawea, the famous Lemhi-Shoshone Indian woman who served as interpreter to the Lewis & Clark Expedition and is home to the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural and Educational Center. This center provides education about both Sacajawea and the Lemhi-Shoshone Indian Tribe. The town also celebrates an annual festival in her honor called Sacajawea Heritage Days. Aside from being the birthplace of a noted historical figure, Salmon has developed into a well-known whitewater capital because of its access to the Salmon River. Whitewater rafting on the Salmon River is some of the best in the United States. The fact that it runs right through the middle of town makes it easily accessible, extremely popular and helps attract many tourists for its whitewater rafting alone. Other popular activities for the area include fishing, hunting, horseback riding, ice-skating and Nordic and alpine skiing, as Salmon is just 45 minutes away from the Lost Trail Powder Mountain Resort. In 2004, Salmon was recognized as an "Idaho Heritage City," and a "Community of Promise," by the Association of Idaho Cities, and has also been honored as one of the "100 Best Cities for Young People" by America's Promise Organization.

Sandpoint

This northern Idaho town of approximately 7,300 residents is located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, one of America's deepest and most beautiful lakes and only 11 miles from the well-known Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort in the Selkirk Mountains. The town is also located just 60 miles from the Canadian border and 75 miles northeast of Spokane, Wash. Its location and pleasant four-season climate makes Sandpoint and the surrounding area a wonderland for outdoor activities. With the Selkirk Mountains and Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort just miles away, winter activities such as Nordic and alpine skiing, snowboarding, skate skiing, sledding and tubing are all very popular. Sandpoint is also surrounded by thousands of acres of backcountry wilderness and miles upon miles of groomed trails perfect for snowmobiling. Ice skating and ice fishing are some other examples of wintertime activities that are enjoyed by the locals and visitors alike. In the summer, there are many outdoor activities for people to enjoy, such as horseback riding, biking, golfing, fishing, fly-fishing, hunting, hiking and camping. Due to its convenient lakeside location on Lake Pend Oreille, water sports are also extremely popular. On top of being an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Sandpoint is nationally acclaimed for its small town arts scene. The town has approximately two dozen art galleries and hosts many events each year such as the Art Walk, the Artists' Studio Tour, Lost in the 50's Musical Weekend and the very popular Festival at Sandpoint, a two to three-week long festival of musical concerts ranging anywhere from the Sandpoint Symphony to Willie Nelson and the Beach Boys. The town is also known for its historic Panida Theater, which is now renovated and used as the local performing arts theater.

Sun Valley/Ketchum

This "star-studded" resort area is actually two, side-by-side towns located in the heart of the Idaho Rockies. Sun Valley is currently one of the top ski and summer resort towns in the country and attracts visitors from all over the world. The first ski resort to open in North America in 1936, Sun Valley is also home to the world's very first chairlift which was created here the same year. With a population of approximately 4,000 people (or 21,000 in Blaine County), Sun Valley and Ketchum have been and still are part-time homes to many famous faces including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Picabo Street, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Sen. John Kerry, Clint Eastwood, Jamie Lee Curtis, Scott Glenn, Mariel Hemingway and her grandfather, author Ernest Hemingway. Summer activities in the Sun Valley/Ketchum area include biking, hiking, hunting, rock climbing, kayaking, river rafting, golfing, horseback riding, paragliding, fishing, water sports and chairlift rides. Winter activities include skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, ice shows, paragliding, and heli-skiing. Many high-end art shows and festivals throughout the year are also quite popular to both locals and visitors alike.

Twin Falls

This hub city in south-central Idaho sits above the Snake River Canyon and is one of the state's larger cities. Home to the well-respected College of Southern Idaho and its Herrett Center Museum and Planetarium, the city's surrounding area has many recreational activities to offer including boating, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling and Nordic skiing. Other activities include camping, mountain biking, hiking, base jumping and golf. The city also plays host to many varied events throughout the year including auto racing, horse racing and rodeos. Aside from its recreational activities, Twin Falls is abundant with natural high desert beauty, including Shoshone Falls, dubbed the "Niagara of the West." These magnificent falls drop 212 feet, over 52 feet further than the famous Niagara Falls. The city is also famous for being the jump site for Evel Kneivel in 1974. Although he was unsuccessful at clearing the Snake River Canyon on his rocket-powered "Skycycle," his ramp still exists and can be seen from the city's Buzz Langdon Visitor Center.