Attractions in Idaho for Kids
Things For Kids To Do In Idaho
Idaho is a big state, and there are lots of attractions and things for kids to do there. Many of these will be of the outdoor, natural variety, but there are manufactured attractions for both adults and kids as well.
We'll take a look at both types here, broken down into Eastern Idaho, the central area where the capital, Boise, is located, and Northern Idaho with the tourist city of Coeur D'Alene. The largest concentration of attractions is probably around Boise (that's where the people are, after all), but there is something everywhere.
Read on, then, for some ideas, some fun things to do, in Idaho, centered around activities for kids but with some suggestions for parents as well.
Eastern Idaho Fun
Tautphaus Park Zoo
Museum Of Idaho
Lava Hot Springs
Fort Hall Replica
Craters Of The Moon
Things To Do In Eastern Idaho
While the eastern portion of the state is more sparsely populated, there is still plenty to do for both kids and adults, with manufactured entertainment centered in Idaho Falls and Pocatello, just an hours drive apart.
- Idaho Falls hosts the Museum of Idaho, with fascinating exhibits for all ages. Travelling exhibits have included dinosaur bones and King Tut, while permanent exhibits give examples of the race for atomic power, Lewis and Clark and the secrets of the cave, which is all about very early inhabitants of the area.
- Idaho Falls is also home to the Tautphaus Park Zoo. With species from all over the world, a child's petting zoo and several educational programs it is well worth a visit.
- Just minutes from downtown Pocatello is Lava Hot springs - a massive complex of water fun that everyone can enjoy. High diving platforms, water slides, wave pool and more, it makes a wonderful day of fun for the whole family.
- The Fort Hall replica can be a gold mine of information for those interested in the Oregon Trail and that period of American history when it seemed half the world was coming through the Pocatello area in search of gold or just a new life. History comes alive here with the opportunity to understand what our forefathers went through on their journey west.
A trip of about 1½ hours west from Idaho Falls on Highway 20 will bring you to the Craters Of The Moon National Monument; an area of ancient volcanic eruptions that has left the landscape reminiscent of the bleak terrain of the moon. Filled with lava tubes and other lava formations it is fascinating to anyone with a geological interest.
Things To Do In South Central Idaho And The Boise Area
Central Idaho has the largest population of the state and includes Boise, Nampa, Mountain Home and several other smaller towns. It is also full of fun and fascinating things to do for kids as well as their parents.
As one travels through the area, Twin Falls makes a great lunch or rest break. Shoshone Falls is a glorious sight in the spring, and the Perrine Bridge that is crossed on the way into town often offers views of base jumpers (you know - those wild people that jump off buildings or bridges and parachute to the ground). A couple of hours break while the kids ooh and aah at the falls and bridge, running off their energy in the park or along trails, can turn a tedious drive into a pleasant day.
Some 50 miles East of Boise is Bruneau Dunes state park and campground, where a national observatory is opened for public viewing of the planets and stars on weekends. Local stargazers set up their private telescopes and visitors are welcome to use them. The park also has the largest sand dune in North America, making a great playground for kids.
The area around Boise gives opportunity for a great many fun days. Some of the activities most recommended include:
Boise Area Attractions
The area around Boise gives opportunity for a great many fun filled days. Some of the activities most recommended include:
- Roaring Springs. Located in Meridian, just 10 miles from downtown Boise, Roaring Springs is a waterpark/entertainment complex that includes not only a great water park but other activities as well. Batting cages are available, there is a large video arcade (Wahooz), and there are two go cart tracks - one for smaller kids and a faster one for older kids and adults. Parts of the complex are open all year, with the water park being closed during colder months. The Roaring Springs website can provide information on when it is open.
- Celebration Park. Celebration Park is a very interesting area that the Bonneville Flood created thousands of years ago. Melon "gravel" gave a perfect place for inhabitants to carve petroglyphs that are still not well understood today and there are dozens of these enigmatic rock carvings to watch for as one walks a short path through the boulder field. An atlatl range is provided, with instruction and practice on how to throw an atlatl; a weapon used hundreds of years ago by the indigenous Indians for hunting purposes. Less than an hour's drive from Boise, it not only provides a place for kids to run and climb (but stay off the petroglyphs!) but learning to throw the atlatl is even more fun.
- Boise Zoo. The city of Boise is home to a very nice zoo that will interest kids of all ages. Located at the edge of a large park, there are again exhibits from all over the world including a great tiger exhibit. The zoo will keep kids of all ages occupied for several hours and between the zoo and the park it can make for a very pleasant day.
- Discovery Center. Designed to teach children the basics of science, the Discovery Center is full of hands-on exhibits and fascinating facts. Children from 5 or 6 years of age to adult will find it interesting as they learn about the world around us. Located just a short distance from the zoo, it fills the day with fun learning experiences.
- The Boise River. A very popular summer pastime is to float the river through town. One can rent tubes upstream, float downstream and return via bus. There is also a new white water park in town, designed to provide fun and practice for kayakers.
- Outside Boise a few miles is some of the best white water rafting in the country - the first photo in this article was taken less than an hour from downtown and is of a raft going through a class IV rapids on the Payette River.
- Two hours away is the tourist town of McCall, Idaho where a wealth of outdoor activities can be found year around from boating to hot springs pools to snow skiing. McCall (and Cascade Lake a little south of McCall) has wonderful camping opportunities in several state parks.
There are various attractions such as roller skating rinks, bowling alleys and even an ice skating rink in the Boise area as well. Parks abound everywhere, and the Julia Davis Park at the zoo has a beautiful rose garden.
Northern Idaho is a mecca for the tourist and offers a great deal in the way of activities, both natural and manufactured.
- Silverwood. Silverwood is Idaho's only amusement park and is located just ½ hour drive north of Coeur D' Alene, Idaho. Silverwood not only has a great amusement park but a water park all put together into one. Known for it's roller coasters, Silverwood operates the first "upside down" coaster ever built in the country. The Corkscrew Coaster was originally constructed in Knotts Berry Farm, California, but was purchased and moved to Silverwood several years ago. The Aftershock coaster is the newest coaster, and it is guaranteed to wake the most jaded of riders. Tremors is a wooden coaster that seems to go on forever and is a favorite as well. The water park has many great slides, two wave pools and an area for smaller children. All put together, Silverwood can provide days of great activities for children of all ages.
- Lakes. The town of Coeur D' Alene is built on the shores of Lake Coeur D' Alene and rental boats and jet skiis are available. Lake cruises are available and make a great slow paced afternoon entertainment. With some of the best scenery anywhere it is well worth the small ticket price.
- Schweitzer Mountain. Schweitzer mountain is an extraordinary resort with activities ranging from a climbing wall to a zip line and everything in between. Excellent winter snow skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and an air jumper are just the beginning. Visitors can spend a week at Schweitzer, especially in the summer, and not do it all.
Spokane, Washington is minutes away for a major shopping experience and even more activities for kids. Coeur D' Alene comes highly recommended for a summer trip for nearly any family, and especially for those with kids.
All put together, you will never have a problem finding attractions, activities or things to do in Idaho for kids whatever their age. Outdoor activities and attractions prevail, but there is something for everyone - the biggest problem is limiting the fun to match up with the time available.
Silverwood Amusement Park
© 2012 Dan Harmon