It’s no secret that Idaho can get cold. The winters aren’t terribly harsh but are still known to produce quite a bit of snow and some pretty low temperatures. When this happens, residents are left with the question “what do we do when it gets cold?”. Luckily, Idaho has plenty of options both outdoors and indoors to entertain someone during the cold winter months. Let's talk about some of the options before winter arrives!
Of course, winter sports have to be mentioned. Idahoans love their time outdoors, especially doing active sporty things. The wintertime does not inhibit this part of the state’s culture at all. Skiing and snowboarding are very popular sports, and Idaho has plenty of locations where people can get their fix. Sun Valley is the most well-known winter destination in the state. It’s not just known to Idahoans, but to snow sports enthusiasts throughout the world. In 1935, Austria native Count Felix Schaffgotsch set out to find the ideal spot for a ski resort on the western part of the United States. He wanted to find a place that would rival any resort you could find in Europe. When he found Sun Valley, just outside of Ketchum, Idaho he said that the area “combines more delightful features than any place I have ever seen in Switzerland, Austria, or the U.S. for a winter resort.” Eight months later, in 1936, Sun Valley was opened to the public. Their grand opening boasted the world’s first alpine ski lift, and the resort was instantly successful. Sun Valley has plenty of lodging for all visitors and even has activities for those who don’t want to ski or snowboard. There are plenty of options for entertainment and dining. There are spas and places to relax and pamper yourself. Plus, the town of Ketchum is nearby for some local shopping and more dining options.
Bogus Basin is another popular winter sports location, especially for residents of the Boise area. The resort can be seen from the Treasure Valley, so you know it’s close. The drive from Boise to Bogus Basin is only 45 minutes. It’s the perfect spot for a quick afternoon of skiing, and you can be home by dinner-time. “Bogus” not only has downhill skiing options, but it also has resources for snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and even a hill designated for snow tubing.
The McCall Winter Carnival is a huge festival celebrating all things winter. If you drive through McCall during the middle of the festival you’ll be amazed by the number and size of the snow sculptures that line the streets. Every year there is a snow sculpture competition, and every year they all seem to get bigger and more elaborate. The artistry is amazing. This festival has been going on since the ’60s, and every year it can bring up to 60,000 guests to the small town ready to participate in the festivities.
Going to hot springs are another way that Idahoans make the most of the cold winter months. There are plenty of hot springs in Idaho that are either independent and can be visited in an afternoon or accompanied by resorts or cabins for a cozy winter stay. One location with on-site cabins is the Burgdorf Hot Springs. The Burgdorf Hot Springs is a cute hot springs resort north of McCall that can only be accessed by snowmobile in the winter. You can rent a cabin for a weekend and enjoy the relaxing hot springs and quiet isolation. If you don’t want to be quite that isolated there are other hot springs closer to home. A lot of these hot springs don’t have any cabins or lodging associated with them, so they are perfect for an afternoon trip just to get away for a few hours.
Let’s say you’re not an outdoors person. That is fine, you’re not alone. There are lots of things to do in the winter even if you don’t want to go outside. Specifically, in the Boise area, there is a whole series of museums run by the Boise Museum Association that you can visit and enjoy. Some of those include the Basque Museum and Cultural Center, the Idaho State Museum, and the Boise Art Museum. If you’re in the eastern part of the state, you can visit the Idaho Museum of Natural History in Pocatello.
The Discovery Center of Idaho is another great activity choice in Boise, especially if you have restless young ones that are badly suffering from cabin fever. The Discovery Center is a fun place for young kids to get hands-on experience while learning about a wide variety of scientific fields. Another great indoor activity that will definitely keep you warm is going to a trampoline park. There are several trampoline parks scattered throughout the state. These types of parks are becoming increasingly popular, especially in the young adult demographic. They are exactly like they sound; an indoor arena-type area full of different types of trampolines and pads arranged so you can jump and flip and fly to your heart’s content. Most of the trampoline parks in Idaho are located in the Boise area. You can find a Jump Time downtown and in Meridian, as well as Twin Falls. You can also find in the Boise area CircusTrix Idaho, Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park, and Fly! Boise, just to name a few. In addition to these, you can find trampoline parks in Moscow, Chubbuck, and Idaho Falls. This can be a great way to get out and blow off some steam in a really fun way. Plus, as a nice side bonus, you’re getting an awesome workout without feeling like you’re working out!
Sometimes the winter can seem to drag on forever, no matter where you live. Luckily, in Idaho, there are plenty of options for winter activities to keep yourself busy and actually enjoying the winter months! There’s a lot to do outside, especially if you love the popular winter sports. There’s also a lot to do if you don’t want to be outside at all. Idaho has the ideal variety of activities to satisfy everyone.