When visiting McCall, Idaho, a small town of 3000 residents, the problem is not that there is not enough to do, but the problem is figuring out how to fit as many of McCall’s many attractions into the length of your visit. McCall is situated approximately 108 miles north of Boise. It's scenic location in the mountains and by the picturesque Payette Lake offer many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in all seasons. And with plenty of restaurants and shops, your stay in McCall can offer a variety of activities for everyone.
Of course, one of the major attractions of McCall is the beautiful Payette Lake. This 5330 acre lake offers calm waters on which to boat, water ski or jet ski. Kayaking and paddle boarding are also activities that are enjoyed on the beautiful Payette Lake. The beach is white and sandy and is just steps from downtown McCall. There are plenty of places to eat in McCall, so after spending the morning playing in the water, it is just a short trip into town for lunch. In 2016, city leaders imposed a ban on alcohol on the beach, making the beach itself more friendly and freeing the beach from the litter and the bad behavior that comes from drunken celebrating. McCall itself is not alcohol free, and restaurants and bars still serve alcohol. Alcohol is also allowed at non-lakefront city parks.
Another great way to enjoy the lake is by booking a cruise through Payette Lake Cruises, which offers private as well as public cruises and specialty themed cruises. Check out the beautiful sunset over the lake by joining Payette River cruises for their live music sunset cruise on Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the summer. Private charter cruises offer the option of lunch on the boat, which includes deli sandwiches from the Anchor Restaurant or Mexican food from Pueblo Lindo, or you can choose a two-hour cruise which will include lunch at the Anchor Restaurant which is located just steps from the dock. No host bars are also available on the boat.
Ponderosa State Park offers camping facilities during the summer. You can also enjoy guided trails with naturalists and campfire programs. This park is full of trails of varying difficulties to appeal to groups of all sizes out on a leisurely jaunt together, as well as seasoned hikers up for a little more of a challenge. There are also several cycling trails, offering options for those who want to bring their bikes with them to McCall. During the wintertime, trails are groomed for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. And in most seasons, whether hiking or skiing, you should be able to get a glimpse of some of the abundant wildlife which make their homes here. Trails are well marked both in the summer and in the winter so you can enjoy your outdoor experience without fear of becoming lost in this beautiful state park.
If skiing is your thing, Brundage Mountain Ski Resort is just a short drive from downtown McCall. Known for its powder packed and wide, groomed runs, Brundage has a reputation for having the best snow in Idaho. With great skiing opportunities for all skill levels, Brundage is a favorite place to spend a day enjoying the beautiful mountains of Central Idaho. Bring your own equipment or rent equipment once you get there, and be sure to take advantage of the daycare services and Ski Play opportunities for young children. When you need to come in and warm up, there are four restaurants in which to sip a warm drink or get a bite to eat. Brown baggers are also welcome to sit on the third floor of the Lodge while enjoying what you have brought from home.
The Activity Barn provides great winter fun for all ages. This is a great place to go to enjoy tubing without the need of climbing back up the hill yourself, as they do the work for you on their people movers. Your ticket is good for two hours of slippery slidey fun, and if you need to take a break and grab a snack or a hot drink you can also do that. Or you can catch the shuttle that will take you to some great cross-country skiing.
Right in the middle of downtown McCall is the Manchester Ice and Event Centre. This ice skating rink is open year-round and offers figure skating lessons as well as hockey and curling. It is also available to rent for parties and the $149 fee is good for up to 10 party skaters, after which each additional person will be charged $14.
Downtown McCall has many retail shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Meander Main Street to pick up gifts from one of the many unique and interesting gift shops, or bring home up a reminder of your vacation at one of McCall’s fine art galleries. Stop in for a bite to eat at one of McCall's many restaurants, such as The Pancake House which is known for its plate size pancakes and cinnamon rolls, and also houses The Christmas Shop.
There are also many events hosted by the city of McCall such as their fourth of July parade, and there are many craft fairs throughout the year. But probably the most well-known event is McCall's Winter Carnival, which is held at the end of January, and features many snow sculptures throughout the town. This festival lasts for two weeks, during which time McCall becomes a beehive of activities, as tourists flood the town, enjoying this traditional celebration.
Golf is another activity in enjoyed by many in McCall. Jug Mountain Ranch, and the whitetail club and resort, as well as other regional courses, offer great golfing surrounded by stunning views of the beautiful mountains and stately pine trees that surround this area.
McCall is a small town with a little bit of everything for everyone. It is a very popular tourist destination for a very good reason, and the short two-hour drive from Boise makes it an easy getaway for a weekend or for a longer stay.