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8 Coolest Cities in Idaho for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Known for its breathtaking landscapes and diverse recreational opportunities, Idaho boasts some of the coolest small towns that are perfect for a summer vacation. Each of these cities offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions, so there is something for everyone. Whether you’re drawn to the shores of pristine lakes or the heart of the mountains, these towns provide the ideal backdrop for an unforgettable summer vacation. Discover eight of the coolest cities in Idaho to visit in 2024.

Sand point

First Avenue, the main street through downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, on a summer day.  Editorial credit: Kirk Fisher / Shutterstock.com
First Avenue, the main street through downtown Sandpoint, Idaho, on a summer day. Editorial credit: Kirk Fisher / Shutterstock.com

Located on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint is a picturesque town known for its breathtaking scenery and vibrant arts community. The city offers a range of outdoor activities, making it an ideal summer destination. Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing and swimming in the clear waters of Lake Pend Oreille or explore the numerous hiking and biking trails in the surrounding mountains. Schweitzer Mountain Resort, just a short drive away, offers excellent mountain biking and hiking during the summer months.

The center of town is charming, with a variety of boutiques, art galleries and restaurants serving local cuisine. A historic venue, the Panida Theater hosts a range of cultural events, including film screenings, live performances and art exhibitions. For those interested in history, the Bonner County Historical Society Museum offers insight into the region’s rich past. Sandpoint’s combination of natural beauty and cultural attractions makes it a must-visit for a summer vacation. Whether you explore the breathtaking landscapes or enjoy the vibrant local culture, Sandpoint has something to offer every visitor.

McCall

Classic building facades in McCall, Idaho.  Editorial credit: Charles Knowles / Shutterstock.com
Classic building facades in McCall, Idaho. Editorial credit: Charles Knowles / Shutterstock.com

Located on the shores of Payette Lake, McCall is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The city is known for its breathtaking lake views and abundant recreational opportunities. Payette Lake is perfect for boating, fishing and paddle boarding, while the surrounding forests offer excellent hiking and mountain biking trails. Located on a peninsula jutting into the lake, Ponderosa State Park is a nature lover’s paradise with its scenic trails and abundant wildlife.

McCall’s center is vibrant, with a mix of shops, cafes and restaurants that reflect the town’s rustic charm. The McCall Winter Carnival, held annually, is a big draw, but in the summer visitors can enjoy events such as the Payette Lakes Fine Arts and Crafts Fair. For a taste of local history, the Central Idaho Historical Museum offers a glimpse into the town’s logging past. With its mix of outdoor activities and charming downtown, McCall is an excellent choice for a summer vacation. The city’s friendly atmosphere and natural beauty make it a perfect getaway for those looking to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

Ketchum

Street corner in downtown Ketchum, Idaho, with a log cabin store and a moose sculpture near Sun Valley.
On the street corner in downtown Ketchum, Idaho, with a log cabin store and a moose sculpture near Sun Valley. Image credit Susan Vineyard via stock.adobe.com

The gateway to Sun Valley, Ketchum combines rich history with modern amenities, making it an attractive summer destination. Known for world-class skiing in the winter, Ketchum transforms into a hub for hiking, biking, and fishing in the summer. The city is surrounded by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, which offers numerous hiking trails and outdoor adventures.

Ketchum’s vibrant arts scene is evident in its many galleries, the annual Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival, and the Sun Valley Film Festival. Visitors can explore the historic downtown area, with a variety of shops, restaurants and cultural attractions. The Sun Valley Center for the Arts offers exhibitions and performances, expanding the city’s cultural appeal. With its scenic beauty and cultural richness, Ketchum is a standout destination in Idaho’s summer landscape. The city’s welcoming community and diverse recreational options make it an ideal place for an unforgettable vacation.

Driggs

Street view with scenic buildings and cars traveling in Driggs, Idaho.  Editorial credit: RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com
Street view with scenic buildings and cars traveling in Driggs, Idaho. Editorial credit: RaksyBH / Shutterstock.com

Located in Teton Valley, Driggs is known for its breathtaking views of the Teton Range and proximity to outdoor recreational activities. Grand Targhee Resort, located just outside of town, offers summer activities such as mountain biking, hiking and scenic chairlift rides. The resort is also known for its summer music festivals, which attract visitors from all over the region.

Downtown Driggs has a charming selection of shops, restaurants and art galleries. The Teton Geotourism Center provides information about the area’s natural and cultural history, making it an excellent starting point for exploring the region. The nearby Teton River offers excellent fishing and kayaking. With its natural beauty and outdoor activities, Driggs is an ideal summer destination. The city’s friendly atmosphere and close-knit community make it a welcoming place for visitors of all ages.

Hailey

Hailey, Idaho on a hike.  Sawtooth Mountains, Baldy, and Stanley, Idaho.
Hailey, Idaho, on a hike. Sawtooth Mountains, Baldy, and Stanley, Idaho.

Located just south of Ketchum and Sun Valley, Hailey offers a quieter and more affordable alternative while still providing access to the same beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities. The city is known for its friendly community and numerous parks and walking trails. The Draper Preserve, part of the Wood River Land Trust, is a popular place for hiking, bird watching and enjoying nature.

Hailey’s cultural scene is vibrant, with events such as the annual Sun Valley Film Festival and the Northern Rockies Music Festival. The town center features a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants and offers a welcoming atmosphere. For history buffs, the Blaine County Historical Museum offers insight into the region’s past. With its mix of natural beauty, cultural attractions and community spirit, Hailey is a great summer vacation destination. The city’s relaxed atmosphere and picturesque surroundings make it a perfect place to relax and enjoy the summer sun.

Stanley

Lake sunset in the Sawtooth Mountains in Stanley, Idaho.  Editorial credit: Aaron Fortin / Shutterstock.com
Lake sunset in the Sawtooth Mountains in Stanley, Idaho. Editorial credit: Aaron Fortin / Shutterstock.com

Located near the Sawtooth Mountains, Stanley is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The city offers incredible hiking, fishing and rafting opportunities, with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area providing a beautiful backdrop for all kinds of adventures. Redfish Lake, a short drive from Stanley, is a popular spot for boating, swimming and picnicking.

The town’s rustic charm is reflected in its small shops, eateries and friendly locals. Housed in a historic ranger station, the Stanley Museum offers a glimpse into the area’s rich history. The natural hot springs around Stanley are perfect for a relaxing dip after a day of outdoor activities. With its unspoilt landscapes and recreational opportunities, Stanley is a must-visit for a summer holiday. The city’s serene environment and outdoor adventures make it an ideal place for nature lovers.

Victor

Scenic mountain views near Victor, Idaho.
Scenic mountain views near Victor, Idaho.

Another Teton Valley gem, Victor is known for its relaxing atmosphere and beautiful natural setting. The town offers easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and horse riding. Nearby Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park offer even more opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Downtown Victor features a variety of shops, restaurants and local businesses. The city hosts several festivals and events throughout the summer, including the Music on Main concert series. For those interested in history, the Teton Valley Historical Museum offers exhibits about the region’s past. With its friendly community and beautiful surroundings, Victor is an excellent destination for a summer holiday. The city’s relaxed pace and scenic beauty make it a perfect place to relax and enjoy Idaho’s natural wonders.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley, Idaho, in the summer.
Sun Valley, Idaho, in the summer.

Sun Valley is known for its world-class skiing, but it also offers a wealth of summer activities. The city is known for its exceptional dining, shopping, and cultural events, including the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. Sun Valley’s scenic beauty and vibrant community make it a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, mountain biking and golfing in the area. Sun Valley Resort offers a variety of summer activities, including guided nature walks and scenic gondola rides. The city’s commitment to accessibility and safety makes it an attractive choice for all visitors. With its mix of artistic, historic, and natural attractions, Sun Valley stands out as a premier destination in Idaho’s summer landscape. The city’s welcoming atmosphere and diverse activities make it an ideal place for a summer vacation.

In short, Idaho’s small towns offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, making them ideal summer vacation destinations. Each of these eight cities offers unique attractions and a welcoming atmosphere, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience for all visitors. Whether you prefer to explore scenic trails, enjoy local cuisine, or delve into the region’s rich history, these Idaho towns offer something for everyone. Plan your summer vacation to one of these cool cities and experience the best that Idaho has to offer.