Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Idaho!

The first thing most people think of when they hear "Idaho" is "potato." But there's a lot more to the Gem State than the humble spud (which, of course, is the official state vegetable). Idaho has 3,100 miles of rivers, more than any other state. It's home to a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls (Shoshone Falls) and the deepest river gorge in the country (Hell's Canyon).

Ernest Hemingway lived and worked in Idaho, and another daredevil, Evel Knievel, attempted to ride his rocket cycle over the state's Snake Canyon in 1974.

All that vibrant public space (63% of the state) inspires lots of outdoor adventures, but there are plenty of other things to do in Idaho; here are 20 cool things to check out.

1. Sawtooth Scenic Byway

It's one of the most breathtaking drives anywhere, rolling through farmland, Idaho backcountry and past 300 alpine lakes. Gorgeous.

2. Shoshone Falls

These magnificent falls are higher than Niagara, plunging 212 feet into the Snake River. There's hiking, and lovely picnic areas that let you take in the view. (Twin Falls)

3. Sacajawea Interpretive Center

She was instrumental in helping Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery. The center showcases her vital contributions and history, and is located in the area where she was born. (Salmon)

4. Craters of the Moon National Monument And Preserve

Its funny name aptly describes the unusual volcanic landscape. There are a variety of trails, as well as caves to explore. You'll think you're on another planet. (Arco)

5. Idaho Botanical Garden

Scattered amongst these gorgeous gardens are quirky art pieces, water features - and more unexpected surprises. It's a lovely oasis to check in with nature. (Boise)

6. Couer D'alene Lake

The dark blue waters of this idyllic spot are surrounded by mountains and evergreens. Besides excellent hiking and boating, there are cruises that take you around the lake to view the historic homes on shore.

7. The Snake River Stampede

"Cowboy up" at this annual rodeo event, listed as one of the top ten professional rodeos in the country. It's been a must-do in the area since 1915. (Nampa)

8. Shoshone Indian Ice Caves

They get the name for a good reason: even when its 95 degrees outside, there's always a floor of ice in the caves. And there's a legend that an Indian princess is buried beneath it, just waiting to awaken. (Shoshone)

9. National Oldtime Fiddler's Contest

This popular event started in 1953, and has drawn some of the most accomplished players anywhere. You might be surprised at the variety of styles you'll hear. (Weiser)

10. Lake Pend Oreille

Take a swim in the deepest lake in the state - and one of the deepest in North America. It measures 1,170 feet. Talk about a "deep end."

11. World Center for Birds Of Prey

This amazing facility showcases eagles, hawks, owls, condors, vultures and more in a way that puts you eye-to-beak with them. They also do important conservation work. (Boise)

12. Old Idaho Penitentiary

It opened in the 19th century and closed in the early '70s - but has lost none of its creepy appeal. Take a tour - and see if you encounter any of the spirits that reportedly haunt it. (Boise)

13. Kirkham Hot Springs

As the weather cools, slip into these delicious soaking pools. There are also steaming waterfalls in the area. It's pretty primitive, but the soothing waters make up for it. (Lowman)

14. Heaven's Gate

Located in the Nez Perce National Forest, this breathtaking vantage point (8,400 feet) allows for views of four states: Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana. (Riggins)

15. Idaho Potato Museum

The state's most famous food crop gets its props with this fun museum. Besides interesting exhibits, the adjoining café offers a variety of potato-themed items - including ice cream. (Blackfoot)

16. Stay In Hemingway's Suite

Ernest Hemingway came to Sun Valley in 1939, staying at the newly-opened Sun Valley Lodge as he worked on "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Book a stay in his suite (206) and absorb some of his vibe.

17. The Museum of Clean

Who knew that vacuum cleaners and furniture polish could be fun? This quirky museum showcases the history of how human beings clean up their messes. You may be inspired to tackle that grout. (Pocatello)

18. Go Snowshoeing

If cross-country skiing is too challenging, snowshoeing is a much-easier outdoor alternative. Harriman State Park offers over 20 miles of trails, suitable for all skill levels, especially beginners. (Island Park)

19. Ski Sun Valley

Since opening in 1936, the pristine ski hills of Sun Valley have hosted more than a few celebrities. It's also home to the world's first chairlifts. Indulge your taste for history as well as for excellent winter sports.

20. McCall Winter Carnival

Since the 1960s, this tiny town has turned February into something extra-special with their annual carnival. There are parades, ice and snow sculpting contests and fireworks.

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