Bring the Family to Boise
Boise is Idaho’s capital and largest city. The “City of Trees” is neatly tucked inside the Boise National Forest, Boise River and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, providing great Western views everywhere you look.
Julia Davis Park is an ideal central location for your Boise family reunion. The 89-acre park is close to downtown and features a rose garden, duck pond, tennis complex, reservable pavilions, playgrounds and lawns along the Boise River. Different parts of the park also include the Boise Art Museum, Idaho Black History Museum, Zoo Boise and the Discovery Center of Idaho, a hands-on science center with exhibits like Make a Rock, Electric Flame and Disappearing Glass Rods. Zoo Boise is home to over 200 animals from around the world.
The Idaho Capitol Building offers one-hour tours to groups of no more than 100. The 106-year-old building features several statues including a gold statue of George Washington. An uncracked scale-model of the Liberty Bell is on display in front of the building where pedestrians and visitors can ring it.
Boise will offer your family a colorful college football experience. The Boise State Broncos are consistently one of the top teams in the country, and their home, Bronco Stadium, features blue artificial turf. The Broncos are the only Division I football program with a playing surface that isn’t green.
Nearby Boise National Forest offers over 900 miles of hiking trails that explore woods, canyons, lakes, abandoned mines and ghost towns. The mountainous park includes bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, wolves and black bears.
Relax in Coeur d’Alene
Once a major shipping point during the Western mining boom, Coeur d’Alene has settled into being a summer recreation hotspot. Idaho’s “Lake City” earns its nickname from sprawling Lake Coeur d’Alene, which stretches for 25 miles. Surrounded by mountains and forest, the lake offers scenic views and is home to large populations of osprey and bald eagles, which can be seen diving into the lake to catch fish. Swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating, parasailing, tubing and houseboating are popular water recreation activities. Two-hour lake cruises are also available. Families can choose to stay at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, in lakefront cottages or at one of the surrounding campgrounds.
Tubbs Hill Nature Park, next to the lake and south of downtown, features trails to secluded beaches with coves as high as three stories. A summit trail offers hikers panoramic views of both the city and the lake.
Two museums look back and explore the history of the Coeur d’Alene area. The Museum of Northern Idaho has exhibits about exploration, transportation, firefighting, early settlers, lumbering and logging in the region. The Fort Sherman Museum is located on the campus of North Idaho College and features exhibits on the old fort, Coeur d’Alene Indians from which the city got its name, U.S. Forest Service and lumber industry. An original smoke chaser’s cabin is one of the Forest Service items on display.
Bask in the Glory of Sun Valley
Sun Valley was one of the first year-round resorts in the United States. Originally built as a skier’s paradise, the massive resort now offers a bevy of summer activities to complement its downhill runs. The resort contains an indoor ice-skating rink, outdoor heated pools, saunas, golf courses and tennis courts. It also has areas to hike, whitewater raft, camp, mountain bike, fish, horseback ride, skeet shoot, trap shoot and kayak. Summer concerts in the Sun Valley Pavilion range from rock n’ roll and pop groups to symphony orchestras and operas.
Adjacent to Sun Valley is the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. The area comprises of 756,000 acres of the Sawtooth National Forest and features three different mountain ranges. More than 750 miles of hiking trails travel through deep forests, around the Salmon River and to many of the area’s 300 mountain lakes.
The nearby town of Ketchum offers many of the same recreational activities as Sun Valley family reunions enjoy, but has a dash of history to go along with them. The town was a major ore shipping point during the 19th century, and many giant ore wagons are on display at the Ore Wagon Museum. Labor Day weekend features the Wagon Days Parade and Celebration, in which the wagons once again hit the streets. The Trailing of the Sheep Festival in October brings to light the history and culture of Idaho’s sheepherding industry. The festival features a Sheep Folklife Fair, Fiber Festival, National Qualifying Sheepdog Trial, music, exhibits, cooked lamb, art and is capped off by the Big Sheep Parade in which 1,500 sheep are herded down Main Street.
Double the Reunion Fun in Twin Peaks
Five miles northeast of Twin Falls you will find the city’s namesake. The Snake River plunges 212 feet in what is often called the “Niagara of the West.” The Shoshone Falls are actually 45 feet higher than Niagara Falls but dry up during periods of drought.
Not far from town, Twin Falls family reunions can find several world-class fishing holes and four championship golf courses. Both Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park are only about a two-hour drive away.
The massive Perrine Memorial Bridge spans the Snake River Gorge more than 480 feet above the water. The bridge offers views of the river, the Blue Lakes, waterfalls, sheer cliffs, a park and two golf courses. It is the only location in the United States that allows BASE jumping without a permit. Overlooks allow spectators to watch as daredevils jump from the bridge and parachute into the river. Evil Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon on his rocket-powered motorcycle in 1974, and the dirt ramp he launched off of still remains a mile east of the bridge.
The Herrett Center for Arts and Science is located on the campus of the College of Southern Idaho and features artifacts from many of the Western Hemisphere’s pre-Colombian civilizations. Other attractions include a digital planetarium, 24-inch research telescope, contemporary art and a rain forest exhibit with live reptiles.