A picturesque main street in the historic mining town of Wallace, Idaho. Image credit Kirk Fisher via Shutterstock

12 Prettiest Towns In Idaho

Idaho is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination, with approximately 40 percent of the state home to national forests. From epic hiking trails through the 20.4 million acres of national forests and mountain ranges to water sports and ski resorts, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Beyond the adrenaline sports, the "Gem State" is also home to many pretty towns, from quaint river towns and lakeside retreats to the countless Rocky Mountain towns waiting to be explored.


Historic downtown street in Lewiston, Idaho.
Historic downtown Lewiston, Idaho. Image credit J.D.S via Shutterstock

Lewiston, Idaho, is known as the gateway to Hells Canyon and is the second-largest town in the northern area of the state. Lewiston is in Nez Perce County and is home to Lewis-Clark State College. As one of the oldest-founded towns in the state, beautiful Downtown Lewiston is the place to visit, with this bustling hub of the town offering much to see and do in the way of shopping, dining, and sightseeing. Downtown Lewiston participates in First Fridays, which is a special initiative that caters to visitors on the first Friday of every month. Visitors can expect extended store hours, food trucks at some locations, live music, art exhibitions, and more. 

Sun Valley

The Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness near Sun Valley, Idaho.
The Sawtooth Mountains Wilderness near Sun Valley, Idaho.

Sun Valley might just be the prettiest town in the state of Idaho. It’s a summer mountain town and has all the makings of a fantastic vacation spot for the entire family. Sun Valley is well connected despite its small size; visitors can hop on direct flights from six major US cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago. Summer in Sun Valley is for hiking, biking, and nightlife, while winter is for snow sports like skiing and snowboarding. Fall is also a great time of year to visit for fly fishing and seasonal festivals. If the town’s tourism slogan, "Stay Sunny," is any indication, visitors are in for a shining good time.


Buildings in Rexburg, Idaho
Buildings in Rexburg, Idaho.

Rexburg, Idaho, remains a small town for now, but it’s one of the fastest-growing towns in the United States. Rexburg has one of the best public school systems in Idaho and is home to the state’s largest University, Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYUI). It’s very much a college town with a young population because of the massive influx of students that relocate there each year to study. Besides enjoying the nightlife in Rexburg, visitors can explore natural attractions in the area, such as Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Craters of the Moon, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Island Park.


Kayaks along the shore with the beautiful Sawtooth Lake in Stanley, Idaho.
The beautiful Sawtooth Lake in Stanley, Idaho.

Stanley, Idaho, is a very small town with a huge amount of beauty for visitors to enjoy. It’s surrounded by 1,000 miles of gorgeous mountains and wilderness, including the Sawtooth Mountain Range. There is no bad time to visit Stanley. Despite its small size, with less than 200 residents, it is a lively destination year-round. During the summer months, visitors can partake in Thursday Night Street Dances on Ace of Diamond Blvd. In the winter, travelers who visit in February will have the chance to attend Stanley Winterfest. This is the perfect small town in Idaho to visit for epic scenery and outdoor adventure. During the winter, enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. In the summer, get into the mountains for unforgettable hiking.


The beautiful natural landscape around Salmon, Idaho.
The beautiful natural landscape around Salmon, Idaho.

Travelers who want to visit a charming mountain town in Idaho can check out the Salmon Valley. Salmo, Idaho, is a pretty town with origins in the mining, lumber, and ranching industries. Today, it attracts adventure-seekers for rafting activities in the summer, and year-round, it’s great for visiting art galleries and restaurants. Travelers who love the outdoors can also visit the Frank Church - River of No Return Wilderness Area from Salmon. Spanning an impressive 2.367 million acres, it’s the largest designated wilderness area in the lower 48 states. 


Clouds float in blue sky above the Boise River near Featherville, Idaho.
Boise River near Featherville, Idaho.

Featherville is a pretty town in Idaho with a population of around 7,000. The town sits in the mountains at an altitude of 4,534 feet and is a peaceful mountain getaway between the Anderson Ranch Reservoir and Trinity Mountains. It’s a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the many adventurous activities to enjoy here include river rafting, kayaking, hiking, ATVing, snowmobiling, boating, fishing, and soaking in hot springs. The town itself is home to rustic lodges, such as Kokanee Creek Lodge, and is surrounded by scenic views.

Priest River

The main street of historic Priest River, Idaho, in the Northwest of the United States at winter.
The main street of historic Priest River, Idaho.

Anyone seeking the prettiest towns in Idaho should consider visiting Priest River. The beautiful destination in North Idaho is in the Selkirk Mountain Range. The town is bordered by its namesake, the Priest River, to the east and Pend Oreille River to the south. Much like Featherville, Priest River is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. In the winter, it’s a fun place to go skiing and snowshoeing or hop on a snowmobile. In the summer, Priest River is bustling with visitors staying at the many campgrounds and RV parks. There is a lot to do in the spring, summer, and fall, including fishing, golfing, boating, hiking, and shopping. 


Main street with it's turn of the century brick buildings in the historic mining town of Wallace, Idaho
Main street in the historic mining town of Wallace, Idaho. Image credit Kirk Fisher via Shutterstock.com

Also located in North Idaho, Wallace is about 90 miles southeast of Priest River. The charming main street of downtown Wallace is reason enough to visit, but this pretty town is also well known for its gorgeous surroundings. Wallace has a 100-year history as the largest producer of silver in the world. It’s the richest mining town in the world today but it’s also evolving into a destination for recreation and tourism. There are more than 1,000 miles of logging roads that are now suitable for exploring via mountain bike, ATV, or (during the winter) snowmobile. For hikers or leisure bikers, the Route of the Hiawatha and Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes are beautiful routes to explore from Wallace. 


First Avenue, the main street through the downtown area of Sandpoint, Idaho, on a summer day.
First Avenue, the main street through Sandpoint, Idaho. Image credit Kirk Fisher via Shutterstock.com

Sandpoint is a beautiful town on Lake Pend Oreille that sits between three mountain ranges. It was also named the Most Beautiful Town in America by USA Today. Needless to say, it’s the perfect place to visit for outdoor adventure in all seasons. Located in North Idaho, the town of Sandpoint boasts a lively arts community. The Panida Theater is worth visiting to catch a live theatrical performance while in town. Besides its rich arts scene, Sandpoint has many restaurants, boutique shops, and charming accommodation options to explore. It’s near the Schweitzer Mountain ski resort, and the Selkirk Mountain Range, and is home to the Pend d'Oreille Winery Tasting Room.

Garden City

Looking out over the Boise River from Garden City Greenbelt
Boise River from Garden City Greenbelt.

Garden City is a town just a short drive from the capital of Boise, Idaho. For being just 2 miles away from a big city, Garden City is a remarkably peaceful and beautiful town where nature and adventure collide. Fly fishing in the Boise River, hiking on nature paths, and exploring local wineries are all activities awaiting visitors who find their way to Garden City. The city gets its name from the Chinese gardens that, over 100 years ago, were all that existed in modern-day Garden City. The property was leased to Chinese immigrants in 1890 and was transformed into fields of fruits and vegetables. Visitors will notice that while it is no longer just a garden, the town maintains many green spaces.


Morning light over Little Payette Lake McCall, Idaho.
Morning light over Little Payette Lake McCall, Idaho. Image credit Charles Knowles via Shutterstock

Visit McCall, Idaho, on Payette Lake for a fun summer destination that the entire family can enjoy. The town is charming and, like many of the prettiest towns in Idaho, is nestled among mountainous landscapes that make it worth visiting in all seasons. It’s a ski resort town in the winter and an outdoor adventurer’s paradise in the summer. Bike tours, swimming in the lake, and taking in the nearby hiking trails are all great ways to spend time here in the warmer months. Visitors should also check out the McCall Ale Trail, which consists of three local craft breweries. 


Mountain landscape, lake, and countryside properties on Deer Creek in Hailey, Idaho.
Properties on Deer Creek in Hailey, Idaho.

Hailey has the nickname "Idaho’s Hometown in the Mountains," and it’s no surprise that it is one of the most beautiful small towns in the state. It’s located south of Sun Valley and has a population of just 8,000 people. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the town’s Draper Preserve and its proximity to the Sawtooth Mountain Range and the Challis National Forest. After a long day of appreciating nature, Sun Valley Brewing Co. is a local favorite spot for craft beer in Hailey.

People looking for the prettiest mountain towns in the United States might immediately think of popular destinations like Colorado. But Idaho offers plenty of charming resort towns nestled in the mountains with views of winding rivers. It’s fun in all seasons, so why not plan a trip to Idaho’s prettiest and most adorable towns in both the summer and winter?

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