The scenic town of Kellogg, Idaho.

6 Underappreciated Towns To Visit In Idaho

Idaho, the Gem State, truly lives up to its official nickname. It is a scenic extravaganza comprising mountains, lakes, rivers, springs, canyons, forests (national forests cover roughly 40 percent of the state), and truly picturesque towns. Despite its name and fame, however, many towns dotting the state fail to get the attention they deserve. Uncover six such towns, from Grangeville, blessed with natural beauty, to the former mining town of Kellogg, that must not be missed on your next vacation to Idaho.


Downtown Grangeville, Idaho
Downtown Grangeville, Idaho. Image credit: Orin Blomberg via

Located in the rugged Idaho Panhandle, Grangeville is often passed by travelers on their way to Elk City or else missed entirely, thanks to the Johnston Road cutoff. But those who stop discover that Grangeville, with a population of around 3,300, is the largest and arguably liveliest city in Idaho County. In addition to Panhandle paragons like rivers for rafting and mountains for climbing, tourists and residents can go dining at The RIB GUY and GAL, mini golfing at Jungle Gym's Indoor Play Center and Cafe, and praying (or secular sightseeing) at Saint Gertrude's Monastery in nearby Cottonwood. Moreover, they can see what's playing at the Blue Fox Theatre, which is a ravishing and historic cinema built in 1929.

If you own or have access to a plane, you can take off from Boise and land at Grangeville's Idaho County Airport. Conversely, you can let Grangeville be the comforting appetizer for a flight to the big city. There is a range of attractions inside and out of Grangeville.


Downtown Salmon, Idaho
Downtown Salmon, Idaho. Image credit: Jimmy Emerson DVM via

In 2023, Salmon was voted the most underrated town in Idaho to visit in the summer by Boise's 104.3 WOW Country. This 3,100ish-person community sits on the Salmon River and offers refreshing plunges as well as breathtaking forays into the riverside wilderness, especially the 4.3-million-acre Salmon-Challis National Forest. Tourists can experience all that and more by staying at the Twin Peaks Guest Ranch, which is a 677-acre estate "located at the end of civilized travel." Sleeping, feasting, hiking, rafting, kayaking, flying, gun shooting, horseback riding, and even square dancing are offered for summer ranchgoers.

But Salmon is not specifically a summer retreat. Beyond the aforementioned outdoor activities, this tiny city hosts indoor attractions like the Odd Fellows' Bakery, The Lantern Bar, and the Sacajawea Interpretive, Cultural, and Educational Center. The center also has outdoor trails of the kind Sacajawea, Lewis, and Clark blazed on their expedition across the state in the early 1800s. In fact, Sacajawea was born in the Salmon area.


Post Office at Victor, Idaho, United States

Post Office at Victor, Idaho. Image credit: Idahomiller via Wikimedia Commons.

Be a victor by visiting Victor, a small community near the Wyoming border that is engulfed by national parks and forests. These include the 3-million-plus-acre Caribou-Targhee National Forest, 3.4-million-plus-acre Bridger-Teton National Forest, 310,000ish-acre Grand Teton National Park, and (a bit north of the others but still within driving distance) 2.2-million-plus-acre Yellowstone National Park. If you can find little Victor inside the walloping woods, make sure to check out the Victor Emporium, which is an award-winning ice cream and gift shop; Big Hole BBQ, a slow-smoked stockpile of savory meats that has also won awards; and Grand Teton Brewing Company, which is a prolific craft brewery whose libations have earned North American Beer Awards. Victor is a natural and commercial wonderland.


Weiser, Idaho.
Main Street in Weiser, Idaho. Image credit: Ken Lund via

After becoming a victor in Victor, be wiser in Weiser. This "hidden gem of a town" is actually a small city on the other side of the state near the Oregon border. The Snake River snakes around the city and marks the state border. It also marks fun and serenity via aquatic activities, gorgeous riverside greenery, and the adjacent Weiser Dunes, which is a 130-acre sand-swept preserve for biking, off-roading, and camping. Less extreme activities can be done downtown, where such splendid sites as Legends on Main, Weiser Classic Candy, Black Sheep Coffee & Cookie Company, and St. Agnes Catholic Church offer dining, snacking, drinking, and sightseeing. Listening is another big draw in Weiser since it is nicknamed the "Fiddling Capital of the World" and hosts the annual National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest & Festival. Lastly, Weiser is the start or end point of the Weiser River Trail, a breathtaking 84-mile trail that takes bikers, hikers, runners, and horseback riders through interior Idaho.


Main Street in Hagerman, Idaho.
Main Street in Hagerman, Idaho. Image credit: Jmaxx37 via Wikimedia Commons.

Hagerman also sits along the Snake River but is roughly 150 miles southeast of Weiser. As we already described, the river nourishes plenty of natural wonders, which help hide Hagerman from the public eye and provide lucky discoverers with a wealth of activities. They can view birds and fish at the Hagerman Wildlife Management Area and nearby Hagerman State Fish Hatchery; hike, camp, picnic, climb, bike, ski, snowshoe, horseback ride, swim, paddle, and watch waterfalls at Thousand Springs State Park; and hunt (but not dig for or collect) fossils at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. After exploring this esoteric ecosystem, tourists can relax in Hagerman proper at Bullets 'n Brew and The Riverboat Restaurant before really soaking up the serenity at Miracle Hot Springs just south of town. The Hagerman area is a true southern Idaho oasis.


The Shoshone County Mining and Smelting Museum in Kellogg, Idaho
The Shoshone County Mining and Smelting Museum in Kellogg, Idaho. Editorial credit: Kirk Fisher /

Northern Idaho is a verdant, mountainous region that attracts throngs of adventurers. Communities like Coeur d'Alene, Sandpoint, and Wallace are among the top bases for northern recreation, but close to Wallace is an overlooked haunt called Kellogg. A former mining town that boomed to over 5,000 residents in the 1960s, Kellogg now has a population of about 2,300 and is reinventing itself as a hub for outdoor activities. It is home to the Silver Mountain Resort, which offers skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing in winter and hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and gondola riding in summer. Satiating thrill- and sight-seekers are the Dirty Dog Saloon, the Kellogg Radio Brewing Company, and The Beanery, the last of which serves espresso and ice cream. You can take two shots and two scoops out of Kellogg.

There you have it: six spudless wonders in Idaho. Forget all you know about Idaho to experience the elegant theater in Grangeville, Sacajawea center in Salmon, award-winning brewery in Victor, sand dunes in Weiser, fossil beds in Hagerman, and ski resort in Kellogg. Those compact communities exemplify Idaho's official, The Gem State. Do not let those gems stay hidden.

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