Payette National Forest, Idaho

What is Idaho Known For? 40 Things ID is Famous For

Idaho is renowned for its diverse geography encompassing vast stretches of wilderness and outdoor recreational areas. It hosts prominent features such as unspoiled forests, whirling rivers, serene lakes, rugged mountains, and fertile farmland. Idaho is globally recognized for its extensive potato production, being the nation’s largest producer. Other distinguishing factors include Boise State University, popular for its blue turf, Sun Valley, a world-class ski resort, and historical trail routes like the Oregon Trail. Additionally, it’s famous for its gems, notably garnets and opals, earning the name ‘The Gem State’.

What Food is Idaho Known For?

Huckelberry Ice Cream

Huckleberries, the small, round, dark purple berries found in North America, hold special significance in Idaho as a favorite regional food item thanks to their tart and sweet taste. They grow abundantly in Idaho’s wilderness, attracting both locals and tourists to indulge in their juicy flavors. Additionally, huckleberry ice cream has become a beloved local favorite, blending the fruit’s distinctive taste with the creamy smoothness of ice cream to create a delectable treat. Both being increasingly popular, huckleberries and huckleberry ice cream remain Idaho’s delightful culinary traditions, offering visitors a taste of the state’s natural bounty.

Basque Food

Basque cuisine has carved a niche for itself in Idaho’s gastronomy scenario, mainly due to the state’s rich Basque history, rooted in early settlers from the Basque region of Spain. Boise houses the oldest and one of the largest Basque communities in the United States, allowing the unique culinary offerings to flourish. Basque food is characterized by its flavorful and hearty meals, including dish staples like chorizo, croquetas, paella, and solomo pork loin. The thriving Basque culinary scene in Idaho creates an authentic cultural experience, providing visitors and locals alike a glimpse into the rich Basque heritage.

Idaho Finger Steaks

Idaho finger steaks have become a local specialty, originating from Boise in the 1950s. This unique dish consists of tender strips of beef, individually battered, and then deep-fried to achieve a crispy, golden exterior while retaining the succulence of the meat. Typically served alongside a dipping sauce, like fry sauce or barbecue sauce, finger steaks have evolved into a go-to comfort food for many Idahoans. Found in restaurants, bars, and dives across the state, Idaho finger steaks offer a memorable culinary experience, showcasing creativity and innovation in the regional food scene.


Trout is a staple food in Idaho, owing to the state’s extensive network of rivers and lakes that offer a robust source of fresh fish. Among several types, Rainbow trout enjoys significant popularity. Whether baked, grilled, or pan-seared, trout often features prominently in traditional dishes, exemplifying the region’s cultural connection with fishing. The fish’s delicate flavor and flaky texture make it a local favorite, serving as a significant testament to Idaho’s abundant natural resources. Statewide fishing derbies and annual festivals also highlight the importance of trout in Idaho’s culinary and cultural fabric.

Morel Mushrooms

Morel mushrooms hold particular acclaim in Idaho, heralding the arrival of spring each year. The unique, honeycomb-like mushrooms grow abundantly in the wild, particularly in areas distressed by forest fires, making foraging a popular activity. Morels’ earthy, meaty flavor and distinctive texture make them a coveted ingredient in a variety of dishes, adding a gourmet twist to Idaho’s regional cuisine. The mushroom’s popularity extends beyond cooking, with annual Morel Mushroom Festivals held throughout the state, celebrating the tasty fungi through foraging expeditions, cooking demonstrations, and community feasts.

Idaho Sturgeon Caviar

Idaho, home to the Snake River, hosts a thriving sturgeon population, contributing to the production of a high-quality delicacy: sturgeon caviar. Cultivated in the state’s unique freshwater environment, Idaho sturgeon caviar is revered for its fine quality, marked by its rich, creamy flavor, and silky texture. Its distinctive taste, ranging from nutty to slightly sweet, rivals the world’s renowned caviar producers, making it a sought-after indulgence both domestically and internationally. This delicacy showcases Idaho’s capability to produce gourmet foods alongside its more renowned agricultural staples, further enriching its diverse culinary landscape.

Idaho Ice Cream Potato

The Idaho Ice Cream Potato is a unique dessert that pays homage to the state’s renowned potato fame. At first sight, it resembles a baked potato, but it’s actually a cleverly crafted sweet treat. The “potato” is a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream dusted with cocoa powder to emulate a potato skin. The “butter” is a dollop of whipped cream adds a layer of decadence. This whimsical dessert offers a fun twist on Idaho’s potato legacy, charming visitors with its unique presentation and satisfying with its delicious, creamy sweetness.

Fry Sauce

Fry sauce, a unique condiment with a cult following in Idaho, epitomizes the love of locals for flavorful dips. Traditionally a blend of ketchup and mayonnaise, occasionally seasoned with spices or pickle juice, its creamy texture and zesty taste perfectly complement Idaho’s famous potatoes, especially French fries. It also pairs well with other dishes like burgers and onion rings. This simple-yet-iconic sauce is served in many diners and fast-food chains throughout the state and has cemented its status as a beloved accompaniment in Idaho’s culinary culture.

Habanero Pizza

Habanero pizza in Idaho is a spicy delight for heat-loving food enthusiasts. Combining the traditional elements of a pizza with the fiery punch of habanero peppers, it serves as a testament to Idaho’s bold culinary explorations. The baseline of cheese and tangy tomato sauce is hit with a generous topping of habanero peppers, often paired with other toppings like sweet pineapple or savory meats to balance the heat. This pizza variation is gaining widespread popularity, satisfying cravings for those seeking out a flavorful spice adventure in the realm of comfort food.

What is Idaho’s Signature Drink?

Whiskey Sour

The Whiskey Sour is a beloved cocktail in Idaho, embodying the state’s affinity for diverse drink offerings. This timeless cocktail, typically made with whiskey, lemon juice, and a sweetener, is known for its perfect balance of tangy and sweet flavors. In Idaho, bartenders often give it a local spin using local small-batch whiskeys and adding unique garnishes. The Whiskey Sour is a favorite in bars across the state, from hip downtown cocktail bars to rustic mountain taverns, reflecting its enduring popularity and the state’s thriving craft spirits scene.

Places Idaho is Known For


Boise, the capital and most populous city of Idaho, beautifully blends metropolitan living with enchanting natural scenery. Known for its lively downtown area, Boise offers diverse dining, arts and culture scenes, punctuated by landmarks like the Boise River Greenbelt and Freak Alley Gallery. Yet, just beyond the city’s bustle lie accessible outdoor adventures – from hiking and biking in the foothills, to indulging in water sports on the Boise River. Boise’s blend of urban energy, cultural richness, and natural beauty make it an attractive destination for residents and visitors alike.

Hot Springs and Lava Hot Springs

Idaho is blessed with an abundance of natural hot springs, owing to its volcanic geology. It boasts the largest number of hot springs in the United States, with around 130 suitable for soaking.

These geothermal wonders offer relaxing, therapeutic soaking experiences in diverse settings, from mountains to riversides. Lava Hot Springs, a popular destination, features several outdoor mineral pools, renowned for their healing properties and consistently warm temperatures, drawing visitors year-round. The natural hot springs scattered across the state serve as a unique and cherished aspect of Idaho’s outdoor recreational offerings, providing tranquility and rejuvenation amidst the state’s exceptional landscapes.


Sandpoint, Idaho, a picturesque town nestled by Lake Pend Oreille, enthralls visitors with its stunning landscapes and vibrant community life. Famed for its breathtaking views and recreational activities, Sandpoint serves as a gateway to the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains, offering hiking, biking, and skiing opportunities. In town, its vibrant arts scene, delectable dining options, and bustling farmer’s markets exude a charming and welcoming atmosphere. Sandpoint’s balance between natural beauty and thriving small-town charm make it an ideal destination for those seeking respite and adventure in a captivating setting.

Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene, a shining gem in northern Idaho, is best known for its mesmerizing glacial lake and forested surroundings. The city offers a delightful combination of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming on Coeur d’Alene Lake, as well as hiking and biking on scenic trails. Downtown’s lively atmosphere boasts a wealth of art galleries, restaurants, and shops that reflect the city’s active and welcoming community. Whether seeking a tranquil escape by the water or a vibrant gathering place, Coeur d’Alene presents visitors with an idyllic, inviting experience.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley, Idaho, is a renowned resort destination attracting outdoor enthusiasts year-round. Famous for its top-tier ski slopes, this haven in the Rocky Mountains offers an array of winter sports, from downhill skiing to sleigh rides. In non-winter months, hiking, golfing, and mountain biking take center stage amidst the area’s breathtaking natural beauty. Moreover, its cultural offerings, including music festivals and art galleries, harmoniously blend with the area’s outdoor appeal. Sun Valley’s exceptional fusion of nature and culture affords visitors a premier retreat rich in both adventure and relaxation opportunities.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, sprawling over Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is a national treasure celebrated for its geothermal features, diverse wildlife, and stunning landscapes. As the world’s first national park, it captivates visitors with its gushing geysers, including the renowned Old Faithful, multi-colored hot springs, and verdant forests. Home to a vast array of wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, it offers unparalleled opportunities for wildlife viewing. Yellowstone’s awe-inspiring natural beauty and rich biodiversity make it a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, straddling the border of Idaho and Oregon, is a captivating natural spectacle and an adventurer’s dream. Known for Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge, the recreation area boasts a varied and rugged topography perfect for hiking, horseback riding, boating, and fishing. Its diverse climate zones support exquisite wildlife and unique plant species, offering opportunities for remarkable nature observation. Amidst the serene remoteness and raw beauty of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, visitors experience a thrilling immersion into unspoiled wilderness.

Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Surrounded by the magnificent Sawtooth Mountains in Central Idaho, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is a sanctuary of pristine landscapes and mesmerizing natural wonders. Its verdant valleys, crystal-clear lakes, and rugged mountainous terrain offer a haven for varied recreational activities including hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Winter brings opportunities for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling under a blanket of fresh snow. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area stands as a testament to Idaho’s natural beauty, providing unrivalled outdoor adventures amidst a breathtaking backdrop of wilderness splendor.

Landmarks and Attractions Idaho is Known For

Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls, straddling the Snake River in southeast Idaho, is a charming city greatly admired for its natural beauty and cultural richness. It’s distinguished by the magnificent Idaho Falls itself, a cascading spectacle complemented by a riverside greenbelt known for its peaceful walking trails. The city is a gateway to renowned outdoor attractions like Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Additionally, its thriving arts scene, exemplified in galleries, theatres, and a Symphony Orchestra enhances the city’s appeal. A blend of nature’s allure and vibrant city life makes Idaho Falls a compelling destination for visitors.

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls, often called the “Niagara of the West,” is a majestic waterfall located on Idaho’s Snake River. At 212 feet high and 900 feet wide, it surpasses the height of Niagara Falls and offers a dramatic spectacle. Surrounded by a park-like setting, Shoshone Falls provides ample recreational opportunities, including picnicking, hiking, and picturesque observation points. Particularly awe-inspiring during peak water flow in spring and early summer, the falls are a remarkable testament to Idaho’s natural beauty and an unmissable sight for nature lovers seeking unparalleled aquatic splendor.

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho showcases an otherworldly landscape of volcanic formations, creating a striking contrast to the surrounding scenery. Born from ancient lava flows, the area features unique geological features such as cinder cones, lava tubes, and immense fissures. Visitors can embark on scenic hikes, explore intriguing caves, and observe diverse wildlife inhabiting this seemingly inhospitable terrain. The preserve’s uncanny moonscape, coupled with its informative visitor center, offers a captivating journey into Earth’s mysterious volcanic past and a truly unforgettable experience.

Idaho Potato Museum

The Idaho Potato Museum, located in the town of Blackfoot, is a unique cultural attraction dedicated to Idaho’s iconic agricultural product—the potato. This quirky museum offers an engaging, informative look at the history, cultivation, and significance of the potato through interactive exhibits, trivia, and vintage farming equipment displays. Visitors can learn about the potato’s impact on Idaho’s economy and explore unexpected uses of the versatile tuber. Complete with a gift shop offering potato-themed souvenirs, the Idaho Potato Museum is a delightful and educational experience that pays homage to Idaho’s essential culinary staple.

Silverwood Theme Park

Silverwood Theme Park, located in northern Idaho, is the largest theme park in the Pacific Northwest, offering over 70 rides, slides, shows, and attractions. With a diverse mix of roller coasters, a water park, and entertainment suitable for all ages, Silverwood provides a full day of thrills and family-oriented fun. The park’s niche lies in seamlessly combining adrenaline-charged experiences, such as its daunting wooden roller coaster, with respite in the more relaxed Boulder Beach Water Park. Silverwood Theme Park thus delivers unforgettable family memories, making it a premier must-see attraction in Idaho.

Boise River Greenbelt

The Boise River Greenbelt stands as a symbol of Boise’s commitment to preserving green space. This 25-mile long park, with its picturesque foot and bicycle paths, stretches along both sides of the Boise River and offers a peaceful retreat right within the city’s heart. The path allows access to various local parks and landmarks, offering scenic views of wildlife and nature. It also serves as a conduit for cyclists and pedestrians within the city. With ecology, recreation, and community connectivity in its focus, the Boise River Greenbelt enriches the quality of life in Boise.

Old Idaho Penitentiary

The Old Idaho Penitentiary, located in Boise, has a history going back to 1872 and stands as a fascinating glimpse into the past. Over its 101 years of operation, this prison housed some of the state’s most notorious criminals. Today, as a museum, it offers captivating tours that illuminate historical tales of prison life, from daring escapes to controversial executions. With exhibits illustrating the evolution of crime and punishment methods, the penitentiary provides a unique, thought-provoking perspective on Idaho’s history. It’s a must-visit for history buffs and those curious about diverse walks of life.

History, Culture and Activities Idaho is Known For

First Atomic Powered City in the World

Arco, Idaho carries the unique distinction of being the world’s first city lit by atomic power. On July 17, 1955, Atomic Power Plant-1 (EBR-1), an experimental nuclear power plant approximately 18 miles southeast of Arco, produced enough electricity to light the city. Through this milestone in technological history, Arco began a legacy intertwined with atomic energy, which remains commemorated at the Idaho National Laboratory and the EBR-1 Atomic Museum. Visitors can experience this atomic heritage firsthand, exploring the interaction between technology, society, and progress in this remarkable Idaho city.

Semiconductor Companies

Idaho is a significant hub for the semiconductor industry, housing global giants like Micron Technology and ON Semiconductor. Micron, headquartered in Boise, ranks among the world’s leading producers of DRAM and NAND flash memory. ON Semiconductor, with a significant presence in Pocatello, reinforces Idaho’s standing in the industry, manufacturing semiconductors for energy-efficient electronics. Idaho’s robust and innovative tech sector, amplified by these companies, is crucial for the state’s economic vitality, job growth, and competitiveness on a global scale. It also emphasizes Idaho’s commitment to fostering high-tech industries and advancement in technology.

The Potato Drop

The Idaho Potato Drop is an annual event that celebrates the New Year in a uniquely Idaho style — by dropping a giant, illuminated potato from the sky. Held in Boise, thousands of revelers gather downtown to witness the spud descend as the clock strikes midnight, marking the New Year in a fun, quirky, and memorable fashion. The event includes live music, a fireworks display, and a variety of food and entertainment offerings. The Idaho Potato Drop not only underscores Boise’s friendly and lively spirit but also pays tribute to the state’s famous agricultural product.

Fly fishing

Idaho boasts some of North America’s finest fly fishing locations, with pristine rivers teeming with a variety of trout species. Winding through stunning scenery, these waters hold an irresistible appeal for anglers. Renowned rivers like the Henry’s Fork and Silver Creek, with their abundant and diverse fish populations, are particularly favored by fly fishing enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or a beginner, the opportunities to enjoy fly fishing in Idaho’s beautiful and varied landscapes are limitless. The tradition of fly fishing in Idaho encapsulates the state’s love for its wild, natural beauty and outdoor recreation.

First Ski Lift in the U.S.

Sun Valley, Idaho, is home to the first ski lift in the United States, signifying a major milestone in the history of skiing. Proctor Mountain, accessible from the Sun Valley ski resort, saw the installation of the world’s first chairlift in 1936. Conceived by railroad engineer James Curran and built by Union Pacific Railroad, this monumental invention transformed the snowy slopes into a haven for thousands of skiing enthusiasts. The chairlift’s debut marked the beginning of a new era for ski resorts and winter sports, forever changing recreational skiing and putting Idaho on the map as a ski destination.

Famous People from Idaho

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin, the former Governor of Alaska and Vice-Presidential candidate in the 2008 U.S. election, was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. While her family moved to Alaska when she was an infant, Palin’s Idaho origin contributes to her compelling political narrative. Renowned for her strong conservative positions and charismatic persona, Palin has maintained visibility in national politics over the years. Palin’s career path – from Idaho roots to Alaskan governorship to national prominence – demonstrates the potential for individuals from even the smallest American cities to make substantial impacts on the U.S. political landscape.

Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul, an Emmy-winning actor known for his exceptional performance as Jesse Pinkman on the hit TV series “Breaking Bad,” hails from Emmett, Idaho. Born and raised in the Gem State, Paul’s journey from Idaho roots to Hollywood stardom reflects his perseverance, passion, and talent for acting. Despite the small-town beginnings, Aaron Paul became a household name, acclaimed for both his skills and his positive personality. His Idaho upbringing and continuing connection to his home state serve as inspiring reminders about the possibilities for artists from anywhere to achieve magnificent success in the entertainment world.

What is Idaho Known for Producing?


Idaho is synonymous with potatoes, producing approximately one-third of America’s potatoes. The state’s unique volcanic soil, climate, and irrigation methods create perfect conditions for growing high-quality, large, and tasty potatoes. These potatoes play a significant role not only in Idaho’s agricultural economy but also in shaping its identity and culture. In recognition of this, the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot honors the history of the Idaho potato. Whether in the form of fresh produce, processed foods, or even in cultural celebrations like the Idaho Potato Drop, potatoes are undeniably integral to the Gem State’s heritage and identity.

Wheat, Barley and Hay

Idaho, renowned for its potatoes, is also a substantial producer of wheat, barley, and hay, showcasing the state’s diverse agricultural prowess. The fertile soil, ample water resources, and suitable climate conditions contribute to Idaho’s thriving production of these essential crops. Wheat, barley, and hay not only form the backbone of Idaho’s agricultural sector but also offer sustenance to both local communities and national markets. Through the cultivation of these crops, Idaho cements its position as an agribusiness leader in the United States, ensuring its role in powering the country’s food supply and nourishing the economy.

Sugar beets

Idaho’s fertile lands allow for the successful cultivation of sugar beets, a lesser-known yet highly valuable agricultural product in the state. Thriving in Idaho’s unique soil and climatic conditions, sugar beets are a significant contributor to the local economy. The harvested beets are processed into sugar, providing quality sweeteners for the food industry. Idaho’s sugar beet production supports local communities by generating employment in farming, processing, and distribution. The state’s rich agricultural history, combined with its sustained emphasis on sugar beet crops, solidifies Idaho’s position as a vital player in the nation’s sugar industry.

Seeds and Oil Seeds

Idaho is well-known for seed production, offering a diverse range of top-quality seeds used in planting fields and gardens across the country and abroad. The state’s clear, dry climate, fertile soils, and diverse geography enable the production of a wide array of crop seeds. From vegetable seed crops like beans, cucumbers, onions, and peas to cereal grains, forage, turf, and flower seeds, Idaho’s seed industry contributes significantly to its agricultural economy. By providing high-quality seeds, the state plays an instrumental role in boosting agricultural productivity within and beyond its borders.


Idaho, while primarily recognized for its potatoes and grains, also cultivates a variety of quality apples. The state’s unique growing conditions – characterized by nutrient-rich soil, low humidity, and sunny days – make for favorable apple cultivation. Varieties such as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, and Gala apples are harvested and enjoyed both locally and nationally. Apple orchards add to the diversity of Idaho’s agricultural landscape, bolstering the state’s economy and contributing to its reputation as an agri-business powerhouse. The production of these crisp, flavorful apples further accentuates the diversity of Idaho’s agricultural sector.


Idaho’s burgeoning wine industry showcases the state’s remarkable agricultural diversity beyond potatoes and grains. The combination of well-draining soils, a temperate climate, and Idaho’s unique terroir promotes the cultivation of high-quality grape varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay. With over 50 wineries and three designated American Viticultural Areas, the Idaho wine industry demonstrates significant growth, boosting the state economy and tourism. The production of acclaimed Idaho wines not only elevates the state’s agricultural portfolio but also positions it as an emerging player in the nation’s wine landscape.


Mint cultivation forms a vital part of Idaho’s diverse agricultural sector. The state’s suitable soil and climate contribute to the flourishing of peppermint and spearmint plants. Harvested and distilled into essential oils, Idaho’s mint products are widely used in food, pharmaceuticals, and the cosmetics industry. The steady demand presents a robust growth prospect for Idaho’s mint farmers. As a top mint producer in the United States, Idaho plays a significant role in supporting the country’s supply of this versatile crop, further endorsing the state’s commitment to agricultural variety and excellence.


Known as the ‘Gem State’, Idaho possesses a rich abundance of precious and semi-precious gemstones. The state is renowned for producing a significant variety of gems, such as garnets, opals, jasper, and star garnets – the latter being the state gem and found in only two places globally. The extraction and export of these gems not only contribute significantly to Idaho’s economy but also complement its diverse geological landscape. These gem resources are symbolic of Idaho’s unique natural offerings, reinforcing the state’s moniker and showcasing its geological wealth to the world.

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