Idaho’s nickname is the ‘Gem State’ because almost every known gem is found within its rocky, mountainous landscape. Beyond the nickname, Idaho also has a lot of unknown special sights that add to those special memories of a vacation.

If you’re looking to explore more of Idaho’s vast and beautiful countryside, start by picking several bigger cities and look deeper for the hidden gems.

Here are 5 of our favorite hidden gems in Idaho: 

Hemingway’s Swimming Hole in Sun Valley-

Hemingway relocated to Ketchum, Idaho after living off and on in Cuba. He loved Idaho and enjoyed fishing and hunting, two of his favorite passions. While it might not be in every guidebook of Sun Valley, a bigger town near Ketchum, the swimming hole outside of Hemingway’s last residence is a local favorite and a must if you’re visiting the area. Located behind the Library (park on a side street), you’ll see a small path on the right hand side of the library, next to a bridge. Continue on and you’ll soon hear kids. When we were there, about ten kids and parents were floating in rafts near the shoreline.

Kelly’s Whitewater Park-

Not much of a secret, Kelly’s Whitewater Park is perfect for families or kids learning or perfecting their kayaking and SUP skills. The community center hosts concerts on the outdoor amphitheater and there are several volleyball nets too. The spot is located right off Highway 55 behind the welcome center. A big plus: nice, clean public bathrooms.

See Olympic Gold Medals at Sun Valley Lodge:

Sun Valley is known for a ski resort town, featuring incredible skiing and snow adventures and also fun in the summer months with hiking, biking and horseback riding. If you go into the main lobby of the Sun Valley Lodge, make sure to walk up and down the long hallways to see the old pictures of Sun Valley and the famous people who have stayed there. Also, since Sun Valley was used as an Olympic training center for the Salt Lake City games, don’t miss the Olympic Medals on display from some of the local medal winners Gretchen Fraser, Christin Cooper and Picabo Street. 

The Worlds Largest Ice Cream Cone at Shoshone Snack Bar:

Yes, you are reading that right. The World’s Largest Ice Cream Cone is in a small, road side diner on the way to Twin Falls from Sun Valley called Shoshone Snack Bar. If you weren’t looking for it, you might miss it.  They feature burgers, corn dogs, tater tots and fries, but the real gems are the milkshakes and the ice cream cones. Just get one for the whole family!

Saturday Markets in downtown Boise:

There are two Saturday markets in downtown Boise that are a must if you’re visiting and staying near downtown. The first is at 11th and Grove streets, which is a small farmers market style set up and you must get the homemade, organic lemonade. The sellers let you pick two berries of your choice and they mix it together for you on the spot. The other market is at 8th and Idaho and offers a much wider selection of arts and crafts, flowers and artisan foods. This is a great market if you’re looking for a unique gift to bring back home to friends and family members.