As I introduced myself to Doris Armacost, the owner of McCall Lake Cruises, I was greeted with a big smile and an even bigger hug.

‘Welcome to McCall’ sang from her lips, as she was truly so happy to show me a slice of her heaven in Idaho.

It was about 8:25pm on a beautiful summer night in July. The temperature was perfect, not too hot with a slight breeze in the air.

After a full day exploring the small ski town about 2 hours from Boise, I noticed that this four-season destination had a lot to offer summer travelers. Laid out on beach blankets, paddling in the water on paddleboards and kayaks, many visitors had taken to the water like fish and absolutely loved this gorgeous Idaho summer weather.

With long summer days (it doesn’t get dark until around 9:30), dinner plans get pushed to later in the day so you can enjoy every last drop of sunshine. And when it was time for dinner, the only spot that was calling our names was Shore Lodge.

Situated on a gorgeous spot on Payette Lake, Shore Lodge had the best seat in the house for a sunset dinner and has been a staple on the McCall scene since 1948.  If you were looking for luxury lodging, there was no better choice than to stay here as well and experience the 4- Diamond resort and outdoor Cove Spa.

On this night, I was joining a group of 50 or so McCall residents on a lake cruise and firework show, and the cruise was about to take off.

As we waited for the final cruisers to join us, Doris chatted about her life in Idaho. She had moved to Idaho many years ago and actually worked in mining for a time. Meeting her husband in the state and finally setting down roots, McCall became the ultimate home for them and them a valuable addition to the community.

As cruise riders showed up, each one knew Doris and greeted her the same way she greeted me, with a big smile and a hug. It wasn’t until we were on board and cruising away did she tell me this was a very special night for the McCall community. One of the main businesses in town had organized a celebration fireworks show to thank the employees and volunteers over the past year. I felt so honored to be included in this special day with them.

As we toured around the lake, her and her husband, Bret, pointed out houses of the rich and famous that lined the Payette Lake. It was easy to see why so many people loved this area of Idaho. To say it was beautiful was an understatement and to say it was serene was too open ended; This town reminded me of the summer vacation in Dirty Dancing, while it has modernized, it hasn’t lost its charm or simple living that made it a hit so many years ago.

As the fireworks started up, the ooh’s and ahh’s of the crowd got louder. Smiling faces glowed from the reflection of the fireworks and the whole town seemed to clap when they were over.

The next morning we woke up early to experience the Pancake House. As we arrived there were dozens of other people there, so much so that it was difficult to find a parking spot. But walking into the grand restaurant, which looked and felt more like a beloved cabin, felt spacious and smelled delicious. We were quickly seated and I ordered up one of their monster pancakes (seriously the size of my head) and split an omelet. My eyes are always much bigger than my stomach and we ended up leaving more than half of the pancake still on the plate. To say that I was fat and happy would be a great way to describe how we left the restaurant.

Packing the car and getting ready for the next leg of our road trip, I was a little sad to leave McCall. It was a very special night in an equally impressive and special town. In 24 hours, I had fallen in love with McCall and ready to plan many more summers exploring that lakefront.