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Two Awesome Idaho Cities Named “Best Small Lake Towns in America”

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We understand why so many people get Idaho mixed up with Iowa. Both states start with an I and end with vowel sound. Both states rank in the bottom 20 states in population. Both states are big into agriculture. Both states, for the most part, seem to keep themselves out of the national spotlight.

But there are some major differences too. Iowa is in the Midwest. Idaho is not. Iowa has corn. Idaho has potatoes. Iowa has just 30 naturally occurring lakes and most of the ones that people use for recreation are man made. No offense to Iowa, but Idaho just does lakes and lake towns better! 

READ MORE: Spectacular Idaho Lake Named One of America’s BEST Fresh Water Beaches

The Idaho Department of Water Resources explains that the Gem State is home to more than 2,000 lakes and 1,228 of them have been named. Lots of lakes means lots of small lake towns bordering these bodies of water and two of them showed up on a national list of the “40 Best Small Lake Towns in America.” Considering there are 50 states competing for 40 spots on the list and Idaho claimed TWO spots? That’s a very, very big deal. 

Canva

Canva

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Which two cities landed themselves on Country Living’s list? We’re not surprised to see one of Boise’s favorite nearby getaways get recognized. 

McCall

Country Living seemed particularly impressed with the amount of mountain biking trails you can find at Ponderosa State Park, Brundage, Tamarack and other recreation sites in and around McCall. If you read through the description of each of these lake towns in their article, they get rather redundant. So many of them mention hiking trails, but McCall offers you one hike that, to the best of our knowledge doesn’t exist anywhere else in the country. 

That’s the Loon Lake hike to the crash site of a WWII Era bomber. If you haven’t done it yet, you should do it soon. As the years wear on, more and more of the plane disappears.

YouTube/Jon Conti

YouTube/Jon Conti

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The vague description mentions zip lining but doesn’t mention that Zip McCall Adventures is home to the longest zip line in the state of Idaho!  Zip 6 on their Extreme Tour is about half a mile long! 

When it comes to winter entertainment in McCall, they mention snow tubing, skiing and snowshoeing but somehow managed to leave out the one party of the year that McCall is best known for…Winter Carnival! Even in it’s shortened format it still wows visitors with dozens of snow sculptures, the famous Mardi Gras parade, live music and more! 

Townsquare Media Boise

Townsquare Media Boise

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It did make us giggle that the article made “kicking back at Shore Lodge” sound like something that everyone does while they’re in McCall. A stay or meal there can be pricy, but it’s really something everyone should try once. We stayed during the off-season when rooms were a little more affordable and really enjoyed the fact that they serve complimentary s’mores around the firepit every night…and the fact that you can play unlimited ski-ball games for free in their game room. 

Of course, what Country Living failed to mention was the fact that McCall’s is also a killer place for ice cream. Ice Cream Alley has been a summer staple in the lakeside town for nearly 40 years. Squatch Sweets might be the new(ish) kid on the block, the but creations that Alyssa and Mackenzie Casey have dreamed up are delicious works of art. 

Facebook/Squatch Sweets

Facebook/Squatch Sweets

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They also didn’t mention that McCall’s got a cool craft brew scene! If you’re visiting during the peak of summer or winter recreation season, you’re usually going to have to wait for a table at Salmon River Brewery or McCall Brewing Company, but the beers and food are worth the wait.  It may be a little further off the beaten path, but Broken Horn Brewing Company might be one of McCall’s best-kept secrets. They’ve got a killer Hell’s Canyon Jalapeno beer. 

Let’s face it, you don’t have to be someone who’s passionate about recreation to enjoy McCall. It’s an equally fun place to go if you’re a foodie who wants to enjoy a good meal and wonderful drinks as the sun sets over Payette Lake. 

So which OTHER Idaho city made the list? 

Sandpoint

We’ll be straight up with you. The article you’re reading is written by someone that’s been based in Boise for nearly 15 years. We don’t get to travel to North Idaho often, so we won’t pretend to know the local gems. Country Living put Sandpoint on the list because of the beautiful views the town gets of the Cabinet and Selkirk Mountains, huckleberry lemonade and local festivals like the 1.76-mile open water swim alongside Long Bridge over Lake Pend Oreille and the Festival at Sandpoint. 

Photo by Backroad Packers on Unsplash

Photo by Backroad Packers on Unsplash

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We weren’t familiar with either of these before reading County Living’s article, but the Festival at Sandpoint has our attention now! The lakeside music festival goes on for several days in late July/early August and includes some big names like Marren Morris, Jason Mraz, Lee Brice, Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat. This year’s season passes are ALREADY sold out! In the past they’ve hosted bands and artists like Train, Jake Owen, Chris Janson, Gladys Knight, The Beach Boys and Lindsey Stirling.

KEEP READING: There’s No Way You’ve Heard of These 10 Obscure and Tiny Idaho Towns

While these might NOT be THE tiniest town in Idaho, they are pretty small in both size and population. Blink and you might miss them!

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

These 3 Breathtaking Idaho Blue Lakes Must Be On Your Summer Bucket List

While they look like they belong in the Caribbean, these crystal clear blue waters are actually found in Idaho! Click the name of the destination to learn more about it!

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

25 Boise Attractions That Are Essential to Visit At Least Once

When you live and work in Boise, it can sometimes be difficult to answer the question “so, what should I do when I’m in town” when you have visitors checking out Idaho’s capital city for the first time? Trip Advisor ranked 107 “Things to Do in Boise” and these are the 25 attractions that rose to the top of their list!

Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

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