Think about the ultimate summer you wanted to have as a kid: afternoons out on the lake, giant ice cream cones, long bike rides and hikes through the woods.
You’re never too old to experience the best summer ever. In McCall, Idaho, you can find all these adventures — and more.
From Boise, take Hwy 55 north to McCall. The scenic drive winds along steep mountainsides and follows the course of the Payette River. It’s about 2.5 hours, just enough time to share some epic playlists and great conversations.
After you arrive in McCall, stroll the streets for a while. Explore the antique shops, boutiques, cafes and art galleries nestled along the shores of Lake Payette.
Local’s Tip: Order a giant ice cream cone at Ice Cream Alley. Our recommendation? Treat yourself to a bright purple scoop of huckleberry ice cream.
Check in to a cozy lakeside suite at Hotel McCall, and then head over to Steamers or Salmon River Brewery for dinner.
As the summer sun starts to sink below the treeline, walk down to the beach just off Main Street and dig your toes in the sand or wade in the clear water.
Start the morning with a hike through the dense forests along Goose Creek Trail.
After a few miles, you’ll start to hear the hushed sounds of a waterfall. The trees clear to an overlook where you’ll see a mountain stream cascading over a rock ledge.
Walk across the wooden bridge, take a seat, and dangle your feet over the edge as you enjoy a well-deserved picnic lunch. Feel the cooling mist from the waterfall hit your skin.
Head back to the car and drive south toward Ponderosa State Park. Take out the paddleboard or kayak and glide across the smooth, glassy surface of the lake. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and take in the colorful scenery as you explore.
When you start to break a sweat, dive into the cool, glacial water for a quick swim. Then, head back to shore and bask in the sunlight hitting the sand. If you’re feeling hungry for a mid-day snack, wander through the trailers and pick huckleberries and mushrooms along the way.
Roll back into town for dinner. You’ll find a variety of restaurants tucked along the shores of the lake. Try Steamers for steak, seafood and a rustic atmosphere. If you’re in the mood for a classic burger and basket of fries, visit My Father’s Place.
After dinner, end the night with a sunset cruise on the lake with McCall Lake Cruises. Lounge on the deck as you watch the sky turn pink, purple and gold.
For breakfast, treat yourself to a stack of golden pancakes drizzled with maple syrup at The Pancake House (a must-visit when it comes to McCall), or sip coffee from the deck at the Foglifter cafe while looking out at the lake one last time.
Head south along Hwy 55 toward the jagged 8,310 ft. peak of Jughandle Mountain and pull into Jug Mountain Ranch.
Here, you can take the mountain bike out for a spin along miles of trails through forested backcountry. Or, enjoy the panoramic views of the mountain as you golf the rolling hills of McCall’s East Valley.
As you’re driving back, you might think, “Do I have to go in to work tomorrow?” Honestly, when you’re visiting Southwest Idaho, the weekends always seem too short.