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If there is a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic, maybe it’s the fact that the social distancing climate encouraged people to take their social lives outdoors. Instead of being under lockdown indoors, many people took to the trails, beaches, lakes, and other outdoor escapes. And it wasn’t just groups getting together for fitness, either. Lots of couples (and prospective couples) used the increased free time to plan outdoor dates.
Idaho offers a lot of options if you’re looking for a date that’s out of the ordinary, and we asked the Visit Idaho tourism experts for their outdoor date recommendations for visiting couples. Whether you just want to take a leisurely stroll through beautiful country, or challenge yourself to something wilder, Idaho has plenty of opportunities to get outside and find out what you and your partner are made of.
When you think of wine country, you may imagine California, France, or Italy. It may come as a surprise to learn that a state in the western part of the U.S. can boast the kind of environment to make a wine trade possible. But Idaho boasts rich soils that in turn support a booming wine industry. If you’re looking for a romantic interlude without a challenging hike, visiting Idaho wine country can make for a scenic daytime date with plenty of refreshment to go with it.
Consider taking an urban wine tour called the Garden City Stroll and Sip, which explores a collection of wineries and cideries in Garden City and Boise. All eight locations are an easy walk, bike, or drive, and offer tastings of unique wines and ciders grown and made in Idaho. Or you can visit the Sunnyslope Wine Trail in the beautiful Snake River Valley in Caldwell, Idaho, where you and your date can enjoy scenic views while sampling delicious vintages.
It always feels good to rest up after an adventure, and if you can chill in a scenic setting after challenging the elements, it’s even better. Boise’s premier beach bar, The Yardarm, gives you everything you’d want in a post-surf or kayak chill: premium beer and wine, comfortable seating (made from upcycled and recycled materials), and a beautiful setting, just steps away from Esther Simplot Park or Boise Whitewater Park.
The Yardarm is the passion project of co-owners Guy Midnight and Victor Myers, who hashed out their idea over beers at a nearby surf shop. The two worked together to build the beer garden close to the action, where they serve container beers and wines, and provide locals and visitors alike with a cool space built from found materials. It’s open seasonally, from April through early October, so if you need to quench your thirst after a day on the water, it’s the place to be.
If you and your date want to take to the water, the Boise Whitewater Park offers the opportunity for a wet and wild adventure. The park was born out of a desire to provide more recreational activities for the citizens of Idaho, in general, and Boise, in particular. The Boise Whitewater Park took existing structures like dams and water diversions and updated the systems to create safe and exciting hydrosports areas.
You can rent kayaks both at Whitewater Park and at Esther Simplot park to challenge the waves or enjoy some leisurely paddling. Whitewater Park facilities also offer surfing, or you can take a SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga) class to add some challenge to any stretching routine. Both parks offer plenty of opportunities to get some exercise, put your fitness to the test, and enjoy the sun and fresh air that Idaho has to offer.
Another destination for hot springs relaxation sits tucked into the beautiful territory of Southeastern Idaho. Lava Springs has been maintained by the state of Idaho since 1902, with control falling under the Lava Hot Springs Foundation. The facility boasts both hot and cold pools, a short walk away from each other in a scenic setting. In addition to the pools that make the site famous, the complex offers a lot of beautiful native plants and walking paths to take in the natural beauty that has always been part of Idaho.
The hot pools contain naturally heated mineral water straight from the volcanic springs that fuel them, with no chemical treatment or alteration. The temperatures range from 102°F to 112°F, direct from the source. The swimming pool complex is cold water, and features water slides, a diving tower, and everything you need to enjoy the water. The site also offers other attractions, including the sunken garden, and a party room, among others. You can purchase day passes or season passes for the whole facility so you can keep coming back for more.
If you want a more sedate adventure, visiting a hot spring can be romantic as well as relaxing. The Springs in Idaho City provides private tubs alongside their public facilities, so you and your sweetie can enjoy the benefits of naturally heated spring water and a little solitude to go with it. The private tubs are available by the hour, and if you get a little peckish, you can order food and drink from the poolside server.
If you want to take your relaxation to the next level, consider adding a massage package to your reservation. The Springs offers couples massage options to complete your hot springs experience, though the availability is subject to demand. You can also purchase access to the public areas of the retreat if you want to visit. And you can even look into reservations at Inn The Pines, a seven-room hotel that’s a short drive down the road from The Springs, if you want to stay in the tranquil, beautiful surroundings just a little bit longer.
After a long day of adventures, drifting on the water during a sunset cruise over a fine dinner and drinks is the perfect ending. Fortunately for visitors, it’s easy to find a dinner cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. And if you don’t want to wait for dinner, the ship also heads out for brunch cruises on Sundays, and you can even charter the cruise for your special celebration, whatever it may be.
The cruise pairs a meticulously prepared gourmet dinner with some of the most stunning views that Idaho has to offer during a two-hour experience that will satisfy your hunger both for natural beauty and for food. The menu selections include fine dining staples like Northwest salmon and roast beef, and the cruise ships also offer vegetarian and gluten-free options. The brunch cruise offers a buffet-style meal with something for everybody no matter how old or young.
The wild and wonderful landscape of Idaho provides a wealth of different ecosystems, from mountains and forests to riverlands and prairies. All of that natural splendor makes for a beautiful view no matter what adventure you go on, but it’s especially great from the seat of a bike. The Route of the Hiawatha is probably the best-known of the trails, but Idaho offers a wealth of options for cycling enthusiasts.
The trail is 15 miles long, and takes riders mostly downhill through a series of tunnels and trestles, through mountain passes and beautiful forest. It’s suitable for just about every age group, making it a thrilling adventure even for beginner cyclists.
A shuttle can take bikers up to the top of the mountain, so they can enjoy a downhill trip without exhausting themselves going up. If you’re feeling peckish, you may want to stop at the Deli & Grill at Lookout Pass for a bite to eat. Snacks, sandwiches, and refreshments are also for sale at the Taft Trailhead as well as at the bottom of the trail at Pearson where the shuttle picks up visitors.
Some couples choose to take a bagged lunch on the trail and enjoy a picnic out in the wilds of Idaho.
Idaho has plenty of outdoor date opportunities, whether you’re interested in sipping and strolling through wine country, tackling whitewater rapids on surfboard or kayak, or taking in some deep relaxation with mountain views. As more couples turn to the great outdoors to get away from the stresses of confinement and limited social gatherings, a trip to Idaho can provide an exotic getaway in the West.
Idaho’s natural splendors and wild geography have something to offer any outdoor enthusiast, but it’s a good idea to do your research before you book your trip. Find out exactly which attractions you’re interested in and buy tickets in advance so you don’t miss any of the adventures you have in mind.
Plan your next vacation by using Visit Idaho’s resources and find out more about what the Gem State has to offer for your romantic getaway plans!