“Try it with Tabby” is a weekly article chronicling the adventures of Tabitha Bower as she searches for out-of-the-ordinary and budget-friendly activities for Boise State students.
Buildings reminiscent of those found in classic western movies serve as a backdrop for the Idaho City visitor’s center. The parking lot is filled with trucks, tailgates open, creating makeshift benches for locals in cowboy hats gripping cold Coors Light cans in the warm sun. Expletives are heard conversationally coming from the mouths of the mother-daughter duo to the right, the three middle-aged men to the left and even the grey-haired couple in front of me.
“I love this place,” I openly and excitedly admit as I take in the scene on the spring-like Saturday afternoon.
This week for “Try it with Tabby” I took Idaho 21 north to Idaho City, a town lacking in neither history nor character. While a bit apprehensive on the 40-minute drive, mainly at how much this kitsch-filled small town would have to offer, I found myself pleasantly surprised.
So with little ado, here are my top six picks for Idaho City:
Main Street Floral:
Located, as its name suggests, on Main Street, this is much more than just a flower shop. The unique flair found, much to my elation, was a ‘dip your own candle’ station in-store. Of course I had to try it, so I started with my two white candles connected by a wick, and dipped away in the eight vats of colorful hot wax.
And the fun at Main Street Floral didn’t stop at the candle dipping; Geodes, or rocks with the possibility, after being broken open, of containing crystals, threw me back in time to my childhood and I couldn’t help but buy one, or two. Topped off with marshmallow slingers (slingshots for marshmallows), my trip to this multi-faceted shop was a success.
The Trading Post:
My second stop on Main Street was The Trading Post, a shop showcasing work by local artists in the forms of hand painted earrings, acrylic paintings and wooden signs with quirky sayings. I left The Trading post with two new treasures: a chunk of fool’s gold and a sack of root bear hard candies.
Sarsaparilla Ice Cream Parlor:
Coffee almond fudge ice cream in a waffle cone. That is all.
Newly-opened on Valentine’s Day, The Springs is a hot springs resort which offers up not only a 96,000-gallon hot springs pool but also features onsite accommodations ranging from yurts and Airstream RV’s to canvas tents and tree forts.
While I did not personally make the stop to The Springs, the owner of Main Street Floral, who also doubled as my trusted Idaho City tour guide, said it shouldn’t be missed. And seeing as how the rest of his recommendations did not lead me astray, I will take this local’s word.
The Idaho City Pioneer Cemetery lies just over a mile outside of town, at the top of a small mountain. Being a person terrified by anything death related, especially buried bodies, it took a little nudging before agreeing to check out the sacred grounds. Snow prevented a drive up the hill, so a ten minute icy hike brought me to the cemetery, which once there, I observed from the outside, refusing to enter.
This cemetery is said to home the late pioneers of Idaho City. With around 200 headstones present, it is estimated over 2,000 people are buried in the cemetery.
Boise Basin Museum:
This Idaho City historical museum consists of multiple original buildings from the 1860’s gold rush era. These buildings include a home and a ‘pest house,’ or jailhouse, amongst others. A tip you will thank me for later when peeking through the windows of these old buildings: there are mannequins. The infant missing limbs is by far the most disturbing, especially when it comes as a surprise.
Some other highlight from my day trip include the country music wafting from nearly every building in town, the pleasantly friendly locals and Harley’s, the in-town bar where everyone flocked to at 6 p.m., when practically every store, restaurant and parlor closed down and the streets cleared.