It seems to me that people are either waiting for summer to come, or wishing for the powder to accumulate at their favorite ski hill. If you are the former, I have warm activities further down the list. If you enthusiastically embrace the winter, January and February are full of fun here in the Treasure Valley!
I love all the seasons, but I have to admit, I don’t do well with shorter days, naked trees, and gray skies. But, the more my family makes a point to get outside, the better I feel and the quicker those short days fly by! So, personally, I suggest getting your keister outside even when you don't feel like it. My husband, Scott, likes to remind me, "There is no bad weather, only bad gear." So on that note, go get your REI membership and invest in the warm stuff!
McCall Winter Carnival
January 25th-February 3rd
McCall is a charming, beautiful, and affordable place to getaway. Their annual Winter Carnival is most known for its snow/ice sculptures and bonfire/concerts by the lake. My husband grew up in this mountain resort town and can remember how the events used to include ATV jumps in the middle of the street.
“They would build these hay bale jumps in the middle off downtown in front of where Foglifter is today. There were some broken bones. That may be why it isn’t on the schedule anymore.”—Scott Swan.
“I love the Winter Carnival because of the sculptures. It's incredibly impressive what they do. Plus it’s a nice event that gets you outside in the winter when the tendency is to stay inside unless you’re participating in a a sport.” -- Jennifer Dettori
The events are much tamer now, but still full of family fun! I recommend visiting the first weekend of the two in order to enjoy the fireworks and see the ice sculptures at their freshest. Second, I recommend the Mardi Gras Parade. I know I’ve been talking a lot about parades, but this one has a small-town-party-dance-down-the-street feel to it and you will make new friends standing shoulder to shoulder down the main drag and accumulating shiny plastic beads. SO fun. I haven’t seen it yet, but there is a monster dog pull and snowbike race. As a fan of dogs and bikes and snow, I think I should witness these unique events myself. More details>>
A visit to McCall in the winter is always also a visit to Brundage Mountain for some skiing and snowboarding. You’ll find they do, as they claim, the best snow in Idaho. Their high speed quad keeps traffic flowing and they open the lakeside lifts on the weekend. My husband grew up on this mountain and it is his playground! There are many runs to love and our boys especially like Bear Chair with the terrain park. You’ll find plenty of room to roam from beginners to expert skiers.
Sleigh Ride to see the Elk!
During the winter-- visit their site for calendar
While you’re up there, I recommend seeing a herd of elk up close and personal. You can do this with Hap and Florence Point in Donnelly which is about 20 minutes south of McCall. It is pretty amazing. Please do this for yourself and your kids so that you can appreciate how big these animals are! Idaho still has so much wilderness in it and taking time to appreciate it makes a difference for how we protect these natural resources. The owners are supremely knowledgeable about the herds and the history as they have been doing this for 30 years. Take advantage of their experience and tip them well. More details>>
Bogus Basin New Year’s Day Fireworks & Torch lighting events
We are pretty fortunate to have our own winter wonderland above our city, within view and out of reach of any inversion. It's a treasure to be experienced. It might not have the best snow, or the most room, but they do the best with what they've got and are always improving. Their ski school is award winning and the mountain has options for making the most of the weather in avoiding wind or ice. And is there anything better than the smell of snow and Double R Ranch burgers made to order?
On New Year's Day take the opportunity to enjoy the free cookies, hot chocolate, prizes just for skiing, and torchlight parade with a fireworks finale! Welcome 2019!! More details>>
Best Picks at Bogus for the Non-skier, non-snowboarder
The Pepsi Gold Rush Tubing Hill
(Opening depends on weather)
This is a wonderful, affordable option for snow lovers who don’t have the gear or the desire to get on the lift. Make a reservation with your friends early and you’ll have a great time! The tubing hill is managed well in keeping the line wait minimal and operators that put full effort in giving you a good push and will allow you all to link up! This is something that gets booked well in advance, so make reservations! More details>>
Snow School is one of the coolest little-known options at Bogus. Our boys took it a couple of years ago and learned all kinds of snow and outdoor science including snowflake shapes, orienteering, and survival. They got to snowshoe around the nordic lodge and had a blast. Curriculum may have changed since then, but call asap— it’s available to schools and by appointment only on school days through March. More details>>
Alpine Slide aka Glade Runner aka Mountain Coaster
If you have kids that have been flipping off the couch and watching extreme sports movies since they were in diapers, then I can’t endorse this for thrill points, but I can say it’s a fun novelty to do with your visitors from out of town. You will be buckled into a sled that is attached to the metal frame of the slide as it pulls you to the top. At the top, gravity takes you for a ride. Your speed is simply based on the mass of your sled (so your weight, plus anyone that might be riding with you) and how much you pull the brake. Hint: This is also a good way to get your kids to ride double and save some money. More details>>
Ice Skating at the Village
This tiny little rink is super cute and just big enough to get a little speed going and grab the nearest railing. Great way to show off your skills/bravery/sense of humor to your spouse and kids. Rental skates are available. Great date/family night idea. More details>>
Of course, there are lots of other activities to do at The Village while you’re there. If it were me, I’d sandwich skating in-between seeing how long my boys can stand being in the overpoweringly fragrant store called Lush and a fun blockbuster movie. Also, Sur La Table always has something yummy to sample. Sometimes my sister and I go to dinner at the Yardhouse, then play games at Big Als. When we’ve spent our $5 on games, we take our tickets and buy each other presents in the prize center and present them to each other with gusto. P.S. The prize center employees have never wrapped up our tattoos or tootsie rolls for us even when we asked nice which is a bummer. I mean, where is the customer service these days?
The King and I
This is part of the Broadway in Boise Series-- several great productions for the winter and spring! More details>>
Friday, January 11 at 8pm at Taco Bell Arena
2015 was supposed to be the last time. Here's your chance! Platinum tickets are going for an easy grand right now.
Comedian Brian Regan
January 11 at The Morrison Center
Funny guy who steers clear of profanity and off-color humor. Tickets are about $50 each. More details>>