Getting Around: There is no major public transportation system in Eastern Idaho or any other part of Idaho except maybe Boise and Coeur d’alene, so if you want to get around you have to drive.
In this part of Idaho I would recommend coming during the Summer or Fall. The summer can be quite warm, sitting around high 90’s for a week or two, but these are the best times to go to the pools or mountain hikes. During Fall you can see the Aspens turn brilliant colors of orange, yellow, and red, with the green of evergreens poking out every once in a while. You may want to venture to this area during the Winter if you are an avid skier, snowboarder, snow shoe-r, or just some one that loves snow; you can really enjoy cozening up into hot springs, so there is that plus.
- Greenbelt: In downtown Idaho Falls, the Greenbelt is a city park the makes a loop around a section of the Snake River, there are many monuments that have erected and even some farmer’s and craft’s market that spring up during the summer months.
- Downtown: this part of town is the old, historic portion of town, so it is densely populated with local stores and family owned restaurants. One of the best Chinese/Mandarin food is at Happy Chinese, you should eat here if you have the chance.
Farther Afield (about 30-60 minute drive)
Green Canyon Hot Springs: Is a family run camp ground that also contains an indoor swimming pool, with an outdoor cold pool and hot tub. The pool is heated naturally by a local hot spring. The main building also offers amazing BLT’s any time of year as they grow their tomatoes in a green house (becoming one of the larges producers of out-of-season tomatoes in Eastern Idaho). The camp ground is in a gorgeous canyon that has a creek going right by.
Heise Hot Springs: A little closer to the central city of Idaho Falls, Heise offers water slide, diving board, hot pool, pizza parlor, camping, zip line, and some close by hikes into Kelly Canyon and Tetons National Forest. The pool is open during the winter to allow for people coming down from the ski hill, Kelly Canyon, to soak and relax. During certain times of the year, fall and winter mostly, you can often see moose, bald eagle’s, and deer.
Big Jud’s: Want to enjoy real American food in Eastern Idaho? Big Jud’s the place you want to go, yes, it’s a little out in the sticks, but you’re in Idaho, what did you expect? Alright, back to FOOD. Their french fries, chicken strips, and any kind of burger is fantastic here, and don’t forget the ice cream. They have a contest where if you eat a one pounder by yourself you get a photo on their wall. You can also do a couple other contests to get up on their wall, but man that is a lot of food. Enjoy this local eatery.
Lava Hot Springs: This place has all the water fun you can stand, from tubing down the river, pools, hot springs, and more. The main attraction of this town is the hot springs and tubing, so it may be a little more touristy then the rest of Eastern Idaho, but it’s a whole bunch of fun, been there twice for parties. The hotel on the main road (I would list the specific road, but the towns so small there is only one road really) that is pretty cheap for a touristy destination, it comes with a fridge, microwave, and a really big Jacuzzi tub. Having the microwave and fridge allowed us to bring a frozen lasagna, stored it in the fridge to later microwave for dinner.
Idaho National Laboratory (INL)/EBR-1: EBR-1 was the first nuclear power plant in the world, so they claim (I guess I’m a little skeptical since they say a man born to Rigby, ID was the first to invent the television), this is an interesting piece of history by any means. It did however power an entire city, now name Atomic City (the name’s very inventive, isn’t it?), now with a population of 29. They have since turned this nuclear reactor into a museum with displays, interactive tasks, and videos about how science was conducted. This museum even has the original knobs and gears for the switch boards and controls.
Driggs, ID: has a local vodka brewing company (Grand Teton Distillery) that allows you to drop in during business hours and take a tour, enjoy a tasting, and buy alcohol right there. We greatly enjoyed the different flavored, local potato vodka (at the time, they had cherry, huckleberry, moonshine, and even drunk cherries). Drunk cherries are the cherries they used to flavor the vodka, had removed and canned with cherry juice. They are very delightful. I ended up buying a huckleberry and regular vodka (regular was to send to my grandfather who loves potato vodka).
Arco: Doesn’t have all that much going on, but they are close to Crater’s of the Moon. An area where astronauts would practice for Moon like conditions before they had fancy anti-gravity chambers. You can see volcanic flows, ash, and cones.