As a travel writer, I’m fully aware of how fortunate I am to be able to have the experiences that I do. I’ve traveled all around the world and seen things I’ve never dreamt of seeing before, and it’s all thanks to the blog I created years ago. My latest trip brought me to Idaho in the winter for my first time, and boy was it a great adventure. I spent four wonderful days traveling through South West Idaho while experiencing a number of their winter activities. Enjoy the jam-packed photo journey of my time in Boise and McCall, Idaho below.
The Best Grilled Cheese I’ve Ever Had
Of course, I would kick-off this post with a food photo.
Like most of my trips, I tend to gravitate towards wherever the food is. So after dropping my bags off at The Grove Hotel, I walked over to Juniper for dinner. It was one of the Boise restaurants the Southwest Idaho tourism team recommended, and now I know why.
I took the recommendations from Juniper’s bartender and ordered the grilled cheese sandwich, only it wasn’t your standard melted cheese on buttery, toasted bread. Between two slices of sourdough, there was Ballard white cheddar, gruyere cheese, pear-fig chutney, and bacon. For my side, I asked for their pork belly fries, which featured a bed of rosemary fries with layers of pork belly, serranos, and drizzled gorgonzola dressing.
After dinner, I stumbled upon Diablo & Sons. It was quite the happening place for a weekday night, so I just had to check it out. Since I knew I probably wouldn’t have the chance to make it back there more than once on this particular trip, I asked the bar manager, Forrest, what he recommended I order. Since I’m a huge Woodford Reserve fan, I went with the Rye & Pepper cocktail you see below, made with Woodford Rye, Ancho Reyes, Cynar, spicy chocolate bitters, and scotch rinse.
It was an excellent way to end my first day in Idaho. I’d go as far as saying it’s one of the best bars in Boise.
A Winter Wonderland Road Trip
My time in Boise felt like a flash of light. I spent less than 24 hours there before I packed up and went on my next adventure. It was a little bit of a tease, but I knew that my trip ended back in Boise, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
I packed up my rental car and headed up the ID-55 N to my next location: McCall, Idaho. The two-hour road trip felt like minutes thanks to the winter wonderland views like this at every turn.
Stay in Hotel McCall
My road trip ended when I reached the picturesque, lakeside resort town of McCall. I was put up at the historic Hotel McCall which recently underwent a remodel that introduced their full-service restaurant Rupert’s and its bar. I usually don’t like to eat at hotel restaurants when I’m traveling because I want to get out and explore new places; however, Rupert’s was highly recommended by all the locals I talked with. The food was remarkable, the rooms are cozy, and its staff is friendly. I’d say Hotel McCall was a 10 out of a 10.
Bears Den Dinner After Dark
I tend not to do my research when accepting a trip like this. Not out of laziness, but more for the surprise and wow factor I get out of going in with zero expectations. Which is precisely what I did for the Bears Den Dinner After Dark.
While waiting for the SnowCat to pick our group up, I took in the glorious views surrounding Brundage Mountain Resort while sipping on a local IPA. Cheers!
Even though I started the evening with a cold one, the Bears Den Dinner After Dark didn’t officially kick off until the SnowCat arrived. I climbed aboard with the other guests, and we took a short uphill trek to the Bears Den. Before walking in, everyone enjoyed the breathtaking view of the sun setting behind the resort.
Everything inside the Bears Den is set up as a communal gathering with shared tables. I was welcomed to the dinner by enthusiastic servers eager to provide me with a welcome drink. Don’t mind if I do.
Chef Devin and his team graciously prepared everyone a unique four-course meal featuring seasonal fresh dishes, paired with house wine and craft beer. I made the mistake of not capturing every course, so you will have just to use your imagination and try to picture what came after these two dishes.
In case these photos are giving you a bit of FOMO, fear not. The Bears Den Dinner After Dark menu is frequently rotating, so chances are your experience will be just as exciting as this one, only with a whole new menu.
Snowmobiling to Soak in the Burgdorf Hot Springs
I was looking forward to this day as I’ve only been snowmobiling once prior and have never had the pleasure of experiencing a hot spring in the winter time before. The fine folks at Brundage Mountain Resort were kind enough to set me up with a full day worth of snowmobiling. If I remember correctly, my group snowmobiled for 70 miles round trip to and from the Burgdorf Hot Springs. I used muscles that day that I haven’t used in years.
Once we got to Burgdorf, we checked in and had our lunch. I was quite hungry after the first 35-mile trek. Once we finished our sandwiches it was time to soak.
The closest thing I can compare the feeling of going from the brisk cold to the hot spring is the experience I had doing Cryotherapy in the Conejo Valley. You feel absolutely fantastic and rejuvenated. It was like I had three shots of espresso.
After my soak, I took my camera around Burgdorf and snapped some photos of its surroundings. The cabins look so welcoming, don’t they?
Beer Tasting and Brewery Tour at Payette Brewing
After my trip in McCall came to an end I got back on the ID-55 and made my way back to Boise. I checked back into the lovely Grove Hotel for one more night and immediately walked over to Payette Brewing to learn about their beer through an extensive tasting and brewery tour. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting the founder Mike Francis, but I was in good hands with one of their marketing team members.
Every Saturday between 2-4 pm, Payette offers FREE brewery tours to their guests. Depending on the group size, each tour runs between 40-60 minutes long, so there’s plenty of time for you to enjoy their tasting room after.
I’m eager to come back and visit Payette for one of their many events, specifically their Gelande Quaffing. No idea what that is? Neither did I! No problem, I Googled it for you here.
I want to thank the South West Idaho Tourism Board for putting together such an excellent itinerary. You genuinely have gifted me with so many great memories. Many of which I hope to share with my wife someday. Perhaps we can find a way for me to make it out during the summertime to see what that’s all about.
If you are looking for more to do in southwest Idaho in the winter (or any other time of year), head on over to SWITA’s travel guide section.
This trip was sponsored by SW Idaho Tourism. All opinions are 100% my own.