Choose Your Adventure: 9 Ways to Amp Up the Fun This Summer

Summer is one of the busiest — and best — times to adventure through Southwestern Idaho. And with Meridian as your basecamp, everything is within reach! Mix and match these easy, family-friendly ideas to suit your merry band of vacationers. Every one of them is within 30 minutes of Meridian, so you’ll spend more time enjoying yourself and less time worrying about getting to your next destination on time.

The Adventure: Roaring Springs Waterpark

Age range: All ages

What you need to know: Roaring Springs’ big new expansion makes it one of the largest waterparks in the country. Adventure awaits on the new Camp IdaH2O with seven kids’ slides and the Tippin’ Tater potato tipping bucket, Class 5 Canyon action river, and Critter Crossing adventure pool — plus more than 20 more water attractions, ranging from relaxing to thrilling. Make it a weekend getaway with a second day at Wahooz Family Fun Zone right next door.

Pro tip: Save $20 with a Triple the Fun ticket that gets you Roaring Springs full-day admission and a Wahooz Unlimited Fun Pass. Enjoy both parks in one day, or separately by Sept 17, 2023.


The Adventure: The Village at Meridian

Age range: All ages

What you need to know: We know it’s cliche to say there’s something for everyone at this uber-popular outdoor mall. But in this case, it’s true! The hardcore shoppers in your group will find all of their favorite stores, plus local favorites — and when they’re ready for a break, they can pop into M. Vincé Nail Salon for a pedicure or Panache Hair Studio & Day Spa for a sleek blowout or soothing facial.

Shopping is just one of the perks of The Village, though. Settle into the Village Cinema’s plush seats and take in the latest summer blockbuster, lounge on the patio at one of The Village’s many restaurants, or even perfect your bowling game at Big Al’s. The Village also has great options for smaller children, such as “Story Time with Jesse the Theater Kid,” an interactive storytime that runs from 10:15-10:55 a.m. every Monday through July.

Pro tip: Be sure to check The Village’s events page before you head out to catch late-breaking events and sales.


The Adventure: Children’s Museum of Idaho

Age range: 2-8

What you need to know: Little kids adore the Children’s Museum of Idaho, where they can explore to their hearts’ content and learn at the same time. This highly interactive space includes a pirate ship, toddler-friendly play spaces, and even a cave full of live creatures (behind glass, of course).

The museum’s classes and events, such as their “Let’s Get Messy” crafts and activities sessions or Monday Morning Legos, are the perfect bite-size activities for children. If you’re traveling in July, consider enrolling your child in the three-day Dinosaur Camp from July 18-20 — you’ll love hearing about their newfound dino knowledge when camp ends in the afternoon.

Pro tip: Bring the baby! Kids under 24 months enjoy free admission.


The Adventure: Meridian Parks and Recreation

Age range: All ages

What you need to know: Meridian counts an astounding 24 parks within its borders, ranging from dog-friendly Storey Bark Park to sporty Settlers Park to sprawling Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park. Whether you’re searching for the perfect pathway for your morning walk, ready to challenge the fam to a game of soccer, or simply looking for a shade-filled al fresco dining spot, there’s a Meridian park to fit the bill.

Golfers, take note: The highly affordable Lakeview Golf Club is part of the city’s parks and rec system — and it’s open seven days a week. And when the summer sun is at its peak, you and the kids can cool off at the open-to-the-public Meridian Pool.

Pro tip: Challenge the family to a pickleball game at the Meridian Homecourt, a community center with four basketball courts, 14 pickleball courts, and seven volleyball courts. A day pass is just $4 for non-residents.

The Adventure: Zoo Boise

Age range: All ages

What you need to know: Some of the world’s most extraordinary animals are just a 20-minute drive away from Meridian. Zoo Boise, located in the heart of leafy Julia Davis Park in Boise, is a longtime favorite of curious adults and kids alike.

For decades, this ever-popular zoo has been introducing people to animals from all over the world, from giraffes to meerkats to crocodiles and gila monsters. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with these animals; try your hand at feeding mealworms to a sloth bear or pile into a solar-powered boat and spot patas monkeys lurking around the zoo’s lagoon. You’ll be doing good, too: in 2007, Zoo Boise pioneered the idea of including a conservation fee in the admission price. Since then, millions of dollars have poured from Idaho to conservation efforts around the world.

Pro tip: You can schedule a private, behind-the-scenes animal experience with a tamarin, tiger, sand cat — even a lion! You must book your visit at least a week in advance, though.

The Adventure: Boutique and independent shopping

Age range: 10+

What you need to know: When you don’t want to dress yourself (or your home!) like everyone else, boutiques are the answer. Meridian has a plethora of places that offer unique, handmade, and creative options. Check out women’s clothing stores such as Blue Fringe Boutique, Hope Ave Boutique, I Beni Boutique, and 44 East.

If you’re hoping to find the perfect piece for your house — or a memorable gift for an upcoming birthday — you’ll find something to love at independent shops that are just a short drive away. Antique World Mall and Annex and LA Junk Antiques in Boise, as well as Sweet Tea Living in Eagle, serve up a mind-boggling array of treasures.

Pro tip: You can browse a number of independent boutiques, listen to live music, and grab a delicious bite to eat every first Tuesday of the month in Downtown Meridian. First Tuesday events run from May-September and are a great way to explore the city’s charming and historic downtown.


The Adventure: Floating the Boise River

Age range: 5+

What you need to know: A leisurely float on the Boise River is an iconic Southwestern Idaho summer experience. On hot days, the clear and cold water of the Boise River is the best tonic — and it’s a ton of fun for both kids and adults.

It takes about two to three hours to float from the put-in at Barber Park to the take-out at Ann Morrison Park six miles away. You’ll need a few pieces of equipment besides your swimsuit to get started; you can bring your own raft or inner tubes, or you can rent equipment at Boise River Raft and Tube. (Don’t forget the life vests! By law, children 14 and under must wear them.) You can also skip the hassle of bringing two vehicles by hopping on the shuttle bus that travels in a loop from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park.

For a full floating primer, visit Ada County’s handy online guide.

Pro tip: It is perfectly legal for kids to jump from bridges into the river below, so watch out — or join the fun!


The Adventure: Hiking and biking trails

Age range: All ages

What you need to know: Some of the best, most accessible outdoor spaces in Southwestern Idaho are just 25 minutes away from Meridian. The Ridge to Rivers Trail System is an absolute gem: 210 miles of trails that are open to the public for walking, running, mountain biking, and horseback riding. From the Foothills, you’ll enjoy unbelievable panoramic views of the valley below.

Challenge yourself with a hike up Table Rock Trail behind the Old Idaho Penitentiary (a favorite of early-morning hikers in the summer), take the kids through the easy loops behind Camel’s Back Park, or turn your legs to jelly by mountain biking Polecat Loop.

The Ridge to Rivers system is multi-use; some walking trails are closed to bikers, some allow dogs on leashes, and some do not. It’s best to consult the interactive trail map before planning your trip. If you happen to visit during a rare rainy week, stay off the trails altogether — using them while they’re wet can damage the paths and endanger fragile vegetation like sagebrush.

Pro tip: You’ll need to cool off after all that exercise. Good thing Meridian’s Roaring Springs has expanded its super-popular waterpark! Get your full guide to the expansion here.


The Adventure: Snake River Stampede

Age range: All ages 

What you need to know: One of the top 10 pro rodeos in the United States takes place in neighboring Nampa every July. The Snake River Stampede must be seen to be believed: Thousands upon thousands of folks pack the air-conditioned Idaho Center for four days billed as “the wildest, fastest show on Earth.”

We’re talking about everything you’d want in a rodeo and more — breakneck barrel racing, heart-pounding bronc riding, fast-and-furious roping, daredevil rodeo clowns, and beautifully talented rodeo queens. Of course, no top-tier pro rodeo would be complete without bull riding. Visit the Stampede and you’ll discover why it’s billed as “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.”

Whether you attend for one day or all four, you’ll want to snag your tickets and hotel early — rodeo fans travel from all over the West to see the Stampede.

Pro tip: Get up early to attend the Buckaroo Breakfast, a pancake feed that benefits the Canyon County 4-H Endowment.

Which adventures will you choose this summer? Book your stay now and browse through our itineraries for even more ideas.