Think the end of summer means the end of Southern Idaho adventures? Meridian is here to prove you wrong. Autumn is an amazing time to visit — the temps cool but the skies stay sunny, kid-friendly activities are a bit easier to access without summer crowds, and local farms fairly burst with fresh produce and attractions (not to mention pretty, Instagrammable backdrops).
And then there are the events. Meridian is the ideal basecamp for the always-popular Boise Open, which this year will feature concerts by some of the most enduring names in rock. But you don’t have to leave town for fun — last year’s first-ever Oktoberfest was such a hit that it’s back for another round in Downtown Meridian.
Use these ideas for inspiration, then start planning your autumn escape by visiting choosemeridian.us or visitidaho.org.
Oktoberfest Is Back!
Last year’s inaugural Oktoberfest event transformed Downtown Meridian into an extravaganza of games, music, lederhosen, traditional German fare, and — of course — plenty of beer. Over 9,000 people attended, and this year’s event should be even bigger.
The fun starts at 10 a.m. October 7 and runs through 10 p.m. in Downtown Meridian (Idaho Street, Second Street, and Broadway Avenue will be closed for the duration of the event so attendees and move about freely). Here’s what you can expect during this action-packed festival.
Live music. No Oktoberfest is complete without a soundtrack of traditional “oompah” music; this year’s music will be provided by the Boise Edelweiss Band, which has been playing authentic German tunes for more than 35 years. At mid-day, longtime favorites The Moody Jews will take over with their high-energy klezmer compositions. Stick around for an evening classic rock performance by Redstone, a band that consistently tops “Best of Treasure Valley” lists.
Fun activities: Cornhole enthusiasts, this is your chance to prove your dominance! This year’s tournament promises to be fun for all ages. Prefer to stick to the sidelines? You’ll want to check out the amateur boxing lineup. Last year’s boxing event was a huge draw, and this year is expected to bring even more out-of-nowhere left hooks, uppercuts, and thrilling KOs.
Traditional Bavarian contests: Five super fun contests will keep you on your toes and test your mettle! Don your favorite dirndl for the costume contest, prove your strength during the stein-holding event, or scarf a record amount of pastry at the strudel eating contest.
Or, if you’re up for the challenge, you can participate in one of two more obscure games. Gelande quaffing has been dubbed “the most athletic drinking game in the world,” and it’s a ton of sloshy fun: A stein of beer is launched across a table at high speed toward the contestant, who must catch it and drink it before it falls on the ground. Hammerschlagen is a traditional Bavarian game that involves quickly hammering nails into a tree stump. Does it sound hilarious? Yes. Is it a surefire good time? You bet.
Beer, beer, and more beer: This year, Heritage Hop Haus, Loose Screw Brewery, and 127 Saloon will keep the brews flowing in the biergarten.
This one-day-only event is sure to be popular, so get your tickets ASAP!
Pick a Perfect Pumpkin and Scare Yourself Silly
Thanks to Southern Idaho’s gorgeous four seasons, autumn is golden and mild and laden with ready-to-pick crops. And, if you know where to go, it can be a frighteningly good time, too.
Will people be able to purchase a ticket and/or a stein? If so, what do they get in return (unlimited refills, one refill and keep the glass, etc.)?
Where can they get tickets in advance, and for how much? Also, what is the price of admission at the door? Is there a discount for kids?
If you need a one-stop destination for fall fun, Lowe Family Farmstead is your best bet. This sprawling farm in nearby Kuna features a u-pick flower field (always popular with Instagrammers), a pumpkin patch with more than 55 varieties of jack-o-lantern worthy pumpkins and gourds, hayrides running throughout the day and night, a “beach” made out of corn, farmyard animals, and fun one-off events all autumn. Of course, no trip to Lowe’s would be complete without wandering through the famous 18-acre corn MAiZE. The MAiZE is divided into two sections; try the mini version with the kids or brave the big maze yourself.
The Berry Ranch is just a few miles away from Meridian in nearby Nampa, but you might feel as if you’ve gone back to a simpler time. This working farm opens to the public to share its bounty — and fall is one of the best times to visit! Depending on when you visit, you might pick your favorite late-summer items like corn or berries … or load up on plump orange pumpkins and ready-for-dinner squash. The Berry Ranch also has a selection of grass-fed lamb and beef, as well as chickens, for sale.
Haunted World bills itself as the largest and scariest haunted house in Idaho, and we dare you to find out for yourself! For more than 20 years, this attraction in nearby Caldwell has been frightening folks with its intense scenes of murder and mayhem. (Although there is no age limit for admission, you might want to consider your child’s tolerance for scary situations.) Check Haunted World’s website for this year’s opening dates; tickets go on sale at dusk.
Let the Kids Bounce Off the Walls (In a Good Way!)
Are your children buzzing with back-to-school energy? These interactive, immersive experiences are the perfect solution!
The Northwest’s largest water park has been buzzing this year thanks to a massive — and massively popular — new addition. And with temps in no apparent danger of cooling any time soon, there are still plenty of chances to check it out! The new Camp IdaH2O features seven kids’ slides and the Tippin’ Tater potato tipping bucket, Class 5 Canyon action river, and Critter Crossing adventure pool. And that’s not even counting more than 20 additional water attractions, ranging from mild to wild.
Make it a weekend getaway with a second day at Wahooz Family Fun Zone right next door. Challenge the kids (or your partner!) to a game of mini golf, a laser tag session, bowling, or one of the dozens of arcade games inside. You can 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.
Whether you’re traveling with a grab-everything toddler or a science-obsessed third-grader, you’ll find plenty to keep them occupied for an afternoon at the Children’s Museum of Idaho. This hands-on learning museum includes a pirate ship, toddler-friendly play spaces, and even a cave full of live creatures (safely 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. Be sure to check the museum’s website while you’re planning your trip — recent events have included a Space Day complete with actual astronauts!
Expect the kids to have so! much! energy! after their travels? Add Jump Time to your schedule. Not only can they bounce to their hearts’ content on a series of trampolines, they can don a virtual reality headset and explore action-packed worlds, test themselves on the Extreme Ninja Course, or work their way through the Lazer Maze. Be sure to bring grip socks — all kids need them to play at Jump Time.
For more than 60 years, Meridian Lanes has been the go-to spot for family fun — it’s a classic old-school bowling alley featuring bumper lanes for kids and cold beverages (or boozy milkshakes) for their parents. Head there Monday-Thursday for $6 games, or reserve a lane Friday-Sunday nights for $30 per hour per lane. Be sure to check out the Bullseye Sports Bar & Kitchen, too, for their huge burgers.
The entire family can spend all day (or all evening) at Big Al’s. Really! There’s just so much to do: Bowling, arcade games, a sports bar, great eats, and a massive beer and cocktail menu. And if you’re looking to save a little cash while your family is tearing through their own personal air hockey tournament, check out the daily deals page of Big Al’s website before you visit.
Ready to find the perfect place to stay for your autumn adventure? Check out our lodging list and make your reservation. Be sure to browse our trip itineraries, too — they are loaded with tons of additional action-packed ideas for your stay in Meridian.