15 Best Things to Do in Lewiston, Idaho

Lewiston, ID
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The historic and idyllic city of Lewiston, Idaho, offers rich cultural experiences and thrilling adventures for all who wish to explore the region’s beauty.

Located where Snake River and Clearwater River meet, this town offers many attractions and other natural land features.

It’s also the site of ancient Native American communities and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, giving the location a colorful and storied past.

Owing to its elevation, Lewiston also has a thriving agricultural industry, with many wineries and vineyards dotting the landscape.

There is really something for everyone!

So for your next vacation, why not plan a trip to this charming northwest paradise?

Here are the 15 things to do in Lewiston, ID:

Explore Hells Gate State Park

Along the Snake River is Hells Gate State Park, a rugged and isolated landscape of mountains, cliffs, and grassy plateaus.

Don’t let the name intimidate you. The gorgeous scenery of riverside destinations, lush meadows, and towering cliffs promises a heavenly experience.

It’s one of Idaho’s best-kept secrets so that you can expect quiet and relaxing tours.

You can go hiking, river tubing, whitewater rafting, camping, and indulging in landscape photography within the park.

You can also try spotting the numerous species of animals, including mountain elks, otters, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.

Visit Hells Canyon

Snake River in Hells Canyon
Gestalt Imagery / shuttlestock.com

The remote, breathtaking Hells Canyon is one of the more well-known features of the region, with Hells Gate State Park as an access point.

It is the deepest canyon in the United States, running even deeper than the lowest depths of the Grand Canyon.

Since it’s not accessible by car, the canyon is usually reached via boating charters.

Snake River in Hells Canyon
Robert Crum / shuttlestock.com

While in Hells Canyon, you can enjoy sightseeing, hiking, camping, and spotting the abundant flora and fauna inhabiting the area.

The dramatic elevation changes are also perfect for awe-inspiring landscape photos.

With the right gear and weather, you’ll get amazing shots of the basaltic rock formations, deep ravines, and riverside meadows.

Attend the Dogwood Festival

Reminiscent of Japan’s cherry blossom season is Lewistons’ annual Dogwood Festival.

Every spring, thousands of people visit the city and marvel at the pink, fragrant flowers as they bloom and make carpets of petals in the streets.

It’s perfect for photography and sightseeing.

There are also other activities tied to the festival during this time, including dog shows, wine tasting, music concerts, and sports tournaments.

Join the celebrations and enjoy the stunning scenery made extra vibrant by the Dogwood trees.

The festival lasts the whole month of April, so there’s a wider set of dates to set your schedule around.

Explore the Lewis-Clark Valley Wine Region

Lewiston's rich volcanic soil, hot climate, and surrounding areas have created perfect conditions for winemaking.

Within the city limits, there are many vineyards the grow premium-quality grapes.

It’s a haven for wine connoisseurs.

Visit the various wineries dotting the region, including Jovinea Cellars, Twisted Vine Wine, and Vine 46 Winery.

You can book tours of these facilities, witness the winemaking process, sample some fine bottles, and visit their gift shops for quality souvenirs.

Visit the Clearwater Canyon Cellars

The Clearwater Canyon Cellars deserves a special mention among the various wineries within Lewiston.

This facility's award-winning distillery aims to bring back Lewis-Clark Valley’s reputation as a world-class winemaking region.

They have scenic vineyards with majestic mountains on the background, advanced distilleries that produce ultra-premium wines, as well as highly trained and friendly sommeliers.

Try the samples of their fruity and aromatic wines, and you’ll realize why Clearwater Canyon Cellars is the 2020 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year.

After a busy workday, don’t forget to bring home a bottle or two for special celebrations, weekend dinners, or a well-deserved drink.

Book Snake River Tours and Adventures

Sunset in Snake river, Idaho
Victoria Ditkovsky / shuttlestock.com

The winding Snake River offers many opportunities for fun with friends, family, and kids!

There are river tours and boat rides that let you travel down the meandering streams as they snake in between the majestic mountains.

Keep an eye in every corner to increase your chances of seeing grazing sheep, playful otters, soaring eagles, and marine creatures swimming against the currents.

This relaxed and peaceful activity is best done during fall, as the cooler temperatures allow for a more comfortable experience.

Some tours will also offer a more educational experience where you’ll learn about the river’s biodiversity, geology, and prehistory.

Not only will you enjoy the remarkable scenery, but you’ll also get to know the place a little better and gain a renewed appreciation of it.

Participate in Hot August Nights

Music and car lovers, the Hot August Nights is a remarkable occasion featuring notable musicians and vehicles of various makes and models.

There are many events within the three-day activity, with venues ranging from theaters to whole streets.

For many, the auto shows are the festival’s highlight, drawing thousands of people from all over the Northern US.

On the last day, the event is capped off by a concert featuring national and local artists.

Every year, different artists are invited, so make sure to check out who’s coming if you want to catch your favorite bands and singers live.

To secure your spot, you need to register for the event before it starts.

Tour the Jack O'Connor Center

Hunting enthusiasts will have a great time visiting the Jack O'Connor Center.

The facility, located within the Hells Gate State Park, serves as the permanent location of the trophies of celebrated hunter, Jack O'Connor.

You’ll get to see mounted heads of deer, lions, bears, tigers, and many other creatures from all over the world.

His favorite firearms are also on display, most of which serve as iconic symbols for Jack’s hunting prowess.

It truly is a haven for hunting buffs!

Aside from seeing these well-preserved trophies, you’ll also learn about the importance of sustainable hunting, game management, and wildlife conservation.

Make sure to stop by the gift shop and bring home a souvenir to remember your visit.

Visit the Lewis-Clark College Center for Arts and History

Located in Downtown Lewiston, this 12,000-square-foot facility is where the city’s rich history is celebrated and preserved.

The building was once a temple built by Chinese settlers who immigrated to the area during the gold rush, which was then used as a store and a bank before it was finally donated to the Lewis-Clark State College Foundation.

Today, it stands as a notable site that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

You will see various art exhibits, engaging collections, and movie presentations that showcase the stories past of Lewiston.

There are also special events held within the premises, such as book signings and music productions, that are a rare treat for visitors.

Entry is free for everyone, so make sure to include this little hidden treasure of Lewiston in your itinerary.

Charter a Fishing Trip

Fishing in Snake River
Kevin Cass / shuttlestock.com

Both Clearwater and Snake rivers serve as the home of numerous game fish native to the northwest US.

For fishing enthusiasts who want to catch these creatures, there are many businesses within Lewiston that offer guided fishing tours.

They also lease equipment for beginners or those who weren’t able to bring their own gear.

Because of the two rivers’ deep crevices, rushing waters, and underwater rock formations, species like steelhead trouts, salmon, smallmouth bass, and sturgeons all abound in the area.

Some of these can be as big as 20 lbs, so make sure you have enough strength to pull your lines when they take the bait.

Bring your family along and have fun catching the largest fish as you travel the scenic rivers.

Stay at Chief Looking Glass Park

This waterfront park located a few miles from Lewiston promises a relaxed and peaceful time to enjoy the magnificent outdoors.

Chief Looking Glass Park and grassy landscape stand on the other side of Snake River, across Hells Gate State Park.

You’ll have a great time basking under the sun or reading a book under the old, shady trees dotting the site.

It is also a great spot for landscape photos, as the park offers a commanding view of Idaho’s rugged mountainside and Snake River winding its way through the valley.

There are also facilities for athletic activities, such as a basketball and tennis court.

During the summer, you can head to the small beach and take a refreshing dip in the river's cool waters.

See the Nez Perce County Historical Society and Museum

Lewiston is part of Nez Perce County, a region with a vibrant and storied past.

Here, you will get to know the cultures of the Nez Perce Indians, an indigenous group that has depended on the region’s rich natural resources for thousands of years.

There are also exhibits that showcase early pioneer efforts in the area, especially the story of how the Nez Perce Indians saved members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition from starvation.

For those who are bringing kids, there are interactive exhibits where children can engage with the displays while learning about history.

Learn About Nature at Modie Park

Kids and adults who have a passion for nature will have a grand time at Modie Park.

Aside from the scenic walks and beautiful landscaping, the facility also houses various exhibits that let you interact and learn about the local flora and fauna.

There is a butterfly garden abounding with colorful critters.

In addition, you can join the bird watching activities where you can spot local and migratory species.

The wildflower garden’s wetlands section will let you know the plants native to the region.

So many things are waiting for you at the park, so pay a quick visit during your trip to Lewiston.

Go River Rafting and Tubing

River Rafting in Idaho
jwmensch / shuttlestock.com

There are rapids of various difficulty levels in Clearwater and Snake river.

These are ideal for thrilling activities like river tubing and whitewater rafting.

For beginners and those looking for a milder ride, tubing is an exciting and safe way to explore sections of the rivers.

Many outfitters within the area lease tubes, life vests, helmets, and other equipment, so visit them beforehand to get all that you need.

Daring individuals can try whitewater rafting in the more turbulent rapids of Clearwater and Snake river.

The rapids range from Class II to Class IV, so you can expect anything from a mildly splashy river bend to a rollercoaster-like stream that will have you hanging on to dear life.

Some of these whitewater rafting tours include camping, allowing you to stay in the most isolated locations within the valleys.

It’s truly an unforgettable experience!

Dine at Established Lewiston Restaurants

Hungry for some American staples or dishes from international cuisines?

Lewiston has many restaurants that will satisfy every craving.

Visit Waffles N More, a favorite local establishment offering hearty breakfast meals such as omelets, crepes, bacon, eggs, and waffles!

Southway Pizzeria & Deli is one of Lewiston's go-to establishments for Italian cuisine, offering savory pizza, pasta, and other delicious delights.

Another must-visit restaurant in the city is Mystic Cafe, where you can order sweet pastries, tasty breakfast food, and flavorful brewed coffee.

Don’t forget to stop by Zany’s for tasty fusion cuisine, including sushi, salads, and burger baskets with the most unique additions.

Final Thoughts

Located in the middle of many natural features, Lewiston offers a wide range of activities and attractions for the young and old alike.

There is also a rich history of Native Americans, early pioneers, Chinese immigrants, and celebrated individuals that make an interesting visit to their various museums.

So for your next vacation, reference this list for your itinerary and have fun exploring all that Lewiston has in store.