Nampa is the largest city in Canyon County, Idaho.
Situated in the center of Boise Valley, the city was founded in 1886 when the Oregon Short Line Railroad brought with it commerce and development.
The area was originally a barren desert dotted with sagebrush, but irrigation in the 1890s made farming possible.
It’s believed to be named after the Shoshone Indian leader Nampuh, whose name translates to “big foot.”
Nampa’s founder Alexander Duffes intentionally designed the city’s roads to be perpendicular to the railroad as opposed to the usual horizontal to avoid accidents like in the previous town he platted.
Today, the city is the center of the Boise-Nampa Metropolitan area and is home to vibrant and hip restaurants, entertainment spots, and recreational spaces.
Here are the best things to do in Nampa, Idaho:
Go Fishing on Lake Lowell
Located on Iowa Avenue, Lake Lowell is a 9,800-acre reservoir that offers visitors boating, wildlife viewing, and fishing opportunities.
It’s part of the Boise Project, one of the first projects of the Bureau of Reclamation.
It has 28 miles of shorelines along the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge.
The lake is an excellent spot for birding, with over 200 species of birds passing by the area during migration season.
But one of the best recreational activities in the lake is sportfishing.
Fish species found in Lake Lowell include bluegill/sunfish, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch.
There’s also a 20-acre park with picnic tables and barbecue grills where you can cook your catch of the day.
Take a Splash in the Pools of Lakeview Water Park
Located on 7th Street North, Lakeview Water Park features a beach entry, swimming pools, and a two-story slide.
All the pools in the park are temperature-controlled, so you don’t have to worry about kids getting too cold.
There are plenty of open spaces where you can play sports with your kids.
Ducks frequent the creek that runs through the park, so you can take some grains like cracked corn or oats with you and feed them.
If you’re into plants, there’s a rose garden inside the park filled with different species of roses.
Since there’s a nearby airport, you can do plane spotting as aircraft often hover above Lakeview Water Park.
Watch Professional Rodeo at the Snake River Stampede
The Snake River Stampede is an annual rodeo held for five days on the third week of July.
The competition takes place at the Ford Idaho Center on Idaho Center Boulevard.
The tradition traces its roots to the bucking contests held during Nampa’s harvest festival.
It was in 1913 when the Rodeo and Buck Show officially became part of the festivities, and it quickly gained popularity throughout the years.
It’s been recognized as one of the top professional rodeos by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and conducted in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Warm-up events leading to the 5-day spectacle are held during Snake River Day, including the Rodeo Parade and Buckaroo Breakfast.
There are also pre-rodeo events, such as the Miss Rodeo Idaho, Mutton Busting, and Slack Competition.
The main Snake River Stampede events include Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, and Bull Riding.
Admire Restored War-Time Aircraft at the Warhawk Air Museum
Located in a hangar within the Nampa Municipal Airport along Municipal Drive is the Warhawk Air Museum.
The aviation museum proudly displays aircraft used during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Spanning 40,000 square feet, visitors can learn about the personal accounts of the men and women who experienced the wars and how advancements in aviation impacted our history.
It houses a large collection of beautifully restored rare fighter aircraft and equipment, including the only two Curtiss P-40 remaining in the world and a P-51C razorback Mustang used in WWII.
Also displayed at the Warhawk Air Museum are memorabilia, preserved documents, and binders of personal accounts from war survivors.
Catch Rainbow Trout at the Wilson Springs Ponds
Located on South Powerline Road, the Wilson Springs Ponds is a small park with two stocked fishing ponds and a walking trail.
The North Pond is 7 acres, while the South Pond measures 1.1 acres.
There are paved pathways in both ponds that provide easy access to several fishing spots, while the unpaved trails give the kids a chance to fish from the shore and explore the surroundings.
The two ponds are stocked with game fish, including bluegill/sunfish, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout.
Reedy areas at the back of the pond host yellow-headed blackbirds and wild ducks.
Take the whole family fishing at the Wilson Spring Ponds.
Practice Your Swing at Centennial Golf Course
Centennial Golf Course is a 6,700-yard, par 72 golf course located on Centennial Drive.
It was built in the 1980s through the efforts of community leaders who led a fundraising drive for the construction of the city’s first public golf course.
It was completed in 1987 and has since been a favorite among locals because of its large, contoured fairways that accommodate all levels of players.
The Centennial Golf Course has one of the cheapest (if not the most affordable) rates in the area.
So if you happen to be in town and just want to practice your swing, this is the perfect spot.
This course is excellent for beginners and recreational golfers, as the layout is fun and challenging but not too demanding.
Spot Migratory Birds at the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge
Located on Upper Embankment Road, the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge is a 10,588-acre sanctuary that serves as a breeding ground for mammals and birds.
The refuge was founded in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt and is one of the oldest refugees in the country still in operation.
It sits on the land surrounding the Lake Lowell and Snake River Islands, serving as a refuge for local and migratory wildlife.
Its strategic location attracts mallards and Canadian geese during migration season.
The Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge has been declared a Globally Important Bird Area because of its role in bird migration.
Within the park are a 9,000-acre lake and 10 miles of trails that you can explore to spot rare species of birds and mammals.
Have Lunch at Brick 29 Bistro
Located on 11th Avenue South, Brick 29 Bistro boasts American-style cuisine with locally sourced ingredients.
The restaurant is housed on the third floor of an unassuming red brick building, but once you get inside, you’re welcomed by a chic interior and spacious dining area.
Brick 29 is famous for its Spicy Garlic Calamari and Mushroom Bisque.
For the mains, the restaurant offers premium meats like the classic Filet Mignon Flat Iron Steak, and Lamb Shank for a more adventurous palette.
To cap off your meal, the Creme Brûlée is a must-try, as well as the Deconstructed German Cake.
Try Brick 29 Bistro’s best-sellers for a hearty lunch.
Grab Breakfast at The Tower Grill
The Tower Grill is a popular breakfast spot at the Nampa Municipal Airport, just off Runways 29 and 11.
It was founded in 2016 by aviation enthusiast Nate Lindskoog, combining his love for aircraft and food.
The restaurant is a go-to breakfast place for locals and tourists, offering classic American diner food, like loaded omelets, breakfast tacos, and toasts.
Don’t miss the burger menu if you want to fill it up before touring around the city.
Some must-tries are “The Shawn,” a breakfast burger with a twist, and the P-38.
Have brunch on The Tower Grill’s patio overlooking the runway while plane-spotting at the same time.
See Train Memorabilia at the Canyon County Historical Society's Nampa Train Depot Museum
Located on Front Street, the Canyon County Historical Society's Nampa Train Depot Museum is a former train depot that turned into a museum that houses historical artifacts from the Oregon Short Line Railroad.
The Canyon County Historical Society was established in 1972 when a group of concerned citizens banded together to save the Nampa Train Depot from demolition.
The 1903 structure is a one-story brick and sandstone building with Baroque, Renaissance, and Romanesque influences.
The museum houses photos and documents that show the rich history of the depot.
There’s a miniature model of the railroad tracks and some restored train equipment and automobiles.
Trace Nampa’s humble beginnings at the Canyon County Historical Society's Nampa Train Depot Museum.
Buy Antiques from Rusty Retro Antiques and Oddities
If you’re a fan of antiques or a collector of knickknacks from travels, this is the place to be.
Rusty Retro Antiques and Oddities is an antique store on Caldwell Boulevard that offers vintage items, from kitchen tools to artworks.
The shop has three rooms filled with furniture, handcrafted jewelry, dolls, household items, and many more.
It’s especially known for its collection of steampunk artworks from local artists and vintage Pyrex.
Add to your collection or take home a piece from Rusty Retro Antiques and Oddities to remind you of your trip to Nampa.
Get Fresh Local Produce at Nampa Farmers' Market
Located in Lloyd Square in Historic Downtown Nampa, the Nampa Farmers Market has provided a venue for local farmers and artisans to showcase their produce since 1989.
Founded by John and Afine Relk, the market was originally held in the parking lot right across the present-day Nampa Library.
It started with only three vendors, and now there are about 60 to 75 vendors offering their produce every week.
Find fresh fruits and vegetables, ready-to-eat food, breads and spreads, and handcrafted items like crocheted scarves and jewelry.
Nampa Farmers Market is held all year round, featuring whatever’s in season.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Watch a Motorsport Race at Meridian Speedway
Located on South Main Street in Meridian, Meridian Speedway is a motorsport racetrack that hosts national and local racing events year-round.
There are weekly NASCAR-sanctioned races, so if you happen to be around town, try to catch one.
If you’re a fan of classic cars, there are modified racing and late-model racing events held occasionally on the track.
The boat races are a favorite among patrons, but the monster truck rides are also crowd-pleasers.
If you’re a motorsport fan, don’t drive by the Meridian Speedway to catch a race.
Do a Tasting Tour at the Indian Creek Winery
Just a 14-minute drive from Nampa is the Indian Creek Winery.
The family-owned and operated estate was founded by Bill and Mui Stowe in 1982 to produce high-quality local wines in the Snake River Valley.
The winery has received numerous awards, including Best Local Winery in the Boise Weekly Best of Boise 2016 and Idaho Winery of the Year in Wine Press Northwest’s Spring ’08 Edition.
They also host community events on the estate’s grounds, like music fests and the WinoLympics.
Of course, tasting tours are a must, and Indian Creek Winery’s experienced winemaker is ready to spill some secrets about the winemaking process.
Tickets to the tour include tasting tokens that you can use to sip their newest spirits.
Try the Waterslides at Roaring Springs Water Park
Located on West Overland Road in Meridian is the Roaring Springs Water Park.
It’s a 15-minute drive from Nampa and boasts more than 20 water attractions that kids and kids at heart will surely enjoy.
The 15-acre park has waterslides of different heights and thrill levels, the most famous of which is the award-winning Snake River Run, where you’ll be thrown to two flying saucers before a final 180-degree turn catapults you into the air.
The Thunder Falls can accommodate up to four persons in a single rubber tube so that you can take the whole gang for a more fun experience.
You’ll surely make a splash by trying Roaring Springs Water Park’s waterslides.
Nampa has come a long way from its beginnings as a barren desert.
Today, the city is bustling with trendy shops and restaurants and is a significant business hub in Idaho.
Despite development, it’s maintained its small-town vibe thanks to historical sites showcasing its rich culture and nature preserves highlighting its diverse wildlife.
Try the best things to do in Nampa and experience a unique mix of history, nature, and urban life.