Idaho February 01, 2017
Why This One Little Town Is Idaho’s Best Kept Secret
When it comes to beautiful, cozy, and underrated small towns, Idaho has plenty to choose from. Scattered throughout the Gem State’s diverse landscape and tucked far away from its larger cities, these communities are the epitome of simpler times; local cafes where everyone knows your name, gorgeous historic churches… One perfect town in particular, however, is not only the epitome of small town charm, but is as community-oriented as you can possibly get. And we absolutely love it.
Weiser, Idaho is home to a population of approximately 5,500 residents, the annual Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival, a standout school system, the start of the scenic Weiser River Trail and more than a few historic gems. This homey little town offers unique shops, local eateries and small town life at its finest—but rural beauty thrives here too.
Home of the Wolverines, this charming community boasts so much more than just one of the best school systems in the state.
Niche recently ranked Weiser at #25 for Idaho!
Quaintly surrounded by rolling foothills and farmland, this picture-perfect rural gem feels miles away from the big city, while still being just over an hour outside of Boise.
All that said, peace, quiet, and small town country living are what Weiser is all about.
Most famously, Weiser is also the home of the nationally-known Fiddle Fest.
This week-long event brings in fiddlers from all over the country for one final showdown, and every third week of June the town transforms into a whirlwind of campers, bikers, and RVers hoping to catch some of the music action and enjoy the carnivals and bazaars taking place.
Of course, bluegrass isn't the only kind of music you'll find!
Most of the performance action takes place at Memorial Park, where you'll find groups catering to nearly every musical taste.
A local favorite is to walk or bike the Weiser River Trail all the way to McCall -- the longest rails-to-trails route in the state.
With easy access into Oregon, humble Weiser also makes a welcoming starting point to some of the state's best scenic destinations. While biking the Weiser River Trail is one option, a beautiful, winding drive to McCall only takes a few hours and will take you through some beautiful, tree-lined areas. In the winter, be prepared for some snow-covered beauty! Weiser is also an ideal starting point for a trip to Hells Canyon or the Heaven's Gate overlook.
If staying local is more your style, Steck Park and Mann Creek Reservoir are both popular destinations for fishing and primitive camping. In fact, you'll be hard-pressed to find a local who hasn't spend more than their fair share of weekends and birthday celebrations here!
Historic buildings dot the town, but well over a dozen century-old churches also stand in-use.
For an extra dose of history, check out the Snake River Heritage Center near the high school campus.
This historic train depot just outside of downtown also stars in nearly every senior's yearbook photo.
The city of Weiser hosts a collection of architectural gems, but none has been polished as brightly as the historic Union Pacific Railroad Depot. Completed in 1907, this depot served as the hub of the town’s transportation before slowly falling out of use with the rise of personal automobile. It was recently restored and awarded an Orchid Award for Excellence by the Idaho Preservation Society in 2012.
Even the courthouse is as cute as a button!
But for many, the soul of Weiser is its long-standing gathering places - the mom and pop shops that make this tiny town as welcoming and comfortable as your own kitchen!
The mind-blowing handmade chocolates and candies at Weiser Classic Candy, the tasty shakes at Jeb's Corner, the Homestead Cafe... all have that special something that sets hometown businesses apart from big city chains.
Beautiful orchards and tree farms dot the landscape as well, but wildlife (like a rogue beaver here and there) may take to redecorating the area a little from time to time.
It's not unusual to see herds of deer bounding across the fields in the spring, either!
Sadly, the 2016-17 winter season has wreaked havoc on this picture-perfect town.
After the to-date accumulation of an unheard-of record of 56" and counting, the list of collapsed buildings - historic, commercial, and residential - is currently in the dozens. governor Butch Otter even declared the town in a state of emergency in an effort to help residents return to normal.
But true to the strong community spirit that has always characterized this welcoming little town, residents continue to come together to battle the weather.
From the high school wrestling team volunteering to shovel roofs and sidewalks, to neighbors digging out buried cars, to coming together to provide food and medicine after the only grocery store in town caved in - it's absolutely heartwarming to see how truly special and close-knit this town is.
But despite everything, this little town is still "Weiser strong."
Go Big Red!
If you’ve ever driven through Weiser or tapped your feet at the annual Fiddle Fest, you know how special and cozy this wonderful community is! With so much more than meets the eye, this is definitely one little town that shouldn’t be overlooked. Don’t you agree?