Idaho is a nature lover’s perfect escape. From the beautiful Sawtooth Mountains to the majestic lakes in the panhandle, there are some of the most beautiful and bucket-list-worthy destinations in the country found in the Gem State. Some of these must-visit destinations include the most charming small towns, and while there are dozens of these places in Idaho, one that has truly captured our heart is Moscow.
Moscow, Idaho is the perfect place to escape for a weekend. This area has something for everyone from its stunning location to its plethora of festivals to even its recreational activities and excellent food — there are so many things to do in Moscow. With so much to offer, there’s no doubt that it is the best small town in Idaho for a
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Is Moscow Worth Visiting?
You will find Moscow, Idaho tucked right next to the Idaho-Washington state line. This small town is located in the heart of the Palouse Region, one of the most unique and picturesque areas of the state.
Many people may wonder "What is Moscow known for?" It's easy. Moscow is home to approximately 25,000 people and many people come to town for one destination — the University of Idaho. Thousands of students come and go throughout the year and there are always activities that center around the university.
But this area has always attracted individuals. Settlers came to the area in 1871 and many more were drawn to the community due to the area’s timber. In the town's first days, the area was known as Hog Heaven and then Paradise Valley. In 1877, Samuel Neff, the man who filed the postal permit, filed the permit under the name of Moscow as the area reminded him of his home in Moscow, Pennsylvania. Shortly after, the railroad came to town and the area was chosen as the site for the University of Idaho.
How To Get To Moscow
Moscow is located in north-central Idaho. Highway 95 travels right through town, as well as Highway 8. The town comes right to the Idaho and Washington state line with the small town of Pullman, Washington just a few miles to the west.
No matter which direction you come to Moscow, you will travel right through the heart of the Palouse, one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Idaho.
The Palouse is comprised of small hills that are stunning at any time of the year. However, these aren't your typical hills. The hills of the Palouse were formed thousands of years ago and are made from dust and silt called loess that blew into the area from dust storms. My favorite time to explore the Palouse is in the late summer when the hills appear as a sea of gold.
Getting Around Moscow
While you can easily walk around downtown Moscow, the best way to visit this charming small town is in a car. Many attractions, such as the university, are spread out and you will have some distance to cover to reach them. Fortunately, Moscow is also a bike-friendly town and you can easily explore on a set of two wheels if you desire.
Best Time To Visit Moscow There is no bad time to visit Moscow. Each time of year certainly has its advantages but spring and summer are some of the best. In the spring, for example, you can enjoy the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, an incredible multi-day event with hundreds of student performances, world-class jazz artists, workshops, special exhibits, and more to enjoy. Each spring, Moscow also hosts a Renaissance Fair in East City Park. This community celebration first started in 1974 and has become a highly-anticipated annual event. During the Renaissance Fair, you will find music, a craft show, tons of food, kids activities, a parade, costume contest, and so much more. The Moscow Farmer’s Market is one of the best markets in Idaho and takes place from May through October. Located downtown, dozens of local farmers, creators, musicians, and other vendors come together to provide goods and services to the Moscow community. This market has become a community tradition for nearly 50 years. Where To Stay In Moscow While you may be wondering what to do in Moscow and where to stay, we have you covered. There are several accommodation options in Moscow such as numerous vacation rentals, chain hotels, and independent options.
One charming place to stay is the LogCastle Inn, located on Moscow Mountain. This log home is quaint and charming and each room is cozy and spacious.
1050 Greenview Ln, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
No matter where you are in the LogCastle Inn, you can receive beautiful views of Moscow and the surrounding area. Plus, you can always head outside and feel tucked away from the world as you are surrounded by trees and you may even spot some wildlife as you sit and relax. Rooms at this
charming Idaho inn
start at approximately $200 per night and you'll want to book far in advance as space is limited.
Day One: Exploring, Museums & Regional Cuisine While there are many things to do in Moscow, on the first day of our weekend getaway, we are going to head outdoors and explore.
One of the best ways to explore Moscow and the Palouse is on the Latah Trail. This a beautiful paved trail that was once the Moscow-Arrow rail line. This trail takes you all the way from Troy to Moscow. You will explore the Palouse, the forest, and Bear Creek Canyon on your way.
While this trail is several miles long, you can extend it even more as the Latah Trail connects to the Bill Chipman Trail, which takes you from Moscow into Pullman, Washington. The trail in its entirety is 28 miles long.
Latah Trail, Troy, ID, USA
Whether you come by yourself or even with the entire family, the
is a terrific way to explore the area. The trail is paved with a few rolling hills you will need to conquer but it’s perfect for running, cycling, walking, and more. Don’t worry though, there are picnic tables, benches, and even bathrooms along the way so no matter how far you go, you’ll easily find places to rest and recover.
After a day exploring the Palouse, you will likely work up an appetite and my favorite place to grab a bite is Humble Burger. This restaurant is where you can order some of the best burgers, French fries, and milkshakes on the Palouse.
Humble Burger, 509 S Main St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
When you come to this restaurant, you may notice that the menu isn’t extensive but that’s okay. This just means everything available at Humble Burger is made to perfection. Just make sure you don’t leave without trying some of the French fries at this
burger joint in Moscow
. These fries are hand-cut and prepared in-house. They are also fried in rice bran oil.
After a morning of exploring, it is time to learn even more about this wonderful area.
The Appaloosa Museum
is one lesser-known museum in Idaho but it is one that is certainly worthy of a visit. This museum is located on Pullman Road in Moscow and teaches you all about the Appaloosa Horse (Idaho’s state horse), the Nez Perce Tribe, and more.
Appaloosa Museum & Heritage Center, 2720 Pullman Rd, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
The museum is packed with all types of objects and photographs that tell you all about the Appaloosa breed. There is a play area for children, hands-on exhibits, and so much more to keep every member of the family engaged. Be aware that the museum’s hours are limited and may change, so your weekend itinerary may need to adjust accordingly. Admission is free to this museum but donations are always welcome.
For dinner, you will want to head back downtown to the Lodgepole. Located on Main Street, this restaurant features food of the Pacific and Inland Northwest and the atmosphere is beautiful — especially the outdoor patio.
Lodgepole, 106 N Main St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
The dining room of this restaurant features large windows that let in natural light or you can sit outside on the beautiful outdoor patio.
serves menu items featuring high-quality ingredients and those from local sources. Plus, this restaurant is a gratuity-free restaurant, meaning that you do not need to tip when visiting.
Day Two: Coffee, Art & Gardens
When you wake up and head into town for a day full of adventures, stop into Bucer’s Coffeehouse and Pub. This is one of the most
popular coffee shops in Moscow
and for good reason. This coffee shop roasts its own coffee, serves a variety of drinks, and its selection of pastries is perfection.
Bucer's Coffee House Pub, 201 S Main St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
Plus, you can always stop in later in the day to try some of this coffee shop’s large and delicious sandwiches, local beer, wines, and more. There’s also quite a selection of homemade desserts like the popular and extremely delicious Guinness Chocolate Cake.
After you have started your day, it’s time to visit some of the best Moscow attractions — the several art galleries in town.
Moscow was named one of the “Best 100 Small Art Towns in America” and the town is filled with all types of galleries and shops that you’ll want to explore. You can spend the morning exploring places like Third Street Gallery, Essential Art Gallery and Fine Gifts, and the University of Idaho Prichard Art Gallery.
Moscow also hosts a monthly Artwalk. Held on the third Thursday of each month from October through May, you can walk throughout town to enjoy visual, literary, performance, and even culinary arts all in a single night. For lunch, how about visiting a hidden gem?
Mikey's Greek Gyros, 527 S Main St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
Mikey’s Greek Gyros is one small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you can enjoy some of the best gyros, sandwiches, salads, and other made-from-scratch food in the area. This restaurant is one destination that is typically packed with locals and regularly hosts live music, art nights, trivia, community events, and more.
The perfect afternoon in Moscow begins at the McConnell Mansion. This beautiful mansion is one historic building in Idaho that deserves a spot on every bucket list.
McConnell Mansion, 110 S Adams St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
This mansion was built in 1886 by William J. McConnell, a former Idaho governor and well-known politician. It boasts a unique architectural style – one that no historic mansion from that time period in Idaho boasts. Today, you can tour the mansion, which has been transformed into a museum and shop at the museum store.
Following a visit to the McConnell Mansion, head to one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Idaho and my personal favorite Moscow attraction — the University of Idaho Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
Arboretum & Botanical Garden, Johnson Cutoff Rd, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
Located on Palouse River Drive, this
is home to thousands of plants, walking trails, a barn, water features, grassy spaces, bridges, and so much more. It is one space where you can sit and relax, meditate, walk, and just enjoy a little fresh air. It is free to visit and you can easily spend 10 minutes here or all afternoon — it’s your choice.
And to finish out the perfect weekend getaway in Moscow, Idaho, stop at Nectar for dinner. This wine bar is where you can not only enjoy a glass of wine to end the evening, but it is also where you can find some of the best macaroni and cheese in Idaho.
Nectar Restaurant & Wine, 105 W 6th St, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
This restaurant features a classy dining room, a romantic patio, and a menu featuring options like a burger or grilled meatloaf. Regardless of what you order, your taste buds will be in for a treat and you’ll be counting down the days until you can return.
You will never be bored when in the small town of Moscow, Idaho. So, let us know, what else do you need to know for the ultimate Moscow travel guide? Are you planning a weekend escape to this small town in Idaho or maybe even a day trip to Moscow? What are your favorite activities in Moscow or what are some of your favorite things to do in Moscow? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! And, if you are planning on visiting this community during an epic road trip, make sure you are prepared. Check out our
ultimate road trip packing list to ensure you have everything you need for your upcoming journey.
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