Idaho Falls — an outdoor lover’s paradise located right in the Rocky Mountains and near Yellowstone National Park, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and Grand Teton National Park — is a quiet town with spectacular access to nature as well as many cultural opportunities.
But this rustic town didn’t just make our list just because of its outdoor amenities: It also has a housing market that has risen dramatically over the last year (13.7%, to be exact), and is projected to grow even more. And while massive growth can often spell disaster for locals trying to break into the market, prices remain fairly affordable for those looking to buy.
Idaho Falls also earned points for its community engagement. Idaho Falls residents love to feel involved with their community, whether it’s volunteering for the Arts Council, shoveling snow from neighbors’ driveways after a winter storm, or packaging up food for families in need at the Community Food Basket. Idaho Falls residents are proud to live here and are always working to make their city better — and you can feel that whether you move here permanently or visit for a weekend.
Local Obsession: Adventure in any and all forms — whether it’s visiting nearby Yellowstone, wakeboarding in Gem Lake, or hanging out in a 5,000 year old lava plain, Idaho Falls loves getting outdoors.
Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: Seriously snowy and rarely hot
Top Industries and Employers: The top industries in Idaho Falls are healthcare and manufacturing. The top employers in the city are the Idaho National Laboratory, Melaleuca Inc. and the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
Local Dream Job: A research scientist for Idaho National Laboratory, one of the national labs for the U.S. Department of Energy that specializes in research on nuclear science.
Quintessential Meal: A big heaping pile of potato pancakes topped with applesauce from Smitty’s Pancake & Steak House
Favorite Weekend Activity: Something outdoorsy, like traversing the Mars-like landscape of Hell’s Half Acre, which is a 5,000-year-old lava plain.
After-Work Meetup Spot: Go ahead and get a buzz on at the Bee’s Knees, a pub with live music and tasty menu options.
Best Brewery: Idaho Brewing Company has award-winning brews, plus a sunny patio for summer days.
Free Way to Have Fun: The Idaho Falls River Walk, which spans about five miles on each side of the Snake River, is the perfect way to relax and see the city at your own pace.
Truly Hidden Gem: Nestled on an island off the Snake River is the Japanese Pavilion, a stunning public garden that is a good place to escape right in the middle of downtown.
- Jamie Birdwell-Branson