Southern Idaho Offers Unique Quality of Life
Region rich in dining, arts, recreation
Free time is priceless, and when it comes to spending it, residents here have plenty of worthy options, whether it's dining on fresh, delicious local foods, taking in a new arts exhibit or theatrical performance, or exploring the region's vast opportunities for outdoor recreation.
“Our whole region continues to evolve, with new creative dining experiences, abundant arts offerings and top recreation opportunities adding to our quality of life,” says Travis Rothweiler, Twin Falls city manager. “We are trying to develop a region where people want to work, live, play, relax and enjoy entertainment, all while maintaining our unique identity and preserving our rich geographic history.”
On the Front Burner
Some top independent restaurants are Pho Taki and Little India Restaurant (both inside Asian Food Market), Blu, Canyon Crest Dining & Event Center, Chadwick Sports Grille, Doc’s Pizza, Elevation 486, El Sombrero, Jakers and KB’s Burritos. Also popular are La Plaza, Morey’s Steakhouse, O’Dunken’s Draught House, Rock Creek Restaurant, The Anchor Bistro & Bar, Twin Falls Sandwich Co. and Zeppe’s.
Manhattan Café, which sits alongside the railroad tracks in Shoshone, has an interesting history. It has operated under the same name since 1903, and was a frequent stop for Ernest Hemingway (and sometimes his celebrity guests) as they traveled back toward his Ketchum home after hunting trips in the area.
The Show Goes On
In the arts community, symphonies include Magic Valley Symphony and Sun Valley Summer Symphony, while performing arts venues and organizations around the region include Company of Fools at Liberty Theatre in Hailey, Dilettante Group of Magic Valley and Howells Opera House in Oakley. Among other performing arts groups and venues are Junior Musical Playhouse Co. (JuMP Company), King Fine Arts Center in Burley, Magic Valley Little Theatre, The Orpheum in Twin Falls, Twin Falls Center for the Arts and Wilson Theatre in Rupert.
At the College of Southern Idaho, venues include the CSI Herrett Center for Arts & Sciences and the CSI Fine Arts Center.
“One of the programs we offer here is Arts on Tour, a performing arts series where we bring in about seven different artists each season from all over the world,” says Camille Barigar, CSI director of community enrichment. “Otherwise, people would have to drive to Boise or Salt Lake City to get the level of entertainers and performances that we offer in our series.”
Barigar, who was presented the Governor’s Award in the Arts in 2016, says Arts on Tour was formed in 1988 to offer dance, music and theatrical shows.
“CSI also has a newer series called Stage Door that features CSI faculty members and local residents who want to showcase their talents,” she says. “Stage Door is an intimate setting with seating for 100 people, and the shows push the boundaries a bit. Every show is entertaining.”
Recreation abounds throughout the area's rugged and diverse landscape. Snow sports enthusiasts enjoy the Albion Area snowmobile trails, Gooding County Snow Park snowmobile trails, Magic Mountain Resort and Pomerelle Mountain Resort.
“When the snow flies here, people really show up,” says Gretchen Anderson, Pomerelle Mountain Resort marketing director. “Besides regular runs, we have a world-class Milk Run gentle slope that is the best possible place for people of all ages to learn how to ski or snowboard.”
Also available to skiers is Soldier Mountain, known for its excellent terrain.
“After a fresh snowstorm, skiers around here can pretty much have a day of skiing on powder all to themselves,” says Diane McFerran, owner of Soldier Mountain.
Golfing venues in Southern Idaho includes Blue Lakes Country Club, Canyon Springs Golf Course, Clear Lake Country Club, Jackpot Golf Club and Jerome Country Club, while spectator sports can be found at College of Southern Idaho, high schools, Magic Valley Speedway, rodeos and WARP sprint boat racing. Hikers, bikers, climbers and campers can explore destinations like Auger Falls Biking Trails, Castle Rocks State Park, City of Rocks National Reserve, Thousand Springs State Park and Twin Falls Area Canyon Rim Hiking Trail.
“It’s amazing around here because all this outdoor recreation is right at our doorstep,” says Terry Patterson, instructional dean at the College of Southern Idaho and an avid hiker, biker and camper. “Plus we also don’t have big crowds like other places have, although Southern Idaho is slowly being discovered.”