For some, a romantic getaway calls for balmy breezes and long walks on the beach. But for those of us who can’t swing a seaside escape this Valentine’s Day, embrace winter’s allure instead with a romantic weekend getaway to the charming town of McCall, Idaho.
Perched on the shores of Payette Lake, McCall is just a two-hour drive from Boise and offers endless bonding activities for couples. So whether your relationship could benefit from a relaxing candlelit dinner or needs to be shaken up a bit with an adventurous day of snowy play, a trip to McCall is sure to get you and your better half in the mood for love.
Here, we share ideas for a three-day romantic getaway to McCall, Idaho.
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Start your trip with a scenic drive North from Boise to McCall. This stretch of highway 55 is also known as the Payette River National Scenic Byway and recognized as one of America’s “Best Winter Drives.” This two-lane road winds through the Boise National Forest and hugs the curves of the coursing Payette River, which supplies some of Idaho’s finest whitewater. As an alternative longer route, you can also use US 95.
Tamarack Nordic Center
Before you reach McCall, stop to stretch your legs at the Nordic Center at Tamarack Resort. Tamarack is the name of a local tree species and a Native American word meaning “wood used for snowshoes.”
Tamarack’s scenery offers access to 24 kilometers of designated snowshoe trails. Terrain ranges from flat open space on the groomed greens to hillier, wooded areas towards the ski hills. You can also rent snowshoes through Tamarack Outfitters directly if you don’t have your gear. After your outing, Cozy up après snowshoe in front of the stone fireplace at the Bumps and Brews Beer Bar.
Gold Fork Hot Springs and Apres
Before heading to your final destination, make a pit stop at Gold Fork Hot Springs, located a short drive from Tamarack in Donnelly. Gold Fork has a series of pools in various temperatures for all comfort levels and is designed for serious lounging. Enjoy a nice long soak before hopping back in the car for the final stretch of your journey.
Continue to McCall and clean up for a romantic end to a fun-filled day: a lake-view dinner for two at Rupert’s restaurant in the historic Hotel McCall. Rupert’s gets rave reviews for its fresh, creative, and delicious dishes. Award-winning chef, Gary Kucy, has reached the perfect balance between elegance and modesty with everything from the seasonal menu to the warm dining room décor.
Gourmet yet, non-fussy regional game and seafood specialties will greet you, such as pan-roasted black cod, elk meatloaf, and pork ragu headline the dinner menu. A thoughtful wine list rounds up offerings from around the globe and selections from Idaho’s own Snake River Valley, a region flourishing with grapes from vibrant Viogniers to savory Syrahs. End your unforgettable meal by sharing a sweet treat with your sweetheart before turning in for the night.
Start your second day with a stroll along frozen Payette lake to Stacey’s Cakes, an inviting, cheerful bakeshop owned by Stacey Kucy (chef Gary Kucy’s wife), for a light breakfast before a day of pampering at the spa. Stacey started whipping up goodies weekly for her farmer’s market stand when the Kucy’s first moved to McCall, and it wasn’t long before she had to open a storefront to meet demands from sweet-toothed residents.
Not only will Stacey’s perfect pastries make your taste buds swoon, but watching this adorable (and talented!) duo work together in the kitchen is sure to stir up fuzzy feelings. Be sure to purchase a package of gingersnap cookies for the car ride home or a colorful and comical t-shirt souvenir.
The Cove Spa
Next, indulge in a couple’s massage at The Cove Spa at Shore Lodge. Arrive with ample time to spare before your scheduled treatment so you can unwind with a dip in the heated indoor/outdoor immersion pools, read a book by the outdoor fireplace, or enjoy the steam room and sauna amenities.
Afterward, enjoy a nourishing bite of Pacific Northwest cuisine from the comfort of your lounge chair. Then, wash it down with a fresh-pressed juice or a signature Huckletini, made with local vodka, fresh limes, and huckleberries. The staff and surroundings at The Cove make it incredibly hard to leave, but highly anticipated dinner plans with Blue Moon Outfitters will help motivate you to move again.
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Snowshoe to Blue Moon Yurt
Grab your snowshoes and a growler of craft beer from Salmon River Brewery and head to Ponderosa State Park. Tiki-torches light your path for the easy one-mile trek to the rustic Blue Moon Yurt, where a mouth-watering “winter culinary adventure” awaits. Smiling faces and a mug of hot mulled wine greet you at the door of this cozy, candlelit abode.
After mingling with your table neighbors for a while, your hostess, Lisa Whisnant, will introduce herself, the staff, and the menu before serving the first course: platters of sesame marinated grilled asparagus and a roasted red pepper stuffed brie cheese. The rest of the menu relies on Northwest staples like duck and salmon enhanced with ethnic ingredients like lemongrass, peanut sauce, and coconut.
You will be so blown away by the amazing meal and stimulating conversation that it will be nearly impossible to imagine the evening could get any better. Then, you grudgingly begin the trek home and notice the night sky overhead, blanketed in stars so clear and bright it looks like someone threw a handful of glitter across the moon. The moment is so magical you won’t be able to resist stealing a smooch from your sweetie.
Read More: Top Apres Snowshoe Spots in Boise, Idaho
After checking out of your accommodation, it’s time for our last day of the romantic getaway in McCall, Idaho. So, grab a bite at the Fogglifter Cafe and head out for one last snowshoe or cross-country ski with your partner.
Jug Mountain Ranch
Jug Mountain Ranch is not only the site of the Blue Moon Yurt, but it’s a “snowshoe haven”. Check out the home lots, a golf course, clubhouse, restaurant, and a Nordic center with more than 25 kilometers of groomed winter trails.
For a great workout and gorgeous views of Jug Mountain Reservoir try the 11-kilometer Reservoir Loop trail. Or, for a quick jaunt with beautiful meadow scenery, check out the 3-kilometer “Honeymoon Hollow” loop.
Find a quiet, scenic spot to rest and devour the sandwich you picked up from Gemma’s Italian Deli on the drive up.
Take your honey’s hand and savor the last few moments of togetherness before you return home to reality. Thanks to McCall, you’ve met some great people, shared some new experiences together, and discovered the quality time you were seeking (no beach required).
Would you have a romantic getaway in McCall, Idaho? What are some of your favorite winter romantic getaway ideas? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
This article was first published on February 9, 2015, and was most recently updated on January 24, 2022.