15 Things To Do In Pocatello On Business
With a nickname like the “Smile Capital” of the country, visitors to Pocatello, Idaho can expect a warm welcome.
Increasingly, businesses are choosing this friendly destination for corporate meetups.
If you’re traveling to Pocatello soon on business, you may be wondering what to do in your downtime. While it may not yet be considered a major tourist destination, Pocatello holds its own in the hospitality and recreational industries. You’ll find plenty to explore in your off hours — in fact, you may even consider extending your trip to enjoy the area on your own.
Ready to explore what makes this such a novel city to experience?
Check out these 15 things to do in Pocatello and the surrounding area to make your business trip fun.
Walking The Business District
Your hotel will probably be located somewhere central in the business district of Historic Downtown Pocatello. If so, you’ll have plenty of things to do within walking distance.
The area is known for its specialty shops, attracting those who want unique souvenirs and dining experiences. You’ll see an eclectic mix of bars and brewpubs next to bakeries and coffee shops; all interspersed with retail boutiques and day spas.
Business owners love the historic buildings that make up what’s often referred to as Old Town Pocatello, so you’ll also run into lawyers, doctors and other professionals here.
1. Shop Local
Take a stroll through the neighborhood and enjoy the atmosphere as you window shop during your downtime. There are walking and building tours designed to show off the best of the area if you’re interested in exploring in detail.
Whether you choose a self-guided stroll or you prefer having someone to show you around, you’ll run into a variety of opportunities to shop local and bring home some souvenirs. Pocatello has great locally-owned shops like:
- Antiques and consignment boutiques
- Clothing and jewelry stores
- Home decor and furniture stores
- Comic stores
- Floral shops
If you’re looking for something specific, check out Historic Downtown Pocatello’s business directory for an updated list of stores and addresses.
On Saturdays, many local artisans get together and host the famous Portneuf Valley Farmer’s Market. If your trip brings you to the area over the weekend, check out the market for authentic local artwork, fruits, veggies and other craft goods.
2. Sample Local Fare
Another way to shop locally and invest in the Pocatello economy is to dine at independently owned restaurants. On a stroll around the business district, you will find a charming mix of quaint mom-and-pop shops and fine dining cuisine.
Portneuf Valley Brewing and Jim Dandy Brewing are two local favorites for unwinding after work or discussing business over a drink. Portneuf hosts live music throughout the week and has a casual menu, while Jim Dandy serves brunch and bar fare.
You could even branch out into Hawaiian, Thai, Indian and Nepali, Asian and Mediterranean restaurants.
3. Stay Busy With Local Entertainment
Looking for entertainment nearby?
You’re in the perfect area.
Historic Downtown Pocatello has three theaters: Old Town Actor’s Studio, Westside Players and Gateway Foundation for Theater and Dance. Each one hosts shows all year. Check their schedules on the business directory to see all of what’s playing while you’re in town.
Various arts and crafts shops and the quirky, unique Museum of Clean will give you a fun twist to your exploration.
The city of Pocatello sits in the southeastern part of Idaho, an area that offers no end to natural beauty. The city is nearly 4,500 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains, built along the famous Oregon Trail.
If you’re an outdoor buff, you’re probably familiar with the many opportunities for outdoor recreation you can find in this part of Idaho.
4. Mountain Biking
Pocatello caters to mountain bikers — and there’s no need to drag your bike along on your trip.
You can rent bicycles, as well as other equipment, at Barrie’s Ski and Sports.
Once you’re set with the gear you’ll need, hit the Satterfield bike trails, Lower City Creek Trailhead or the Abreszewski Trailhead. They’re all within a few miles of each other, surrounding Idaho State University.
5. Ross Park
Looking for a less-demanding way to enjoy some fresh air? The Ross Park Aquatic Complex is a great way to spend a hot summer day.
Get some laps in at the swimming pools or relax in the lazy rivers.
The complex even includes Zoo Idaho, where 30 exhibits host nearly 100 animals that vary throughout the year.
Outback Golf Park driving range and miniature golf is open all year — depending on the weather — for a mini golf course full of 18 holes of eagles, birdies and bogeys.
7. Lava Hot Springs
Lava Hot Springs is a water park in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, just a 40-minute drive from downtown Pocatello. Relax in the pool, play disc golf or hit the water slides.
Let any stress from your trip melt away as you soak in the springs or wander through the Sunken Gardens, a botanical delight where birds and butterflies abound.
Surrounded by rock walls that look like lava, the effect is an area that is serene and peaceful, as well as educational. The rock walls are the leftover remains of algae reefs that were formed in the Portneuf River thousands of years ago.
8. Idaho Falls
A straight shot down I-15 about 45 miles from Pocatello is Idaho Falls. Visitors and residents flock to the Idaho Falls Riverwalk, where paved trails line the Snake River and its tributary, the Portneuf River.
The views of the river, waterfalls and surrounding mountains make this the ideal retreat from the hectic pace of your business trip.
While in Idaho Falls, take an hour and walk around Hell’s Half Acre. If you have an interest in geology or just quirky places to visit, you’ll definitely want to check out this basaltic lava field that stretches across the Snake River Plain.
9. Oregon Trail
We mentioned that Pocatello is situated on the original Oregon Trail. History buffs will definitely want to take the opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience of the early settlers of the American West.
500 miles of the 2,000-mile-long trail stretch across Idaho.
If you want to learn more and have some time, drive two hours to the Oregon Trail Reserve in Boise (where you’ll find 77 acres of the preserved trail and memorabilia). But if that doesn’t fit in your schedule, there’s a full-size Fort Hall replica right here in Pocatello.
Fort Hall’s trading post was a major landmark for trail explorers. Travelers stopped to collect supplies they’d need before hitting the desert westward toward California. Today, the replica is part of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe’s reservation land.
History, Art and Culture
Idaho was an essential part of America’s Westward Expansion, and you’ll see evidence of this frontier history everywhere you go here.
Much of it is displayed at the history and art galleries in and near Pocatello.
Add these cultural stops to your itinerary to make the most of your time in this history-steeped destination.
10. Idaho Museum Of Natural History
The Idaho Museum of Natural History is part of Idaho State University.
The center hosts:
- Permanent and traveling exhibits
- Art classes
- Field trips
- Gift shop
While in Pocatello, stop in and see what’s on display at this intriguing natural history museum.
Hours vary throughout the year, so check their schedule before you make the trip.
11. Bannock County Historical Museum
The Bannock County Historical Museum accurately welcomes you to “step back in time.” A trip to this facility is like a blast from the past.
You’ll see railroad history, Prohibition-era artifacts, Native American art and artifacts as well as evidence of what early medical practices looked like. Ethnographic photographs, archaeological artifacts and much more line the walls and displays of this museum.
12. Idaho State University Sports
Sports fans will be happy to know that Idaho State University’s athletic teams are on-site, practicing and playing all year.
Get your football fix watching the Bengals at Holt Arena or cheering for a basketball game at the newly-revamped Reed Gym.
Venturing beyond the borders of Historic Downtown Pocatello opens you up to even more dining possibilities.
If you want to skip the chain brands and go where the locals eat, here are some of the top-recommended restaurants in the city.
13. Sandpiper Restaurant
Are you in the mood for a thick steak or a decadent plate of pasta?
The Sandpiper Restaurant can satisfy your craving for a hearty meal.
Seafood, meat and pasta fill the menu. Wash them down with craft beers and cocktails for the perfect finishing touch.
Breakfast, sandwiches, soup, quiche and much more fill the menu at this quaint Pocatello diner.
Grab a butterburger or specialty sandwich on the restaurant’s famous homemade butter bun. Make sure you save room for dessert because Butterburr’s fresh and seasonal pies are worth every calorie.
15. Himalayan Flavor
Expand your palate or indulge in your favorite Indian foods at Himalayan Flavor. The restaurant is well-known in the area because of its bold and tasty Indian cuisine and high-quality staff and service.
Try everything on the buffet for lunch, or come for dinner and choose from the menu fare.
Read more: How To Plan A Meal Allowance For Employees
You might be heading into unfamiliar territory, but it’s a far cry from the Oregon Trail of our ancestors. Pocatello offers plenty to do and see, and it’s accessible for visitors. Friendly locals are always up for offering recommendations and sharing what they like best about their fast-growing city.
Hospitality and recreational opportunities are everywhere, as are historical and educational attractions. Whether you’re just staying a few days or extending your trip to enjoy more time in the area, be sure to make time for a few of these 15 things to do in Pocatello, Idaho.
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.