There are few things that I look forward to more than McCall Winter Carnival! This year's "It's a Kid's World" themed event kicks off on Friday, January 24!

It's so cool to see how the event has evolved over the last 55 years. Winter Carnival as we know it started in the 1960s, but it's history dates back to the 1920s. Back then winter in McCall wasn't nearly as fun as it is now, so residents put together the Payette Lake Winter Games to alleviate the boredom and 248 people from the Treasure Valley jumped on a train to be part of it. It evolved into the event we know and love today thanks to Olympic ski champion, Cory Engen, who was living and teaching skiing in McCall in the 60s. With the help of local volunteers, they started building ice sculptures and put together sled dog races.

If you're making your first trip this year, here are my five favorite things to do during Winter Carnival! If they're not your speed, there's tons of other things going on from parades and live music to ice shows and hockey games. Check out the full details on all 10 days of Winter Carnival HERE!

Grab Breakfast at Fogglifter Cafe

Almost everyone attending Winter Carnival will try to pack themselves into McCall's Famous Pancake House and wait times get ridiculous this time of year. If you've never been there before, you need to do it at least once. However, if you've been there, done that and don't feel like dealing with the crowds, Fogglifter Cafe is great breakfast alternative. I LOVE that they serve hot cider year round, not just during the fall and they've got a pretty impressive menu for a small cafe. I think I've tried every variety they offer and I can say with confidence that they have some of the best Eggs Benedict I've ever tasted.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Check Out the Snow Sculptures

No really. Get out of your car and walk up to them. The things the artists can do with snow is absolutely incredible. We never got up close and personal with them until the year of Snowpocalypse and there were so many cool ones you could actually walk through like a train, maze and mill. This year are 30 different sculptures throughout McCall, Brundage Resort and Legacy Park. A disclaimer on this activity: Sometimes if you go up for the second weekend of Winter Carnival, McCall may have experience some rain or warmer temperatures that wear down the sculptures a little bit making it hard to tell what they are. That always leads to one of my favorite games "What was this supposed to be?" Coming up with creative guesses is almost always as fun as actually seeing them.

Have a Beer

And by have a beer, I mean dare to venture outside of the beer garden at Legacy Park. Sure, you'll get to sample some of the local beers there but you'll get an even more impressive variety if you actually stop into the tap rooms of McCall's three local breweries. The service and beer at McCall Brewing Company on 3rd Street never dissapoints. The food at Salmon River Brewery has always been just as impressive as their beers and since last year's winter carnival, they've added a new Taphouse next door to serve even more customers. It doesn't serve the same menu, but the flatbreads we saw there over the summer looked super yummy. Broken Horn Brewing on Mission Street won us over on Labor Day weekend when they were the only place in town open early enough to show Boise State's home opener against Florida State after it had been bumped up due to an impending hurricane. I was a big fan of their Hell Canyon Jalapeno.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Embrace the Dive Bar

McCall doesn't really have what you would call upscale night clubs, but if you're not quite done having fun once things wind down on the live music stage at the park it certainly does have some charming dive bars to warm-up at. Foresters has live music both weekends. Yacht Club is serving up a little bit of everything with DJ dance nights, Carnival Karaoke and a Glow/Black Light Party over the two weekends of Winter Carnival. The crowds at both of these bars run the gamut during Winter Carnival so you don't really feel too young or too old to be there.

Take a Dip at Gold Fork Hotsprings

If the roads are passable, you've got to stop at Gold Fork Hot Springs. With three different pools, these hot springs look like something you would find at a five star resort, but it's nestled in the mountains. It's beautiful in the summer but even more breathtaking while snow falls around the pools in the winter. You can find it and other hot springs in the area by visiting our Hot Springs Map.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Want to see more stories like this? Download the LITE-FM Mobile APP to have them delivered directly to your phone!

Enter your number to get our free mobile app