The Artsy University Town of Moscow

Moscow is best known as home to the University of Idaho. It’s a college town through and through, with the kinds of shops, restaurants and environment which cater to students and professors. With its tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly streets, youthful population and progressive, laid-back atmosphere, Moscow might fit better in New England than Idaho.

Moscow Idaho Drugs

We spent a couple days walking around Moscow, exploring its bookstores, parks, museums antique shops, art galleries and other stores which defy categorization. Everywhere, there were college students with books, backpacks, and that slightly obnoxious enthusiasm of youth. Moscow was more liberal than anywhere else we’d been in Idaho. It’s the seat of Latah County, which was one of only two in Idaho to go blue in the 2012 election.

Join us on a walk through town.

Retro Espresso was our first stop of the day. A cute espresso trailer found on the southern entrance to downtown, you can either walk-up or drive-through to get your caffeine fix.

Main Street runs north/south parallel to Highway 95, and is a heavily pedestrian street featuring a neat old theater and fun shops. We browsed the selection at Book People and Howard Hughes Video, then enjoyed a great humus pita sandwich at Mikey’s Gyros.

We spent half an hour in Gem State Crystals, on Main Street, learning about Idaho’s star garnets and other gems, and admiring the live rattlesnake kept in one of the display cases.

The 1912 Center on Third Street, east of Main, is a grand building which used to be the high school and is now both a public gallery with photos depicting Moscow life in 1912 and a senior citizens center.

In the city hall, we accidentally interrupted some sort of town council meeting, while attempting to find the Third Street Gallery on the second floor. This gallery was currently showing the results of a painting competition of scenes around Moscow and the Palouse Valley.

Cowgirl Chocolates brings two of my favorite things together — cowgirls and chocolates! Well, those things are actually #43833 and #248 on MY list, but I’m sure they rank a lot higher for a lot of other people. The owner is an artist who decided to get into chocolates, and sells her (very spicy) creations here, along with cowgirl-themed memorabilia.

We’d be remiss not to mention the University with its massive Kibbie Activity Center and pretty campus. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but only because we were in a hurry to get to…

The Appaloosa Museum, which focuses on the famous spotted horse bred by the Nez Perce. Appaloosas which has played a big role in the equestrian history of Idaho. Many of the exhibits were lost on us, but if you’re into horses, this is a fun place to check out (and it’s free).

Toward the end of our day, we got a drink at Bucer’s — which was most notable for the fact that every single conversation going on around us was about God or Jesus. A lot of “we’ll pray for him”, and “well God bless you” and “This one time at Bible Camp, I stuck…” which is when I turned my brain off.

We finished our day with an excellent dinner at Nectar, a casually upscale joint that serves a meatloaf for the ages. Here, we met a group of locals and stayed around drinking wine until closing time. It was an unexpectedly fun night, and a great end to our busy stay in Moscow.

Location of Moscow on our Idaho Map

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. mIKE hUDSON

    Great photos!  You took some of the same angles that I have over the years!  Thank you for the kind words, let us know the next time you come through and we will personalize the visit.   Huddy

  2. Gary

    Very fun! I was born there but spent most my life way. That Moose lodge sign has got to be the same place my dad would take us 🙂

  3. Tom H.

    Thanks for sharing this photos of my hometown. It’s been a while since I’ve been back. 

  4. Shaun Daniel

    Beautiful photos indeed! I did my undergrad in Moscow and loved the four years I spent there. It’s a wonderful town with a warm-hearted and fun community. It has a tremendous amount of diversity for a small town, and I mean diversity in terms of racial and geographic background, but also philosophy and politics too. I’m glad you hit Bucer’s. It’s one of my favorite coffeeshops in the world – and I hope you got to try one of their cuban coffees. It’s a favorite haunt for New Saint Andrews students, which is probably why you heard so many Christian-themed conversations. But it also attracts all manner of other community members, including leftists and atheists. Again, that great sense of diversity! It’s easy for people to assume that small towns are homogenous, boring places, but they’re clearly not. And your photo essay does a great job of reminds us of that. Thanks!

  5. Becky Miller

    I really enjoyed your comments and wonderful photos. We have lived in the Palouse for 30 years and in Moscow for 10, and you captured a lot of the charm and spirit of this place. Happy travels!

  6. Alexandra Reid

    I’m born and raised in Moscow and have to admit you have pictures of places I’ve never seen before. The shots you have here are beautiful and I had fun picking out where you were. I can’t say enough good things about Moscow, I love it.

  7. Brenda Balint

    This small college town reminds me of where I have recently settled…near the small New England college town of South Portland, ME.  Maybe one day your journey will lead you in this direction.  I’m enjoying your photos.  Thanks.Brenda N-BPortland, ME

  8. Nancy Antle

    Great photos!  I have loved visiting my sister-in-law there over the years.  The perfect size and mix of people.  A college town at its best.

  9. Barb Coffman

    I, too, spent my undergrad years in Moscow and enjoy doing a swing through when I get to the area.  Some things are still the same from the 80s…The New Hong Kong Cafe, Gem-State Crystals, The Moose Lodge, Bookpeople, The Nuart, and Mikey’s Gyros.  You made my heart ache for Idaho today.

  10. Tim

    I liked your take on my hometown, some great photos, too. I now live in Boise, a dry, hot place, surrounded by an ugly dirt desert. I miss the greenery and hills of the Palouse. Regarding Bucers: It is owned and run by a huge fundamentalist church in Moscow, which also runs the tiny Christian college in town. Interesting place, but there are better venues, including One World Café and Two Sisters Brew. The campus is amazing, next time spend more time there. It’s one of the more beautiful campuses around.

  11. Jlparamore

    Amazing insight into the heart of This little town.Personally have never been there but your photos made me want to drive there right now to visit it! EXCELLENT JOB!Tyvm

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