Is Moscow Idaho a Good Place to Live

By Sidney Williams

Since leaving Moscow to go to college and then grad school I’ve really started appreciating how amazing my hometown is. Moscow Idaho is an amazingly metropolitan small town and has formed the basis of my requirements of an ideal place to live. Unlike big cities like Atlanta and San Diego (the two places I have most experience with), just living within the Moscow city limits thrusts you into the town’s culture and community. There’s so much local business, good food, events, and beautiful nature around that if you take even a few minutes you should be able to find something you love to do.

 

Moscow Idaho is a great place to live. It is home to a thriving art community, many delicious restaurants, easily accessible parks, and an excellent nightlife. Whether you’re moving here for college, or just to be in a new place, Moscow is perfect if you want to buy local and be engaged in a small town community.

 

This small town community is actually my favorite part of Moscow. In the bigger cities that I’ve lived in, it’s been extremely difficult to feel like I’ve found my place in the community as a whole. Everything is so big it’s overwhelming and everyone else is just focusing on getting by as an individual. In Moscow, you can certainly thrive as an individual, but should you so choose, you can immerse yourself in being a local. This can look different for everyone. But, for me, I find myself most at home on Main Street. Moscow is one of the few towns left where most of the real non industrial business is still conducted on its main strip. There’s restaurants, bars, thrift stores, even a Co-Op! I am writing this with the idea of informing those thinking of moving to Moscow, and as I am about college age, I’ll be especially focusing on parts of the town that make it an amazing college town. I’ll start with one of my favorites on the main strip: BookPeople of Moscow, the local indie bookstore. 

 

BookPeople of Moscow is a classic independent bookstore, with friendly staff and a huge selection of popular and lesser known books, as well as knickknacks, local and artisan goods. We carry the work of local jewelry artists, and I have personally reviewed some of our chocolate stock. Swing by and we’ll be happy to give you suggestions on what to read next, or check out our other articles on our website!

 

Immediately surrounding BookPeople are the staples of my “average” day when I’m back home: One World Cafe, Mikey’s, and Humble Burger. One World is in my top three coffee shops in the country, tied with one in San Diego and another in Atlanta, it has excellent pastries, coffee, free water, a bunch of seating, and for those 21 and over it has licensing to sell wine and beer. It offers the perfect spot to study for finals, and consistently hosts local musicians. Humble Burger and Mikey’s are my go-tos for quick and easy handheld lunches which can be purchased for less than $10 (AMAZING in this day and age), I especially want to emphasize that Humble Burger has provided me a baseline for what I expect in a burger, as well it sponsors a bunch of local music, they post show times on their website

 

There’s a bunch more on the main strip, including a hobby shop (Hodgins) that sells Pokemon singles, Warhammer, and other miniatures, a vintage clothing store (Revolver), and a used clothing store (The Storm Cellar). And just off the strip there’s the Co-Op with high quality food and affordable locally sourced lunches which rotate everyday. I actually used to go every day I had work while I was back home during Covid lockdown, it’s a lovely place and an extremely easy way to give back to the community by joining in and reaping the benefits that being a member of a Co-Op gives you.

Outside of shopping, Moscow hosts a huge number of events throughout the year. From May to October, there is a weekly farmers’ market which offers fresh fruits and veggies as well as food trucks and local crafts is set up along Main Street. My personal favorite food option at the farmers’ market is the doughnut stand which makes mini doughnuts straight from a 1950s style machine in which you can watch drop rings of dough into hot oil and then ferry the completed doughnut to you on a conveyor belt. However, I think that the best part of the event is the live music that is so often played while the market is going, it brings everything to life and emphasizes the community’s root in the arts. Speaking of music, Moscow has a remarkably vibrant local music theme. At the basic level, every Wednesday, on of the local bars, John’s Alley hosts Karaoke which makes an excellent night, especially when paired with Mingles’ (another local bar down the street) Wednesday drink special of $5 drink special (Blue Hawaiian is my go to) and capped with a trip to the Grub Truck Wandering Kitchen, which is a late night food truck which serves fantastic tacos, burritos, and mac and cheese. Beyond karaoke, Moscow also hosts several musical events including Rendezvous in the Park (which is a three day folk festival held at the park in the center of town), Hemp Fest, and live music from local artists everyday of the county fair. Of course the latter two offer more than just music, as does the yearly renaissance fair which also has live music as well as crafts, food vendors, and people dressing up. So, if you gain anything from this info-dump, take that although Moscow is still a quiet and small town, there are plenty of events and activities to both entertain, and connect you to the town.

 

For those of you who are interested in history, Moscow has a rich one, tied with both Native Americans and the University of Idaho. The Palouse region was an integral resource of camas root for the Nez Perce (this has been integrated into the culture of the area, with a dedicated class on the language being offered periodically at the University of Idaho, and groups from the reservation coming up to do talks and demonstrations). Moscow, originally named Paradise, is generally thought to have been founded by Almon and Noah Lieuallen in 1871. The name Moscow was later chosen by Samuel Neff in honor of his hometown in Pennsylvania when he filled out the forms to apply for a post office. However, even with a post office, Moscow was little more than a supply town for local farmers until 1889 when Idaho’s land-grant university was founded. Since its inception, The University of Idaho has served a central role in defining the culture of Moscow. If learning more about this side of Moscow interests you, BookPeople sells some books which are excellent resources and a few of them were written by Julie R. Monroe, a personal friend of Laura, one of our staff! I’ll list them below for any and all interested.

 

Being in the Pacific Northwest, there is a bunch of nature to explore on the outskirts of Moscow. Of named places, Idler’s Rest is beautiful and provides a light hike that is relaxing and extremely green during spring and idyllic (although quite cold!) during winter. If you’re looking for a park along with a hike, Robinson park is just outside Moscow at the base of Moscow Mountain. It offers a few spaces for RVs and electrical hookups as well as water faucets, so it’s a good place for some light camping. If you’re looking for a more relaxed or family friendly day out in nature, Mountain View park, East City park, and Lion’s Gate park are pretty traditional family fun. Mountain View is still on the very outskirts of town and still pretty nature-y boasting a short (but pretty) bike path as well as soccer fields and grills. East City is almost in the center of town and hosts the ren fair and rendezvous and is just a five minute walk from the High School and as such was the location for many of my off campus lunches that I had growing up. Finally, Lion’s Gate park is serving some of the newer residential areas and is right next to the fairgrounds, I loved playing there when I was in elementary school and younger, I personally think that it has the best play structures in Moscow. Now, there are a bunch more places around Moscow that showcase the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that if you turn left onto a gravel road instead of right when you see the sign for Idler’s rest, you get onto backroads which offer the best star gazing I’ve ever seen, in fact, these views were the reason that I decided to explore a more galactic subfield of physics for my graduate degree. Exploring is actually the best way to experience the nature around Moscow, and in that spirit, I’ll list below some guides to the nature of the area so that you can go out and explore yourself.

 

Moscow Idaho is an extremely local-focused and tight knit community, offering an abundance of events featuring local artists and culture. The natural surroundings and parks are gorgeous, and facilitate exploration and recreation. There are plenty of events and a thriving local music scene, supported by the amazing and affordable restaurants and cafés. If you’re considering Moscow for a college town, or just as a new place to live, it is lovely, and will more than fulfill your small arts town needs.

 

Moscow:: Living and Learning on the Palouse (Making of America) By Julie R. Monroe Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780738524252
Availability: This book was in stock at the store 24 hours ago but could have sold since then. Please call to confirm if your order is urgent.
Published: Arcadia Publishing (SC) - April 29th, 2003

Centered in the glorious Palouse, a richly fertile area, the small Idaho town of Moscow was once home to the Nez Perce, who introduced the famous spotted Appaloosa horses. The intimate Moscow feel inspired by current residents has persisted since the original homesteaders settled here, a place they called Paradise Valley.


Moscow (Images of America) By Julie R. Monroe Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780738548685
Availability: This book was in stock at the store 24 hours ago but could have sold since then. Please call to confirm if your order is urgent.
Published: Arcadia Publishing (SC) - November 21st, 2006

Each spring for centuries, the Nez Perce Indians visited the area they called Taxt-hinma (place of the spotted deer) to harvest the camas root. Today Taxt-hinma is Moscow, Idaho, a forward-looking university community dedicated to preserving the spirit of place that attracted the area's first permanent settlers in 1871.


Latah County (Images of America) By Julie R. Monroe Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9780738531335
Availability: This book was in stock at the store 24 hours ago but could have sold since then. Please call to confirm if your order is urgent.
Published: Arcadia Publishing (SC) - June 14th, 2006

Its name derived from the Nez Perce language, Latah County is the only county in the United States to have been created by an Act of Congress. The abundance of its natural resources--from blue fields of camas to deep veins of gold, from great stands of white pine trees to vast green grasslands--attracted a diversity of dreamers seeking only the opportunity to build their own futures.


Legendary Locals of Moscow By Latah County Historical Society Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781467102070
Availability: This book was in stock at the store 24 hours ago but could have sold since then. Please call to confirm if your order is urgent.
Published: Arcadia Publishing (SC) - September 14th, 2015

The rich and fertile land upon which Moscow sits has sustained a vibrant community of hard working thinkers, creators, and activists for more than 125 years. Just as the area's first inhabitants returned to camas fields in Paradise Valley year after year, pioneers settled in "Hog Heaven" because they found ready access to life's necessities.


Field Guide to Grasses and Grass-Like Plants of Idaho By Justin Trujillo, Eva Strand Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781588030009
Availability: This book is not at our warehouse, but probably is available from another source. We'll contact you to let you know for sure.
Published: University of Idaho Extension Publishing - December 19th, 2018

A visual guide to the 89 most common grasses & grass-like plants found in Idaho. Information about each species includes scientific + common names, origin of the species (native or introduced), season of growth, life span and growth form. Photos show diagnostic plant features such as spikelets, glumes, and lemmas.Also includes a plant identification key.


Palouse Prairie Field Guide: An Introductory Guide to Native Plants, Agricultural Crops and Invasive Weeds for the Curious By Dave M. Skinner, Jacie W. Jensen, Gerry Queener Cover Image
$23.95
ISBN: 9780692076187
Availability: This book was in stock at the store 24 hours ago but could have sold since then. Please call to confirm if your order is urgent.
Published: Thorn Creek Native Seed Farm - April 1st, 2016

Designed to assist landowners and plant enthusiasts identify native plants found in the Inland Northwest prairie regions of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Montana. The guide also includes agricultural crops and invasive weeds to increase an awareness and appreciation for the land among readers.