A visit to Idahos capital will prove to be an adventure that you are not soon to forget. With a population of around 200,000, the city is very culturally diverse, and there is always something interesting going on. It offers beautiful, lush scenery and boasts small-town charm. This hidden treasure sits on the River, and it offers adventure and arts, gardens and one of a kind opportunities to explore some very unique pieces of history. This city has a personality of its own, and there is literally something unforgettable waiting for everyone in Boise, Idaho. Looking for somewhere to stay? Skip down to see the best places to stay in Boise.
1. Start by checking out downtown Boise
Boise has a unique business district that offers a host of things to do, shopping, places to eat and nightlife indulgences. This is where you will be able to see the Stadium, the Capitol Building, the zoo and a lot more. There are always events in downtown Boise many of which you can check out at downtownboise.org.
You can find many of the best things to do in Boise by simply biking the city and its surrounding attractions. There are rentals available for traditional or electric bikes if this is something you are interested in trying. You will definitely get a better feel for the city and its local culture through this more personalized adventure. If biking just isn’t an option to it is not your thing then there are ValleyRide Busses. All you have to do is make your way to one of the community centers where they pick up and drop off. You may opt for a rental car, a scooter, limousine, commuteride, Uber or take a taxi as well.
2. Visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary
A visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary is almost haunting. It was closed down in 1973 following a riot, but the prison opened in 1872. Some say they can still feel the energy from the 13,000 plus inmates that lived and died in the cell blocks and the gallows of Old Pen that still exist within the hallowed halls of the prison for tourists to see. While children are allowed, let it be noted that some of the information along the tour is very graphic.
3. Freak Alley Gallery
Freak Alley Gallery is an exceptional find even for those not so artsy folks to take in. Children and adults alike seem to rave about the location, and it said to be a one of a kind show. You can visit there 24 hours a day seven days a week. This is thanks to its outdoors location sporting amazing murals. There is also an indoors gallery which features a lot of local talent. Sales from the collections fund the amazing exhibit venue. This has become a hotspot for locals and tourists alike.
4. Bike the Greenbelt
This is a relaxing way to enjoy the not too crowded Greenbelt. This area spans from Lucky Peak to West State St. and on to South Eagle Road with several restrooms, trail options along the way including Kathryn Albertson, Barber parks, and Julia Davis. You can do a bike share, and the bikes rent for $5.00 per hour. The trails, however, are free, and they are open as long as its light out.
5. Visit the Capitol
The Capitol is a very open and visitor-friendly option to consider seeing on your trip to Boise. You can take a guided tour, or explore it on your own. On the 4th floor, you will find a public gallery where one can view legislature n progress as well as check out the Senate Chambers. If you want a guided tour then you will want to book at least two weeks ahead, and there must be a minimum of five attending. The kids will love the games ranging from a scavenger hunt to several word searches. You can easily book your tour online.
6. Julia Davis Park
This is no ordinary park. Not only is this the oldest park in the city, but it features a rose garden, zoo, black history museum, art museum and more. It spans 43 acres and truly is the heart of Boise. Be sure you check out the discovery center on your visit because you won’t want to miss any of its hidden treasures. There is a playground, a tennis court, pavilions which can be reserved and a duck pond. This venue is open from the time the sun comes up until midnight. Be sure to take your camera so you can take photos of the various birds and wildlife as well as the Abraham Lincoln Statue. You can relax while doing some fishing and overall charm of this historical park. Take in a game of horseshoes and visit the plaza while your there. You can also get guided tours and history walks through the park through the Second Century Coalition.
The Rose Garden is a wonderful site to take in. The history behind it when it all began makes it even more intriguing. It was once a club of only twenty, and no women were allowed to be seen there and there could be no publicity of any kind. This garden produces more than 2,400 rose blooms annually.
7. Tube the Boise River
You can drift down the Bosie River on a tube taking in the lush scenery and wildlife surrounding this natural oasis. You can also rent a boat, picnic waterside or fish to name a few. Check out Boise River Raft & Tube for lifejacket rentals, kayaks, tubes, rafts, and more. There are places to stop and rest along the designated floating path. Here you can toss your trash and use the restrooms before heading back out onto the river. You can check out this map which will tell you exactly where the designated stops are. From put in to drop off is about 6 miles. There is also a map that will show you exactly where shuttle bus locations are. Many say that mornings and early afternoon is the ideal time to float.
8. Surf the Rapids on the Payette River With Cascade Raft & Kayak!
Speaking of the fun on the river, if you love adrenaline, you’ll love rafting the rapids. While not in Boise, about 45 minutes North you will find Cascade Raft & Kayak located on the Payette River. While the Boise River is a State facility, the company hosting river adventures on the Payette are family owned and have something for all ages and skill levels. Depending on the river you may venture through almost 20 rapids ranging up to a class three. No worries, because the guides are very knowledgeable of the river and safe maneuvering through it.
9. Hike Table Rock
Table Rock is a great place to get a Hollywood style view of the city. The trail is an incline so wear climbing friendly shoes, and be sure to stay hydrated. It takes about an hour, but it is an unforgettable journey.
10. Coffee at District Coffee House
Get a bit of the hipster culture of the city at this internet equipped funky hot spot. They have fresh baked goods, and their drinks are excellent. Tourist and travelers agree this is a favorite, must stop location, located in downtown Boise. Its also a nonprofit raising money for India, so be sure to get the details when you arrive. Not only are they helping abroad but the assist in the economy of the city through the jobs offered through their business to refugees looking to resettle.
11. Ski at one of the many nearby Ski Resorts
While there are several places to ski, one of the most talked about ski locations in Boise is only about a 20-minute drive known as Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. If you’re too late to ski, they offer hiking too. Never skied before? Sign up for skiing lessons or snowboarding to have a once in a lifetime experience and have a few drinks after at the lodge.
12. When talking about fun things to do in Boise you can’t leave out the eating and drinking.
One favorite hotspot for great cuisine is a little place called Fork. If that’s not your speed 8th street is filled with amazing places to dine or have a few drinks. However, Fork has an outdoor area where you can eat and soak in the culture and energy that the city offers. Their foods are locally grown, and the atmosphere is very inviting decorated with strung lights. There are many places to get your drink on, but visiting some of the local breweries is a must. And there are plenty to choose from! Head over to White Dog Brewing for a cool atmosphere, friendly bartenders and great brews.
Best Places to Stay in Boise?
There are hotels for every budget in Boise. Hotel 43 is high on the list of luxury. It comes with all of the amenities you could ask for and is not far from the airport. Another hot spot for those looking to really live it up lavishly is the Inn at 500 Capitol. This location has a lot of displays from local artists and murals to take in. They offer bikes for the guests and a very high tech experience in a beautifully decorated establishment. If you are looking for something a bit more on a budget then you also have Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, The Riverside Hotel, Red Lion Hotel Boise Downtowner to name a few.
Many are going with a more modern lodging option, booking homes and private rentals. You can check that out on Airbnb. Through this site, you can book entire homes, rooms, cottages and more for a fraction of the price of a hotel. This is always the first place I look!
Visiting in an RV? We really enjoyed the Boise-Meridian KOA, not too far from downtown Boise. More on our RV trip through Idaho here…
Whatever you decide to do, however you decide to travel, and wherever you decide to stay, one thing is for sure you are going to love everything that Boise has to offer. It is a place that you will want to return time and again.