Visiting Boise - What to See and Do
(Boise Airport (BOI) Boise, Idaho, USA)
One of America's fastest-growing small cities is Boise, the big town of Idaho. Its modest population contains a surprising depth of artistry, intelligence and creativity. The downtown district is full of life and great amenities, while right on the doorstep are the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and all the great recreational attractions that they offer.
You'll find most of Boise's charm in the downtown BoDo district, where slick bistros and art galleries rub shoulders with museums and performing arts venues. The Idaho State Capitol is here, as is an historic prison that is open for tours. Great public green spaces like the Julia Davis Park provide a place to walk, bike or jog along the city's lovely river.
It takes just minutes to escape the pavement and get your feet on the dirt of a mountain hiking trail. You can literally walk from BoDo into the national forest along the riverfront path. In winter, the Bogus Basin Ski Resort provides skiing within easy access of Boise. A refreshingly temperate climate makes this city a great four-season destination.
Ten things you must do in Boise
- The Boise River is both the namesake and the pride of this city. A magnificent 25-mile / 40-km Greenbelt has been created along the banks of the river as it winds its way through downtown and out into the countryside. Most of it is paved, offering a superb way to get a taste of Idaho's natural scenery without much effort. Many of the city's parks are connected by the Greenbelt, which can be accessed from dozens of points in town.
- When the weather is warm, join a true local tradition and tube down the Boise River. Barber Park is the best place for this type of activity, because here you can rent all kinds of floating devices. The river is mellow enough in this part that nearly everyone can get out on the water and hop back onto land at Ann Morrison Park, where shuttles stand ready to take floaters back to Barber Park.
- BoDo (Boise Downtown) best represents the trendy vibe that this city tries to maintain. Head down to the public square called the Grove on most sunny days and you will find a contingent of locals playing music, lounging around the huge fountain or catching a free concert. Next-door is the open-air Capitol City Public Market and its bounty of fresh produce and food carts during the summer and fall.
- The Julia Davis Park on the river is an ideal combination of leisure attractions and culture. Besides the lovely tranquil park itself are several of the city's top museums, including the Idaho Historical Museum, the Boise Art Museum and the Discovery Center of Idaho. If you visit just one park make it this one. There is even a decent zoo on the grounds.
- Boise is home to one of the world's largest Basque communities outside of Spain. The city's Basque Museum and Cultural Center is a really interesting place that both relates the heritage of the Basque people and provides some real-time socialization. It is to be found within the Basque Block of downtown, which itself is worth visiting for its food and bars.
- One of the most appealing attractions in the city is the Old Idaho Penitentiary, a prison from the territorial period that was still holding criminals until 1973. Guided tours are available of this historic prison, which is part of the larger complex that includes the Idaho Transportation Museum and the Museum of Mining and Geology.
- Bird fans have some excellent sites to experience just minutes outside of town. The World Center for Birds of Prey is a fascinating place that both educates visitors and rehabilitates big birds. It acts as the gateway to the huge Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, one of America's top locations for rare wildlife, especially nesting raptors.
- Catch a performance at the Boise Contemporary Theater, the city's top entertainment venue known for its thriving local theater scene. Located right in the heart of downtown, this professional acting group puts on some very interesting plays. These are often world premiers from up-and-coming playwrights.
- If you are serious about your outdoor recreation, as many of the city's residents are, then you will be thrilled with the Ridge to Rivers Trail System. This 125-mile / 200-km network of wilderness trails runs along the foothills just above Boise, offering a convenient place to mountain bike, run or hike as much as you want.
- The Eighth Street Marketplace is another gem in the BoDo district downtown. It has been transformed in recent years into one of the city's top spots for shopping by day and eating and drinking by night. This is where you can go to hang out with the locals and share a few drinks, or try some of the city's most inventive restaurants.