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When it comes to Boise, Idaho, there is plenty of things to do. Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boise is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. In the summer, hiking, mountain biking, and rafting are popular activities, and snowboarding, skiing, and ice skating are kings in the winter.
However, Boise isn't just a playground for adrenaline junkies. The city also boasts a thriving arts and culture scene. The Boise River Greenbelt runs through the city's heart and is filled with parks, museums, and performance venues. There is also a lively foodie scene, with farmers' markets and top-notch restaurants dotting the landscape.
So whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, Boise has it all.
Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in Boise
In a city filled with great attractions and things to do, it can be hard to narrow down your choices. So to help you plan your visit, here are our top 10 picks for the best things to do in Boise:
1. Visit the Idaho State Capitol Building and Grounds
The Idaho Capitol Building is a beautiful and historic structure that was completed in 1920. This sandstone and marble building is located in downtown Boise and features a five-foot-high statue of a golden eagle atop its dome.
The Capitol Building is open to the public for tours, and the grounds are perfect for an afternoon stroll. The building has many fascinating displays and temporary exhibits, making it a great place to explore Idaho's history. Guided tours are also available for groups of five or more people. It's easy to see why the Capitol Building is one of Boise's most popular attractions.
2. Go Biking on the Boise River Greenbelt
This scenic corridor is often used for both non-motorized commuting and experiencing nature. The urban pathway also connects to other culturally significant parts of the city, such as Boise State University and the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.
Bikes, strollers, and in-line skates are welcomed on the Greenbelt, though pedestrians always have the right of way. This makes it a great place to go for a walk or bike ride and experience all that Boise offers. It's also a great place to view wildlife. You're sure to see something new and exciting every time you visit.
3. Explore the Penitentiary State Historic Site
Nestled in the foothills of Boise, the Old Idaho Penitentiary is a must-see for any history buff or curious traveler. This former prison operated for over a century and now serves as both a museum and a state historic site. The grounds include 30 historical structures, out of which some now house educational exhibits.
When touring the facility, you'll get to see cells, the gallows, and the solitary confinement area. The Old Idaho Penitentiary also hosts various events throughout the year, such as paranormal investigations, cemetery tours, and a festive holiday event in October.
And if that's not enough, the Idaho Botanical Garden is located within the Old Penitentiary Historic District. This non-profit plant space showcases a variety of gardens that are in bloom throughout much of the year. So whether you're interested in history or horticulture, the Old Idaho Penitentiary is definitely worth a visit.
4. Stroll through Julia Davis Park
Julia Davis Park is one of Boise's most popular destinations, and for a good reason. It's home to some of the city's top cultural attractions, including Zoo Boise, the Boise Art Museum, and the Idaho Historical Museum. But what makes Julia Davis Park so special is its natural beauty.
The lagoons, rose gardens, and duck pond is a perfect backdrop to a day of exploring all that the park has to offer. In the summer, the park is especially popular with picnickers and sunbathers who come to enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery. So whether you're looking for a day of culture or a day of relaxation, Julia Davis Park is the perfect place to be.
5. Hike in the Bogus Basin Recreational Area
This recreation area is great for both winter and summer activities. Popular in the winter for its skiing, locals love Bogus Basin. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the 2,600 acres of skiable terrain with seven chairlifts and four conveyor lifts. The mountain also offers groomed Nordic tracks and an 800-foot tubing chute for winter fun.
In the summer, you can find hiking and mountain biking trails and yurts to rent. The Around-the-Mountain Trail provides stunning views of the landscape. You can also enjoy live music on the weekends. This is the perfect place to explore and take in all that nature offers.
6. Explore Kathryn Albertson Park
A visit to Kathryn Albertson Park is a must for any nature lover. The 41-acre park is filled with beautiful wetlands, perfect for birdwatching. Established walking paths make it easy to explore the area and take in the stunning scenery. Conservation stations along the way provide information on the local flora and fauna.
The park's two gazebos are available for rent for those looking to celebrate a special occasion. Weddings are particularly popular here due to the picturesque setting. In the warmer months, the Boise River Greenbelt is a great place to cool off with a dip in the water. Other nearby city parks include Ann Morrison Park and Julia Davis Park.
7. Visit the World Center for Birds of Prey
The World Center for Birds of Prey is a fascinating place where you can learn about all sorts of different birds of prey. The center is home to many different types of falcons, condors, eagles, and other birds, and it's a great place to go if you're interested in learning more about these fantastic creatures.
At the facility, you can also visit the Velma Morrison Interpretive Center to meet some of the resident birds and learn more about them. The interpretive center is a great place to learn about the different types of raptors and see some of them up close. You can also take a nature trail where you might spot some wild raptors in their natural habitat. The World Center for Birds of Prey is a great place to learn more about these fascinating creatures.
8. Shop at the Capital City Public Market
The Capital City Public Market is great for finding fresh produce, food, and local artisans. The market began as an open-air market in 1994 and has since grown to include more than 150 vendors. The market is open on Saturdays and hosts special events like musical performances, Bike to Market for Bike Month, and Wiggly Worms, a children's program about red wiggler worm composting.
This is a great place to find everything from baked goods to fresh fruit and vegetables. Whether you're looking for something specific or just browsing, the Capital City Public Market is definitely worth a visit! If you don't want to buy anything, it's still a great place to people-watch.
9. Admire Art at Boise Art Museum
For an art lover, the Boise Art Museum is definitely a place to go. There's always something new to see with both permanent and temporary exhibits and a variety of programs and special events. The main building houses most of the collection, but don't forget to explore the Education Wing, Sculpture Court, and Museum Store. With more than 34,000 square feet of space, you could spend hours wandering around and admiring all the artwork. You'll definitely want to add the Boise Art Museum to your list of things to do in Boise, Idaho.
10. Learn at the Discovery Center of Idaho
A visit to the Discovery Center of Idaho is an ideal way to spend a day if you are looking for things to do in Boise with kids. The science center has many interactive exhibits that inspire people to take an interest in engineering, math, science, and technology. One of the popular exhibits is the Bubble Wall, where visitors can see colorful bubbles floating in the air. Other exhibits include the Centripetal Wheel and the Turbulent Orb.
On Saturdays during the school year, the Discovery Center of Idaho offers classes for children as well as camps during school breaks. The center also hosts rotating exhibitions throughout the year. In addition, a program called Young Discoverers for preschoolers and Adult Night features live music, drinks, and local food.
Top 4 Day Trip Ideas from Boise
In addition to the many great things to do in Boise, there are also many fun day trip ideas. If you're looking for something to do outside of the city, here are four great ideas:
1. Take a Scenic Drive through Idaho's Wine Country
The Idaho Wine Country is located in the southwestern part of the state and is home to over 65 wineries. The region is known for its beautiful scenery and offers many great opportunities to taste local wines. Many of the wineries offer tours and tastings, and some even have restaurants on-site. If you're looking for a fun day trip from Boise, Idaho, the Idaho Wine Country is definitely worth exploring.
2. Visit the Craters of the Moon National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument is a great place to learn about the geology of Idaho. The monument is home to three major lava fields and has many hiking trails that offer views of the unique landscape.
The monument also offers ranger-led programs, including walks and talks, Junior Ranger programs, and stargazing. Although it's around a 3-hour drive from Boise, a visit to Craters of the Moon is definitely worth the trip. You can make a weekend road trip out of it by camping at one of the nearby campgrounds.
3. Go Camping, Hiking, or Fishing in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is located in central Idaho and offers many great outdoor activities. Over 700 miles of hiking trails offer views of alpine lakes, forests, and mountains. The area is also popular for camping, fishing, and climbing. If you're looking for a great place to enjoy the outdoors, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is a great option.
4. Take a Boise River Guided Rafting Tour
If you're looking for a fun and adventurous day trip from Boise, consider taking a Boise River Guided Rafting Tour. This is a great way to see the city from a different perspective and learn about the history of Boise. You'll be in safe hands with an experienced guide and have a blast floating down the river.
These are just a few of the many great day trip ideas from Boise. Whether you're looking for something to do in the city or outside of it, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Top 3 Places to Stay in Boise
You can find various accommodation options in Boise to suit any budget. Here are three of the top places to stay in the city:
1. Residence Inn Boise Downtown
This modern all-suite hotel offers bright and stylish studios with free WiFi and kitchen facilities in a central location close to Zoo Boise and Idaho State Capitol. With an airport shuttle, hot breakfast buffet, and evening socials, there are plenty of opportunities to relax with an indoor pool, gym, and rooftop patio. Parking is available on-site. You can also bring your furry friend along as this hotel is pet-friendly).
Traveling can be tough and tiring, but it's important to find a place to rest your head that is comfortable and convenient. The Holiday Inn Express Boise-University Area offers travelers sleek rooms with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. With free WiFi and flat-screen TVs, you can stay connected and entertained during your stay. The hotel also offers a complimentary hot breakfast buffet each morning, so you can start your day immediately. The Holiday Inn Express Boise-University Area also offers an outdoor pool, gym, business center, and meeting room for guests to use during their stay.
An excellent option for budget-conscious travelers, Inn America is just a short drive from the Boise Airport and Aquarium of Boise. Guests can enjoy free parking, an airport shuttle, and a continental breakfast during their stay. Rooms are simple, and the decor is contemporary, but all the standard amenities are available, including minifridges, microwaves (in some rooms), cable TV, and free WiFi. The hotel also has a heated outdoor pool, laundry facilities, and a casual dining room for breakfast.
Boise is a great place to visit. There are plenty of things to do, and the people are friendly and welcoming. The city has a small-town feel, but it's also close to some great outdoor recreation opportunities. If you're looking for a fun destination that offers something for everyone, Boise is definitely worth checking out!
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