Boise, the capital city of Idaho, has been an increasingly popular destination in the U.S. over recent years. Why are so many people moving to this city in southeastern Idaho? Well, the city has a lot to offer, whether you’re a fan of getting outdoors, history or art.
There are numerous museums, including the unique Basque Museum and Cultural Center and the Boise Art Museum. Experiencing Idaho’s stunning nature is inevitable; Camel’s Back Park and the Boise River Greenbelt are popular and provide opportunities for scenic walking, hiking, running, biking, and picnicking. Between its beautiful nature, cultural centres and hip downtown area, this city has something for everyone. Born and raised in Boise, I keep discovering new things to do in the city. So keep reading to check out the top 20 things to do in Boise.
- Boise, Idaho
- 20 Things To Do In Boise
- 1- Bike The Boise River Greenbelt
- 2- Check Out The Basque Block
- 3- Swim And Picnic At Lucky Peak State Park
- 4- Visit The Old Idaho Penitentiary
- 5- Go For A Stroll Around The Idaho Botanical Garden
- 6- Spend An Afternoon In The Hyde Park Historic District
- 7- See Raptors At The World Center For Birds of Prey
- 8- Check Out The Boise Train Depot
- 9- Hike Or Ski At Bogus Basin Recreation Area
- 10- Learn About History At The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
- 11- Check Out Graffiti Murals At Freak Alley Gallery
- 12- Hike At Camel’s Back Park
- 13- Visit The Discovery Center of Idaho
- 14- Watch A Play At The Idaho Shakespeare Festival
- 15- Check Out The Boise Art Museum
- 16- Rent A Paddle Boat At Julia Davis Park
- 17- Visit The Idaho State Museum
- 18- Float The Boise River
- 19- Attend An Event at JUMP
- 20- Check Out The Wildlife At The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center
- 20 Things To Do In Boise
20 Things To Do In Boise
1- Bike The Boise River Greenbelt
Every Boise native knows that the Greenbelt is one of the greatest things the city has to offer.
The Greenbelt is a 25-mile (40-km) pathway that runs along the Boise River, offering stunning river views, a mostly paved trail, bridges and lots of shade.
It’s a great place for a bike ride, and many bicycle companies along the Greenbelt offer bikes for rent.
The Greenbelt is also popular for runners and those who just want to walk in the fresh air.
Greenbelt has several access points, but my favourites are Veterans Memorial Park, Julia Davis Park and Barber Park.
Veterans Memorial Park is at 930 Veterans Memorial Pkwy, Boise, ID 83703.
Julia Davis Park is at 700 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702. Barber Park is at 4049 S Eckert Rd, Boise, ID 83716.
2- Check Out The Basque Block
One of Boise’s greatest treasures is the Basque Block, located downtown.
Boise is the city with the largest Basque American population in the country, but visitors often overlook its Basque Block.
Make sure you don’t miss out on this fabulous cultural district.
First, start at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center to learn about Basque history and culture.
Check in advance if the museum is offering any events or exhibitions while you’re in town.
Next to the museum, you can see the Uberuaga House, which functioned as a Basque boarding house from 1910 to 1969.
The block features some great places for a bite.
Leku Ona, the Basque Market, and Bar Gernika offer delicious pintxos (Basque tapas), paella, and other traditional foods.
Make sure to try the different croquetas at the Basque Market.
Enter the Basque Block at 601 W Grove St, Boise, ID 83702.
3- Swim And Picnic At Lucky Peak State Park
Lucky Peak State Park is a fantastic place to spend a sweltering summer day; it’s a public recreation area that covers 240 acres (97 ha) of lake and land.
Lucky Peak State Park Discovery Park is an ideal place for picnicking, with picnic tables, grills, sand volleyball courts, and shelter from the sun.
You can take a dip in the cool water at Sandy Point, which offers a sandy swimming area.
Paddle boards are available for rent here. Check out Spring Shores Marina on Lucky Peak Lake, where you can rent boats and water sports equipment.
The park is around 10 miles (16 km) east of downtown Boise, and the drive is only about 20 minutes.
Lucky Peak State Park is at 9725 ID-21, Boise, ID 83716.
4- Visit The Old Idaho Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary, located in eastern Boise, functioned as a prison from 1872 to 1973.
It’s one of only four prisons in the territory open to the public today, and it offers both guided and self-guided tours.
The penitentiary’s Romanesque architecture features stone walls and steel doors.
The prison saw many scandals, escapes, and executions during its operations. There are legends of former inmates, such as “Idaho’s Jack the Ripper”, who still haunt the grounds.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary is at 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712, United States
5- Go For A Stroll Around The Idaho Botanical Garden
Right next to the Old Idaho Penitentiary is the Idaho Botanical Garden, which consists of 50 acres (20 ha) of specialty gardens, plant collections, and sculptures.
My favourite stops are the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden, the English Garden and the Kaslo sculptures.
You’re free to bring in coffee or food for a picnic, but make sure you stay green by packing out anything you bring with you.
The botanical garden also features various events throughout the year, from festivals to educational events to music performances, so do check out their online events calendar in advance.
The Idaho Botanical Garden is at 2355 N Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712.
6- Spend An Afternoon In The Hyde Park Historic District
The North End neighbourhood is one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Boise.
It’s lined with trees and filled with historic houses built in the early 20th century.
When you’re visiting Boise, make sure to check out the Hyde Park Historic District, a section of the North End.
It’s long been a trendy destination for its brick and stone buildings, popular eateries, and locally owned shops.
I suggest visiting Dunia Marketplace, a fair-trade gift store with trinkets from around the world, and G. Williker’s Toy Merchant.
No trip to Hyde Park is complete without stopping at Goody’s Soda Fountain for a sweet treat.
Goody’s sells a variety of candy, soda, and ice cream, but I especially recommend their caramel corn, banana split and huckleberry cream soda.
Hyde Park is at 1413-1620 N 13th St, Boise, ID 83702.
7- See Raptors At The World Center For Birds of Prey
South of the Boise airport is the World Center For Birds of Prey, the headquarters of an international non-profit called the Peregrine Fund.
The organisation is known for its conservation and recovery efforts to protect birds of prey around the world.
The headquarters in Boise include a conservation and education centre for visitors of all ages where you can see and learn about hawks, eagles, vultures, owls, falcons and owls.
The World Center For Birds of Prey is at 5668 W Flying Hawk Ln, Boise, ID 83709.
8- Check Out The Boise Train Depot
The Boise Train Depot is a historic building featuring Spanish designs, including its red tile roof and iconic arches.
Although the depot no longer serves as a train station, it’s certainly a building that deserves attention and is a great place to see the city’s skyline in front of the hills.
The depot also features Platt Gardens, which covers seven acres (nearly 3 ha) of ground, with shrubbery, flowers and ponds that make it an excellent place for a stroll.
The Boise Train Depot is at 2603 W Eastover Terrace, Boise, ID 83706.
9- Hike Or Ski At Bogus Basin Recreation Area
Bogus Basin Recreation Area, located in the Boise National Forest, is one of Boise’s most popular attractions.
Whether it’s July or January, Bogus has something great to offer for nature lovers and sports enthusiasts.
Bogus offers 88 downhill runs from skiing and snowboarding across 2,600 acres of terrain.
Other winter activities include nordic skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking.
Head into one of the lodges for a meal or some hot chocolate after spending a day in the snow.
Not in Boise during the winter?
Not to worry!
Bogus has excellent trails for hiking and mountain biking through the forest.
Bogus also offers activities such as summer tubing, rock climbing, and gem panning.
Equipment for both summer and winter activities is available for rent.
It’s roughly 19 miles (31 km) from downtown Boise, and the drive takes about 45 minutes.
Bogus Basin Recreation Area is at 2600 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID 8370.
10- Learn About History At The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial was dedicated to the public in 2002.
Located near the Boise Greenbelt, the memorial is an educational park composed of a statue of Anne Frank, a water feature, the Attic Amphitheater, walls of quotes, the Marilyn Shuler Classroom for Human Rights, and the Rose Beal Legacy Garden.
Here, you can read the entire Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as historical quotes, and learn about human rights issues both today and in the past.
The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is at 770 S 8th St, Boise, ID 83702.
11- Check Out Graffiti Murals At Freak Alley Gallery
Freak Alley Gallery displays unique artwork on alley walls in central downtown Boise in an area where visual artists can constantly create graffiti artwork and murals.
The walls are constantly changing as artists paint over previous works, so there is almost always something new to see here.
Stop by to see a tunnel of colour and diverse artistic styles.
Lots of popular eateries and shops surround the entrances to the alleyway.
Freak Alley is at 210 N 9th St, Boise, ID 83702.
12- Hike At Camel’s Back Park
Camel’s Back Park, which covers 11 acres (4 ha) of land, is one of Boise’s best parks, offering a playground for kids, an outdoor gym, a picnic area, tennis courts and a sand volleyball court.
You can often find people doing yoga or playing frisbee in the open grass field, and there are plenty of trees for hammocking or reading a book under the shade.
Located at the edge of the Boise foothills, the park offers access to a system of well-kept hiking and cycling trails through the stunning Boise hills.
I highly recommend taking the Gold Finch Trail until you reach the Owl’s Roost Trail, which offers lots of shade and the best views.
If you don’t feel like venturing far, walk to the top of Camel’s Back Trail.
Starting from the park’s grass field, you can either walk up the steep stone stairs or take a quick five-minute way up the trail.
Look down at the park from the top of the hill to see the beautiful downtown Boise cityscape.
Camel’s Back Park is at 1200 Heron St, Boise, ID 83702.
13- Visit The Discovery Center of Idaho
The Discovery Center of Idaho, the only hands-on science centre in the state, promotes education in science, technology, mathematics and engineering.
It first opened in 1988 and has since become one of Boise’s most popular attractions.
There are plenty of activities for visitors wanting to learn, including the pulley swing and the giant bubble maker.
The Discovery Center isn’t just for kids, though.
It hosts several 21+ events throughout the year, including this year’s event drinking local Idaho beers while hanging out at the T. rex exhibit.
The Discovery Center of Idaho is located at 131 W Myrtle St, Boise, ID 83702.
14- Watch A Play At The Idaho Shakespeare Festival
If you’re in Boise between June and September, make sure to go to an outdoor play at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
The amphitheatre puts on several plays one at a time throughout the summer, so check their calendar in advance.
You can pack your own basket of picnic goodies if you’d like, or you can grab dinner at the theatre’s Café Shakespeare. Plus, there’s plenty of parking near the amphitheatre.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival is at 5657 E Warm Springs Ave, Boise, ID 83716.
15- Check Out The Boise Art Museum
The Boise Art Museum (BAM) is located in Julia Davis Park and is nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.
It features unique exhibitions, tours, workshops and art classes. Stop by to see the beautiful artwork inside or to take a class.
BAM also puts on the yearly Art in the Park event, which consists of diverse art booths, delicious food, and arts and crafts activities for kids.
The Boise Art Museum is at 670 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702.
16- Rent A Paddle Boat At Julia Davis Park
Nearby the Boise Art Museum in Julia Davis Park, you can rent a paddle boat and cruise around the delightful pond.
Choose the more classic blue pontoon-style boat, or go for an iconic white swan boat.
Either way, you’ll be paddling around and surrounded by nature in no time.
Keep an eye out for the vibrant koi fish that swim below you and the waterfowl that reside here.
Plus, the trees that line the pond are full of native birds, so bring your binoculars.
Julia Davis Park is at 700 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702.
17- Visit The Idaho State Museum
Still in Julia Davis Park is the Idaho State Museum, which is a fantastic museum for history buffs and first-time Boise visitors alike.
It features temporary and permanent exhibitions that educate the public about Idaho’s history and culture over time.
Its permanent exhibitions include the Origins Gallery, Idaho: The Land & Its People, History Explorer Galleries, and the Pioneer Village.
They’re a great way to learn about the history of Idaho’s indigenous peoples and Lewis and Clark’s journey through the state.
The Idaho State Museum is at 610 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702.
18- Float The Boise River
In the summer, floating the Boise River is an experience you shouldn’t miss.
The river is extremely mild, so you can hop in a tube or small raft and cruise down with your friends.
Pack snacks and drinks as there are plenty of beaches and rope swings to stop at along the journey.
Be warned, though – it does get rather crowded on extra hot days.
I recommend getting on the river at Barber Park, where you can rent equipment at Boise River Raft & Tube.
Barber Park is at 4049 S Eckert Rd, Boise, ID 83716.
19- Attend An Event at JUMP
Jack’s Urban Meeting Place, more commonly called JUMP, is a creative activity centre in downtown Boise that encourages the public to get out of their comfort zone by trying new things.
The innovative community centre has so much to offer, from dance, art, and cooking classes to special events.
JUMP features an array of events, including this year’s Figure Sculpting Competition and Hispanic Cultural Month Dance Celebration.
I went to their Cinco de Mayo event, which was a delightful way to learn about Mexican culture.
I absolutely recommend attending an event at JUMP when you’re in town.
JUMP is at 1000 W Myrtle St, Boise, ID 83702.
20- Check Out The Wildlife At The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center
Last but not least, stop by the Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center, a nature preserve in downtown Boise along the Boise River.
The site consists of nearly five acres (2 ha) of land, which serves as a habitat for Idaho wildlife.
You can find flora and fauna here, including deer, beavers, and native trout. Make sure to bring your camera.
There’s also a visitor centre for those who want to learn more about Idaho’s wildlife and conservation efforts.
The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center is at 600 S Walnut St, Boise, ID 83712.