Boise, Idaho holds onto two different identities: the Pacific Northwest feeling of the downtown area and the Rocky Mountain independence of the suburbs. Its nickname is the “City of Trees,” and people are very passionate about their sports teams and the outdoors.
Here is a guide to the top things for visitors to do in Boise:
Cool off in the Boise River
Boise has easy access to the mountains, more than a hundred miles of hiking trails, and plenty of activities on the Boise River.
One local favorite is floating down the Boise River on an inner tube, or “tubing.” More than 100,000 people participate each year, and the five-mile float takes about 3 hours. Barber Park is the starting point, and it has air stations for those who need to fill their tubes or rafts. People can rent a tube here and there are shuttle buses back to the park at the end of the trip. The float season usually runs from mid June to Labor Day Weekend.
For higher-paced action, head to the Boise Whitewater Park. The park offers surfing on the river, as well as kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. The best feature is its Waveshaper technology, which controls the river flow for surfers or kayakers. Jetties on both sides of the Boise River provide access to both waves and help boaters enter and exit.
Keep an eye out, as more will be added to the park soon.
Go for a hike
You’ll want to bring your camera along on a walk through the Boise River Greenbelt. The walkway trails along the river, and it is a popular place for biking, rollerblading and people out walking their dog. There are signs along the trail that inform users of the native birds and their habitats. The 25-mile walkway is open from sunrise to sunset.
The Ridge to Rivers trail system offers 190 miles of trails for people of all hiking abilities. The trails are stunning during the fall when the colors of the trees are on full display. It also has areas for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and riding on horseback. Check the website before going out, as it has regularly updated trail conditions.
Check out a summer festival
Boise hosts two big summer festivals that provide several days of fun. These festivals are highly regarded by locals as the best events of the summer.
First, there’s the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. This festival takes place at the base of the Boise foothills, and this year’s theme (2018) is a “season of incredible women.” All five plays revolve around dynamic female characters.
Those plays are Mamma Mia, Misery, Macbeth, Pride & Prejudice and Beehive. The amphitheatre sits in a nature habitat allowing guests to see deer or an occasional fox scampering by. The season starts May 25 and ends September 30.
The other big summer festival is the annual Hyde Park Street Fair. This event brings together local musicians, artists, vendors and street food. Going into its 39th year, the fair brings around 30,000 people to the city for family-friendly fun. Recent fairs featured more than 40 bands and 120 vendors for browsing through.
Try a taste of Boise
Take a break from the big fast food chains and explore the various local flavors this city has to offer.
A great way to spend a Saturday is visiting the Capitol City Public Market. This open-air market has been a Boise staple since the early 1990s. It now hosts more than 150 food vendors and artisan goods. Indulge yourself at Black Canyon Fudge, which uses real cream and butter in their traditional chocolates.
Calle 75 serves authentic street tacos with salsas and sauces made from scratch. Dog-lovers can also pick up a treat for their four-legged friends at Blue Dog Bakers. This store also sells dog bandanas and fleece ball dog toys.
The Boise Farmers Market is another popular spot for fresh produce. It is open year-round with an indoor market during the winter. The outdoor market has many fresh vegetables and fruits, local honey and fresh-roasted coffee. People can also buy local wines from brands such as Hat Ranch Winery and Cold Springs.
Visit unique attractions
The Idaho Botanical Gardens is one of the most serene places to visit in the city. The gardens were once used as the farm and nursery for the nearby state penitentiary. Today the gardens are home to more than 800 species of plants separated into 15 specialty gardens. Examples include their Heirloom Rose Garden and Children’s Adventure garden.
The Boise area is also home to one of the largest concentrations of Basque immigrant populations in the US. Visitors can experience this in full at the Basque Museum and Cultural Center located inside a part of downtown known as “Basque Block.” Current exhibits include a full-sized sheepherder’s tent, photos of family life and costumes and instruments used in Basque dances. Grab something to eat at the nearby Basque Market after the museum, and toast the day with a glass of Spanish wine.
As you can see, Boise has a lot to offer. With its fantastic summer attractions, beautiful outdoors, and delicious food, this city is a fantastic destination for any traveler. Use this guide to decide what to do after you inevitably mark off dates on your calendar.