When it comes to downtown Boise attractions, the city of trees has a lot to offer. Idaho’s capitol city of Boise is packed with entertainment, shopping, restaurants, adventure, and amazing nightlife.
Situated along the Boise river and the Boise River Greenbelt there’s no shortage protected lush greenery should you need a break from the city. But when you’re ready for something more urban you can make your way to the local markets and unique cafes and restaurants that make Boise one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Regardless if you’re an art lover or inspired by nature, the city offers something for everyone. Best of all, if you’re visiting with kids there’s plenty for them to do as well. Like a visit to an interactive museum, the Boise Zoo or Aquarium.
Is Boise Worth Visiting?
Boise is an ideal location to visit, as it features the best of both worlds: all the typical big city amenities plus a cozy small town atmosphere. From breathtaking parks and trails for leisurely strolls, to delicious restaurants with unforgettable cuisine, you’ll find plenty of activities in Boise perfect for your weekend escape!
Where is Boise?
Boise, the vibrant capital of Idaho, is situated in the southwest region at a distance of 41 miles from Oregon and 100 miles north of Nevada and 220 miles from Utah.
What’s the Weather Like in Boise?
If you’re up for an adventure, Boise, Idaho is the place to be! During summertime temperatures soar with highs reaching near 100°F.
Then come winter when things cool off and snowfall may occur but rarely sticks around long – no worries because a short drive will get you into the mountains where skiing, sledding, and even snowshoeing await you in a magical snowy land!
But don’t worry if cold weather isn’t your thing; spring and fall offer milder conditions that entice mountain folks down to town so they can take advantage of warmer temps while exploring dry trails.
Hyde Park – Boise Northend
The charming, historic and eclectic, Hyde Park is a true gem of Boise and should not be missed. Hyde Park is a break from the towering buildings of downtown and instead feels like a quant neighborhood bustling with activity.
The historic main street and buildings with distinct architecture are perfectly paired with some of the best restaurants and cafe’s of Boise. What’s more is you’re just blocks away from Camel’s Back Park and the Boise Foothills.
So go for a quick hike and then cozy up at one of the many outdoor patios where you can enjoy the people watching and some terrific food and drink.
Zoo Boise is home to over 200 animals with many endangered and rare species. The Boise Zoo hosts interactive exhibits where you can feed and touch the animals which are always a hit with the kids.
They also feature themed attractions like “Giraffe Encounters” and “Butterflies in Bloom.” Most importantly you’ll leave full of new knowledge with their education center and animal presentations where you can learn more about your favorite animals.
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In heart of downtown sits a favorite Boise attraction, Freak Alley. Said to be the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest, this alley way is home to numerous murals and graffiti. What started as a single mural in 2002 has evolved into an absolute masterpiece of local talent.
As new artists add their touch and incorporate older paintings into their own, this ever-changing work of art almost feels as though it’s alive.
Basque Museum and Cultural Center
Opened in 1985 the Basque Museum and Cultural Center is the only Basque museum in the united states. The site of the museum is actually a former Basque boarding house and is also known for being the oldest brick building in the city of Boise.
Most people are surprised to learn that Boise is home to the largest concentration of Basque people outside of Spain, and a stroll through the thriving community reveals a world of culture, history and tradition.
The San Inazio Festival is an annual event to honor St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of the Basques. It began more than 25 years ago and now thousands come to the Basque Block at the end of every July to see local musicians and dancers as well as Basque sporting events. And the food is amazing!
Idaho State Capital Building
As we mentioned earlier, the city offers a lot to history lovers. The striking Idaho State Capitol building is one of the many highlights of Boise’s history.
The capitol features a gift shop and rotating exhibit featuring different elements of Idaho’s unique history. This of course, all within the most magnificent marble grand room and spiral stair case. It really is quite a site.
Download your Self Guided Idaho State Capitol Tour and be sure to take some time exploring the capitol building.
Discovery Center of Idaho
With an emphasis on current technology and hands-on type exhibits the Discovery Center Of Idaho has made quite a name for itself. From world-class exhibitions, virtual and in-person programs with community experts, to hands-on exhibitions built right in their own Micron Innovation Lab.
Adults and children alike will enjoy the Discovery Center with their fun and refreshing approach to science and learning.
JUMP (Jacks Urban Meeting Place)
If you want a place that encourages creativity and innovation, then head on over to JUMP (Jack’s Urban Meeting Place). This interactive creative center is one of those spots where people can have fun while being productive! There are learning studios for any occasion as well as event spaces available. They also have an outdoor amphitheater where spontaneous performances are encouraged along with outdoor movies and concerts under the beautiful Boise stars.
For the adventurous person looking for a fun thing and unique thing to do in Boise the JUMP also offers various experiences like the “climber” and the “spiral slide”. The Climber is a three-story net structure climbing area, And the Spiral Slide is a totally tubular five-story chute designed to allow people to take risks and challenge themselves in a fun way.
Capitol Boise City Market
What started as a small Boise city public market in the early 90’s is now home to over 150 local vendors from all over Idaho. If you’re looking for the freshest produce or a unique gift there’s no better place.
The Boise Capitol City Market spreads across 5 blocks and is full of live music to entertain while you shop making this a favorite downtown Boise attraction.
Idaho Black History Museum
The Idaho Black History Museum tells the story of African Americans in Idaho from early settlement to present day. Visitors can learn about the contributions of African Americans to the state through exhibits, artifacts, and educational programs. You’ll find the Idaho Black History museum in Julia Davis Park , which is also home to the Boise Art Museum, Boise Zoo and the Idaho State Historical Museum.
Boise Train Depot
The Boise Depot is a hub of history, designed by renowned New York architects and opened in 1925 as a Union Pacific passenger station.
It served faithfully until Amtrak’s opening in May 1971, after which it was retired from the railroad system to become an iconic landmark for all visitors who enter its walls.The Boise Depot has been transformed into a vibrant community center, providing locals and visitors alike with countless opportunities to explore the city’s culture through exciting tours and special events. There is no better way to experience all that Boise, Idaho has to offer than by visiting this one-of-a-kind destination!
The landscape of the grounds offers awe-inspiring views of downtown, a tranquil park with a gazebo, and an exquisite koi pond. But if you venture around to the backside, you will find Big Mike–a vintage freight engine that was once part of Union Pacific’s mainline until it was retired in 1956 and donated generously to the city.
Make sure to take a trip inside the Boise Depot and ride the elevator up to the top on Sundays or Mondays from 11 AM – 5 PM. Even if you can’t make it during those hours, still go experience all that this place has to offer—the beautiful grounds, unbeatable views of Boise, Big Mike and of course, the exterior of this Historical building!
Old Idaho Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary is one of the best things to do in Boise, Idaho. The former prison is now a museum that tells the stories of the inmates who were held there
Established in 1872, the infamous Old Idaho Penitentiary was home to some of the wildest criminals from across the West for more than a century. Over 13,000 inmates passed through its doors until it ultimately closed in December 1973. Come and explore the Idaho Penitentiary, where you can observe solitary confinement chambers, former cell blocks, and the hanging gallows. Additionally, there are plenty of exhibits to discover about this place’s past as well as Idaho’s history.
The site features 30 historic buildings including the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit, a collection of historic weaponry.
Boise Art Museum
The Boise Art Museum or BAM as the locals call it, produces over 15 exciting new exhibitions each year. BAM inspires and engages people of all ages through a range or artistic styles including media, periods, and cultures.
With monthly education programs, studio art workshops, and children’s ARTExperience Gallery there truly is something for everyone here.
BSU Football Stadium
The BSU Football Stadium on the Boise State University campus is a popular attraction in Boise, Idaho. It is home to the Boise State University Broncos football team and also home to the BSU Museum, which houses artifacts from the school’s football history. The museum is open to the public on weekdays from 9am to 5pm.
If you’re unfamiliar with Boise, one of the few things that may come to mind is their iconic blue turf football field – affectionately known as the “Smurf Turf”. For two decades it was unique and unrivaled in its appearance. On game day, Boise locals proudly don their beloved Broncos’ colors: orange and blue! It’s a town-wide display of loyalty for our beloved sports team!
Nature Attractions And Wildlife Experiences In Boise
There are plenty of great nature attractions to check out in Boise. If you’re looking for some breathtaking views, make sure to head to Table Rock or Camel’s Back Park. Or if you’re more interested in getting up close and personal with some of Idaho’s amazing wildlife, head to the Boise River Greenbelt or the World Center for Birds of Prey.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation
Boise is well known for attracting those who love the outdoors and just a short drive up the foothills sits Bogus Basin. Perhaps best known as the local ski area Bogus Basin is also home to great summertime activities as well.
You’ll find an abundance of trails for both hiking and biking as well as lift served mountain biking. Bogus Basin is also home to Idaho’s only mountain roller coaster. This along with climbing walls, summer tubbing hill, and bungee trampoline make this an awesome spot anytime of the year.
For the snow lovers this is a quick and easy drive from Boise to get your fill of skiing and snowboarding. There are also cross country ski and snowshoeing trails for those that enjoy a more mellow winter day.
Boise White Water Park
The Boise Parks and Recreation Department offers an extraordinary opportunity to explore the river that runs through downtown Boise. Thanks to the generous support from The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, we can now enjoy the amazing features of their exciting new Boise Whitewater Park! From its adjustable wave for kayakers and surfers, three additional structures designed for all skill levels, as well as a plaza with prime viewing spots – this is definitely one experience you won’t want to miss out on!
Quinn’s Pond is an idyllic spot for the whole family to make treasured memories. Experience a perfect day in Boise with sandy beaches, fishing docks, and picnic areas – all around the 22-acre pond that entices everyone from avid anglers to paddleboarders and swimmers alike!
Adventure awaits just a stone’s throw away at Idaho River Sports! They provide canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for you to explore the area
World Center Birds of Prey
Be sure to visit the World Center for Birds of Prey and become acquainted with majestic eagles, mysterious owls, captivating vultures, striking hawks, and graceful falcons. This incredible destination is home to The Peregrine Fund – a non-profit committed to preserving birds of prey around the globe!
Come explore the world of birds of prey and see them up close during our live raptor presentations! When you purchase your tickets, make sure to ask when the next presentation will be. During this informative session, not only will you witness these magnificent creatures in action but also have a chance to learn more about them and ask questions directly to the presenter.
Camel’s Back Park and Boise Foothills
Situated at the base of the Boise foothills and just blocks from the eclectic Hyde Park area sits Camel’s Back Park. This large open space with playground and restrooms is home to miles of beginner friendly hiking trails and mountain bike trails.
The short but steep path with stone steps that takes you to the top of the hill is one of Boise’s finest viewpoints and is an ideal spot to catch a sunset. Other activities include tennis courts, sand volleyball, and large grassy area perfect for throwing the frisbee.
Idaho Botanical Garden
A great thing about living in the city of Boise is that you are never more than a stones throw away from the peace and quiet of nature. And there’s no better example than the Idaho Botanical Garden.
This year round living museum sits on 14 acres featuring native and exotic plants from all over the world. The Garden is a tapestry of sunlight and shade, vegetables and flowers, greenery and shrubs, water features and art installations. It’s a treat for the eyes and a soothing experience for the soul to visit.
It’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll or picnic.
Ann Morrison Park
Boasting 153 acres of lush terrain, this park features a one-of-a-kind spray fountain and offers visitors the opportunity to partake in various recreational activities such as bocce ball, disc golfing, horseshoe pits, outdoor gym workouts, sand volleyball court matches and more. The Together Treasure Valley Dog Island is also available for pet owners, not to mention a playground for younger children plus lighted softball diamonds perfect for soccer or cricket games. Lastly there’s an easily reservable picnic shelter that can comfortably accommodate large parties!
Boise River Greenbelt
The 25 mile long Boise River Greenbelt runs right through the heart of Boise Idaho. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle of the city where you can enjoy a taste of nature and an afternoon stroll along the river.
When the weather’s right you can even float the river on a SUP or inner tube to escape the summer heat. There are numerous points along the Boise Greenbelt worth visiting.
- Lucky Peak State Park – The perfect place for swimming, picnicking, fishing, boating, biking, and more.
- Quinn’s Pond – Boise River’s “outdoor gym” where you can rent a paddleboard, take a swim, or layout on the beach.
- Julia Davis Park – The city’s oldest park, home to Municipal Rose Garden and various outdoor amenities.
- Willow Lane Athletic Complex – Featuring several softball fields, a soccer field, playground, and dirt jump park
- Shoreline Park – With grassy open areas, picnic benches, and a river overlook.
- Natatorium Pool – Voted Boise’s best public pool, offers a 12-foot deep pool, waterslide, and diving area.
- Warm Springs Golf Course – An 18-hole championship course shaded by trees and located on the banks of the Boise River.
- Marianne Williams Park – The 72-acre site located on the Boise River, with an abundance of beautiful pathways.
- Quail Hollow Golf Course – A 7-star golf course, offering a full-length driving range, putting green, and a full service pro shop.
- Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial – An educational park inspired by Anne Frank’s faith in humanity.
The Boise River
The Boise River is one of the best things to do in Boise Idaho. It runs through the city and provides a great place to cool off during the summer heat. People enjoy tubing down the river in the summer months. There are also many parks along the river where you can picnic or go for a walk.
Aquarium of Boise
No trip would be complete without a visit to the Aquarium of Boise. Their 10,000 square foot facility houses over 35,000 gallons of saltwater and over 250 different species of animals and marine life.
Our 10,000 square foot facility houses over 35,000 gallons of saltwater and over 250 different species of animals and marine life. Our collection includes animals that do not live in the ocean, but have come from local donations from the community. These animals include iguanas, freshwater turtles and fish, snakes and lizards. We do accept animals, but only within the guidelines and rules of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
What’s Your Favorite Downtown Boise Attraction?
There are so many fun places to see in Downtown Boise and it was no easy task to only pick 15 of them. But you definitely can’t you go wrong starting with these.
We’d love to hear about your favorite things to do in Boise so drop a quick comment below.
What’s the Number One Attraction in Idaho?
The top rated attraction in Idaho is Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. This area of Idaho is home to some of the best hiking and camping in the state. There are also lava flows, cinder cones, and other volcanic features to explore.
What is Boise ID known for?
The City of Trees, Boise Idaho known for its outdoor attractions and rich history. Originally started by fur trappers the area quickly become a gold hotspot with mines popping up all over the state. Today Boise is known for its outdoor activities, delicious foods, and a growing list of art and cultural events. All of this has made Boise one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
What is it like to live in Boise?
The city of 230,000 people is one of the fastest-growing cities in the US attracting transplants from all over with its comparatively low cost of living. This couples with a growing tech scene and easy access to nature has made this one of the favorites places for millennials. Boise is a dry area with hot summers and sees occasional snow fall in the winter that quickly melts away.
How many people live in Boise
The largest city in Idaho is Boise, with a population of 229,993. Star is the fastest growing city in Idaho over the past 10 years, having grown 101.78% since 2010.