Winter In Boise: 23 Best Things To See And Do

Winter in Boise isn’t just about chilly temperatures and cozy nights. It’s a season that transforms Idaho’s capital into a vibrant wonderland, brimming with activities both indoors and out.

From the light displays to the thrill of snow-covered adventures, Boise offers a unique winter experience that’s hard to match.

And speaking from our personal connection to Idaho, there’s a certain magic in the air during this time of year that makes every moment special.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this guide will uncover the best of Boise in winter, ensuring you make the most of the winter season.

See Christmas Lights and Experience Holiday Festivities

When the days grow shorter and the nights longer, Boise lights up in a magical way. The city takes its winter festivities seriously, ensuring that every corner sparkles. If you’re looking for some of the best Boise bucket list experiences read on.

Idaho Botanical Garden For Garden AGLow

The Idaho Botanical Garden is a highlight in Boise especially during winter, the Winter Garden aGlow event transforms the space into a winter wonderland. As you stroll through the gardens, you’re surrounded by a display of over 600,000 lights.

But the experience goes beyond the visual spectacle. Treat yourself to a tasty cup of hot chocolate and various options from local food trucks. The ambiance is enhanced by live choirs belting out classic holiday tunes.

For those looking for warmth, inviting fire pits are scattered throughout, providing a spot to gather and warm up. And for a an added touch keep an eye out for the Garden Grinch, who adds a playful twist to the festive setting.

Shindig Farms (Nampa)

The “Lost in Christmas” maze is filled with thousands of bright, shimmering lights for you to wander through. While the maze is the main attraction at Shindig Farms during the holidays, there are other activities too. You can take a ride on a horse-drawn wagon or try the zipline through the lights.

Free Places To See Christmas Light Displays In And Around Boise

Christmas tree on the steps of the Idaho state capital at night

If you’re on a budget or just out for a stroll, there are plenty of spots to enjoy festive lights without spending a dime.

  • Idaho Capitol Building-The Capitol Christmas tree right smack dab in the middle of the city is a great stop.

  • The Grove Plaza- Is a great place to enjoy the holiday the festivities. You’ll find a nice holiday vibe and quality restaurants surrounding the Grove.

  • The Village In Meridian– The Village In Meridian transforms into a beautiful winter gathering spot during the holidays. From ice skating, to shopping, to holiday cocktails the Village has some great options.

  • The Scenty Common Light Stroll– Exploring the lights at the Scentsy Commons is a true spectacle that the family will love. The event showcases performances by local high school and community choirs, offers refreshments, presents a live Nativity display, and includes appearances from Clyde the camel and even Santa Claus himself. The best part is this its FREE!

  • Indian Creek Plaza (In Caldwell)– Every year, the City of Caldwell illuminates Indian Creek in downtown Caldwell with more than a million lights! You can meet Santa, enjoy ice skating, indulge in your favorite holiday treat, or begin your festive shopping from various vendors.

Drive Through Christmas Light Experiences In Boise And Around

For those who prefer to stay warm and cozy in their cars, Boise has a drive-through holiday light experience. This drive-through attraction is perfect for families, couples, or anyone looking to enjoy the festive season without braving the cold.

  • Christmas in Color– Pack your friends and family into your vehicle and drive through an area lit up by more than 1.5 million lights. These lights are synchronized to holiday music that you can listen to on your car radio. You’ll see large candy canes, snowmen, and arched pathways as you drive through.

Boise ensures that everyone gets to experience the joy of the season. So, whether you’re walking, or driving, the city’s holiday light displays are sure to fill you with holiday cheer.

Winter In Boise Outdoor Activities

Boise might not be blanketed in snow throughout the entire winter, but that doesn’t mean it’s short on snowy adventures. The surrounding foothills and mountains ensure there’s always a winter activity waiting for you, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or someone who just wants to play in the snow.

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area (A Favorite Thing To Do In January in Boise)

Just a short drive from the city, Bogus Basin resort is the go-to winter destination for many locals. This ski hill is not just about skiing – though that’s a major draw. With both downhill and cross-country skiing options available, there’s something for everyone in the winter.

With 10 lifts and 80 runs, Bogus Basin offers a diverse experience for both skiers and snowboarders, regardless of their level.

And if skiing isn’t your thing, there’s always tubing. The best part? The conveyor-lift means you can keep sliding down without tiring yourself out walking back up. If you’re into hitting up the Idaho mountains for skiing be sure to check out some of our favorite ski resorts in Idaho.

💡 Good to know: Boise also offers night skiing and boarding so if you’re wanting to hit the slopes under the lights this is a great way to spend your evening winter in Boise.

Sledding at Camel’s Back Park In Boise In The Winter

Camel’s Back Park, a short drive from downtown Boise, is an ideal spot for winter activities without leaving the city. When snow blankets the area, the park’s natural hilly terrain turns it into a favorite sledding destination. Its proximity to the city and perfect slopes make it a top choice for a quick winter outing.

For those who are looking for things to do with kids in Boise anytime of the year we have ideas for keeping them occupied throughout the year.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to grab a coffee or hot cocoa from Hyde Park on your way!

Snowshoeing/Hiking And Cross Country Skiing

Winter hiking offers a unique experience, with snow-covered landscapes providing a whole different atmosphere. The great thing about hiking is that it’s one of those free things to do in Boise.

Snowshoeing adds an extra layer of complexity to your hike, requiring more energy to move through the snow but also providing a more intense workout. It’s a great way to engage different muscle groups while enjoying the winter scenery.

Numerous trails in the vicinity of Bogus Basin and the Boise foothills are ideal for winter adventures. For more information on hiking options in the Boise foothills, you can refer to the Ridge to River Trails.

For details on snowshoeing, nordic skiing trails, and the fees for using cross-country trails at Bogus Basin, you can click here.

Our Favorite Snowshoeing Trails In Boise

Adelmann Mine Trail. Location: Adelmann Mine Trailhead- This nearly 5-mile trail is relatively easy, although there is a consistent incline leading up to the mine. Once you reach the end, you’ll find the Adelmann Mine, largely unchanged since its closure years ago. The view from the mine makes the hike worthwhile.

Corrals Trail. Location: 31 Corrals Trail- This trail is 5.5 miles and winds through the picturesque foothills surrounding Boise.

💡 Good To Know: Corrals trail is not a loop, so you’ll need to arrange transportation or snowshoe back the way you came.

Our Favorite Cross Country Trails In Boise in the Winter

Bogus Basin East Side Loop: Location: Bogus Basin- This 2.8 mile loop serves as the central trail in the Shafer Butte network located in the Boise National Forest. The trail gains approximately 500 feet in elevation from beginning to end.

Lower Nordic Loop: Location: Bogus Basin Ski Resort- Also spanning 2.8 miles, the Lower Nordic Loop is a moderately difficult trail popular for Nordic skiing.

Great Polar Bear Challenge Plunge

During the Great Polar Bear Challenge, hundreds of Idaho residents face the cold January weather and plunge into the icy waters of Lucky Peak to raise funds for granting wishes to local children battling severe illnesses.

Eagle Island Tubing (Gateway Parks)

Image Credit: Gateway Parks

Eagle Island’s tubing hill is not just another winter attraction; it’s a go-to spot for winter fun. The hill is well-maintained and offers multiple lanes, allowing for a smooth and exciting tubing experience.

The convenience of the walking sidewalk eliminates the hassle of climbing back up the hill, making it easier to enjoy multiple rounds of tubing. This is especially helpful for families with young children or for those who prefer to conserve their energy for the ride down.

☞ Good To Know: In addition to a charge for tubing at Gateway Parks each vehicle entering the area is charged an entrance fee. However if you have an Idaho State Parks Passport your entrance fee is free.

Ice Skating (Near Boise)

Hit up Indian Creek Plaza in Caldwell or The Village At Meridian for a delightful ice skating experience. Both venues offer rinks that cater to both beginners and seasoned skaters.

Indian Creek Plaza, transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months. The rink is surrounded by twinkling lights and festive decorations, creating an ambiance perfect for family outings or romantic dates. They often host themed skating nights and offer skate rentals for those who don’t have their own.

On the other hand, The Village At Meridian provides a more urban skating experience. Nestled around shops and restaurants, the rink offers a unique blend of recreation and fun. After a few laps around the rink, you can warm up with a hot cocoa or hot toddie from a nearby cafe or indulge in some winter shopping.

Hunt For A Christmas Tree

The scent of a fresh Christmas tree is hard to beat. Around Treasure Valley, many local lots provide a wide range of Christmas trees in different sizes, types, and some even with decorated finishes.

You can visit a tree lot to pick out your ideal Christmas tree, or if you’re feeling adventurous, get a permit and venture into the forest to cut down your own.

Boise State Football Game

Attending a Boise State football game is a must-do experience for sports enthusiasts in the city. The team, known for its blue turf field, has a passionate fan base that fills the Albertsons Stadium with energy and excitement on game days.

If you’re not into sports, consider catching a top-notch play at The Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. Located on the Boise State University campus, the center hosts outstanding performances year-round.

💡 Good to know: Tailgating before the game is a common tradition, where fans gather to enjoy food, music, and camaraderie.

Stroll The Greenbelt Along The Boise River

boise greenbelt trail

The Greenbelt along the Boise River is a popular pathway in the city. This trail, spanning 25 miles, links parks, top-notch Boise restaurants, and downtown museums. The best way to explore the trail is biking, walking or running, depending on your preference and pace.

Along the Greenbelt, you’ll see views of the Boise River, wildlife, and various art installations. For visitors, there are bike rental stations available at various points, allowing easy access to this trail.

Whether you’re a local looking for a daily exercise route or a tourist wanting to see a different side of Boise, the Greenbelt offers a refreshing outdoor experience in the heart of the city.

💡 Good To Know: Our favorite stop along the Greenbelt in Boise is the Anne Frank Memorial

Indoor Winter In Boise Activities and Events

While Boise’s outdoor winter activities are a major draw, sometimes you just want to stay warm and cozy indoors.

Luckily, the city offers a plethora of indoor events and activities that capture the winter spirit, ensuring you’re entertained without braving the cold.

Egyptian Theatre For A Holiday Movie Or Show In Downtown Boise

The Egyptian Theatre is more than just a movie theater; it’s a piece of Boise’s history and a cultural landmark. The Egyptian Theatre is the oldest theater in Boise, having opened its doors in 1927. During the holiday season, the theater transforms into a festive venue, screening holiday classics.

The Flicks For Seasonal Films In Downtown Boise

The Flicks is another great and nostalgic place to catch a holiday movie. This theater is known for its intimate setting and unique selection of films, often showcasing indie and foreign films alongside seasonal favorites.

During the holiday season, The Flicks curates a special lineup of classic and contemporary holiday films.

☞ Good To Know: The Flicks also offers a cozy cafe where people can enjoy snacks, drinks, and even food before or after the movie.

Idaho Steelheads Hockey Game

The Idaho Steelheads, Boise’s very own hockey team, bring a rush of excitement to the city every winter season. Playing at the CenturyLink Arena right in the heart of downtown, their games are a blend of action, skillful plays, and passionate fans cheering them on.

Edwards Greenhouse Pop Up In North End

When the chilly Boise winter gets a bit too much, make your way to the Pop-Up Park at Edward’s Greenhouse. This oasis is a nice reprieve from the cold Boise winter offering vibrant flowers, lush gardens and an inviting aroma of winter with plenty of winter decor.

☞ Insider Tip: If you’re looking for a different yoga experience in an “outdoor setting” the Edwards Greenhouse hosts yoga sessions during the winter months.

Idaho Ice-World

If you’re in the mood for some ice-skating but prefer an indoor setting, Idaho Ice-World has got you covered. Whether you’re a pro or just looking to have some fun, the rink welcomes all. And if you’re up for a game, there’s even pickup hockey.

See The Nutcracker At Ballet Idaho

If you’re a fan of classical performances, don’t miss the opportunity to see The Nutcracker at Ballet Idaho.

This annual event is a holiday tradition for many families in the area and offers an experience for audiences of all ages.

Ballet Idaho’s rendition of this classic tale features stunning choreography, elaborate costumes, and impressive set designs, all set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score.

Boise Art Museum

The Boise Art Museum (BAM) ioffers a warm and inviting environment where you can escape the cold while engaging with art and culture.

During the winter months, the museum often features special exhibitions that align with the season, providing a unique experience that you won’t find at other times of the year.

Visit Holiday Markets ( A Favorite Thing To Do In December)

Boise, with its vibrant community spirit, comes alive during the holiday season, and one of the highlights is its holiday markets. These markets are a testament to the city’s rich culture, offering a unique shopping experience that goes beyond the usual retail outlets.

  1. Boise Farmers Market Winter Edition: A winter extension of the beloved summer market, this market focuses on seasonal produce, artisanal foods, and handcrafted gifts. From fresh winter greens to homemade jams and baked goods, there’s something for every palate.
  2. Capital City Public Market: Another downtown favorite, this market expands its offerings during the holiday season. Alongside fresh produce, you’ll find stalls with hand-knitted scarves, wooden toys, and festive ornaments.
  3. Merry Makers Market: Celebrating all things made in Idaho, this market is a haven for those looking for authentic local products. From hand-poured candles to crafted leather goods, the quality and diversity of products are impressive.
  4. Boise Christmas Show: More than just a market, this event combines shopping with entertainment. With over 300 vendors, live performances, and even a visit from Santa, it’s a festive extravaganza that’s perfect for families.

Visiting these holiday markets is not just about shopping; it’s an experience. The festive ambiance, combined with the aroma of seasonal treats and the sound of holiday music, creates a delightful atmosphere.

Whether you’re looking for unique gifts, delicious treats, or just a dose of holiday cheer, Boise’s holiday markets are the place to be.

Enjoy A Hot Beverage Around The City Of Boise

Take in the holiday season by getting a festive coffee or hot cocoa in Boise. The city has some great local coffee shops and cafes that offer special holiday-themed drinks to warm you up during the chilly winter months.

Hyde Perk Coffee House is known for its peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes, providing a cozy atmosphere with its rustic decor and fireplace.

Meanwhile, Slow by Slow Coffee Bar offers artisanal brews with a twist, introducing seasonal flavors that are both unique and comforting.

Grab A Holiday Cocktail, Beer, Or Something To Eat In Boise

Boise’s vibrant culinary and bar scene comes alive during the holiday season, offering a plethora of options to indulge in festive drinks and yummy meals.

Many bars, breweries, and restaurants craft special holiday-themed cocktails and brews that capture the essence of the season.

From spiced rum concoctions to winter ales infused with flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg, there’s a drink for everyone. A couple of our favorite places to get a drink during the holidays in Boise is Press and Pony,

If cocktails aren’t your thing, don’t you worry. Boise’s breweries often release limited-edition holiday beers, perfect for those looking to taste the season in a pint. A couple of our favorite places to get a beer during the winter in Boise is Western Collective,

On the food front, many restaurants in Boise introduce special holiday menus. These menus often feature traditional dishes with a local twist, ensuring that diners get a taste of both the familiar and the new.

Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty meal, a plate of seasonal veggies, or a decadent dessert, Boise’s restaurants have got you covered.

A couple of our favorite places are:

  • Western Collective Beer
  • Press and Pony
  • Water Bear Bar
  • The Modern Bar
  • Art Haus Bar

Beyond Boise Idaho: Nearby Winter Adventures

Venturing a bit outside of Boise opens up a world of winter activities that showcase the diverse beauty of Idaho.

Snowmobiling

The backcountry around Boise offers thrilling snowmobiling opportunities. Many enthusiasts head to McCall for its renowned trails. Additionally, Burgdorf Hot Springs is a popular destination, combining snowmobiling with a relaxing soak.

Sleigh Rides

For a more laid-back experience, scenic sleigh rides are available in Garden Valley, and Sun Valley. These rides offer a unique way to enjoy Idaho’s winter landscapes. Many of them also include cozy campfires and hot cocoa stops.

Idaho City Hot Springs

Located about an hour from Boise, Idaho City Hot Springs is a winter haven. The natural hot springs provide a warm escape from the cold. It’s an ideal spot for relaxation after a day of winter activities. If you’re looking to explore beyond Idaho City hot springs we have plenty of ideas for some of the best Idaho hot springs.

McCall Winter Carnival

This annual event in McCall is a celebration of winter. It features impressive snow sculptures, lively parades, and live music. The carnival attracts both locals and tourists, making it a must-visit winter event.

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