Idaho was named one of the top 10 places to visit in 2017 — and the only one in the United States. In the last two or three decades, the city of Boise, Idaho has gone from a small western town to a hot spot for culture, beer, and music. The city also offers numerous options for outdoors activities, in every season. There are plenty of fun things to do in downtown Boise, Idaho.
Here are our favorites:
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Float the Boise River
Located in downtown Boise, the Boise River offers a fun and safe way to cool off on summer days and is one of the more relaxing Boise events. It is something locals do all summer long, and is a fun (and relatively safe) activity without having to rent a car.
There are shuttles to the beginning point, and you can rent your tube or raft so there is no need to bring your own or plan transportation. Just make sure you get out of the river where they tell you to — the river gets pretty dangerous after that point.
In the last 10 years, Boise went from having virtually no local breweries to more than 10. Since then, breweries in Boise have quickly become the culture of the city.
If you are visiting the city, you should make a day of sampling different beers from the many breweries in town – including on the Boise Ale Trail, where you can collect stamps at each place. There are plenty of breweries in downtown Boise, so you will not need to get an Uber to go anywhere.
Freak Alley is a fairly new addition to downtown Boise (in the last 5 or 10 years), but one of the most fun things to do in downtown Boise. Freak Alley is an attempt to take unused alleys and add art and culture, which is where the city is going these days.
Okay, so Bogus Basin is not exactly in downtown Boise, but it is just 16 miles up the mountain from downtown. Bogus Basin offers a chance to visit for skiing – without any need to stay at the resort.
There are some larger, and more well-known resorts only a few hours away — including in McCall and Sun Valley — but Bogus Basin is closer to the city of Boise, if you are looking to do everything else Boise has to offer. There is a joke that occasionally you can float the river and ski all in the same day, although that only happens for a few days a year, if at all. But it’s a great reminder that the city of Boise has a lot to offer, for all different kinds of people.
Located just north of downtown, Table Rock offers a fun day of hiking – or you can always drive up as well. It offers a great view of the entire city, and is a sight to see, whether you visit in the daytime or night time.
You can hike up the hill/mountain, which is a relatively easy walk. Or, if you prefer, you can drive up to the top as well. There was a fire on the hillside a few years ago, so you can see the re-growth of the land that is working to recover.
At Table Rock in Boise, you will get one of the best views of the city, and beyond. You can really see why Boise is called the “City of Trees” — it is a beautiful tree-filled oasis surrounded by brown desert on all sides.
Boise State’s Blue Field
Whether or not you are a football fan, the Boise State University field is worth checking out — just to say you have done it. Because next time the Boise State Broncos are on TV — wherever you are — you can guarantee the field will be a topic of discussion. Boise State is located in downtown Boise, making it a great place to visit even if you don’t want to leave downtown.
NCAA football teams are no longer allowed to install football fields that are a color other than green, but Boise State was grandfathered into this and so it is one of the only ones you will see in the world.
Boise has one of the the largest Basque populations outside of the Basque County, and it shows in many aspects of the city (including the mayor). The Basque Block includes the Basque Museum (an old boarding house) and an underground fronton, or handball, court that is still in use today.
There are also numerous amazing restaurants in the Basque Block, including Leku Ona and Bar Gernika, two authentic Basque restaurants, and Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery.
Watch the restaurants of the Boise Basque Block on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives.
Not only this, but every five years, Boise is host to Jaialdi, an international Basque festival that takes over the city.
The Greenbelt winds throughout the city of Boise, and offers a pathway for runners, bikers, and walkers. With amazing views of different areas of the city, the greenbelt sits next to the river in most cases.
You can get to so many locations within Boise and downtown Boise on the greenbelt, whether you are walking, running, or riding your bicycle. It really is a treasure within the city that other cities need to embrace. There is no danger of being hit by a car, and what better way to get to work in the morning than by a nice stroll on the Boise Greenbelt.
Walk Around Downtown Boise
Of all the things to do in Boise, just taking a walk around downtown is an amazing reason to visit. From the Idaho capitol building to the ECHL ice rink to the many pieces of public are to the many restaurants and breweries, there is plenty to do downtown. You can spend hours walking around and never see it all.
One especially special place is the Eighth Street Alley, which is a beautiful location full of bars and restaurants. It gets a little wild on Friday or Saturday nights, but any afternoon or evening you can sit on one of the restaurant patios with a beer and watch the people walk by.
Idaho has become a destination for travelers — in both winter and summer — there are plenty of fun things to do in Boise, no matter what your idea of a vacation is. If you are looking at other parts of the state, Idaho Falls, Coeur d’Alene, Twins Falls, Stanley, Sun Valley, or McCall would be great places to start.
Next time you are there, tell us, what is your favorite thing about Boise and Idaho?