The capital of Idaho, Boise is home to beautiful parks, great museums and unique attractions. Take in scenic views from the Boise River Greenbelt, admire contemporary art at the Boise Art Museum and visit the vibrant Capital City Public Market. Best things to do in Boise, ID with kids include Discovery Center of Idaho, Zoo Boise, the Aquarium of Boise and the World Center for Birds of Prey. The surrounding area offers fun activities for outdoor enthusiasts.
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1.Boise River Greenbelt
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The Boise River Greenbelt is a park that stretches 25 miles along the banks of the Boise River. With its tree-lined path that goes through the heart of Boise and offers wildlife and scenic views, it is a popular and much loved park. The river and its banks were cleaned, and the city started to buy parcels of land to eventually create the large greenbelt. If you are looking for things to do in Boise, Idaho for outdoor enthusiasts, this is a great area to explore.
In addition to walking trails, there is a ten-mile self-directed bike ride or hike that includes a scavenger hunt related to the history of the city. Trails include the Bethine Church River Trail and the Idaho Birding Trail.
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2. Boise Art Museum
© Boise Art Museum
The Boise Art Museum features a collection of contemporary artwork and exhibitions located on Julia David Drive. The museum began as the Boise Gallery of Art in 1938, and the building underwent expansions in 1973 to include more than 10,000 square feet. After another expansion in 1997, the current facility is 34,800 square feet in size.
In addition to its main building, the museum has an Education Wing, a Sculpture Court, a Museum Store, and more. The Boise Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Boise, Idaho for art lovers. There are temporary exhibits in addition to the permanent collection, and the museum offers a variety of programs and hosts many special events.
670 Julia Davis Drive, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-345-8330
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3. Discovery Center of Idaho
© Discovery Center of Idaho
Located on West Myrtle Street, Discovery Center of Idaho is an interactive science center that seeks to inspire people to take an interest in engineering, math, science, and technology. There are about 200 exhibits in the center. Some of these include the Bubble Wall, the Centripetal Wheel, and the Turbulent Orb.
In addition to the permanent exhibits, the center hosts rotating exhibitions and offers classes on Saturdays during the school year as well as camps for children during school breaks. If you are wondering what to do in Boise with kids, head to this unique place. There are also programs like Young Discoverers for preschoolers and Adult Night with live music, drinks, and local food.
131 West Myrtle Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-343-9895
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4. Things to Do in Boise Today: Aquarium of Boise
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Located on North Cole Road, the Aquarium of Boise is a hands-on aquarium that opened to the public in 2011. Formerly known as the Idaho Aquarium, the aquarium was built in a remodeled 10,000 square foot warehouse and continues to grow with new exhibitions being added from time to time.
The aquarium features many interactive touch tanks, which allow visitors to touch or hold marine animals such as corals, crabs, rays, sharks, and starfish. The main exhibits include a giant octopus tank, a coral reef habitat, a shark nursery, and more. There are also new exhibits like a bird aviary and a Marine Science Laboratory.
64 North Cole Road, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-375-1932
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5.Capital City Public Market, Boise, Idaho
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Located on West Bannock Street, the Capital City Public Market features fresh local produce, food, and a variety of local artisans. The market had its beginnings as an open-air market in 1994 with just a few vendors. Today the market has grown to more than 150 vendors per day during the peak season, and it occupies four city blocks in downtown Boise.
Items for sale in the market include baked goods, fish, fruit, meat, vegetables, and much more. The market also hosts special events like musical performances, Bike to Market for Bike Month, and Wiggly Worms, a children’s program about red wiggler worm composting. The market is open on Saturday.
802 West Bannock Street #800, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-345-3499
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6. Zoo Boise
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Located on Julia Davis Drive in Julia Davis Park, Zoo Boise is a zoological park that features a large variety of animal exhibits as well as several special attractions. Some of these include Butterflies in Bloom, the Conservation Cruise, Giraffe Encounter” the Sloth Bear Encounter, and more.
The Zoo Farm gives children the chance to feed goats, llamas, and sheep, while Animal Presentations teaches children about several kinds of animals in the exhibits. The zoo welcomes school, youth, and adult groups for self-guided tours. There are also special events such as Boo at the Zoo, Claus ‘N Paws, Spooktacular, and Zoobilee.
355 Julia Davis Drive, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-608-7760
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7. Idaho Botanical Garden
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Located on Old Penitentiary Road, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a garden sitting on 50 acres of land that was formerly the farm and nursery of the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. After ten years of sitting vacant, the garden was created in 1984. The garden is made up of a large variety of separate gardens, including the Alpine Garden, the Cactus Garden, and the English Garden.
The garden offers many classes and workshops like Garden on the Road and Nature Detective. It also hosts numerous events such as musical performances, Foothills Walk, Grow the Garden Party, and more.
2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-343-8649
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8.Hulls Gulch Reserve, Boise, Idaho
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Hulls Gulch Reserve is the home of two trails, The Grove and Lower Hulls Gulch. The 292-acre reserve is located at the base of the foothills north of downtown Boise. The name comes from the creek that begins in the foothills and flows through the reserve.
There are about 150 miles of trails for hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and runners. The reserve is home to a large variety of wildlife, and visitors can enjoy catching glimpses of birds like the great horned owl as well as reptiles like lizards and snakes and mammals such as coyotes, mule deer, and red fox. The Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center educates visitors about the environment and preservation.
3001 North Sunset Peak Road, Boise, Idaho
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© Boise Centre
Located in the city center is Boise Centre, Idaho's major and largest convention facility, a prime venue for conferences, meetings, tradeshows, receptions, and more. The center, consisting of two contemporary buildings, has more than 80,000 square feet of flexible spaces customizable for events and groups of any size. The center hosts over 200 events every year, including international and national conventions, fundraisers, tradeshows, and banquets. Run by a team of experienced professionals, the center guarantees superb guest service, audiovisual and technical facilities, and full-service first class catering. The center is surrounded by restaurants, shops, microbreweries, hotels, and plenty of culture and entertainment.
850 W Front St, Boise, ID 83702, Phone: 208-336-8900
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10.Boise Trolley Tours, Boise, ID
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Located on North Garden Street, the Boise Trolley Tours offers a variety of tours guided by Boise natives with extensive knowledge of the city sights. The company conducts 75 minute narrated tours of Boise’s historic downtown every day from May through September in open-air replica trolley cars. Tours visit the Basque Block, the Idaho State Capitol, Hyde Park, the mansions of Warm Springs, and other exciting destinations.
The company also offers special tours like the 21+ Halloween Tours that take visitors on a trolley to the Frightened Felons Event at the Old Pen. Ms. Molly Trolley is a 31-passenger trolley that is especially popular and can be used for private events such as parties and weddings.
2288 North Garden Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-433-0849
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11.Boise Farmers Market
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Located on West Front Street, the Boise Farmers Market is a weekly market where a variety of vendors sell local agricultural products and food goods. Products include baked goods, cheeses, fish, fruits, meats, vegetables, and more. If you are looking for unique date ideas, Boise Farmers Market is a great place to visit.
There are many vendors who sell prepared food like Cucina di Paolo, the Funky Taco, Guru Donuts, and many others.
Several wineries also sell their products at the market: Cold Springs Winery, Hat Ranch Winery, and Lakeview Vineyards are just a few. The market also offers several programs such as Market Fresh Recipes, Mobile Market, Sprouts Kids Club, and Taste the Market.
1080 West Front Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-345-9287
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12.Kathryn Albertson Park
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The Kathryn Albertson Park is a 41-acre park, one of several riverside parks named for important local women. Kathryn McCurry Albertson and her husband donated the park to the city in 1989. The park features paved footpaths, a variety of wildlife, and gazebos that can be reserved for special occasions.
You can also see several ponds and a fountain. Signs that have been inlaid in large rocks along the paths describe the wildlife and themes of nature found in the park. The plantings in the park were chosen to offer food and protection to the wildlife that lives there.
1001 West Americana Terrace, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-608-7600
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13.Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
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Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is a ski area located northeast of the city of Boise. Opened in 1942, the ski area currently has seven chairlifts for downhill skiing and 23 miles of Nordic trails for cross-country skiing. With 2,600 acres of forested land, the ski area is made up of landscaped areas, bowls, glades, and runs.
One of the ski areas begins at the summit of Shafer Butte. At nearly 7,600 feet, this is the highest point of the Boise Ridge mountains. Summer activities include biking, camping, disc golf, hiking, horseback riding, and more. The ski area also hosts special events like weddings. It is open every day from late November until early April.
2600 North Bogus Basin Road, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-332-5100
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14.Chandlers, Boise, Idaho
If you want to spend an evening of total luxury and indulgence, you should go to Chandlers. Located in newly renovated Hotel 43 in downtown Boise, Chandlers offers fine dining in an opulent, tastefully decorated space with warm colors and original art. The restaurant specializes in high quality prime corn-fed beef, Kobe beef, and a variety of fresh fish and seafood from around the world.
Executive Chef Luis Flores wisely allows the exceptional ingredients speak for themselves; he simply uses them to prepare his dishes to perfection. The restaurant’s award-winning wine list features 685 incredible wine selections (over 6,500 bottles from around the world). More than 30 wines are available by the glass and rotated by season. There is live jazz performed every evening in the restaurant’s lounge.
981 West Grove Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-383-4300
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15. World Center for Birds of Prey
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The World Center for Birds of Prey, located on West Flying Hawk Lane, is the headquarters for the Peregrine Fund, which was founded in 1970 to protect endangered raptors. Built in 1984, the center sits on 580 acres of land on a hilltop above Boise. The center is made up of the offices of the fund, raptor breeding facilities, the Archives of Falconry, a research library, and the Velma Morrison Interpretive Center.
Established in 1992, this interpretive center features live demonstrations, multi-media shows, and interactive displays. The center also offers tours and hosts many special events.
5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-362-8687
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16.State and Lemp, Boise, Idaho
© State and Lemp
At State and Lemp, they do not only serve great food, they also give visitors a chance to learn about food and wine, pairing ingredients, and using what is seasonally available and growing nearby. Their concept is unique: there is only one fixed menu with five courses, which includes a nice selection of wines. All guests arrive at the same time, allowing the staff to serve everyone simultaneously.
The food delights all the senses – it looks like artistic presentation, smells divine, and tastes sinful. The restaurant is rather modern; the communal dining tables are made of recycled wood and, they encourage conversation among guests, who will feel as though they are at a large party. Dining at State and Lemp is always a unique and very satisfying experience.
2870 W. State St. Boise, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-429-6735
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17.Boise Art Glass, Boise, ID
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Boise Art Glass is a glass producing company located in the historic Bogie’s Building on West Front Street in downtown Boise. Four skilled artisans make glass products and offer classes in the art of glass making to the public. Their works include bowls, fine art glass, functional glass, and jewelry.
The shop offers a variety of torch work classes such as Beginner Beadmaking, Introduction to Flameworking, and furnace classes like Beginner Hotshop Class. Some classes are one-on-one, while other classes are for groups. The shop also rents its torches and its furnace as well as other equipment and supplies.
1124 West Front Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-345-1825
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18.Great Harvest Bread
© Great Harvest Bread
For the last 33 years, people have been passing through Fairview Avenue between six in the morning and noon only to be greeted by the best smell in the world: freshly baked bread straight from the oven. Great Harvest Bread makes their bread by hand, from scratch, and with whole grains.
They grind the Montana Red Spring wheat every day in their own stone mill, mix it with water, salt, yeast, and pure honey, making simply divine bread. If you want something sweet, come early in the morning when they bake their fabulous muffins, scones, cookies, and buns.
5608 W. Fairview Ave., Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-377-5587
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19.Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center
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The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center, located on South Walnut Street east of downtown Boise, is a nature center that sits on 4.6 acres of land along the Boise River Greenbelt. In the Visitor Center, children can engage in hands-on activities such as touching antlers, horns, and pelts as well as making animal tracks in sand.
StreamWalk is an interpretive trail where visitors can see the stream through special viewing windows. In addition to the StreamWalk program, there are self-guided tours and specialized tours that include interactive experiences involving plants, aquatic insects, and fish.
600 South Walnut Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-334-2225
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20.Saint Lawrence Gridiron, Boise, Idaho
© Saint Lawrence Gridiron
Saint Lawrence Gridiron is unapologetically trendy, from its industrial exposed pipes and reclaimed wood décor to the main rule they employ for creating a menu: offering food that goes well with bourbon and beer. And that means lot of meat. In its attempt to explore the roots of American cuisine, the restaurant offers comfort food from various parts of the country.
You can have a great brisket platter, pulled pork sandwiches, all kinds of burgers, shrimp and grits, and lots of grilled meat. There are eight good beers on tap, some local craft brews, and affordable but reasonably good wines.
705 W Bannock St., Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-433-5598
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21.Basque Museum & Cultural Center
© Basque Museum & Cultural Center
Located on West Grove Street, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center focuses on the heritage and culture of the Basque people. Established in 1985, it is the only Basque museum in the United States. The museum is housed in the historic Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House, a former Basque boardinghouse and the oldest brick structure in the city.
The mission of the museum is to preserve and promote Basque culture and history. Boise plays a particularly important role in Basque history, as it is the city where Basque immigrants first settled in the United States. Group and school tours are available at the museum.
611 West Grove Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-343-2671
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22.Boise Fry Company, Boise, ID
© Boise Fry Company
Boise Fry Company decided to give good old fries the place they deserve on the menu: as a main. Burgers are optional. There is an art to the whole process: first you choose your potato, which can be gold, russet, red lady, yam, sweet potato, or purple. By the way, all potatoes are organic. After, you choose your cut: shoestring, regular, home style, chips, waffle or po’balls. Then you choose one of eight different kinds of salt: vanilla, cinnamon, jalapeno, horseradish, Cajun, rosemary garlic, hickory smoked, or plain. You can also choose between eight different dipping sauces.
You might even get a burger to go with your fries, if you must. You will probably have to wait in line, but nobody minds. The small restaurant is unassuming, but incredibly popular.
204 N Capitol Blvd, 3083 Bown Way, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-495-3858
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23.The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
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The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is a park located on South 8th Street in Boise adjacent to the Boise River Greenbelt. Anne Frank and her faith in humanity inspired the creation of this 0.81-acre park, which is dedicated to human rights.
Kurt Karst, an architect from Idaho Falls designed the memorial to convey a message of hope through the use of natural elements such as native plants, stone, and water. Some of the many features include the Anne Frank Statue, the Bethine and Frank Church Writing Table, and the 180-foot Quote Wall, which feature quotes by famous people along with quotes by unknown individuals.
770 South 8th Street, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-345-0304
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Fork is a farm-to-table American restaurant in Boise, opened to the public in 2011 by Amanda and Cameron Lumsden. The upscale restaurant, housed within a converted brick row building on Boise's 8th Street, is committed to its Loyal to Local initiative, sourcing all of its key ingredients from regional Northwest farmers and producers, including beers and liquors sourced from regional brewers and distillers. Comforting shareable plates are served at dinner, including tomato basil fondue, asparagus fries, and 8th Street tacos with cotija cheese and fresh avocado. A variety of delicious burger and sandwich options are also served, along with entrees such as Moroccan-style voodoo chicken, artichoke and ricotta ravioli, and ale-braised short ribs.
199 N 8th St, Boise, Idaho 83702, Phone: 208-287-1700
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25.Julia Davis Park
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Julia Davis Park is located on South Capitol Boulevard in downtown Boise. Thomas Jefferson Davis donated 43 acres of land in memory of his wife, Julia Davis, in 1907. The park was created along the Boise River, and it is the first park in the “String of Pearls,” which refer to the parks located along the river.
Several important Boise sites are located in the park, including the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Black History Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, and Zoo Boise. Today the park is nearly 90 acres in size and features a playground, a pond, river access, a rose garden, statues, and a tennis court.
700 South Capitol Boulevard, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-384-4240
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25 Best Things to Do in Boise, Idaho
- Boise River Greenbelt, Photo: Courtesy of knowles gallery - Fotolia.com
- Boise Art Museum, Photo: Boise Art Museum
- Discovery Center of Idaho, Photo: Discovery Center of Idaho
- Things to Do in Boise Today: Aquarium of Boise, Photo: Courtesy of nadezhda1906 - Fotolia.com
- Capital City Public Market, Boise, Idaho, Photo: Courtesy of joyt - Fotolia.com
- Zoo Boise, Photo: Courtesy of CavalierMarc - Fotolia.com
- Idaho Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Gregory Johnston - Fotolia.com
- Hulls Gulch Reserve, Boise, Idaho, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Boise Centre, Photo: Boise Centre
- Boise Trolley Tours, Boise, ID, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Boise Farmers Market, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Kathryn Albertson Park, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of Louis - Fotolia
- Chandlers, Boise, Idaho, Photo: Chandlers
- World Center for Birds of Prey, Photo: Courtesy of vividcorvid - Fotolia.com
- State and Lemp, Boise, Idaho, Photo: State and Lemp
- Boise Art Glass, Boise, ID, Photo: Courtesy of Brent Hall - Fotolia.com
- Great Harvest Bread, Photo: Great Harvest Bread
- Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center, Photo: Courtesy of mattiaath - Fotolia.com
- Saint Lawrence Gridiron, Boise, Idaho, Photo: Saint Lawrence Gridiron
- Basque Museum & Cultural Center, Photo: Basque Museum & Cultural Center
- Boise Fry Company, Boise, ID, Photo: Boise Fry Company
- The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
- Fork, Photo: Fork
- Julia Davis Park, Photo: Courtesy of maros 013 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of knowlesgallery - Fotolia.com
The riverfront Barber Park is located on South Eckert Road south of downtown Boise. It is known for its education and event center, playground, rafting, trails, and wildlife. Although it is open all year round, it is a popular place to kayak, raft, and tube on the Boise River during the warm summer months.
The park also features BBQs, picnic tables, and a covered patio. Visitors can rent rafts and tubes, and there are free air stations for inflating floating equipment. The park is also known for its wildlife; during the winter months, bald eagles can be seen in the trees, and deer walk through the park in the spring and fall.
4049 South Eckert Road, Boise, Idaho, Phone: 208-577-4575