Updated August 2019
Post Summary: The Best Things To Do In Boise, Idaho (Places To Eat, Best Hotels, and Day Trips)
“The biggest small town there is…” someone said to us as we packed up our picnic after a thrilling show at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
It’s true, with a population of just over 200,000 people it sure does do a good job of creating a buzzing atmosphere of music, culture, and food!
A few months ago, the Southwest Idaho Tourism Association (SWITA for short) contacted us, wondering if we’d like to come down and visit Boise.
We had recently finished a personal road trip at Craters Of The Moon in Idaho and had just seen Boise in passing.
Rarely do we refuse an offer to explore a new city, so after a few months of correspondence, we were on our way!
We were excited for this trip because we realized Boise is surprisingly close to all the epic things to do in the Pacific Northwest.
After flying for only 1.5 hours, we were in a new (but still near!) territory, with new mountains, rivers, and landscapes to explore.
Boise is one of those underrated cities – the kind where the locals know it’s awesome, but are apprehensive to share it with the world because everyone will want to come!
Well, sorry guys – we’re spilling the beans! Here are all the awesome things we did and why you should come and visit Boise too!
16 Amazing Things To Do In Boise, Idaho
This post is in partnership with the Southwest Idaho Tourism Association (SWITA). All opinions, words, and thoughts are completely our own!
1. Bike The Greenbelt Or Downtown Boise
Boise is the most bike-friendly city we’ve encountered on our travels!
We were blown away by how easy it is to get practically ANYWHERE via bike in Boise!
We took them everywhere to get around Boise – we explored the Boise River and Ann Morrison Park, picked up some coffee, ate lunch, and rode all over Downtown Boise!
The sidewalks are wide and there are bike lanes everywhere. If you’re looking for cool things to do around Boise, getting around on a bike is the way to go!
2. Stroll The Streets of Hyde Park Neighborhood
Hyde Park Neighborhood is proudly on the National Historic Register, and for several reasons!
Not only are many buildings preserved in their original state, the retail area is tucked away in a residential neighborhood. This makes is a unique and fun stop among the rows and rows of beautiful homes!
With stately homes tucked in every street corner, mom & pop shops, and tree-lined streets, this place has something for everyone.
This area of Boise has become a boutique attraction for North-enders and is very walk-able (and bike-able!) with many parks to explore.
Stay Comfy Walking Around Boise: Stroll the Streets In Our Favorite Walking Sandal Picks
3. Take A Sunrise Hike To Table Rock
So a little back story first. When Berty and I Craters Of The Moon National Monument, we met someone via Instagram named BK who lived and traveled in Idaho.
As we planned out our hike to Table Rock, we knew we wanted to finally meet him in person! BK (@BK_Koomler) is a jack of all trades – videography, photography, and rock climbing to name only a few.
Hiking Table Rock with BK was a great opportunity to get to know him and learn more about what he recommends for fun things to do in Boise.
Table Rock is a 3.7-mile loop trail just outside of Boise, Idaho. From the top, you can experience views of the city! The trail is fairly easy, with a steady incline.
The dusty trail takes you though the foothills on Boise, and from the topb you can see the curves and ripples of the earth!
Tips For Hiking Table Rock Trail In Boise, ID:
- Go early in the morning for sunrise or later for sunset (there is no shade so it’s very hot during the day!)
- Wear sturdy, broken-in hiking shoes. I got some pretty nasty blisters from ignoring this one!
- Bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and a hat.
- Bring friends – the hike takes about 45 minutes to an hour, plenty of quality time to get to know someone!
4. Stay At The Inn at 500
Berty and I were extremely lucky to stay at the Inn at 500 hotel in Downtown Boise! The halls are filled with work by local artists and we spent some time visiting every floor and checking out the cool murals and art displayed there.
Everything was included: free valet service for your car, complimentary bikes, and they even offered you a glass of beer or wine upon arrival!
There is also a snack and refreshment bar open at all hours (which we definitely took advantage of when we went out exploring for the day!)
The rooms were modern, comfortable, and tech savvy. Berty set up his own editing office right away and it was a great place to come and relax at the end of our busy days.
Thank you for such a wonderful experience! Next time we visit Boise, we’re definitely coming here again.
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5. Get An Adrenaline Rush At Cascade Raft & Kayak
Taking a whitewater rafting trip near Boise with Cascade Raft & Kayak was the highlight of our trip!
Cascade Raft & Kayak is located just 45 minutes north of Boise, along the Payette River. Family run, professional, family-oriented – they have adventures for all skill levels and ages.
During our trip, we went over a series of 17 whitewater rapids, all class 2 and 3. Our raft guide was so awesome and was telling jokes and made us laugh the whole time.
The staff here is professional, friendly and very attuned to making sure you have the best time possible. We are absolutely going here again! You can find more about Cascade Raft & Kayak here!
6. Attend The Idaho Shakespeare Festival
The Idaho Shakespeare F estival is an annual event that happens every summer in Boise.
The Shakespeare Festival put on high-quality shows for a thrilling night out in an intimate, one-of-a-kind outdoor theater.
When we came, some of the top shows are The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Wait Until Dark (that’s what we saw!) and Hamlet – to name only a few! Click here for the most recent plays being performed during your visit.
We met some friendly people after the show and we learned a lot about the Boise acting community.
Many successful actors and actresses come from Idaho (hellooo Aaron Paul!) and they have fabulous programs to develop performing arts for people of all ages.
Tips For Enjoying The Show At The Idaho Shakespeare Festival:
- Bring a picnic! We stopped by Whole Foods and grabbed wine, cheese, crackers, and fresh fruit. Perfect for nibbling on throughout the show. Bringing your own food is allowed.
- Sit in the lawn. Not only are they the closest seats to the stage, but you can bring your own blanket or chairs to sit on and relax.
- Bring bug spray and a sweater. Especially early in the season, the temperature can drop quickly as soon as the sun goes down.
Read More Idaho Experiences:Amazing Activities To Do In In McCall, Idaho
7. Explore More Of Boise On Electric Bikes
Before heading out on our adventure for the day, we squeezed in a stop at Boise Electric Bikes. We had already experienced how easy it was to get around Boise via bikes, but this company takes it to the next level.
They build everything from electric mountain bikes, road bikes, and custom-built ones for people with specific needs and desires! Berty was able to give one a spin on the nearby neighborhood streets and he was hooked!
Electric bikes can help you maintain speed and give you a little extra oomph – perfect for when you’re going up long, steep hills! Here, you can create your own custom build to suit any needs you have.
Are you a commuter? Hauling lots of stuff? Mountain biker? You name it, they will build it for you. We were impressed even with our short visit!
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8. Drink Your Way Through Wine Country
When we explain to people that we went to visit wineries in Idaho, their first reaction is “What? Idaho has a wine country?” And we swiftly answer
“Yep, and it was beautiful.”
Berty and I were lucky enough to spend a whole day here in the Snake River Valley and experience four spectacular wineries.
This unique area in Idaho has perfect conditions for growing exceptional grapes.
Cold nights and hot days balance out the sugars, proximity to the river allows growers to control water intake, and high elevation provides the grapes with complex flavors and unique tastes.
Read More: An Enchanting Day in Idaho’s Wine Country
9. Join In The Action At Alive After 5
Every summer, the city of Boise holds a FREE, outdoor Summer concert series in the middle of the Grove Plaza downtown.
Here, you can get beer and wine, enjoy the restaurants nearby, do a little shopping and visit with the hundreds of people who come here every Wednesday night.
The city really does comes alive!
We came to check out the scene and stayed for the fun vibe, delicious food, and the chance to explore the city some more! Learn more about Alive after Five here!
10. One Of The Best Places To Stay In Boise Is At The Grove Hotel
The Grove Hotel in Downtown Boise is centrally located, tastefully updated, and the perfect pit stop after a long day visiting Boise.
With modern finishes throughout and beds that literally feel like a cloud, this place feels like a calm oasis among the hustle and bustle of the city.
Many rooms even have a view of downtown! We loved opening our windows in the morning and evening to see the twinkling lights of the city and people coming and going on the streets below.
Hotel Tip: If avaiable, try and ask for a room with a view facing west! We saw one of the most gorgeous sunsets during our stay!
Places To Eat In Boise, Idaho:
Boise is known for their several awesome breweries, local food, and amazing wine! (I mean, have you SEEN the Idaho wineries in the Snake River Valley??)
While we maily focus on adventure-travel on our blog, we couldn’t help but experience the delicious cuisine that Boise had to offer.
Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Boise to visit!
11. The District Coffee House
Urban, Simple, Modern. With its hipster vibe and funky furniture, District coffeehouse is a perfect Instagram spot in Boise!
We were surprised to find out that this coffee shop is not-for-profit. Their existence in Downtown Boise is to raise awareness for orphans in twelve different orphanages in India!
With it’s clean and welcoming atmosphere, it’s a great space to bring friends and enjoy the company. They also help provide jobs to recently resettled refugees in Boise, which is a cause very dear to my heart.
Definitely check out their delicious coffee and freshly baked goods!
12. When You Visit Boise, Make Sure To Eat At Fork
Boise has a street (8th street) that is filled on both sides with interesting restaurants, bars, and other eateries. Fork is one of those, and in our opinion is the most attractive from the outside!
Their outdoor patio has beautifully strung lights that make for a great atmosphere, while at the same time enhancing the hipster vibe of the historic building it has acquired.
Like many other Boise restaurants, Fork is “loyal to local” which means they provide delicious dishes with ingredients from local farmers and growers. Way to support the community!
13. Quick Burgers at Westside Drive-In
Hungry after rafting, Berty and I googled “Best Burgers in Boise” and Westside Drive-In came up as a top contender.
Driving up in the parking lot, bubblegum pink walls surround the outside eating area and you are immediately sent back in time to lazy summer days and greasy comfort food.
They had incredible milkshakes (could you expect anything less?) and it’s location on State St. made it perfect for stopping by on your way out to visit Boise and beyond.
14. Guru Donuts
This place was one of our first stops when we went to visit Boise. Located on 10th Street in the heart of downtown, this building has a historic charm about it – a perfect setting for some coffee and donuts with friends!
Guru Donuts constantly have an assortment of creative combinations and interesting flavors, always baked from scratch every morning.
I really needed to wake up so I got a shot in the dark (drip coffee with an espresso shot), and Berty got a vanilla latte.
We also ordered these classic donut favorites – maple bacon and braided cinnamon sugar. Just writing this makes us want to go back…
15. Basque Market Lunch Is The Coolest Place To Eat In Boise, Idaho.
With 16,000+ community members, the Basque population in Idaho is one of the biggest communities outside of the Basque region of Spain!
The unique history here is celebrated on the Basque Block of downtown Boise in the way of food, museums, and shops.
We biked over here for lunch one afternoon and had a delicious meal at the Basque Market. We ordered wine and tapas and spent the afternoon on their covered patio enjoying the flowers, scenery and eating delicious food.
This urban restaurant, located on the foodie-famous 8th street, has an impressive focus on local ingredients and supporting Idahoans who create for the community.
After spending a full-day in Boise’s Wine Country, it was fun to look at the drink menu and say “Hey! That bottle is from Koenig Vineyards!”
They have signs on the walls explaining where their meat was sourced, where their fish were caught, and who grew their ingredients.
We envision coming back here with our friends for some more delicious fries, local beer on tap, and the relaxed vibe.
17. Java Coffee (Downtown & Hyde Park)
With only five locations, we’ve successfully visited 3 out of 5 locations during our trips to Idaho (the first being this post). That should tell you a lot about the quality of drinks and food they make – we keep coming back for more!
We were told to try their specialty drink, the Bowl of Soul (which is a shot of espresso with a Mexican Mocha I believe…) and it was INCREDIBLE.
Next time you visit Boise, definitely stop in for your own Bowl of Soul! They also have some pretty impressive grab-and-go breakfast options too!
18. Bonus! Big City Coffee & Cafe
DAY TRIPS FROM BOISE, IDAHO
While you could probably be content exploring the endless things to do in Boise, there’s actually so much adventure to be had just a quick drive away from the city.
Here are some of our favorite day trips from Boise – only a couple hours away from the city!
19. The Springs – Idaho Mountain Resort
The Springs Mountain Resort is a luxury hot springs resort located in Idaho City. The Springs channels in natural heat sources and provide a calm, clean, and beautiful environment for maximum relaxation.
You can come for a general soak in their large pool, hot tub, and steam room, but make sure you reserve your stop in advance! They cap the number of visitors per day to allow guests to have ample space.
To up-level your stay, try booking one of their several private pools, get a full body massage and stay nearby at the Inn The Pines!
20. Bruneau Sand Dunes
Bruneau Sand Dunes is only an hour’s drive away from Downtown Boise, but you might as well think you’re on another planet!
Bruneau Dunes State Park holds the tallest single dune structure in North America, with the peak reaching a towering 470 feet above the ground!
This state park also boasts the longest camping season in Idaho, so grab your things and start planning that next trip to the Inland Northwest!
21. Shoshone Falls
Shoshone Falls is located in Twin Falls, Idaho on the Snake River.
The journey will take you two hours driving time but this day trip from Boise is completely worth the time!
The falls sit at 212 feet high but span across almost 1,000 feet in width! If you come in the spring, you can really feel the power (and the mist!) booming from the falls at their many viewing platforms.
Other must-see Idaho waterfalls in the area include Niagara Springs, Auger Falls, Perrine Coulee Falls, and Pillar Falls (to name just a few!)
22. Nordic Skiing or Snowshoeing In The Boise National Forest
If you’re visiting Boise in winter, you need to get yourself up to the mountains!
Just a 1.5-hour drive north near Idaho city are miles of trails to explore. There are lots of trail options for all types of winter sports – snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and nordic skiing just to name a few.
Trail Tip: Make sure to check out The Idaho Parks and Rec Website for this area. They’ve got a mobile trail map located on the Avenza App. It’s really helpful when you’re out in the snow to know where you are!
Don’t want to leave? Book a stay in one of the backcountry yurts right of the trails!
23. Kirkham Hot Springs
Kirkham is one of the easiest hot springs to reach from Boise. Located just under 2-hours away from the city, you can easily make this a relaxing day trip.
Hot Springs Tip: These pools are extremely vulnerable to toxins, so it’s important to be mindful of what you bring in and out.
- Don’t use these locations as showers (bring shampoo/soap/etc) because they may take a long time to flush out of the area, or even travel downstream.
- Always pack out your trash to promote a clean site, and consider even packing out leftover trash too.
- Be considerate of others using the space. Some hot springs in Idaho are extremely small so you may have to wait your turn!
Other Nearby Idaho Hot Springs:
Map Of Things To Do In Boise, Idaho
What are some of your favorite things to do in Boise, Idaho? Tell us in the comments below!
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