The Ultimate Travel Guide To Boise & Things To Do


Boise, Idaho’s capital, isn’t just a hip and vibrant city, it’s also a haven for nature lovers and outdoor activity enthusiasts. Surrounding this city are national forests, and rivers like the Boise River cut through the city making this one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Idaho. As a result, scenic hiking spots are found in natural sites like the Boise River Greenbelt.

Over the last few years (the 2020s), Boise has experienced an influx of new residents from all over the US.


With this new crowd has come a growth of trendy bars, cafés, and restaurants, especially in the downtown area. Visitors can enjoy exploring the vibrant downtown area, which happens to be the nerve center of Boise’s nightlife.

Still, there’s so much more in Idaho’s capital, from a growing wine region to fascinating museums. This ultimate travel guide to Boise shares information about all the known and unknown things to do as well as helpful information that a traveler would need when planning a trip.

When To Visit BoiseColorful ballons in Boise, Idaho

Boise is an all-year destination, with different activities for different seasons. So, the best time to visit depends on the visitor’s preference. Here’s a look at the activities available at different times of the year.

Winter (December to February)

Boise winter temperatures average highs of 46 and lows of 24 degrees Fahrenheit (8 and -4 degrees Celsius). During this time, the city welcomes droves of tourists who come to experience the ski slopes nearby.

Other popular winter activities in Boise include ice skating and snowshoeing.

Spring (March to May)

In spring, temperatures in Boise range between 56 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (13 and 22 degrees Celsius), making this a perfect time for enjoying the city’s plethora of outdoor activities.

At this time, visitors can explore the parks and gardens in Boise, as well as hike in the nearby nature reserves.

Summer (June to August)

It can get quite hot in Boise with summer temperatures getting to the 90 degrees range (30 degrees Celsius) in July and August.

This is also peak tourist season so accommodation and flight prices will be higher.

Fall (September to November)

Temperatures start to fall in autumn, but this time is still perfect for outdoor activities. The highs at this time are around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).

Those who prefer fewer crowds may visit Boise during this time. The lower tourist numbers also mean that the cost of travel is lower at this time.

For good weather and low prices, March to May, and September to November are the best times to visit Boise.

How To Get Around Boise

Boise transit bus at Boise Towne Square stop
Via: Wikimedia Commons

A Valley Regional Transit bus waits at the Boise Towne Square stop

Visitors can easily explore downtown Boise on foot since this is a walkable city.

Most bars and restaurants are found in this area, plus a number of museums, parks, and entertainment spots are within the downtown area.

By Bike

Boise is a bike-friendly city, with bike lanes almost everywhere. The city operates a bike rental service known as Boise Green Bike, with stations dotted around the downtown area.

There are also private bike rental companies like EVolve Electric Bikes.

By Car

Those interested in exploring farther from downtown Boise will need a car to help them conveniently travel.

There are dozens of car rental services in Boise like Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Budget Car Rental, Boise Rent-A-Van, Avis, and Hertz.

Thankfully, Boise doesn’t experience heavy traffic so this is a good city in which to drive.

By Bus

Valley Regional Transit operates buses in Boise, with routes around Boise and other counties in Treasure Valley. There are buses every 30 minutes, however, most routes only operate on weekdays from around 7 am to 7 pm.

Plus, the buses don’t always show up, so travel times might be longer for those who depend on the bus.

Fares start from $1.50 for a single ride and an all-day pass costs $2.50.


Services like Uber and Lyft are available in Boise, as well as traditional taxis like Green City Taxi.

Cabs are convenient, but they cost a lot, especially for those traveling over longer distances.

Where To Eat: Boise’s Top-Rated Restaurants

Idaho is famous for cuisine like the Ice Cream Potato, finger steaks, the Idaho hot dog, and baked Idaho Potatoes among many others.

Visitors can experience these in dozens of restaurants around the city.

Breakfast: Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro

Yummy Burrito

A delicious image of a burrito

Fresh food and fine coffee are Goldy’s trademarks, with a popular à la carte breakfast menu that makes it a highly-rated Boise restaurant. Idaho is known for its potatoes and Goldy’s stays true to this identity by offering a variety of potato dishes in their breakfast menu.

They include Potato and Dill Frittata, Tray’s Famous Breakfast Burrito (which has potatoes) – there are potatoes with almost every dish. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of pancakes, French toast, and waffles.

  • Address: 108 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702, United States
  • Hours: Mon – Fri: 7 am – 2 pm; Sat & Sun: 7:30 am – 2 pm

Lunch: Lucky Fins Boise

Takashi - best sushi, salt lake city - best pan asian restaurant
Via Source: Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

Takashi – best sushi, salt lake city – best pan asian restaurant in the city

Lucky Fins is one of Boise’s best seafood restaurants, offering a vibrant place to enjoy a meal. Their menu includes starters like Lobster-Stuffed Avocado, Key Lime Calamari, and oysters.

The restaurant also serves various sushi dishes, salmon, capers, and cod. Plus, those who don’t want seafood can enjoy ribeye steak or Nashville hot chicken.

  • Address: 801 W Main St, Boise, ID 83702, United States
  • Hours: Mon – Thu: 11 am – 9 pm; Fri: 11 am – 10 pm; Sat: 10 am – 10 pm; Sun: 10am – 9 pm

Dinner: Barbacoa Grill

Steak with fries
Via: Unsplash

Steak with fries

This is a charming award-winning restaurant that also boasts a museum and art gallery for a holistic experience. They have open-flame grills where they prepare their steaks, Barbacoa’s chief attraction.

However, visitors can also enjoy Mexican delights like paella, fajitas, tacos, and quesadillas. They also have signature pizza varieties like Braised Short Rib, Carne Asada, and Chicken Tinga.

  • Address: 276 Bobwhite Ct, Boise, ID 83706, United States
  • Hours: Sun – Thu: 4 pm – 10 pm; Fri & Sat: 4 pm – 11 pm

Drinks: Water Bear Bar

Bourbon and whiskey cocktail
Via: Unsplash

Bourbon and whiskey cocktail

Water Bear has won accolades for its vibe and drinks, with awards for the best bar and best cocktails in 2020 and 2022 respectively. This is impressive for a bar in a city like Boise, where there are dozens of amazing bars.

There are dozens of cocktails like Old Fashioned, Skid Luxe, and Bodinky, as well as snacks like oysters, hummus, and even popcorn. Happy hour starts from 4 to 5 pm, and then from 10 pm to 11 pm.

  • Address: 350 N 9th St #100, Boise, ID 83702, United States
  • Hours: Tue – Sat: 4 pm – 11 pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

What To Do In Boise: Top Attractions & Activities

Visit One Of The Parks In Boise

Cottonwood Park (Boise, Idaho)
Via: Wikimedia Commons

Cottonwood Park (Boise, Idaho)

There are several parks in and near Boise, each one offering a different experience. Here are some of the main parks in the city:

Ann Morrison Park

This park is made up of hundreds of acres (about 153) of sporting facilities like football fields, tennis courts, and volleyball courts, as well as an outdoor gym. Ann Morrison Park also boasts a kids’ playground and a riverside trail.

Fairmont Park

Compared to Ann Morrison Park, Fairmont Park is much smaller, spanning just 7 acres. This is more of a community park with a pool, picnic spots, and a playground.

Reid Merrill Park

Reid Merrill Park is found about 10 miles outside Boise, in Eagle, which is a part of the Boise metropolitan. This is a community park with picnic areas, basketball courts, and volleyball courts.

Stephen C. Guerber Park

This park is also found in Eagle, and it boasts a Splash Pad, picnic shelters, and a baseball court.

Barber Park

This park sits along the Boise River, with facilities like a fishing pier on the river. Visitors also get to enjoy amenities like a basketball court, a playground, and raft rental services. Lovers of wildlife may also catch sight of animals like deer, raccoons, mink, and birds like owls. Barber Park is also a beautiful place to go birding.

Camel’s Back Park

This park is found next to Camel’s Back Reserve, spanning about 11 acres. Camel’s Back Park offers facilities like tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, and an outdoor gym.

Learn About Local History At The Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Old Idaho Penitentiary
Via: Wikimedia Commons

A view of the Old Idaho Penitentiary

For about a century from 1872 to 1973, this site functioned as a prison.

Today, it’s a historical site that shares the tales of Boise’s Wild West era. Visitors can take guided or self-guided tours of the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

  • Address: 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712
  • Hours: 12 pm – 5 pm (daily)
  • Fees: Adults: $8, Seniors: $6, Children ages 6 to 12: $5

Visit The Animals At Zoo Boise

The Boise Zoo in Julia Davis Park
Via: Wikimedia Commons

The Boise Zoo in Julia Davis Park

Zoo Boise is a fun destination found within Julia Davis Park, with more than 200 animals in their collection.

Visitors can see creatures from all over the world, like the red panda, the giant anteater, Grevy’s zebra, the snow leopard, and the Amur tiger. There’s also a zoo farm, offering a chance to feed the animals.

  • Address: 355 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702
  • Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (daily)
  • Fees: General: $9; Seniors (above 62): $6; Kids (3 to 11): $6; Kids under 2: free

Admire The Exhibits At Basque Museum & Cultural Center

Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House, Basque Museum
Via: Wikimedia Commons

Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House, Basque Museum 

Basque Museum is housed in a small house known as the Cyrus Jacobs/Uberuaga House, which was built in 1864.

This house has been preserved to retain the same look and feel as when the Jacobs family lived here over 150 years ago. There are artifacts like old furniture, clothes, shoes, and even old kitchen appliances.

  • Address: 611 W Grove St, Boise, ID 83702
  • Hours: Tue – Fri: 10 am – 4 pm; Sat: 11 am – 3 pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
  • Fees: Adults: $7; Seniors over 65: $6; Children 6 to 12: $5; Children under 5: free

Stroll in Old Boise

A view of Old Boise
Via: Wikimedia Commons

A view of Old Boise

Boise’s Wild West history fascinates a lot of tourists, and Old Boise is where they can explore this rich heritage of the gold-rush era.

A stroll through this part of the city reveals historical sites like Mayor Cyrus Jacob’s home, which was built in 1864 and was one of the first buildings in Boise. Other popular landmarks are the Stone Jug Building, the Idaho State Capitol, and Boise City Hall.

Related: 10 Things To Do In Idaho

Go Skiing

Bogus Basin ski area near Boise, Idaho
via Shutterstock

Bogus Basin ski area near Boise, Idaho

Boise is also known as a great jumping-off point to the ski destinations nearby. Here’s a list of some of the ski resorts near Boise:

Bogus Basin

  • Location: Boise National Forest
  • Distance from Boise: 18 miles
  • Average time from Boise: 40 mins

Tamarack Resort

  • Location: Tamarack, Idaho
  • Distance from Boise: 100 miles
  • Average time from Boise: 2 hours

Little Ski Hill

  • Location: McCall, Idaho
  • Distance from Boise: 110 miles
  • Average time from Boise: 2 hours

Soldier Mountain

  • Location: Fairfield, Idaho
  • Distance from Boise: 112 miles
  • Average time from Boise: 2 hours

Brundage Mountain

  • Location: McCall, Idaho
  • Distance from Boise: 124 miles
  • Average time from Boise: 3 hours

Related: Cheapest Ski Slopes To Enjoy In North America

Where To Stay In Boise: Neighborhoods And Accommodation

Southeast Boise

Just as its name implies, this neighborhood is found in the southeastern part of Boise. It is close to three parks, Kristin Armstrong Park, Barber Park, and Marianne Williams Park, plus the Idaho Botanical Garden. In fact, Southeast Boise lies within the Boise River Greenbelt, making it a very green part of the city.

Where to stay:

SpringHill Suites by Marriott Boise ParkCenter

  • Address: 424 East ParkCenter Boulevard, Boise, ID 83706, United States
  • Amenities: Business center, fitness center, WiFi, microwave, refrigerator

Holiday Inn Express Boise-University Area, an IHG Hotel

  • Address: 475 West Parkcenter Boulevard, Boise, ID 83706, United States
  • Amenities: Fitness center, WiFi, luggage storage, business center


Downtown Boise is a vibrant part of the city with lots of bars and restaurants as well as a number of places of interest. For instance, Zoo Boise is found within this area. Also, Kathryn Albertson Park and Ann Morrison Park are about 2 miles away.

Where to stay:

Hampton Inn & Suites Boise-Downtown

  • Address: 495 South Capitol Boulevard, Downtown Boise, Boise, ID 83702, United States
  • Amenities: Pool, WiFi, fitness center, business center, smoking area, flat-screen TV, refrigerator

Studio Apartment in Downtown Boise

  • Address: Downtown Boise, Idaho
  • Amenities: Queen bed, kitchen, WiFi, hairdryer, 45-inch TV

Boise Bench

Boise Bench is a large neighborhood with Central Bench and Depot Bench as part of this area. It’s found right next to Ann Morrison Park while Downtown Boise is about 3 miles away. This neighborhood is also close to Boise Airport, which is just 3.4 miles away.

Where to stay:

Comfort Inn & Suites Boise Airport

  • Address: 3625 W Elder St, Boise, ID 83705
  • Amenities: Indoor pool, WiFi, free parking, hot tub, fitness center

Bright and Spunky Home

  • Address: Boise Bench, Boise, Idaho
  • Amenities: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, full kitchen, WiFi, TV, free parking, washer

Garden City

This neighborhood is just above Boise Bench and Downtown Boise, with proximity to sites like Veterans Memorial Park and Ann Morrison Park.

Garden City is known for being a trendy part of the city, hosting bars, restaurants, craft breweries, and wine-tasting spots. The Boise River also cuts right through this neighborhood.

Where to stay:

The Riverside Hotel

  • Address: 2900 West Chinden Boulevard, Boise, ID 83714, United States
  • Amenities: Salt-water pool, pool bar, outdoor fireplace, garden, business center hot tub

Riverside Haven

  • Address: Garden City, Boise, Idaho
  • Amenities: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, full kitchen, patio

Tips To Know When Visiting Boise

A view of Boise, Idaho
Via: Unsplash

A view of Boise, Idaho

  • Visitors can comfortably explore Boise using bikes. The city is bike-friendly, and it has bike lanes almost everywhere. So, tourists can enjoy the convenience of having their own means of transport and save money.
  • Idaho has a large area of greenery in the form of parks, nature reserves, and national forests. Most of these are within a short drive from Boise and are worth exploring when in the city.
  • Boise loves jazz and theater, and visitors should make a point to visit places like The Sapphire Room At The Riverside Hotel for some jazz events.
  • Boise is a great city to stop over on a road trip to some of Idaho’s state parks.

How To Spend the Perfect Day In Boise

Start the day with a filling breakfast at Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro then explore Downtown Boise’s landmarks like the Idaho State Capitol. Then, head to Julia Davis Park and visit Zoo Boise before having a picnic lunch in the park.

After lunch, go hiking in Ann Morrison Park for a relaxing afternoon in nature. Then, visit Boise Art Museum before having dinner at a restaurant in the downtown area.

End the day with some drinks at one of the bars in the city, like Cactus Bar or The Atlas Bar.


Q: Is Boise Idaho a good place to live?

Yes, Boise, Idaho is considered a good place to live in the US as it has a lot of parks and boasts a low crime rate.

Q: What is the coldest month in Boise?

The coldest month in Boise is January, with average highs of 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) and average lows of 23 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius).

Q: What is downtown Boise known for?

Downtown Boise is known for its trendy bars, restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and unique shopping scene.


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