Boise, Idaho, is a place you’d never expect to have a rich and meaningful public life. Still, the city center of Ada County is a hub of entertainment, sightseeing, and fantastic food. If you’re interested in moving there or just visiting, here are 15 things you must do in Boise when you get the chance.
About Boise, Idaho
Boise is the capital and the most populated city of Idaho, and the county seat of Ada County. It’s a cultural and economic hub in the region, housing numerous cultural and educational bodies, like the Boise State University and Black History Museum, alongside Albertsons Stadium and some of Idaho’s best hotels.
Fun Facts About Boise, Idaho
- Boise is nicknamed The City of Trees due to its combined wilderness of 4.7 million acres, which is greater than three of the smallest states in the U.S. combined
- In Boise, it’s illegal to ride a merry-go-round on Sunday or give another citizen a box of candy that weighs more than 50 lbs. Luckily, both laws are nearly outdated and not enforced
- The Idaho State Capitol Building is geothermally heated from underground hot springs
- Boise is a regional center for jazz, theater, and indie music
- Potato is the Idaho state vegetable, and Boise boasts over several businesses dedicated primarily to fries
Best Things to Do in Boise
Boise is an incredibly lively city with plenty to offer. Here are some of the best things to do in Boise when you get the chance:
Boise River Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt is a park that stretches along the banks of the Boise River, which is great for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers walking trails, scenic views, wildlife sightings, and a 10-mile self-directed biking and hiking trail, including an interesting Boise-related scavenger hunt.
Boise Art Museum
Art lovers will love the Boise Art Museum, which features a permanent collection of contemporary artwork, in addition to temporary exhibits and a variety of different events and programs. The size of the current facility is 3,866 square yards, including the main building, the Education Wing, Sculpture Court, and a Museum store.
Located in Julia Davis Park, Zoo Boise houses many different animals and several special attractions, like Giraffe Encounters or Butterflies in Bloom. In case you’re visiting with your little ones, the Zoo Farm is specifically made for children, which gives them the chance to feed the goats, sheep, and llamas while listening to Animal Presentations and other educational programs.
Aquarium of Boise
Formerly known as the Idaho Aquarium, the Aquarium of Boise features interactive touch tanks, which allow visitors to touch or even hold marine animals. The aquarium’s “centerpiece” includes a massive octopus tank, a coral reef habitat, and a shark nursery.
Idaho Botanical Garden
Located on Old Penitentiary Road, the Idaho Botanical Garden spans across 50 acres of land that belonged to an Old Idaho Penitentiary. These days, the garden is actually segmented into separate smaller gardens, including the Alpine Garden, the Cactus Garden, English Garden, and much more. Along with diverse plant life, the Garden offers classes and workshops and hosts numerous events, including live music performances.
Discovery Center of Idaho
If you’re into science, the Discovery Center of Idaho is an interactive science center seeking to inspire people to take an interest in STEM sciences. It hosts approximately 200 permanent exhibits and several rotating exhibitions. The Center offers summer camps during the summer months and classes on Saturdays during the school year for the school children, so your little ones won’t have to miss any lessons.
Capital City Public Market
What began in 1994 as an open-air market with only a few vendors grew into a full-blown market with more than 150 vendors per day. Occupying four city blocks in downtown Boise, the market offers fresh, locally-grown produce, food, and local artisan craftsmanship. It’s open on Saturdays, and it’s a perfect place to buy baked goods, fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, and much more.
The Boise Centre is Idaho’s largest convention facility. It consists of two buildings with more than 80,000 square feet of customizable space, which the city uses for more than 200 events every year. It’s a place worth visiting, especially since it’s surrounded by restaurants, breweries, and shops.
Boise Farmers Market
Boise Farmers Market is a fantastic place to visit, especially if you’re out buying groceries. Boise Farmers and local businesses can sell their locally grown agricultural products and other goods, including fish, meat, fruits and veggies, cheeses, and much more. Not only that, but several local wineries also sell their goods at the market, which is probably the main reason the vendors are so cheerful on Saturday mornings.
Basque Museum and Cultural Center
Established in 1985, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center is the only Basque museum in the United States that focuses solely on the culture and heritage of the Basque people. The mission of this establishment is to preserve and promote Basque history and culture, honoring their important role in Boise history.
World Center for Birds of Prey
Besides being a bird sanctuary for a large variety of different species, such as falcons, the World Center for Birds of Prey is also the headquarters for the Peregrine Fund, founded in 1970. It’s built atop a 580-acre hilltop above Boise and encompasses the Fund’s offices, raptor breeding facilities, a research library, and the Archives of Falconry. In addition, the center offers guided tours and hosts numerous special events over the year.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Opened in 1942, this ski area located northeast of the city of Boise offers plenty of outdoor activities in both the summer and winter months. It features 23 miles of Nordic cross-country skiing trails and seven chairlifts while also hosting biking, camping, and horseback riding summer events.
Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Adjacent to the Boise Greenbelt, the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is a park inspired by the writings of Anne Frank, a German-Dutch diarist of Jewish heritage. Its architect, Kurt Karst, designed the memorial to convey the message of hope. The park features the Anne Frank Statue, the Bethine and Frank Church Writing Table, and the 180-foot-long Quote Wall.
Despite its strange name, the Freak Alley is the largest outdoor gallery in Boise, spanning between 8th and 9th Streets. Despite its humble beginnings in 2002, when Colby Akers did his first drawing, the Freak Alley grew into the amalgamation of murals, drawings, and graffiti that is now fused in a stunning multi-artist mural.
Boise Fry Company
Boise Fry Company is a place where fries are art, and burgers are optional. You get to pick the potato variety, and they’re all organic. There are also six types of cuts and nine types of salt you can choose from, along with eight different dipping sauces.
Best Parks in Boise
Besides offering a ton of activities and sightseeing in the city, Boise is home to beautiful parks and nature centers that are definitely worth a visit.
Barber Park, located south of downtown Boise, is one of the best event centers in the vicinity, featuring playgrounds, rafting, kayaking, trekking, and wildlife sightings, especially during the late winter and early spring when deer walk through the park.
Kathryn Albertson Park
Kathryn McCurry Albertson and her husband donated the 41-acre park to the city of Boise in the 1980s. The park features very diverse wildlife and gazebos that are open to a reservation.
Camel’s Back Park
Camel’s Back Park is a well-maintained city park in a north Boise neighborhood near Hyde Park corner. It features an open-play area, an outdoor gym, a massive playground, tennis courts, and a sand volleyball court. It’s one of the best places to be for some family recreation time.
Ponderosa State Park
This state park is situated across a 1000-acre peninsula, featuring numerous activities you can enjoy, including wildlife photography, hiking, fishing, camping, and other fun activities.
Harriman State Park
Part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Harriman State Park has over 11,000 acres filled with wildlife and untamed nature. On top of a safari-like experience, which allows you to see moose and elk, the park also offers horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking activities for those interested.
Moving to Boise
Boise, Idaho, has a cost of living index that’s slightly higher than the national average. With that said, all aspects of living in Boise, including utilities, groceries, transportation, and health, are well below the national average, with the lowest difference being 2.2 points in favor of Boise.
However, housing is incredibly expensive in Boise, considering that the city is the headquarters for several major companies and manufacturing facilities. So, while moving to Boise is financially sound, the median home cost is $496,900 — 70% higher than the national average of $291,700 — which makes house purchases difficult.
It’s much more reasonable to sell your house and move out of state to North Carolina, for example. The state has a 16% lower median home cost than the national average.
Boise has a lot to offer, and it’s a fantastic place to visit while on a vacation and an even better place to live. However, housing is incredibly expensive in Boise due to the city’s booming economy, so it’s easier to sell a home than it is to purchase one.
If you’re looking to sell, Gem State Cash Offer are cash home buyers Nampa townsfolk usually refer to when selling property. Generally, we buy houses Idaho residents are looking to sell through FSBO and Selling House By Owner sales. Instead of posting that “Buy My House Boise” ad online, give us a call, and we’ll make you an offer.