What is there to do and see in Boise?
Idaho is commonly known as the potato state, but apart from that I had little to no idea of what one could expect from it until last week when I visited for a wedding.
While the event was my primary reason for flying out there in the first place, I was fortunately able to explore for several hours.
I first turned to Google Maps for inspiration on where to go, as I often do when exploring a new area, and as much as I wanted to drive around everywhere and see absolutely everything, I faced a different circumstance than I’m normally used to when traveling: time was more limited than usual so I had to make the most of it.
I had the pleasure of meeting Aimee from Type A Trips a few weeks ago and was reminded that there is the option to explore on a strict itinerary. I’ve let go of that kind of planning for the most part because I’ve found that itineraries hardly go as planned for one or more reasons (ex: the weather ends up bad or I end up too tired halfway through the day). I prefer having a rough plan with places I’d like to see and things I’d like to do without my whereabouts every hour set in stone.
But with just about a day to peek around potato town, I decided to give strict planning a shot again.
The following sights and activities were spread out over two days. I did take note of the times I spent per place, though, and the total time came out to about 7.5 hours:
Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge (1 hour 15 minutes)
Diversion Dam & Lucky Peak State Recreation Area (1 hour 30 minutes)
Downtown Boise (3 hours 30 minutes)
- Capitol Building & Park
- Freak Alley
- Spacebar Arcade
Old Idaho Penitentiary (1 hour 15 minutes)
(Times noted include transportation to site from the previously listed destination. The first site includes time from Downtown Boise to Nampa, where the refuge is located.)
While I was slightly disappointed that I did not get to see more, it was definitely helpful to select a few activities and focus on those. Yes, there was the option to just spend 30 minutes per place, snap some photos and leave, but that wouldn’t have allowed me to immerse myself in the places I visited.
So, back to the question: What is there to do in Boise, exactly?
Apart from the items listed above, I had my eye on Idaho Falls and Twin Falls. (Okay, so I’m actually cheating by picking those two because they’re both outside of Boise. However, they are just a few hours away and driving is a mind-clearing experience in Idaho.)
As a big nature geek, I was ecstatic to see so much green grass in the city (especially since California is in a drought right now, it was nice to see and abundance of soft green grass), so many trees, and a wealth of activities for outdoorsy people. (A popular one is the Greenbelt for cyclists and runners.)
For those who prefer urban adventures, Boise offers that as well. There are many local eateries and businesses in the downtown area and beyond. (I also had my eye on 10 Barrel Brewing Boise but didn’t have time to try it out.)
The city lacks the hustle and bustle of bigger metropolitan areas, so it offers a calmer urban experience with a suburban feel.
It’s both fortunate and unfortunate that Boise is not as hyped up as a tourist destination as Los Angeles and New York are.
It’s a good thing because the low-key vibe is maintained with less visitors crowding the area, but it’s a sad thing because it doesn’t seem to receive enough credit for the unique atmosphere it offers, local businesses around, and nature options for outdoorsy folks.
If you’re looking for a less cliché American city to travel to, Boise is a worthwhile city in the gem state 😉