Over a dozen magazines have placed Boise on their “best cities” list, and once you experience it for yourself you’ll understand why. With a delightful four season climate, Idaho’s capital city sits at the base of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains along a clear mountain river. A vibrant downtown is bordered by a 25 mile greenbelt and seven grand parks line the city’s riverfront. The lively art district, casual and fine dining, a major university, year-round professional sports, and over a dozen museums make Boise a splendid destination. From relaxation to full-tilt recreation, there’s something for everyone in Boise.
There are more than a dozen museums in Boise, the most notable located in and around the art and cultural district downtown. Julia Davis Park is home to the acclaimed Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, and the Idaho Black History Museum. Nearby are the Discovery Center of Idaho - an interactive science museum for families - and the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial featuring a reflective pond, waterfalls, and exhibits on human rights. Peruse the shops and restaurants in the Basque Block cultural area downtown. Boise has the largest population of Basques residing outside of Spain. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center features exhibits that interpret the rich and colorful history of Basques in Idaho and their old-world origins. Then, drive up Warm Springs Avenue, lined with the graceful mansions of the city’s early residents, to visit the Idaho Botanical Gardens and the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site.
During the warm months, life in Boise revolves around the Boise River. You can fish for trout, float the river on an inner tube or raft, skate, jog, stroll, or bicycle along the river’s greenbelt, or simply sip an icy beverage on its banks. The campus of Boise State University sits on the south shore of the river, with a convenient pedestrian bridge to the park. To cool off on a hot summer day, head to Lucky Peak State Park east of Boise to picnic under its shady trees and swim. Eagle Island State Park, 11 miles west of downtown, offers visitors picnic facilities, a swimming beach, a water slide, and miles of trails. In the summer, you can watch baseball games, rodeos, and bike racing, or participate in marathons. In the winter, it’s skiing and snowboarding at Bogus Basin, only 15 miles from downtown, along with professional hockey and basketball. Boise State University is the team to watch, having won two Fiesta Bowls in especially exciting college football games.
As the largest urban area in over 300 miles, Boise has developed an abundance of arts and cultural venues. The Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, Opera Idaho, and Ballet Idaho welcome last-minute ticket sales in their regular seasons. There are also several theater groups with a large patronage. The most notable of these is the acclaimed Idaho Shakespeare Festival, set on the banks of the Boise River. The outdoor theater has been honored for its design as well as the acting company’s presentations of both Shakespeare and contemporary works. To learn more about the fascinating birds of prey that inhabit the canyon and desert south of Boise, visit the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey. Or explore the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area to see these winged predators in their natural habitat in the cliffs high above the Snake River south of Kuna. In addition, Zoo Boise in Julia Davis Park on Capitol Boulevard boasts the northwest’s largest collection of birds of prey. If you find water creatures more interesting, stop at the Idaho Fish and Game MK Nature Center for a free self-guided tour to see trout, whitefish, bass, and many waterfowl species in their natural habitat.