Despite its arid climate and remote mountain location, Boise is considered part of the Pacific Northwest. These characteristics do make it the odd one out when compared to Seattle and Portland, but they also give Boise a unique vibe of its own that is definitely worth checking out.
Boise’s rapid transformation from a remote outpost to a destination for both tourists and new permanent residents is happening at breakneck speed. It makes sense, though—life here happens on a small, manageable scale with an easy pace surrounded by true wilderness. Skiing, rafting, biking, and hiking are all easily accessible both in and out of the city, the food scene is small but growing, and hot springs are just a short drive away—this is a place worth visiting.
Eat & Drink
My very favorite place to go in Boise— a beach bar built from a shipping container with an adjoining permanent food truck. Located near the river in the fabulously weird Garden City. Live music, great atmosphere. Summer only because Boise *does* get cold in the winter but also because the owner spends the winter surfing in Mexico because he’s got it figured out and dialed in.
Only open for lunch—and only on the weekends—Bleubird is a downtown sandwich shop with a rotating selections of sandwiches and salads. Really the food is so good here and that shouldn’t be a surprise with a line out the door every day. Don’t worry, though—these folks know what they’re doing, the line always moves along quickly, and the payoff is unquestionably worth it.
BOISE FARMERS MARKETS
Boise actually has two weekend markets that are within walking distance of each other: the Boise Farmer’s Market and the Capital City Public Market. Like any good market, each offers an overview of regional produce and cuisine as well as a dose of local makers and artisans. Both places are a great way to grab breakfast, lunch, or picnic fixins for the rest of the day’s adventures.
Bar and restaurant with large windows overlooking downtown streets. Originally a hotel built in 1910, the building is now home to apartments and a handful of businesses.
Patio. Open for lunch and dinner daily but the real show is every Wednesday and Friday at noon, when they prepare a paella on the patio and serve it up for $8.99 a plate.
What never fails to impress in Boise is how little time it takes to go from city to wilderness. Few cities can offer access to multiple hot springs an hour’s drive from downtown, and this town is one of them. One of the best is The Springs, located just 39 miles from the city center in Idaho City. The drive is gorgeous, winding through big views on Highway 21 as it climbs up the foothills. This place is so well-maintained and run you will need to make reservations before going to enjoy the spectacular outdoor pool as well as overnight stays, bodywork, and fantastic food.
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LUCKY PEAK RESERVOIR
Located just a few miles outside of town, Lucky Peak Reservoir is large enough that it never feels crowded. Pontoon boats and paddle boards are available to rent at the general store. There’s also a swimming beach—the water in clean and a beautiful blue—and if you’ve got a way to reach them, the gorgeous, campsites that are accessible by water only offer plenty of space and your own swimming beach.
Discovery Park, which is located just before the reservoir, offers a lovely shaded and grassy picnic area right next to the river.
With its twenty-five miles of riverside trails that run from the outskirts of the city into the heart of downtown, its no wonder the Greenbelt is beloved by Boise residents. It is gorgeously wild even in the middle of the city; tall native grasses, shady trees, sandy beaches, and the cool, clear water of the Boise River running are constants along the trail. Closer to town, there are a number of accessible stop-off points for eats and drinks, paddle boarding, and swimming.
Find out more at the city’s website
FLOAT the BOISE RIVER
Floating the river is an activity savored by locals throughout the summer months. And no wonder—the river is pristine with cool and clear mountain water running over smooth rocks and numerous sandy beaches where a floater can pull over for lunch or a quick swim.The route takes you from one park to another and is one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day in Boise.
Places to Stay
MODERN HOTEL & BAR • Dog friendly.