The city of Boise is the capital of the state of Idaho, and it is also a place where you will find idyllic parklands, interesting museums, and a whole host of other activities that offer fun for all the family.
Boise is situated on the spectacular Boise River, and is also home to the Boise River Greenbelt where you will find a large protected area of lush greenery, or if you prefer something more urban, then you can wander around local markets and eclectic art galleries in the downtown area of the city.
If you are travelling as part of a family then Boise won’t disappoint, as you will find plenty to do here with children, including zoos, aquariums, and even an unusual attraction in the form of a center dedicated exclusively to birds of prey.
Lets explore the best things to do in Boise:
1. Aquarium of Boise
Opened in 2011, the Aquarium of Boise is an interactive aquarium that sprawls over 10,000 square feet.
The aquarium is unusual in that it offers a range of hands-on exhibits like touch tanks filled with corals, crabs, starfish, and even rays.
There are tanks that feature giant octopus and a shark nursery where you can learn all about the life cycle of a shark.
As well as the aquarium itself, you will also find other attractions such as a bird aviary.
2. Boise River Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt is actually an area of parkland that sprawls across 25 miles and follows the idyllic banks of the Boise River.
The Greenbelt runs through the center of Boise and you can take in the local flora and fauna here as well as the stunning views across the city at the same time.
Trails run all over the park and there is also a bike path that stretches for ten miles.
There are also popular hikes, one of which features a scavenger hunt that takes in important aspects of historical significance related to the city.
Other themed hikes include the self-explanatory Idaho Birding Trail and the Bethine Church River Trail.
3. Boise Art Museum
For art lovers, a visit to the Boise Art Museum is not to be missed.
Here you will find a huge collection of modern artwork as well as both static and rotating exhibits.
The museum was first opened in the 1930s and now spans over 30,000 square feet including the main museum area, an education center, an outdoor sculpture garden, and a museum shop.
The galleries here are eclectic and there is something to suit all art tastes.
4. Barber Park
Barber Park lies along the banks of the Boise River and is nestled close to the downtown area of Boise.
The park is known in Boise for its range of activities, and if you are feeling extremely active you can even go rafting or kayaking here, as there are access points to the Boise River from the park.
If you want to do something a little mellower then you can hike the many trails that spread across this area or enjoy the playgrounds dotted around the park.
If you like wildlife, then bald eagles and deer are often spotted here.
5. Zoo Boise
Zoo Boise is known in the local area for being a zoological park that houses a huge number of species for visitors to enjoy.
The zoo is divided up into themed sections such as Butterflies in Bloom and the Sloth Bear Encounter, and parts of the park are even interactive.
These include the zoo farm where children can hand feed farm animals such as goats and sheep, and there is an Animal Presentations area that acts as an educational center to teach children all about the different animals that live at the zoo.
6. Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Center
To the northeast of Boise lies the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Center which first opened in the 1940s and is the perfect place to come if you love all things ski related.
The ski center has downhill slopes as well as cross country skiing trails that stretch for over 20 miles.
The entire ski center sprawls across 2,600 acres of land, much of which is lush forest, and there are a variety of runs for all different levels of ski ability.
One of the most iconic areas of the center is Shafer Butte, the highest peak in the Boise Ridge Mountains where you can also enjoy a range of outdoor activities in the summer months like horseback riding and hiking.
7. Discovery Center Idaho
Discovery Center Idaho is a science center that is dedicated to science and technology and has a mission to educate visitors on all things technology, math, science, and engineering related.
To that end, there are over 200 exhibits on show here that are all interactive in nature, and these include pieces such as the Turbulent Orb and the Bubble Wall.
There are fixed galleries here as well as rotating exhibits, and there are also children’s classes held every Saturday so that youngsters can learn all about the joys of science.
8. Hulls Gulch Reserve
Hulls Gulch Reserve is known for its two amazing hiking trails in the form of The Grove and the Lower Hulls Gulch.
The reserve encompasses almost 300 acres of land and sits at the base of a set of picturesque hill in the north of Boise.
The trails here run for over 150 miles and you can either hike, bike, or horseback ride your way along them.
Along the way you will be sure to see a range of wildlife including indigenous species like lizards, coyotes, horned owls, and red foxes.
9. Capital City Public Market
Opened in the early 1990s as an open air market, the Capital City public Market now boasts over 150 vendors from around the Boise area.
If you are looking to sample some fresh produce from Idaho, then this is the place to find it, and it sprawls across four blocks in the downtown district of Boise.
At the market you will find baked goods, local fruits and vegetables, and there are also live music performances to keep you entertained as you shop.
10. Idaho Botanical Garden
Nestled on 50 acres of prime land in Boise, the Idaho Botanical Garden used to be a farm that belonged to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary.
As a result, the garden is something of a historical gem, and is divided up into different themed sections such as an Alpine Garden, an English Garden, and a Cactus Garden.
If you want to check out the local flora in Boise, then this is definitely the place to do it.
11. Boise Art Glass
For something a little different in Boise, head to Boise Art Glass, which is a glass producing company that has its home in the iconic Bogie’s Building in the downtown area of the city.
If you come here you can learn all about the art of glass blowing and can watch talented artists as they work on their craft.
There are even workshops that you can take yourself, and a range of products on sale at the onsite shop that will make excellent souvenirs of your trip to Boise.
12. Boise Farmers Market
Known for having its home on West Front Street, the Boise Farmers Market is a place where local vendors can come together and sell local products and foodstuffs.
Items on sale include delicious freshly baked goods as well as local cheeses, fruits, and vegetables.
There are also ready prepared dishes on sale such as flavorsome tacos and tasty sweet treats like doughnuts.
You can even buy wine at the Farmers Market include local brands such as Hat Ranch Winery and Cold Springs Winery.
13. Kathryn Albertson Park
Spread across an impressive 41 acres, the Kathryn Albertson Park is known for being one of the parks in Boise that also stretches along the river, meaning that is has stunning views across the water.
The park is named after Kathryn Albertson, a local resident who donated the park to the city.
As well as being one of Boise’s most famous gifts, the park is also known for its picturesque touches like gazebos, paved walking paths, ponds, and waterfalls.
There is also a large range of wildlife in the park and there are stone inscriptions that will fill visitors in on all the flora and fauna on display.
Much of the vegetation here has been chosen with the local wildlife in mind, and so you can see how this ecosystem works firsthand on a trip here.
14. The Basque Museum & Cultural Center
The Basque Museum & Cultural Center was opened in 1985 and has the claim to fame of being the only Basque museum in the United States.
The site of the museum is actually a former Basque boarding house and is also known for being the oldest brick building in the city of Boise.
For anyone wanting to know more about Basque history, this is certainly the place to come, as Boise was known as the place where the first Basque immigrants chose to live, and the museum aims to preserve their cultural and historical legacy.
15. The World Center for Birds of Prey
Aptly situated on West Flying Hawk Lane, the World Center for Birds of Prey first opened in the 1980s and is on a mission to protect endangered species.
The center is on a scenic hillside that offers spectacular views over Boise and you can enjoy a range of different education activities here related to birds of prey.
These include live demonstrations as well as shows and you can also go on a guided tour to learn more about this unusual center and its mission statement.