Blake Walsh

30 Best Things to Do in Boise, ID

  • Published 2022/10/27

Idaho’s Capital City, Boise, is a haven for history buffs and those who love surrounding themselves with nature.

From the beautiful Boise River to the tranquil Camel’s Back Park, the city boasts many natural attractions for tourists to enjoy.

Lovers of history will be fascinated by the Old Idaho Penitentiary, a prison-turned-museum dating back to the 1800s.

If those things sound interesting to you, you’ll be delighted to find that those things are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ready to find out what else Idaho’s largest city has to offer?

Here are the best things to do in Boise, Idaho:

Enjoy a Walk around the Boise River

Daytime view of the Boise River

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The town of Boise is centered around the famous Boise River.

Parks, various museums, and other sights are located along the river.

Among the most popular lakeside attractions is the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-acre park.

A bike parked on Boise River Greenbelt's bridge

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People mostly visit for its undisturbed greenery, for the park is lined with tall trees and offers smooth views of the blue river.

There are a lot of walking trails across this park, where tourists come to take pictures and locals go on morning walks.

Walking trail of Boise River Greenbelt

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Explore Julia Davis Park

Geese at Julia Davis Park

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Located in the prime location of downtown Boise, Julia Davis Park is a center for tourist attractions.

Not only is it extremely close to spots like the Boise River Greenbelt and the State Capitol, but it also has a whole lot of attractions within it.

Exploring around Julia Davis Park will take at least an entire day.

Entrance of Julia Davis Park's rose garden

Tamanoeconomico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The park was named after the wife of Jefferson Davis, the man who donated the 43 acres of land.

It is located along the river and is extremely gorgeous.

Some essential sites inside the park are Zoo Boise, the Idaho Black History Museum, Boise Art Museum, and the Idaho Historical Museum.

It continues to expand in size and now spans almost 90 acres.

Swingsets at Julia Davis Park

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Visit the State Capitol

Vibrant flowers in front of State Capitol Boise

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Architecture enthusiasts will find this spot truly blissful, as the State Capitol is a visual treat.

Besides its historical significance, its flawless architecture attracts tourists to this place.

Side view of State Capitol's exterior

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The materials used to construct this office building were sourced locally and from Vermont, Georgia, Alaska, and Italy, among many others.

There are a lot of grounds surrounding the old building, and each one of them is pretty as a picture.

You can join a guided tour and see the best of the State Capitol.

Aerial view of the State Capitol

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Admire the Collection at the Boise Art Museum

Located inside Julia Davis Park, the Boise Art Museum has one of the most extensive art collections in the city of Idaho.

It was first known as the Boise Gallery of Art and was admired by famous artists all over the world.

Several renovations and alterations gave birth to what is now the Boise Art Museum, which was expanded by 10,000 square feet.

The museum mainly displays contemporary works of art.

Visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary

Old Idaho Penitentiary

David R. Daniel /

The Old Idaho Penitentiary was a prison in the 1870s.

Today, it stands as a museum and historic site in Idaho.

You may notice that it is a remarkable work of architecture, almost too beautiful for a prison.

The entire building is made out of hand-cut sandstone.

Two death row cells in Old Idaho Penitentiary

Nagel Photography /

Inside the museum, you can still see the prison cells, solitary confinement chambers, gallows, and a cemetery.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is also located within the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

You can join a guided tour of the grounds so as not to miss out on the most interesting parts.

The Old Idaho Penitentiary also hosts a paranormal hunting tour every October.

Old laundry machine in Old Idaho Penitentiary

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Interact at the Discovery Center of Idaho

The Discovery Center of Idaho boasts 200 exhibits that include various discoveries, inventions, and engineering goods.

The Centripetal Wheel and the Bubble Wall are among their most exciting displays.

There are always a lot of educational programs going on here, along with events and classes.

If you visit on a weekend, you can sign up for one of their classes.

Overall, it is truly an excellent experience for those invested in science.

Meet Wildlife at Zoo Boise

Zebras in Boise Zoo

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Zoo Boise is situated inside the diverse Julia Davis Park.

If you take a great interest in wildlife, you might find it appealing to spend an afternoon here.

The animals found here are both native and international.

Julius the giraffe in Zoo Boise

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Among them are sloth bears, giraffes, and many more.

You can feed some animals like goats and sheep at this interactive zoo.

There are presentations where you can learn about different animal species.

The zoo also hosts special events for children.

A deer in Zoo Boise

Robert Crow /

Spot Sharks and Stingrays at the Aquarium of Boise

Are you interested in marine life?

A mighty aquarium may serve your interests well.

The Aquarium of Boise opened its doors to the public in 2011.

It’s one of the most exciting places in Boise for people of all ages.

Families love this place, and the aquarium is usually crowded throughout the week.

It changes its display and exhibits continuously, as new species are always being added.

The best part about this aquarium is that you can freely interact with the aquatic animals.

Take a look at the various corals, stingrays, sharks, and many others.

Have a Picnic at Camel’s Back Park

Scenic view of Camel's Back Park

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Camel’s Back Park is one of Boise’s most favored picnic spots.

It is favored mainly because of its background and location.

It has some of the most graceful views of the Boise Foothills, and the open space gives off a calm and peaceful vibe.

Welcome sign of Camel's Back Park

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Tourists like driving up to this place, sitting, and having a chill day.

If you are feeling adventurous, there are some trails that start from Camel’s Back Park and ride up to the Boise Foothills.

You can try those out for yourselves.

A street fair at Camel's Back Park

Tamanoeconomico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Birdwatching at Kathryn Albertson Park

The waters of Kathryn Albertson Park

Gary Besinga /

Want to surround yourself with greenery right in the middle of Boise?

Kathryn Albertson Park, located in the downtown area, is the perfect place to do that.

The vast 41-acre park is mostly covered by wetlands.

There are a lot of aesthetic places inside, including a pretty lagoon where you can sit and dip in your toes.

There are also boardwalks to help you cross the wetlands.

Close to the Boise River Greenbelt, Kathryn Albertson Park is home to some exceptional migratory birds.

Learn about Heritage at the Basque Museum

The Basque Museum is not just for tourists’ pleasure.

It also has an important purpose to serve: to preserve and promote Basque heritage and culture.

The museum is located inside the Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga house, a building of great historical significance.

You won’t need a guide, as the facts are written beside the displayed items.

Admire the Flowers at the Idaho Botanical Garden

Benches along a trail at Boise Botanical Gardens

Charles Knowles, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Idaho Botanical Garden is located inside the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

Now, you must be wondering what a botanical garden is doing inside a prison.

Well, it wasn’t always a garden.

It actually used to be a prison yard.

There are 14 themed gardens within this tourist attraction.

You can find almost 300 variants of roses if you come at the right time.

The Idaho Botanical Garden hosts many festivals, during which it is decorated perfectly with lights and lanterns.

Go Skiing at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area

Downhill ski at Bogus Basin Mountain

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Skiing in Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is one of the most enjoyable tourist activities during the winter.

Located in the northeastern part of Boise, the ski area attracts a lot of tourists because of its powdery snow.

Skiers on Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area

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It was opened back in 1942 and has been well-known for downhill skiing since then.

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area also offers cross-country skiing.

When the snow melts away during the summer, the mountain gives a wide range of opportunities such as hiking, mountain biking, and golfing.

Twilight at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area

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Have Breakfast at Great Harvest Bread

This bread shop located on Fairview Avenue has been a go-to breakfast in Boise for over 30 years.

Their bread is always handmade from scratch.

The bakery also sells a lot of good items like muffins, cakes, and scones.

Afraid you’ll wake up too late and miss out on breakfast?

Don’t worry, Great Harvest Bread serves breakfast until noon.

Visit the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

Daytime view of Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

Kencf0618, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The entire town of Boise is built around its main river, and for this very reason, many of its tourist spots are huddled together.

For example, after you take a stroll around the Boise River Greenbelt, you can easily drop by Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial to pay your respects.

Part of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

Tamanoeconomico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The architect has done an excellent job of spreading the memorial’s message via the various elements on display.

The Bethine and Frank Church Writing Table, the Anne Frank Statue, and the 180-foot Quote Wall are some of the sights to enjoy in this park.

Quote wall of Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

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Explore the State’s Heritage at the Idaho State Museum

Exterior of Idaho State Museum

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In 1881, the Idaho State Museum opened its doors to the public, and now it receives more than 110,00 visitors annually.

It is the best place to learn more about the state’s rich history and culture.

Thanks to its wide range of exciting and interactive exhibits, the museum is one of the city’s most exciting and instructive attractions.

Entrance doors of Idaho State Museum

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More than 500 objects, 40 multimedia exhibits, and 800 pictures may be found at the Idaho State Museum in Boise.

Some of Idaho’s historic structures have been meticulously repaired and preserved.

You may join lectures, reenactments, and performances at the museum.

Catch Glimpses of Wildlife at Hulls Gulch Reserve

In Hulls Gulch Reserve, you’ll find The Grove and Lower Hulls Gulch, two hiking options.

At the foothills north of the city of Boise, a 292-acre nature reserve was established in 2010.

Hulls Gulch took its name from a creek that originates in the foothills and runs through it.

You may cover 150 miles of trail in a single day if you are a runner or a hiker.

Nature lovers can glimpse birds like the great-horned owl and snakes, coyotes, red foxes, and mule deer while on a tour of the reserve’s wildlife habitat.

Learn about environmental issues and conservation at the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center.

Learn More about Raptors at the World Center for Birds of Prey

Falcon at World Center for Birds of Prey

Robert Crow /

An organization dedicated to preserving endangered birds of prey has its headquarters in an avian sanctuary on West Flying Hawk Lane known as the World Center for Birds of Prey.

The 580-acre property sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Boise.

Chukar at World Center for Birds of Prey

Robert Crow /

At the heart of the facility is the Velma Morrison Interpretative Center and the offices of the Falconry Fund, raptor reproduction facilities, and the Archives of Falconry.

This interpretive center was established in 1992 and features live demonstrations, multimedia shows, and dynamic displays.

Guests can take tours of the facility and attend one of the many activities.

American kestrel at World Center for Birds of Prey

Robert Crow /

Enjoy Retail Therapy at the Capital City Public Market

Closed street for Capital City Public Market

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Previously known as Saturday Market, the Capital City Public Market opened in 1994.

During its initial year of operation, the public market had only 10 sellers.

Street musician at Capital City Public Market

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Today, about 150 farmers’ markets in the area serve thousands of residents and tourists each week while boosting the local economy.

To get your hands on locally produced produce, herbs, honey, and other delicacies created with these products, make your way to downtown Boise during the weekend.

There is a wealth of locally manufactured and grown goods, art and crafts, and gifts in the 8th Street area.

People shopping at Capital City Public Market

Valphotog /

Stroll through a Scenic Park That Runs along the Boise River at the Boise River Greenbelt

Cycling along Boise River Greenbelt

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One of Boise’s most adored parks is the Boise River Greenbelt.

It’s a 25-mile boulevard that runs along the north and south banks of the Boise River in the center of the city, lined with trees.

It provides pedestrian access to many popular riverside parks and offers scenic views and habitats for local wildlife.

The waters of Boise River Greenbelt

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There are several parks along the Greenbelt known collectively as the “Ribbon of Jewels.”

There are a lot of activities like birdwatching, fishing, walking, picnics with your family, and many more you can do while you visit the place.

Try to go to Boise River Greenbelt and relax with nature.

Bridge trail at Boise River Greenbelt

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Learn about the Basque culture at Basque Block

Paella vendor at Basque Block

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One of Idaho’s most impressive stories of ethnic neighborhood preservation is The Basque Block.

The Basque Block is a place that caters to a wide range of enterprises, eateries, and cultural institutions that showcase Basque culture and heritage.

You will be welcomed by the two enormous steel laias (farming tools) placed in the Grove Street neighborhood upon visiting the area.

Flags on a building at Basque Block /

The Basque national colors are also displayed on the pavement.

It also features granite slabs that have been inscribed with song lyrics, local family surnames, and the crests of all of the seven Basque provinces.

The road of Basque Block

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Go Whitewater Rafting Down the Payette River

Rafting on Payette River

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The Payette River, is a famous Idaho whitewater river with a pool and drop rapids.

The intersection of the North Fork and South Fork of the Payette River Banks serves as a popular put-in for rafting trips. You can do raft trips and rent kayaks as you plunge yourself into the river.

If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure, the South Fork of the Payette River in Boise is the place for you.

Rapids of Payette River

Lee O’Dell /

This section of the river offers Class III to IV rapids, making it perfect for experienced rafters.

If you’re new to rafting, don’t worry – there are plenty of outfitters who can help get you started.

Moreover, you can relax on the length of the lush green lawn or take in views of the Payette from their riverside decks and open patios or observe wildlife here.

Rafting under a bridge on Payette River

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Try Craft Beers at Boise Brewing

Idaho’s sole community-owned brewery is Boise Brewing.

Since 2014, more than 200 Boise residents have contributed to the brewery to keep it operating and open to new prospects, including increasing its taproom and product choices.

Boise Brewing offers five year-round beers, a variety of seasonal brews, and experiential IPAs, and they’ve even dabbled with craft cider.

Every October, Boise Brewing throws Hoptober Freshtival, a beer festival that offers 70 freshly hopped and seasonally appropriate fall beers from more than 35 local to regional craft breweries in downtown Boise.

You can try different beers and brews here at Boise Brewery.

Indulge Yourself at The Grove Hotel for a Relaxing Stay

Exterior of The Grove Hotel

Charles Knowles /

The Grove Hotel maintains its standing as the city’s top lodging option by providing elegance without compromising convenience.

The hotel offers stunning views of the foothills of Boise and a convenient downtown location that will leave you wanting more.

You can enter the doors of the Boise hotel and discover a calm, inviting haven away from the hectic streets outside.

Eat in Trillium’s diverse restaurant, burn off calories in the Grove Fitness Club & Spa, or catch up on work in the library.

Follow the sound of the music inside The Bar, where Idaho-inspired decor and sofas are positioned next to a roaring fireplace.

Have a Picnic Punch at Ann Morrison Park

The waters of Ann Morrison Park

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Ann Morrison Park has 153 acres of land that caters to numerous amenities.

You can like relax beside the unique spray fountain in the park while taking your family to a picnic event.

The park also has bocce courts, a disc golf course, Together Treasure Valley Dog Island horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court, and a playground.

Dog island at Ann Morrison Park

melissamn /

You can play tennis with your family or friends on one of the lighted softball diamonds. If you’re feeling more adventurous, cricket or football awaits you on one of the soccer fields.

The park is well-kept, popular, and clean.

The well-groomed plants and nearby river provide a perfect opportunity to relax with your family.

Aerial view of Ann Morrison Park

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Get Entertained at Downtown Boise

Aerial view of Downtown Boise

Sam Strickler /

The largest city center in all of Idaho is located in Downtown Boise, which serves as the city’s urban center.

If you want to experience Boise, downtown is the place to be.

This area of the city, which is bustling with entertainment options, endless eateries, stores, activities, and attractions, reveals a lot about Boise and its people’s way of life.

Downtown Boise is a bustling area with plenty to do and see.

Shops along Downtown Boise /

Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, and music venues are all available downtown. You can find anything from steakhouses and seafood joints to whiskey bars and more.

Downtown Boise is also home to a wide variety of shops and stores. You can find anything from big-name department stores to locally-owned boutiques.

There are also several art galleries and museums, and a handful of large parks. If you’re looking for something to do, downtown Boise has you covered.

There’s always something to do in Downton Boise, even if it’s just exploring quaint shops that make this city unique.

Fountain at Downtown Boise

Ulf Nammert /

Final Thoughts

Boise, Idaho, is more than just a pretty place.

It offers a variety of attractions you will love and enjoy while taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.

It’s also a great place for green scapes and vibrant nature walks.

Visit and try out the 15 best things to do in Boise, Idaho. This place won’t let you down.

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