Headed to Idaho and looking for the best way to spend a weekend in Boise?! Keep on reading, because you’re gonna have the best time ever – promise! Tons of fun things to do in Boise, coming right up!
Outdoor recreational activities with tons of scenic mountain views. Eclectic shops and trendy cafes in a vibrant downtown area. Strolling along the Boise River Greenbelt or inner tubing on the river itself. An old fashioned diner with ice cream potatoes. Oh, and you can’t forget about those scrumptious finger steaks and fry sauce!
If that sounds like a whole lotta fun, you’ll wanna plan your weekend in Boise itinerary right away! Boise really is a laid back and lively outdoorsy oasis, and we had such a great time exploring.
Known as the City of Trees, Boise is one of the best mid-sized cities in the US, AND the capital of Idaho too! It’s the largest city in the state, with beautiful tree-lined pathways and historic homes, and a booming tech presence.
I visited Boise as part of my 50 States Challenge (Idaho was state #30 for me!) – and I honestly cannot believe it took me so long to make it here… Considering the flight from San Francisco is super short at just over an hour, haha.
Honestly, after looking up things to do in Boise, I was a tad worried I’d have a hard time filling up my weekend! But that’s kinda the beauty of Boise – there’s no major city attractions, meaning you can wander and eat/drink as much as you’d like without feeling like you’re missing out on stuff! Kinda reminded me of Denver in that sense.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this Boise itinerary, first some logistics!
Weekend in Boise Itinerary Logistics
Where is Boise and How to Get There
Boise is located in southwestern Idaho, near the Boise River in a beautiful green valley (aptly named the Boise Valley!). The city is surrounded by mountains on all sides – the Boise Mountains to the northeast and the Owyhee Mountains to the south, meaning so much natural beauty!
The Boise National Forest, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and the Owyhee Mountains are all within driving distance. A huge reason why Boise is oh so appealing for outdoor lovers!
Boise is part of the Treasure Valley, a region in southwestern Idaho comprising several cities and communities. Besides Boise (the largest and most prominent city), there’s also Meridian, Nampa, and Caldwell.
I was also surprised to learn that Boise is not terribly far from the Oregon border — only about 60 miles or so! Road trip anyone?!
How to Get to Boise
Flying to Boise
When you fly into Boise, you’ll be heading to the Boise Airport (airport code BOI), a regional airport located just south of downtown Boise. It’s the largest airport in Idaho, with a range of domestic flights, although hardly any international flights.
Since Boise Airport is much smaller than larger airports, the number of nonstop routes is kinda limited. Because of this, you’ll most likely connect through a major airport hub like Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas Fort-Worth, or Denver if you’re coming from the East Coast.
Thankfully, Boise as a whole is growing in popularity, and new nonstops are added every season, so don’t discount an easy flight!
Luckily for those of us on the West Coast, it’s much easier to fly to Boise. There’s plenty of nonstop flights between Boise and Los Angeles (LAX), Portland (PDX), San Francisco (SFO), and Salt Lake City (SLC).
Coming from San Francisco (SFO), I honestly didn’t realize just how close Boise was! Our flight was just over an hour, with flying time of exactly one hour and 10 minutes. Not sure why I imagined it’d take much longer! And we were able to find relatively inexpensive flights as well, at just under $200 a person nonstop roundtrip. I like to add that in case you’re flying out of the same airport!
Once at the airport, you can either take a complimentary hotel shuttle (many hotels provide this) or a quick Uber ride to your hotel downtown. Or of course a rental car!
Driving to Boise
Unfortunately, Boise isn’t super close to any other major cities (besides those in Idaho), so unless you’re willing to take a long-ish road trip, you probably won’t wanna drive to Boise, haha.
Here’s a list of some other touristy destinations in the extended region so you get a feel for how far Boise is:
- From Sun Valley, Idaho: ~150 miles, 2.5 to 3 hours
- From Spokane, Washington: ~300 miles, 4-5 hours
- From Salt Lake City, Utah: ~345 miles, 5 hours
- From Bend, Oregon: ~320 miles, 5 ½ hours
- From Jackson, Wyoming: ~375 miles, 6 hours
- From Yellowstone National Park: ~400 miles, 6 to 7 hours
- From Portland, Oregon: ~430 miles, 7 hours
- From Seattle, Washington: ~500 miles, 7.5 to 8 hours
- From Las Vegas, Nevada: ~500 miles, 7.5 to 8 hours
And if you are driving, depending on when you’re spending your weekend in Boise, be prepared for all weather conditions! Especially in the mountainous regions surrounding Boise in winter (like the Boise National Forest or the Sawtooth National Recreation Area). Mountain roads can become quite treacherous in the winter, and road closures due to heavy snowfall are not uncommon.
Carry tire chains, blankets, and other necessary items, as the weather in the mountains changes crazy fast and you don’t wanna get stranded! I’d honestly just fly to Boise if you’re planning to visit between November and March. One less thing to worry about!
How to Get Around Boise
During our weekend in Boise, we found it relatively easy to get around by just walking! Which was perfect because we didn’t rent a car, haha.
On foot: Downtown Boise is oh so walkable! Nothing was more than a 15 minute walk from our hotel (Hotel 43), and we found the streets super clean and easy to navigate. Since Boise is such a compact little city, we walked a ton!
Our hotel was walking distance to the Boise River Greenbelt, lots of restaurants, cafes, and hip coffee shops, and even the Idaho State Capitol Building. Definitely wear some comfy shoes – we got almost 15k steps a day!
Driving around Boise: Should you rent a car in Boise? That’s totally up to you. If you’re just staying in and around downtown Boise, I personally don’t think you need a car at all. We were able to get by just walking and the occasional cheap Uber!
However, if you’re planning to visit other spots in Idaho (Sun Valley, Idaho City, etc), it may be worth it to rent a car for a bit. By no means is it horrible to have a car in Boise – the traffic is relatively manageable, parking isn’t crazy difficult, and nothing is far. BUT it might just seem like a waste.
Ride shares: I was pleasantly surprised by how cheap ride shares were in Boise!
We took a few Uber rides during our weekend in Boise (to Westside Drive In, the Garden City neighborhood, and Camel’s Back Park) and all were under $10 (most around $6 or so)! Definitely beats the cost of a rental car plus overnight parking fees. I think we spent less than $50 on Uber rides the whole weekend.
Public Transit: I didn’t realize this until we were actually in Boise for the weekend, but the city does have some public transit! There’s ValleyRide, the public bus system with routes to downtown Boise and Boise State University, plus a FREE hop-on, hop-off Downtown Boise Shuttle to Albertsons Stadium on game days.
E-Bikes and scooters: Boise is a super bike-friendly city, and there’s always new bike lanes and trails popping up. You’ll probably see the Boise GreenBike program around town, which is a bike-sharing service like those in other cities.
Lime bikes and e-scooters are really popular as well (we saw them on practically every corner)! If you’re planning to check out the scenic riverfront path along Boise River Greenbelt (one of the most popular things to do in Boise), plan to rent a bike or scooter! So much fun and you’ll see so much more than walking.
When to Plan your Boise Itinerary
Unlike the West Coast (here in Northern California we kinda have 3 seasons – perpetual spring, fog, and fire season…), Boise actually experiences four distinct seasons. Something I’m starting to desperately miss!
With a semi-arid desert climate, you’ll find nights pretty cool in Boise while the days heat up pretty fast. Wear layers and you’ll be fine, no matter the time of year.
Spring (March to May)
Boise is beautiful in spring – there’s mild temps, the trees and gardens are in full bloom, and The Boise River Greenbelt comes to life. It’s an awesome time to spend a weekend in Boise if you wanna partake in a lot of outdoor activities, like hiking, cycling, and exploring the parks.
Travel tip: Avoid late March if you’re not attending the Treefort Music Fest – it gets unnecessarily busy!
Summer (June to August)
Summer is by far the most popular time to spend a weekend in Boise! It’s warm, sunny, and dry, although maybe too hot with an average high in July of about 90°F. Thankfully there’s the river to cool off in! Expect lots of outdoor festivals/markets and fun summer events like tubing on the Boise River and hiking in the nearby mountains.
However, just like in California, be aware of wildfire smoke and keep outdoor activities to a minimum if the air quality is unhealthy!
Psst: If you wanna float down the Boise River (I’ve heard this is SO much fun), plan your weekend in Boise in the warmer summer months, between early June and late August. The Boise River float season typically comes to a close in early September, so don’t plan your visit too late!
Fall (September to November)
Autumn sees mild temps and beautiful fall foliage! I honestly had no clue how much fall foliage we would see in Boise – I guess the city’s called The City of Trees for a reason!
There’s lots of fall fun here, with apple and pumpkin picking in nearby orchards and pleasant temps for hiking in the surrounding Boise National Forest. There’s also lots of fun festivals like Art in the Park, Flipside Fest, and the Hoptober Freshtival.
For reference, we visited towards the end of October and had nearly perfect weather! It wasn’t too hot nor too cold, and we unexpectedly were there for peak fall foliage! What a great surprise!
Winter (December to February)
Yes, Boise has a true winter! People primarily visit Boise in the winter for one thing and one thing only – to spend a day on the slopes! There’s lots of winter skiing crowds at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area though… so while the city will be quieter, the slopes probably won’t be, haha.
While Boise does have winter weather, it’s actually milder compared to many other northern cities! December and January are the city’s coldest months (with the average low dipping to around 24°F – brr!), but not much snow accumulates in the city.
In all honesty though, if it’s your first time to Boise, I’d skip the winter visit and plan your trip between April and October.
Where to Stay in Boise
Face it, if you’ve only got a weekend in Boise (or at most 3 days like we did), you wanna make sure you stay in a convenient location! If it’s your first time in the area, I’d choose a hotel within Downtown Boise, or at least in Boise proper itself.
Downtown Boise: Staying in the heart of downtown Boise puts you within walking distance to tons of restaurants and cute coffee shops, late-night bars, lots of boutique shopping, and even the Boise River Greenbelt. This ensures you’re super close to all the fun things to do in Boise!
There’s lots to choose from – these were the ones we were deciding between:
- Modern Hotel (a mid-century modern boutique hotel in Boise’s downtown Linen District known for their informal yet fancy vibes and killer cocktails)
- Hotel 43 (where we stayed in Boise – the hotel is in the perfect location, and was a great value with an excellent steakhouse attached!)
- The Grove Hotel (an upscale hotel and conference center right next to the Idaho Central Arena)
- Inn at 500 Capitol (a quaint little boutique hotel on the edge of downtown Boise, known for its FREE snack bar in the lobby and complimentary cruiser bikes)
West End and Garden City: We spent an afternoon in Garden City, and while I’m glad we visited, I’m happy we chose a hotel in Downtown Boise. It’s just northwest of Downtown and primarily residential, with most of the action happening on the river. It’s way quieter and more romantic, but I’d opt for being walking distance to all that Boise has to offer.
Other Important FAQs about Visiting Boise
- Is a weekend in Boise really enough?! I certainly think so! Boise is relatively small and super walkable, so you can truly do so much in a day. There’s not tons of city attractions, so we were satisfied with 2 days in Boise – we had tons of time for lots of eating and drinking, walks by the river, and relaxing in trendy coffee shops. If you wanna take any day trips (to some hot springs, Sun Valley, or Shoshone Falls perhaps), I’d add on another day or two.
- How to pronounce Boise? The correct way to say Boise is BOY-see (as in the letter C). Not with a voiced Z sound. I’ve been pronouncing the city wrong my entire life, whoops!
- Why is Boise known as the City of Trees? I mean, it’s surrounded by over 4.7 MILLION acres of forest, that’s why! Which is larger than the three smallest US states combined – kinda wild! Plus, the actual city itself’s got an abundance of tree-lined streets and plenty of green spaces.
- Is Boise only for people who like to hike? I was kinda worried about this, as I heard Boise is a haven for hikers and outdoor lovers. We did one short hike at Camel’s Back Park for sunset, and found enough to do for the rest of the weekend that didn’t involve hiking! Although there’s plenty of nearby mountains for those who wanna hit the trails!
- Is Boise worth visiting? After spending a weekend in Boise, I say yes! But with a few caveats… if you’re coming from further afield, plan to spend additional time in Idaho out in nature (there’s tons of hiking and hot springs and even skiing in winter). I honestly don’t think a long flight with a long connection to spend just a weekend in Boise is worth it. It’s a fun city for sure, but doesn’t have any bucket-list attractions like a big city does.
- What foods to try in Boise? Eating was one of our favorite things to do in Boise, haha! Don’t miss the fry sauce (a combo of mayonnaise, ketchup, and spices), finger steaks, an ice cream potato, and of course french fries! Plus Basque cuisine, huckleberries, trout, and local craft beer.
Weekend in Boise Itinerary
Let’s get to it – the ultimate weekend in Boise coming right up!
Psst: Unlike most of my itineraries, this Boise itinerary isn’t super-crazy jam packed. One of the best parts about a trip to Boise is just taking in the outdoors and enjoying the downtown atmosphere. No need to rush around these parts; take it slow and just enjoy!
Also note that while I visited on an actual weekend in Boise, you can easily make this into a 2-day Boise itinerary anytime during the week. The only thing that will drastically change is the public market, which only happens on Saturdays. Also double check that the speakeasies are open!
Boise Itinerary Day 1: Saturday
Stop 1: Breakfast
Time to hit the ground running! And good thing thing Boise’s got a bunch of great breakfast options. Here’s two popular spots that we tried (and loved) during our weekend in Boise:
- BACON: The name really says it all, haha – this place is famous for all things bacon! We tried a cinnamon roll literally covered in bacon, and shared a bacon flight as well. Probably not a great option for vegetarians…
- Goldy’s: This wouldn’t be the perfect weekend in Boise without some famous chocolate chip pancakes from Goldy’s. They’ve also got a bunch of hearty breakfast options, like benedicts and omelets. If there’s a long wait (which there usually is on weekends), walk over to the market (next up on this Boise itinerary) before breakfast!
Stop 2: Capital City Public Market
Next up, the Capital City Public Market right in downtown Boise, taking place every Saturday right at Grove Plaza (827 W. Main Street). And many locals favorite things to do in Boise!
Here you’ll find plenty of in-season produce, like local fruits and veggies, meats, cheeses, and honey. There’s also a wide variety of gourmet treats and international cuisine (…those French macarons looked heavenly, and we also saw dumplings, crepes, and spices).
The public market is so much more than a farmers market – there’s plenty of local art as well (think pottery, glass, woodworking, painting, prints, etc). You could easily spend an hour here perusing all the stalls, and around the holidays, it turns into a mini winter market! Oh so festive and fun.
Psst: The market is open on Saturdays from mid-April to mid-December, from roughly 10am-2pm.
Note that there’s a Boise Farmers Market every Saturday as well – this is a different market and in a separate location! That one’s a bit further over at 1500 Shoreline Drive, closer to Kathryn Albertson Park.
Stop 3: Bike the Boise River Greenbelt
After breakfast and some shopping, it’s time to get those steps in! Head on over to the Boise River Greenbelt, one of Boise’s most famous outdoor attractions.
What is it? An extensive urban trail system (of 25 miles!) that runs alongside the Boise River! It’s super popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists, and nature lovers, and yes, you can also scoot down it as well (!!!) – we saw plenty of people doing just that.
If you’re planning to bike or scoot down the Greenbelt, plan to first grab a bike/scooter in downtown Boise (either from your hotel or a lime bike/scooter) and ride it to the river. The paths are super well-maintained, and we loved taking our morning walk here (gotta keep up that 10k step streak while traveling somehow!).
Don’t worry, you don’t need to walk the entire length of the Greenbelt. We certainly didn’t walk the entire 25 miles, haha, but we did walk for a good hour or two, passing by Julia Davis Park (with a bunch of museums) and Ann Morrison Park. You can walk on either side of the river, but we opted to cross the Ninth Street Bridge and walk from there.
Depending on the season, the Greenbelt will look different – there’s vibrant blooms in spring and summer and golden foliage come fall. We visited in late October and the parks along the Greenbelt were starting to change colors – I just loved it (especially since we don’t get much fall in San Francisco).
Psst: Before heading onto the Greenbelt, don’t miss the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. It’s the only memorial of its kind in the US, a tribute to Anne Frank and a reminder of the importance of human rights.
There’s sculptures and inscriptions all about WWII and even a reflecting pool. It’s super moving and very impactful (which reminded me of our one day in Amsterdam when we had the privilege of visiting the Anne Frank House).
Visiting in summer?! Plan to float down the Boise River – it’s such a unique experience! Since we visited in late October, it was way too cold for any of that. Know that a river float takes about 2-3 hours, and there’s designated starting and ending points (Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park).
Find official float dates here (it all depends on the river conditions – gotta be safe my friends!)
Stop 4: Lunch at The Warehouse Food Hall and ice cream at The STIL
After all that walking (or biking, or scooting, haha), you’re probably crazy hungry. The Warehouse Food Hall isn’t too far from the Greenbelt, and there’s loads of options.
Whatever you get, make sure to save some room for ice cream flights at The STIL (an acronym for The Sweetest Things in Life), right outside the food hall. There’s a reason they’ve been voted Boise’s best dessert for a few years in a row!
They’re known for their imaginative flavors and creative pairings, and you can get 4 scoops and 4 beers/wines in a flight. I admittedly was too full for a full-on flight, but my Bake Sale flavor was easily the best ice cream I had all month (and I tend to have my fair share of sweets, haha)! Oh so creamy and flavorful with tons and tons of chunks – the best kind of ice cream.
There’s even beer and wine pairings if you’re feeling fun, AND booze-infused ice cream! Plus gluten-free and vegan options too, so everyone can enjoy.
Stop 5: Garden City Area
Next up, spend a few hours in Garden City, a neighborhood slightly west of downtown Boise. It’s recently been revitalized with an influx of new businesses, breweries, and restaurants, although we admittedly still found it a bit bare on the main road (gotta know what you’re looking for).
I wouldn’t call it trendy just yet, but it’s definitely up and coming. Here’s my recs for Garden City:
- Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park and Whitewater Park: More spots full of winding trails to walk or ride your bike. And a great place for some fall colors in October! If you come in summer, you may even see some people surfing here – yes, surfing!
- Push & Pour: A super coffee shop right on the Greenbelt – pop in if you need some caffeine before your walk! Cool vibes, especially if you get a seat outside. I heard the cardamom latte is delicious!
- Western Collective: Probably my favorite stop in Garden City, and only a few blocks from the river. It’s technically a brewery, but we opted for boozy Cherry Coke slushies (which were absolutely delicious). There’s a fun garden area in the back that was all decked out for fall (and made for some cute pics). Plan to spend a good hour or so here.
Unless you have a car (which I honestly don’t think is necessary), you’ll need to call an Uber since Garden City is about 2 miles from downtown Boise. It’s only a 5 minute drive or so, and if I remember correctly, our Uber was super cheap at about $6-7.
Stop 6: Dinner at KIN
Finally – my favorite part of the day! KIN! And probably my favorite of all the things to do in Boise, lol.
There’s tons of dinner options downtown, but if you’re looking for a true experience during your weekend in Boise, promise me you’ll make a reservation at KIN. When I say it was probably the best meal I’ve had since the tasting menus in Guatemala and Mexico City, I’m not kidding. I still cannot stop raving about it… yes, it was that good.
Easily the best dining experience in Boise, if not all of Idaho. There’s a reason chef Kris Komori won a James Beard Award.
The entire meal was super creative and inventive, light yet flavorful. The presentation was so spot on, and I Ioved all the local ingredients used. They served about 8 dishes or so (you don’t get to pick), each one more delicious than the last. I was so impressed; I could have kept on eating (although we were pleasantly full at the end)!
Yes, it’s pricey, but 1000% worth it – by far the best meal we had our entire weekend in Boise. And top 20 meals in my life.
A few notes about KIN:
- Make sure to reserve a table in advance – we got SUPER lucky and there was one reservation left our entire time in Boise when I looked a few days before our trip. And we visited on a random weekend in October. You’ll wanna book this weeks if not months out in high season.
- The cocktail bar is COMPLETELY separate from the tasting menu, and is kinda limited to ramen and other small bites. My friend who lives in Boise said the regular menu is nothing special, so I’d definitely opt for the special tasting menu!
- There’s two seatings each night: the first, which has a menu posted online, and the second, called the Supper Club (the reservation we were able to get), which has no menu – every course is a surprise. It was way more fun this way.
- Kin doesn’t accept odd-number parties – you’ll see why when you go; the setup doesn’t really allow that.
- You’ll be eating right next to strangers – yes, there’s separate tables, but there’s hardly any space between them at all. It felt more like a long, connected table; and we loved chatting with everyone! Just don’t expect a private, romantic meal with your partner. This is not it, haha.
- You can opt for a wine pairing or NA drink pairing (extra fee for first seating, included in Supper Club). I chose the non-alcoholic pairing, and loved it! Some odd flavors here and there, but it all just worked — and also very creative.
If tasting menus ain’t your thing or you’d rather put your money elsewhere, here’s a few other spots to choose from:
- The Lively: Fine dining with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients. It’s popular so make a reservation – tables get booked up weeks in advance! Great for date night or a special occasion. The space is moody and romantic and beautifully designed.
- FORK: This spot focuses on creative farm-to-table American cuisine, plus lots of craft cocktail options! Don’t miss the asparagus fries – I can confirm they’re absolutely legendary! And there’s BUTTER CAKE for dessert!
- Western Proper: A super chill gastropub with a mix of traditional and inventive comfort food. The place to go for some craft beers, cocktails, and games – there’s bowling, air hockey, & old-school arcade games! My fish tacos were great!
- Coa de Jima: A Mexican-inspired restaurant known for its tequila and mezcal selections! They’ve got street tacos, enchiladas, ceviche, and of course specialty margaritas!
Stop 7: Speakeasy Bars
Not ready to end your first day of your weekend in Boise just yet?! Head on out to the bars! I was honestly really surprised to learn that Boise has a few really cool speakeasies, cool enough they’d belong in a big city like San Francisco or New York!
Here’s my favorite two for delicious cocktails:
Thick as Thieves: A cozy cocktail bar in downtown Boise with a stylish candle lit atmosphere. I was all for it – such a fun experience (don’t miss the secret drinks “on” the menu – you’ll see what I mean). You have to enter through a side door with two thieving birds, find the phone at the top of the stairs, and then dial for cocktails! Such a fun concept, after we finally found the door, haha.
You’ll 100% need to make a reservation in advance for this one as it’s a super intimate space and quite popular.
Press & Pony: A small speakeasy craft-style bar with a cool, vintage vibe and a special “underground” entrance. You don’t need a reservation for this one (we were able to walk right in), but it does get pretty busy. A great spot in town for spirit forward cocktails! They’ve even got in-house made tonics and sodas.
Weekend in Boise Day 2: Sunday
Stop 1: Coffee Shop Breakfast
There’s no shortage of cute coffee shops in the city, and I think I visited half a dozen during my weekend in Boise, haha. Here’s a few to choose from:
- The District Coffee House: Very hipster and spacious, with a whole bunch of menu items and specialty coffees (I got the avocado toast of course), and a decent selection of teas. I’m kinda obsessed with the branding to say the least – it’s so cute!
- ā café: Breakfast staples in a minimal and airy space. Think breakfast quesadillas, avocado toast, and veggie buddha bowls, plus honey lavender lattes and raspberry mochas. I loved this chic spot!
- Broadcast Coffee: Easily my favorite coffee shop in Boise. The interior was so, so cute, with tiger-printed wallpaper and colorful eclectic touches. And our seasonal lattes were simply delicious. Grab your coffees to-go and hang out on the swings at Cherie Buckner-Webb Park right in front to see the large pink tree sculpture. Such cool architecture, and our barista was super chill and friendly.
- Form & Function: Beans roasted right here in Boise in a really bright space with fresh pastries and breakfast sandwiches. Right next to The Wylder (later on during Day 2 of this Boise itinerary), so feel free to swing by later for a much-needed pick me up! One of the best lattes in The Treasure Valley.
- Slow by Slow Coffee: I didn’t make it here myself but the barista at Broadcast Coffee highly recommended it! Lots of espresso drinks, pour-overs, & teas in a chic, retro atmosphere.
Psst: I recommend having a light breakfast today if you wanna stop by Boise Fry Co. in a bit – which you totally should, wink wink. DIY fries anyone?!
Stop 2: Idaho State Capitol Building
The Idaho State Capitol Building is right in downtown Boise, so there’s no reason not to visit! It’s an absolutely iconic and historic neoclassical structure, constructed between 1905 and 1920.
There’s no charge to go inside, and I loved taking photos of the interior! There’s a rotunda, solid marble columns, ornate stairs, and sooo much class throughout. Even if you’re not a huge government fan, just pop by for a few minutes!
I really can’t believe you can just wander on in and walk around freely – it felt so strange (like I was doing something wrong)!
While you’re over here, relax for a bit at Capitol Park. It’s literally right across from the Idaho State Capitol Building – you can’t miss it! Lots of trees and picnic tables and it’s pretty quiet – you could even bring your breakfast here!
Stop 3: Freak Alley
Freak Alley Gallery – one of the most famous attractions in Boise and a must for any instagrammer! So many murals and street art; kinda like a grungy outdoor art gallery, and I just loved it! Such cool vibes and oh so chill. Easily one of the most colorful things to do in Boise!
The alley started as an unconventional art project back in 2002 by Colby Akers, a local artist who wanted to beautify the alley. It’s now a constantly evolving and dynamic art space!
There’s a few iconic pieces over here – I personally loved the Breaking Boise mural (iconic to the alley), the angry grizzly bear, and giant elephant. FYI – the art pieces change from time to time, so there’s always something new popping up!
Extra Snack Stop at Boise Fry Co
A bit hungry? Or just want an excuse for some hand cut fries? Stop by the Boise Fry Co – I mean you ARE in Idaho, you need to eat some of their famous potatoes!
Choose your potato type and load ‘em up with tons of different dipping sauces and spices – there’s everything from roasted jalapeno ranch, garlic aioli, and even blueberry ketchup (I wanted so desperately to love it, but 100% not a fan, haha).
They’ve also got microbrews on tap if you’re feeling a little thirsty before lunch… (hey, you’re on vacation, no judgments!).
Stop 4: Shops around Downtown Boise
Downtown Boise is filled and filled with cute boutique shops and gift stores, plus a few larger chains. These were my favorite during our weekend in Boise:
- Mixed Greens | Modern Gifts: I’m obsessed with everything in this gift shop, haha. There’s stickers, notebooks, posters, the prettiest gift wrap, candles, handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and so much more. And the displays are oh so chic – I could totally blow a lot of money here, whoops!
- Re-POP Gifts: Oh my gosh, what a fun place! An entire store dedicated to pop culture and all things nerdy! And they really have everything – I saw Stranger Things, Ted Lasso, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, etc. Don’t miss the Boise mural on the side – probably my favorite one in the whole city (I totally went multiple times, haha)!
- The Record Exchange: Music lovers, put this on your weekend in Boise itinerary! We loved browsing through the vinyl selection, which was beyond huge! Kinda made me wanna buy a record player, haha.
- City Peanut Shop: A nut store with some of the best peanuts and peanut butter I’ve ever had (the roasted peanut butter was divine). I wish they made smaller jars – I would have loved to bring some home! Ask for a sample for sure.
- The Chocolat Bar: Artisan chocolate at its best. Super high-quality and such a selection! I tried a dark chocolate caramel and it was delish!
Stop 5: Lunch at The Wylder
After a busy morning, it’s time for some food! You NEED to get a handcrafted pizza (with delicious sourdough crust) and some veggies at The Wylder. It’s basically an institution around these parts; make sure to sit on the outdoor patio if it’s nice out!
We ordered the “Gem State of Mind” pizza, and it was truly phenomenal – with tons of caramelized onions and fingerling potatoes. And that’s a bold statement coming from someone who grew up in New York!
The table next to us got the meatballs and homemade ricotta, and I wish we had tried those as well. Next time for us; lemme know how they are!
Stop 6: Wander on the Basque Block
I had no clue before visiting, but there’s a fairly large Basque population in Boise, actually the largest concentration in the US!
A little backstory: In the late 1800s, Basque people began coming to the western United States for better opportunities, initially for gold mining and then for ranching and sheepherding. The Basque culture of herding sheep (back then sheep in Idaho outnumbered humans six to one!) and running boarding houses let the Basque culture thrive here. The area suited their needs so they stayed!
Nowadays, there’s an entire block dedicated to them – filled with homey restaurants (and all the paella and Basque tapas, known as pintxos!), The Basque Center, and Basque Museum and Cultural Center. Come here to learn about the Basque communities in the American West, through history exhibits, artifacts, and dance and music performances.
At least stop by for a glass of red wine!
Stop 7: Potato ice cream and Finger Steaks at Westside Drive-In
Okay – stop what you’re doing this instant and add Westside Drive-In to your weekend in Boise plans. Sounds kinda lame, but this was one of the things I was most excited about during our trip to Boise, haha.
As seen on Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and as retro as it gets, with those quintessential classic vibes. It’s a simple, nostalgic, old-fashioned diner that is a MUST on any Boise itinerary.
Two things you absolutely need to try here – perfectly seasoned and fried FINGER STEAKS with fry sauce and Boise’s famous ICE CREAM POTATO! The menu is beyond huge, but whatever you do, definitely get both those things. Plus the crispy, crunchy tater tots – those were damn delicious too.
We need to talk about the ice cream potato for a hot second – it’s so freakin’ adorable and l loved staring at it just as much as I enjoyed eating it! And it looks exactly like a baked potato at first glance; I swear, you’d have no clue it was actually ice cream until taking a bite. They do such a great job at the resemblance – kinda blew my mind just how much effort goes into it.
Note: I recommend taking an Uber or bike here from downtown, as it’s quite a far walk. There’s two locations – make sure you go to the one on West State Street, as it’s pretty close to our next stop!
Stop 8: Watch Sunset at Camel’s Back Park
After you’ve had too many finger steaks (guilty!), hop in another 5 minute Uber and head to Camel’s Back Park for sunset (located in the North End neighborhood of Boise, just north of downtown).
The park is pretty massive – there’s a huge grassy area, a playground, and a whole network of trails that wind through the Boise Foothills. We chose to climb the short mountain to see the views from the top though!
To reach the top, you can either walk up one of the trails, or you can just take the stairs up instead (what we did). There’s about 125 steps, so still a decent workout. From up here, you get breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding landscape, including Table Rock, Boise River, and even the Owyhee Mountains in the distance!
And since we were visiting in fall, we got to see all the beautiful fall foliage down below bathed in that gorgeous golden hour light! The absolute best! We stayed at the top overlooking the park and city for over an hour and a half – we loved it oh so much (and headed up a bit early for sunset, whoops).
Many people love hiking up Table Rock, but we heard it was way more effort so decided to stick with Camel’s Back, haha. If you’re looking for a more moderate hike, add Table Rock to your weekend in Boise itinerary instead of this park.
Stop 9: Nightcap at Chandler’s
Aching for some dessert or a late-night drink? Chandler’s Prime Steaks & Fine Seafood is it! Many people come here for dinner (we almost did!), but instead opted for one of their famous 10-Minute Martinis and some oysters, haha. My husband couldn’t resist!
Plus, the restaurant is part of Hotel 43, where we were staying, so we didn’t have to stumble home too far, haha.
We had such a fun weekend in Boise, hanging out by the river and eating all the finger steaks and potato ice creams! Are you visiting the city soon?!