Visit Boise, Idaho: The Ultimate Travel Guide
Located in the heart of the Treasure Valley in southwest Idaho, Boise is an excellent destination to visit for a weekend getaway.
There are many things to do in Boise, Idaho and the city is perfect for outdoor adventure-minded travelers.
Why You Should Visit Boise, Idaho
Whether you want to tick white water rafting off your bucket list, hike the Boise foothills and soak in the amazing views, or relish the atmosphere of local vineyards and wineries, Boise has enough activities to keep you occupied for your entire trip.
Boise offers many big-city amenities with a small-town feel making it an excellent destination for any vacation. It is the perfect city to get away and recharge.
Getting To Boise, Idaho
Boise, Idaho is a very accessible destination, especially if you live on the west coast.
However, unless you live nearby, you’re probably going to have to drive several hours before you arrive. This can use precious time if you’re only staying for the weekend.
Visit Boise By Plane
Flying to Boise is probably your best option.
All the major airlines, Delta, Alaska, United, and American service the city via the Boise Airport.
Southwest and Frontier also fly into Boise and can make getting there more affordable if you’re flying longer routes.
Non-stop flights are offered to Boise from these locations:
2. Salt Lake City
5. Dallas/Fort Worth
7. Las Vegas
8. Los Angeles
9. San Francisco
10. San Diego
This isn’t a complete list, but it is the major cities offering non-stop flights. A total of 18 cities offer non-stop flights.
Flying is affordable even if you aren’t using a budget airline, particularly if you fly from the Pacific Northwest.
Generally, you can get a flight from Seattle or Salt Lake City for around $200 round trip, and flights are no longer than one and a half hours.
If you’re flying from cities that are a little farther away, such as, Chicago or Houston, expect flights to be closer to $400 round trip and about 5 hours long.
Road Trip To Boise
Another way to visit Boise, Idaho is by taking a road trip. This can be a fun way to save money and spend some time with some friends.
If you’re considering driving to Boise, you’re in luck. Interstate 84 runs through the city connecting it to Seattle and Salt Lake City.
However, be forewarned, Seattle is a 7.5-hour drive, Portland is 7 hours, and Salt Lake City is 5 hours.
Take The Bus
Amtrak also offers transportation to Boise via bus.
Tickets from Seattle are about $250 round trip and the ride is 9 to 15 hours depending on the route they take you.
Overall, flying to Boise is the quickest and easiest option and will allow you to spend more time exploring the city.
Where To Stay When You Visit Boise, Idaho
As a smaller city, Boise, Idaho doesn’t have the choice of hotels and accommodations that larger cities do but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good places to stay during your visit.
Whether you prefer a luxury hotel, a chain hotel, or just an Airbnb, Boise has lodging that will meet your style.
Boutique Hotels In Boise, Idaho
Personally, we love boutique hotels.
They are all different and interesting; you never know what you’ll experience and we enjoy the experience of staying in a unique place.
These are our three favorite boutique hotels in Boise:
The Grove Hotel
An affordable and full-service hotel is The Grove Hotel.
Located downtown, it is one of the more popular hotels in Boise. The hotel is only a few blocks from the state capitol building, and you know what that means, right?
Lots of places to eat and other activities nearby!
One thing that is unique about Boise is that many hotels have bikes available for use for their guests, free of charge. The Grove Hotel is no exception.
Boise is one of the most bike-friendly cities we’ve been to. Biking around town is a great way to save money on transportation costs during your visit to Boise, Idaho.
If you want to save on transportation costs while you’re in town, staying downtown in a hotel with complimentary bikes will help you stay on a budget during your visit to Boise, Idaho.
Inn at 500 Capitol
If you’re looking for a place a little more luxurious to stay consider the Inn at 500 Capitol.
A sophisticated hotel in downtown Boise, it is located just blocks away from the capitol building, Boise State University, and other attractions.
With a luxury Mercedes-Benz shuttle service to meet you at the airport, what more could you ask for? Oh, I don’t know, maybe a beer? Sure!
Upon arrival, you’ll be offered a local beer or wine. This sounds like the life!
Other amenities include private butler pantries, complimentary snacks, and bicycles. If you’re looking for fine dining, there is an Italian restaurant on-site, too.
And our favorite part of this hotel is that they maximize the local experience with local artwork throughout.
Hotel 43 is another hotel in Boise that makes for a great place to stay for a weekend away.
This cute hotel is located downtown. Like the others, its location means it is also near food and attractions. And like the other hotels, Hotel 43 offers complimentary bicycles to explore the city, too.
Unique to this hotel is the teddy bears waiting for you on the bed when you arrive. How cute is that?
In addition to these 3 boutique hotels, there are also great accommodations to be found with some of the chain lines like Marriot or Hyatt.
13 Things To Do During A Boise, Idaho Visit
There are many things to do in Boise to fill your itinerary and make your getaway memorable.
The main attractions in Boise involve outdoor recreation. With 180 miles of trails in the Boise foothills connecting to the Boise sidewalk system, mountain biking and hiking are great options.
Although many activities in Boise, Idaho are outdoors, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit in town as well.
From shopping to white water rafting to vineyards and wineries there is sure to be something you’ll enjoy in Boise.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Boise, Idaho:
1. Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
No trip to Boise, Idaho would be complete without a visit to Bogus Basin, a non-profit offering many outdoor activities both in the summer and in the winter.
Skiing, snow tubing, and mountain biking are a few of the activities at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area that you can add to your vacation itinerary.
Located just on the edge of Boise about 2.5 miles from downtown, you can reach Bogus Basin quickly by car or a short bike ride.
Skiing dominates the winter months, but in the summer they offer horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, a mountain coaster (like a roller coaster), and scenic chairlift rides.
In addition to skiing in the winter, you can also enjoy snowboarding and snow tubing.
They have a complete rental service for all the equipment you need to ski or mountain bike. Skiing lessons are also available at Bogus Basin.
The great thing about Bogus Basin is that it is a non-profit so 100% of the proceeds go back into the Boise foothills.
Passes and activities are affordable with an unlimited day pass starting at $14.50.
You can purchase stand-alone activities as well and not all activities are available with the day pass. The day pass also does not include rental equipment.
2. Hulls Gulch Reserve
Looking for some fun hiking trails during your visit to Boise, Idaho?
The nature trail in Hulls Gulch Reserve is a great place for trekking.
The trail system connects to the 180-mile trail system through the Boise Foothills and you can hike as much or as little as you like with amazing views of the surrounding area and Boise.
If you’re looking to mountain bike or a hike and don’t see the need to pay for that at Bogus Basin, then check out Hulls Gulch.
The reserve is managed by the City of Boise and it is completely free.
The trails in this park connect to a 180-mile trail system in the Boise foothills. If you enjoy hiking there is plenty of opportunities for it in Hulls Gulch.
Mountain biking is also common in the reserve, however, you’ll have to bring your own bike or rent one.
Horseback riding is also allowed on the trails so be sure and keep an eye out for horses and other hikers if you’re biking the trails.
3. White Water Rafting
If you enjoy rafting or kayaking, Boise offers many different white water options.
Naturally, since Boise is in the foothills, there is bound to be white water excursions in the area.
The Payette River, 45 minutes to an hour from downtown Boise, offers excellent opportunities for white water rafting and there are several guide companies to choose from.
Depending on how much of an adventure you want or how much time you have, you can book a full day trip or a half a day. You can choose the skill level that you’re comfortable with from Class II to Class IV.
Bear Valley Rafting offers affordable trips starting at $50 per person for half-day trips and $90 for full-day trips.
Lunch is included in the full day trip and is served on a beach along the Payette River.
Another company, and probably the most popular, is Cascade Raft and Kayak. This company offers kayaking as well as white water rafting.
Additionally, a ropes course with ziplines is located on-site if you want to double the adventure.
White water rafting starts at $45 for the Class II & III half-day course and $85 for the full day.
Both companies require reservations for white water rafting and you can book your reservation through their websites.
When you think of Idaho you probably think of potatoes. Well, did you know that there are several vineyards in the Treasure Valley?
In the past decade, the number of wineries in Idaho has quickly grown to over 50. Several wineries and vineyards can be found a short drive from Boise and exploring these vineyards is a great way to spend a day during your Idaho visit.
An interestingly bold winery located in nearby Garden City is Potter Wines.
Known for their Jalapeno Wines, they are a unique winery with several other bold wines. Their tasting room is open in the afternoon on the weekends.
Telaya Wine Co.
Another winery located in Garden City as well is Telaya Wine Co.
Established in 2008, Telaya offers a variety of wines, both red and white.
The winery is right off the Boise Greenbelt and their tasting room offers excellent views of the Boise River.
Our favorite vineyard is Koenig Vineyards located in Caldwell.
The architecture of the place is amazing and sets the mood for the entire experience. Their tasting room is open daily from noon to 5 pm.
Another excellent vineyard, also in Caldwell, is Ste Chapelle.
This winery is also a wedding venue and has spectacular views of the mountains in the distance.
Their tasting room is open every afternoon during the summer. In the winter they are open on the weekends in the afternoon.
Boise is a lively town with many shopping, eating, and other activities available in the city.
6. Alive After Five
Every summer, downtown Boise hosts the Alive After Five summer concert series. Every Wednesday from June to the end of August at 5 pm bands take the stage at the Grove Plaza and host a free concert.
7. Boise State Football
Boise is home to Boise State University and if you’re a fan of college football, the Boise State Broncos play at the Albertson’s stadium.
If you’re in town during the fall, and they happen to be playing a home game, it is a great way to spend an evening.
8. Capital City Public Market
Every Saturday in downtown Boise from 9:30 to 1:30, vendors set up tents and booths for the Capital City Public Market.
Vendor products range from food to art to wine. If you’re looking for a souvenir from your visit to Boise, Idaho, or you just like to shop locally, this is the place for you.
9. Aquarium of Boise
Boise also has an aquarium, which is a fun activity for the entire family during your Boise, Idaho visit.
Day passes for adults cost approximately $12 while day passes for children are much cheaper. Depending on how old your children are, expect to $6-8 per child.
10. Zoo Boise
Visit the zoo in Boise, Idaho every day from 10am to 5pm.
General admission tickets for adults start at $8 while children cost $5.
Consider visiting the Boise zoo on a Thursday for a special discounted price; a great deal and a good way to stay on a budget during your visit to Boise, Idaho.
11. Boise Art Museum
Any art fans out there?
The Boise Art Museum is the perfect place to add to your itinerary while you’re in town.
At just $6 for general admission tickets, you’ll be able to explore something new while staying on a budget.
12. The World Center for Birds of Prey
What a neat way to add some excitement to your Boise, Idaho visit; book your tour at The World Center for Birds of Prey and check out all of the raptors that call this place home.
From bald eagles to falcons to owls, you’ll be able to learn about these incredible creatures from trained professionals who dedicate their lives to protecting these birds.
Admission starts at just $5 for a 90 minute visit.
Note: Due to the current state of the world, you must be booked in advance to visit this center.
13. Discovery Center of Idaho
From T-Rexs to King Tut, you’re bound to find something that interests you at the Discovery Center of Idaho.
Chat with experts and learn about history, science, and more during your visit to Boise, Idaho.
Tickets must be booked in advance and they cost $18 for adults, $12 for children, and it’s free for anyone under the age of 2.
Places To Eat In Boise, Idaho
We get it, food is pretty darn important. Bad food can ruin your entire visit to Boise, Idaho.
Considering the size of Boise, it has loads of places to eat.
It must be because it is the state capital and all the politicians need places to meet for lunch. That’s my theory, at any rate.
Either way, it is good for us because we like food. These are some restaurants that stuck out to us:
The nation’s first restaurant distillery, Bardenay is a fantastic spot to grab dinner.
The atmosphere of this distillery and restaurant is Idahoan through and through. Entrees include burgers, sandwiches, and tacos along with other meals such as sea bass gnocchi or trout fillet.
And of course, being a distillery, they have a phenomenal selection of drinks.
The Fork Restaurant is another great spot to grab lunch or dinner.
This restaurant is located in a historic building in downtown Boise and offers patio seating with sting lighting which truly sets the mood for the entire restaurant.
Focusing on local sustainable food is a focus of Fork and they ensure that their food is sourced locally and sustainably as much as possible. This not only includes their food but their selection of drinks as well.
But they didn’t stop there, even some of their decor from their tables to their glasses were sourced locally from reclaimed Barnwood and glass.
Fork is an incredibly creative restaurant.
Saint Lawrence Gridiron
One of the more popular establishments in town is the Saint Lawrence Gridiron located in the heart of downtown.
With its humble beginnings as a food truck, Saint Lawrence Gridiron has a delicious selection of food to choose from. From market fish to brisket to sandwiches and salads. They also have a great selection of drinks to choose from.
If you’re looking for fine dining, Richard’s in downtown Boise is the place to be. Located in the Inn at 500, Richards offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner.
If you are in town for a specific holiday they have separate menus for certain holidays.
Note: Reservations are recommended.
Boise Fry Co.
Idaho is known for its potatoes and it would be a real shame if you went to Idaho without eating potatoes. Boise Fry Co. is exactly what it sounds like, a french fry and burger joint.
They give you complete flexibility over your fries.
You can choose what kind of potato you want your fries to be, so whether that is a regular russet potato, purple potato, or yam, they have you covered. You can also choose the style your fries are cut in, or just have them mashed and rolled into balls instead of cut.
More Places To Eat In Boise
Boise has many options for eating out, as with almost everything when traveling we recommend exploring a little. Go beyond the guides and check out a few hole-in-the-wall places that only the locals know about.
The restaurants we’ve listed here are only some of our favorites, there are many others scattered around Boise.
Be bold, check them out.
And if you happen to be traveling to the other side of the state, check out where to eat in Idaho Falls (so you can keep the good food coming).
The Wrap-Up: Visit Boise, Idaho
While Boise is probably not the first place that comes to mind to travel for a vacation getaway, it has plenty to offer.
So, whether you’re traveling solo, getting away as a couple, or even traveling as a digital nomad, a visit to Boise is a decision you won’t regret.
A big thank you to Phillip Melton for this incredibly well-written post.
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