We flew into Boise at the beginning of our Idaho Road Trip and had some extra time to spend in the area. We loved visiting Boise and were so surprised at how nice the city is. Boise, Idaho has easily become one of our favorite cities in the western United States! I am definitely not a Boise expert but would love to Read further to see all the places you must stop in Boise, whether you’re there for an afternoon or a week.
About Boise, Idaho
Boise is the capitol city of Idaho and the most populated area of Idaho. The metro area around Boise has around 750,000 people. It is part of what is considered the “Treasure Valley.”
Fun fact: The name Boise comes from a French word meaning woods or wooded.
How to Get to Boise, Idaho
Flying is the best option for anyone on the east coast United States (like us!). However, if you’re on the west coast of the United States, you may be more interested in driving.
Spokane, WA to Boise, ID: 420 miles, 6.5 hours
Salt Lake City, UT to Boise, ID: 340 miles, 5 hours
Missoula, MT to Boise, ID: 360 miles, 7.5 hours
Portland, OR to Boise, ID: 430 miles, 7 hours
Things to Do in Boise, Idaho
Visit the State Capitol
The State Capitol is beautiful and free to enter during the day. It is essentially downtown and has nice flower gardens surrounding it in the summer. We were able to walk in the main entrance up the stairs and see the main atrium area which is really pretty. It was 4th of July weekend when we visited and there was a ginormous American flag hanging inside.
See Freak Alley
Freak Alley is a mural gallery downtown that is a must-see in Boise. It was started in 2002 and murals have been added ever since. There are many beautiful and interesting artworks up and down the alley and surrounding area. It is located between Bannock and Idaho Street. We entered from the perpendicular 8th Street and walked toward 9th Street. For more information on the history of Freak Alley, you can visit their website.
Check out the Coffee Scene
I was happily surprised to find so many amazing coffee shops in Boise. We were unable to visit all the cool coffee shops while there, but the ones we did visit were so nice. My favorite coffee shop we visited in Boise is Neckar Coffee. The vibes are so chill and the coffee is delicious. I also loved Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters. The cold brew was so good and Luca loved their ice cream. Some other great coffee shops that we hope to try on our next visit are The District Coffee House, Form & Function, and Push & Pour.
Get Donuts at Guru Donuts
Guru Donuts is a mainstay of Boise and after visiting, I can see why. The Guru Donuts shop is super fun. The donuts were absolutely delicious. While they have normal donut flavors, they also have super unique and limited-edition flavors. Luca tried the Key Lime Pie donut and I tried their summer donut with Fruity Pebbles. They had many flavors that we wanted to try.
Downtown Boise has many nice stores and walkable streets for pedestrians. While on our visit, 8th Street was completely closed to cars and was for pedestrians only, making getting around even easier. You can find most things you could be looking for downtown. My favorite shops that we stopped at on our visit was Rediscovered Bookshop and Ward Hooper Vintage.
Check Out Capital City Public Market
The Capital City Public Market runs in the Grove Plaza on Saturdays typically from April to December. The market has both produce and local artists. There are so many things to buy here and there’s a great energy around. When we visited, there was live music in the plaza while people shopped around or grabbed a bite to eat.
Walk through Boise Rose Garden
The Boise Rose Garden is located in Julia Davis Park, just south of downtown, but definitely within walking distance. The Boise Rose Garden was established in the 1930’s and has over 2000 rose bushes. There are many different types of roses in the garden in an array of colors. We loved walking throughout the garden with the scent of sweet roses in the air. The Rose Garden is color to other popular places to visit including the Art Museum and Idaho State Museum.
Visit the Boise Art Museum
The Boise Art Museum is a popular place to visit while in Boise. We did not have enough time to stop and visit, but definitely plan on it next time we’re in Boise. They have multiple exhibitions, and it is very affordable to visit. For more information such as hours and pricing, check out their website.
Before coming to Boise, we were worried about finding parking. No need to fear, there is a huge abundance of safe parking in Boise. There is street parking available and also many parking garages with affordable pricing. Use Google Maps to search for parking garages or follow one of the many signs downtown for parking.
Boise is an extremely walkable city. Many smaller cities tend to not be walkable, but that is not the case with Boise. Most areas downtown are easily walkable, with newer sidewalks and pedestrian friendly streets.
Clean and Safe
Compared to all the cities we have visited and lived in, Boise is one of the safest and cleanest appearing cities we have been to. In our whole visit, we never saw a single piece of trash on the street or never felt unsafe, even when walking in some areas away from downtown. Every single person we met was friendly. I’m sure that some areas maybe aren’t the greatest (like every city), but comparatively we have never seen a cleaner city.
Things to Do Outside Boise
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Bruneau Dunes State Park is southeast of Boise. It has the tallest free standing sand dune in the United States. Read my Bruneau Dunes State Park blog post for more information on visiting Bruneau Dunes.
Leslie Gulch is west of Boise, actually located in Oregon. This is a trip for the adventurous as you must drive an hour on bumpy gravel roads to reach it. But the reward is high, with gorgeous bright red rocks appearing out of seemingly nowhere. Read more in my Leslie Gulch blog post for more information on how to visit.
The Sawtooth Mountains are an absolute gem of Idaho and only a few hours from Boise. Rise up from the dry flat land surrounding Boise into luscious snow-capped peaks. Read more in my Sawtooth Mountains Guide blog post.
I hope you like Boise, Idaho as much as we did!
Any questions about Boise? Anywhere that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading! 🙂