A Local's Guide to a Summer in Boise, Idaho

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Advisor - Madeline Hovey
Curated By

Madeline Hovey

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • Family Travel

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Sightseeing

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Curator’s statement

Recently claimed as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Boise is the heart (and capital) of Idaho. Here you can spend the day hiking around the nearby National Forest and then get a taste of the city's night life. This mix of city and nature truly makes Boise one-of-a-kind.

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Insider knowledge

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Where to stay in Boise, Idaho

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Things to do in Boise, Idaho

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Hiking in the Boise National Forest

If you're looking to get out of the city and explore Idaho's wilderness, the Boise National Forest is your go-to. There's over 1200 miles of trails and some are located less than an hour away.

Rafting the Payette River

One great way to spend a day is by rafting the Payette River. Companies such as Bear Valley Rafting and AMF Rafting will handle all the work for you - all you have to do is make a reservation and show up! Although some rapids are Class 3, safety is always a priority and this is definitely still a family-friendly activity.

Floating the Boise River

If you're seeking a mellow, outdoor activity, floating the Boise River is for you! This is also recommended for when the summer days are long and hot. Tip: Boise River Raft and Tube rent out floating devices and offer a shuttle service.

Boise Zoo

Located downtown, the Boise Zoo provides a fun and friendly experience for all.

Touring the Old Idaho Penitentiary

This prison opened in 1872 and housed some of the most infamous prisoners in the West. It's since been closed to inmates and opened to the public for tours of cell blocks and gallows.

Wine Tasting Tour

Get ready to wine taste with a view! Tour the Sunny Slope Wine Trail, also known as "The Heart of Idaho Wine Country". It's located just 40 minutes outside Boise and offers views of the Treasure Valley, accompanied by great wine.

Freak Alley Gallery

Did you know that downtown Boise is home to the biggest outdoor mural in the Northwest? It's also free! The first art piece was done in 2002 and has since grown into a gallery. New work gets added in each year by volunteers, further enhancing and developing the Freak Alley Gallery.

Basque Museum and Cultural Center

Established in 1985, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center of Boise preserves Basque history and culture. Here you can learn about the Basques who immigrated to Idaho in the 1800s and their continued impact to this day. At the end of July, the Basque block also hosts an annual festival called San Inazio. This event unites the community with food, dancing and sports.

Places to eat & drink in Boise, Idaho

colorful chairs around wooden tables at outdoor restaurant


Goldy's Breakfast Bistro: American cafe with a variety of traditional breakfast options. Tip - very busy on the weekends, so go during a weekday!

Bacon: Quick bites, another American cafe with brunch all day. TIP - order their Bloody Mary.

Janjou Patisserie: French bakery and cafe.


Tangos Empanadas: Quick and cheap bites, homemade empanadas including vegetarian options.

Blue Sky Bagels: Wide range of delicious bagel sandwiches.

Cupbop: Korean BBQ in a cup with option to choose spice-level, protein and toppings.


The Melting Pot: Fondue and appetizers, steakhouse and seafood.

The Wylder: Best pizza in town.

Yoi Tomo: Best sushi restaurant in town. TIP - hop on their online waiting list!

Pho Nouveau: Traditional Vietnamese food.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, A Summer in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Advisor - Madeline Hovey

Travel Advisor

Madeline Hovey

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