One of the most unique things about living in Boise is this: no matter where you are in the city, even driving through the busiest intersections or in the heart of downtown, you’re always only minutes away from pockets of quiet, serene, outdoor paradise. One such pocket of paradise is the Idaho Botanical Garden.
Just off Warm Springs Avenue and built into the Boise Foothills, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a year-round living museum with stunning examples of natural beauty.
The Garden features 14 acres of native and exotic plants and is a local favorite for calming strolls, events, picnics, and family play. The Garden operates as a private, non-profit organization, relying on the donations and membership fees of invested patrons, and has thrived since its founding in 1984.
This beautiful escape from city life is a welcoming beacon and excellent spot to visit, whether you’re a Boise resident or just passing through for the weekend.
Exploring The Garden
The Idaho Botanical Garden is one of the oldest and first botanical gardens in Idaho and opened its doors in the 1980s. With a stated mission of promoting horticulture, connection, and community, the Garden is a special place for Boise locals.
Lush and green with vibrant pops of color, the Garden is a tapestry of dappled sunlight and shade, vegetables and flowers, greenery and shrubs, water features and art installations. It’s a treat for the eyes and a soothing experience for the soul to visit.
Many species of wildlife call the Garden home, and they’re a welcome sight for visitors. Rabbits, lizards, birds, snakes, insects, salamanders, frogs, tadpoles, owls, butterflies, and more critters inhabit the area, sheltering in the cool grass, trees, and ponds.
The Idaho Botanical Garden is arranged by theme, with a self-guided tour available to see the whole site. If you take your time, you could easily spend upwards of two hours strolling through the verdant pathways before you’ve seen everything. The sheer volume of plants represented in the multiple gardens through IBG is breathtaking.
- The English Garden has the formal, quaint feel of another time, with romantic climbing roses, softly-colored perennials, and a charming Summer House constructed from Table Rock sandstone.
- The Rose Garden is a fragrant treat for the sense. Antique and newer roses are arranged in a traditional setting designed to complement its surroundings. The Rose Garden is one of the oldest installations at IBG and has been flourishing since 1989.
- The Herb Garden is another sensory treat, featuring both well-known aromatics and some less common herbs.
- The Meditation Garden is a cool, secluded retreat in the middle of the Garden, protected under the canopy of the Garden’s “forest.” Mature trees tower overhead and the Garden’s prized collection of 18-year-old Koi flash by in a rippling pond.
- The Children’s Adventure Garden is a well-loved area, welcoming the younger visitors to engage with the natural world and experience the freedom of play. A cave, a sandpit, hollow logs, and more invite kids to explore.
- The Idaho Native Plant Garden features a selection of Idaho’s diverse flora to educate visitors on the heritage of our state’s natural history.
- The Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden is a step back in time and features plants that the intrepid expeditionists gathered on their journey through Idaho.
- The Western Waterwise Garden educates visitors on the variety of drought-resistant plants that do well in our high desert climate, intending to encourage locals to include them in their own home gardens.
Plan Your Trip
Before you head out to the Idaho Botanical Garden, here are a few tips to make the most of your visit.
- Dress for the weather: In the summer, the Garden can reach even higher temperatures than the rest of the city. Since much of the Garden sits in the foothills and there are some unshaded areas, it’s smart to bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. In the winter, especially during the evenings, the temperatures can plummet into the teens. Check ahead and plan for the elements.
- Bring water and snacks: You’ll be tempted to stay for hours on any visit to the Garden, so bring some water and a few snacks to prolong your visit. Many visitors bring a picnic basket and spread a blanket on the grass.
- Leave pets behind: While certified service animals are welcome, other pets should stay home.
- Keep kids close: Children are welcome in the Garden, but should be supervised at all times. Plan to keep kids close and safe from falling in ponds and guide them away from garden beds and delicate plants.
The Garden is one of the most attractive sites for events year-round, bringing 150,000 visitors annually. IBG provides a truly remarkable backdrop for concerts, dining, a harvest festival, and more. Put these annual events at the Garden on your calendar.
- Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series: Listening to your favorite performers while the sun sets and the crickets chirp in the Garden is a memorable way to spend a summer evening. The Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series has steadily grown in popularity over the past 12 years, bringing in headliners like Feist, Barenaked Ladies, Josh Groban, and more.
- The Great Garden Escape: On select Thursday evenings every summer from June to September, locals “escape” the heat of the valley and sit in the shade at IBG to take in delightful live music from local and regional artists.
- Fall Harvest Festival and Scarecrow Stroll: Autumn is one of the best times of the year in the Garden. Activities and hayrides—and of course, a pumpkin patch—draw families and individuals to the Garden every fall. Vote for your favorite scarecrow featured in the Scarecrow Stroll.
- Winter Garden aGlow: Every winter, over 400,000 twinkling lights make the dormant Garden begin to “bloom” again. A favorite holiday season event, the Winter Garden aGlow features Santa, caroling, hot chocolate, food, and more.
Location and Admission Costs
2355 N Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, ID 83712
Garden hours: Mon-Sun, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Garden Store hours: Mon-Sun, 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Members & Children 3 and under: Free
Adults: $8 Seniors (65+): $6 Youth (4-12): $5
Lisa Kohl is a top Idaho Realtor and creator of WeKnowBoise.com. From Southeast Boise to The North End, up to Eagle and West to Meridian, or right in the middle of the Boise Bench and downtown - We Know Boise. Whether buying or selling a home, we provide full-service real estate solutions dedicated to helping our clients achieve their goals.