If you’re in Boise visiting and trying to decide if the City of Trees could be home for you, you’ll want to see as much as possible.
Boise has garnered its fair share of praise for livability, outdoor access, local culture, shopping, and food and is consistently named in top 10 lists from publications like Outside Magazine and Forbes.
Nestled in the Treasure Valley, surrounded by high desert foothills and tree-covered mountains, Boise is home to a thriving cultural scene and is known as an ideal place to raise an active family.
Quality schools, a well-preserved historic and growing downtown, walkable neighborhoods, locally-owned co-ops, specialty stores and more combine to make Boise a well-loved home to a close-knit community.
You’ve likely already read enough about Boise to make you curious and excited, but it’s time to see it with your own eyes. We’ve written this guide with a one-day adventure around Boise in mind, with a “choose your own adventure” style.
If you have a day to sightsee, here are your must-do, must-see, must-stop items for a tour of the gorgeous City of Trees.
Morning: Breakfast and Downtown Exploration
Every morning in Boise, you’ll be treated to a spectacular sunrise over the foothills. Head into downtown from your hotel and choose from a selection of our favorite breakfast spots.
- Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro: A wildly popular downtown spot with a cult-like following, Goldy’s will deliver classic American breakfast cuisine in a cozy historic location in Old Boise. Prepare for a wait: according to Goldy’s rules, you’ll have to show up to put your name on the list and they’ll call you when your table is ready.
- Bacon: If the weather is beautiful and you’re craving a patio breakfast, head over to Bacon on 9th Street for a delicious treat. They serve brunch all day, and unsurprisingly, specialize in eight different kinds of high-quality bacon.
- Waffle Me Up: For something fun, unique, and utterly delicious, head to Waffle Me Up and try a BOBacado Deluxe or a waffle smothered in Nutella.
Once your stomach is satisfied, it’s time to see downtown. Choose your own adventure.
Take a short walking tour of downtown Boise: We recommend seeing the historic Basque block on 10th and Grove or strolling through Capitol Park and grabbing a local coffee from a plethora of close-by coffee shops.
If you’ve chosen a Saturday to visit between April and November, you’re in a for a treat: the Capital City Public Market. You won’t be able to miss this smorgasbord of local artisans, makers, farmers, and food vendors on 8th Street.
We also suggest a visit to Freak Alley—the northwest’s largest mural art gallery—behind the restaurants on 8th Street and Bannock Street.
Hit the shops: If you’re looking for some retail therapy, you can’t go wrong with the locally-owned downtown shopping scene to grab a souvenir or Boise-themed sweatshirt. Here are just a few of the places we recommend visiting.
- Idaho Made, 108 N 6th St
- Mixed Greens, 213 N 9th St
- Wear Boise, 828 W Idaho St
- Banana Ink, 214 N 9th St
- Piece Unique, 205 N 10th St
Afternoon: Lunch and Sightseeing
After a morning of browsing downtown, it’s time to search out some lunch and see the sights around Boise. Here are a few of our favorite lunch restaurants to check out.
- Jenny’s Lunch Line: Grab a delicious sub-style sandwich and a side at Jenny’s Lunch Line, a local favorite joint that keeps downtown office-dwellers full of good food.
- The Funky Taco: This fun restaurant has been feeding locals inspired tacos since 2013 at the Boise Farmers Market, and has recently opened a restaurant location.
- Paddles Up Poké: Another local favorite for lunch, Paddles Up Poké serves bowls, nachos, and burritos, all featuring fresh goodness.
- Yoi Tomo: For mouth-watering sushi (and an all-you-can-eat lunch special), head to Yoi Tomo.
Once your stomach is satisfied, it’s time to choose your afternoon adventure. There’s plenty to more to see in Boise!
Jump on a bike and hit the greenbelt: When you’re downtown, you can rent a Boise Green Bike to see get around, especially if you’re in town during one of our approximately 206 days of sunshine a year.
Hopping on a Green Bike will allow you to get a taste of one of Boise’s most beloved features: our 25-mile long river green belt.
The Boise River Greenbelt runs alongside the gorgeous river and parallels the “ribbon of jewels”—our beautiful city parks. Follow the greenbelt to the Payette Brewing Tap Room for a beer tasting, or head down to the Cottonwood Grille for drinks on the patio.
You can use the greenbelt and your Green Bike to get around to many of the other suggested activities throughout your day.
See Boise’s arts, culture, and history: If you’re looking for something more indoorsy, head to Boise’s arts and cultural district or tour one of our historical sites.
- Boise Art Museum, 670 Julia Davis Dr
- Idaho State Museum, 214 S Broadway Ave (temporary location during renovations until late 2018)
- Idaho Black History Museum, 508 Julia Davis Dr
- Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, 770 S 8th St
- Old Idaho Penitentiary, 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd
- Boise Depot, 2603 W Eastover Terrace
Have some fun: If you’re visiting with kids in tow or just want to relax and have fun, there’s plenty more to do in Boise. Here are some of our favorites.
- Zoo Boise, 355 Julia Davis Dr: Visit the zebras, lions, giraffes, and more at Zoo Boise!
- Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd: The Idaho Botanical Garden is a 15-acre retreat full of native and exotic plants, perfect for an afternoon stroll and a picnic.
- Historic Hyde Park shopping and dining district, N 13th St & W Eastman St: Hyde Park is on the historical register and features quaint local bookstores, restaurants, coffee shops, and more, nestled in Boise’s beautiful North End.
- Camel’s Back Park, 1200 Heron St: One of the most popular parks in Boise is Camel’s Back, which sits at the base of an iconic hump-like hill. If you’re looking for a place to view Boise from above, the top of Camel’s Back (a short, 20-minute hike up stairs) is the perfect spot. There are also miles worth of foothills trails to walk and hike behind Camel’s Back.
- MK Nature Center, 600 S Walnut St: Get an up-close encounter with Idaho’s wildlife at the MK Nature Center. Their 4.6-acre oasis sits on the greenbelt and features a view of river life, including enormous sturgeon and steelhead.
Evening: Dinner and a Show
After a full day of seeing Boise, it’s time to relax a little. If you ask a local, here’s where they might tell you to go for dinner.
- Chandler’s Steakhouse and Seafood: Live jazz, prime steaks, fresh seafood, and an extensive wine list make Chandler’s an exceptional dinner location in Boise.
- Fork: Another favorite among Boiseans, Fork features a locally-inspired menu and a fantastic bar.
- Bittercreek Ale House: For regional and local brews and pub-style food, Bittercreek won’t disappoint.
For even more dinner recommendations, check out our list of premiere Boise dining. After dinner, we recommend catching a show or a concert.
- Idaho Shakespeare Festival, May-September: If you’re in Boise during the summer, it’s well worth your time to take in a play at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival amphitheater under the stars. Backed by the foothills, this breathtaking stage hosts incredible plays and musicals May through September, and there’s a bonus: you can bring your own bottle of wine and dinner or purchase food there.
- The Egyptian Theater: Idaho’s oldest theater was opened in 1927 and now hosts various shows and performances. Catch a classic movie or independent film.
- Idaho Botanical Gardens Summer Concert Series: Enjoy a concert throughout the summer on the beautiful grounds of the Idaho Botanical Garden.
- Morrison Center: The Morrison Center is one of Boise’s most impressive cultural ambassadors and is consistently listed as a top theater in the northwest. Check to see if there’s a show that strikes your fancy while you’re in town, from Broadway in Boise productions to comedians and more.
We hope you enjoy your visit to Boise and get to see why we love this place. If you’d like personalized help planning your trip or have additional questions, contact us!
Lisa is an Idaho Realtor and creator of WeKnowBoise.com. She helps each client just as she would a member of her own family, and cherishes the friendships she’s created. 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.