From heart-pumping outdoor adventures to more civilized cultural experiences, Boise, Idaho is a great place to vacation.
Okay, we’ll be the first to admit that Boise may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a vacation, but once you see what it has to offer, it really should be!
Tucked away in the Treasure Valley’s Rocky Mountains foothills, Boise is considered by many to be a hidden gem of a city with lots of amazing things to see and do that are definitely worth the money. It really has something for everyone.
This city is packed with fascinating museums where you can spend your days engrossed in local and worldwide history. Then there’s the incredible eateries, swanky bars, and multiple craft breweries to enjoy.
With stunning countryside surrounding the city of Boise and Salt Lake City just five hours away, you will not be short of options of what to do and see here.
Whether you’re getting away for a weekend of sightseeing, or you’re looking for an action-packed adventure, you’ll have a full itinerary in Boise and its surrounding areas.
To help you plan your next vacation, we have chosen 7 amazing things to do in Boise (see also “Amazing Things To Do In Coeur d’Alene“). By the end of this guide, your travel plans will be complete and Boise will be waiting for you to have the most unforgettable time!
Julia Davis Park is Boise’s oldest park dating back to 1907 and it is a must-visit spot when visiting the city. Inside this park, you’ll find a gigantic statue of Abraham Lincoln sitting on a bench. It seems like he’s waiting for someone – maybe it’s you!
There is also the Julia Davis Rotary Plaza acting as the main gathering point in the park. You will come across the 1928 Bandsheel, as well, a Childhood Cancer Pavilion, and a stunning Rose Garden boasting around 2,500 beautiful blooming roses the year round.
You can rent a paddleboat on the small pond and enjoy a range of fun activities within the park. In fact, most of downtown Boise’s most popular attractions are close to the park, such as Zoo Boise, Boise Art Museum, and the Idaho Black History Museum.
You can also access Boise river from Julia Davis Park, or visit the Boise State University Campus over a bridge. Serene and idyllic, the Julia Davis Park is a place of utter tranquility and calm.
2. Zoo Boise
Zoo Boise is an excellent day out for any animal enthusiast. It boasts a diverse array of hundreds of animals from a hundred distinct species and places a strong emphasis on fostering connections between visitors and the preservation of the animal kingdom.
As you explore the grounds, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter an impressive collection of wildlife, including majestic elephants, regal lions, fierce Komodo dragons, adorable red pandas, elusive snow leopards, delightful penguins, and a host of other fascinating creatures.
In addition to the year-round exhibits, Zoo Boise also offers a variety of exciting special events throughout the calendar year.
One such occasion is Sunset at the Zoo, a popular gathering that affords adults the unique opportunity to witness the animals as they settle into their nocturnal patterns.
Whether you’re a lifelong animal lover or simply seeking a fun and engaging outing for the family, Zoo Boise is sure to deliver a memorable and educational experience for all ages.
Hyde Park is a picturesque and historic neighborhood located just north of downtown. It exudes sheer charm and character and its origins date back to the early 20th century when it emerged as Boise’s first suburban shopping district. Its aim?
To meet the needs of the city’s burgeoning population. It boasted a diverse range of establishments, from lumber yards to milliner shops, and even offered a streetcar service linking it to downtown and the surrounding suburbs.
In 1982, the district was designated on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, Hyde Park has transformed into a vibrant and sophisticated neighborhood, bustling with an array of trendy bars, upscale eateries, and captivating specialty shops, perfect for tourists to find souvenirs in.
Whether you’re looking for a delightful meal, a refreshing beverage, or a unique shopping experience, Hyde Park has something to offer every traveler.
With its rich history and contemporary charm, this neighborhood is a must-visit destination for any Boise visitor.
The Idaho Black History Museum is the oldest African American museum in the whole Pacific Northwest and is a fascinating place to visit to learn the important history of African Americans in the region.
The museum takes you through the history dating from the 1800s to the modern day and is an incredible insight into the changing landscape and culture of the city and area.
The Idaho Black History Museum is located in the St. Paul Baptist Church built in 1921. This itself is an important part of American history as it was the very first African American church in Idaho.
It has been home to the museum since 1999 after the congregation grew too large for the venue.
When visiting this museum, you can enjoy some permanent exhibits, such as “The Invisible Idahoan: 200 Years of Blacks in Idaho,” and a whole host of different exhibitions.
These are mostly focused on the black community of Idaho with intriguing tales tracking the lives of those who have called Idaho home over the centuries.
It’s an enlightening experience as you learn how these underprivileged people overcame awful challenges to eventually excel in their local communities.
As the sole collecting art museum in Idaho, Boise Art Museum is a must-visit, especially if you’re an art lover. Here, you will find incredible collections, many of which focus on modern realism and contemporary ceramics.
The museum has been in operation for nearly 90 years, first starting off as the Boise Gallery of Art. Today, the museum houses around 4,000 pieces of art. Included are textiles, ceramics, sculptures, paintings, videos, watercolors, drawings, and much more.
You can enjoy interesting art pieces from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia. And, of course, you will also find a range of art items from the Pacific Northwest and Idaho itself.
If you’re looking for a spot of culture on your trip to Boise, this museum should be first on your travel plans!
Idaho and Boise are certainly not short of museums, and the Idaho Historical Museum is just one of many in the region that you should visit (see also “Best Hotels In Boise Idaho“).
You will find an emphasis based on the importance of the relationships between the Idaho people and the vast wilderness and land of the region.
This museum explores how the landscape has had a profound effect on the local’s lives, and vice versa.
The Idaho Historical Museum boasts over 50,000 artifacts, as well as 20,000 archaeological pieces, and over 10,000 maps. You’ll need a few weeks to see everything here!
So, if you’re interested in history, particularly that of Idaho, its historical museum is a must-visit destination.
Outside of Boise downtown, you’ll find many more attractions, including the Old Idaho Penitentiary. If you’re a history buff or simply looking for a spine-chilling experience, a visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary is a must-see attraction during your stay in Boise.
Opened in 1872, the prison spans over one hundred years of incarceration history and once housed over 12,000 inmates, including notorious figures such as Harry Orchard, Governor Frank Steunenberg’s assassin, and Lyda Southard, infamously known as Lady Bluebeard for killing her husbands and children.
Today, the massive complex, which began as just one jailhouse, features over 30 historic buildings, all of which have been preserved to showcase the prison’s tumultuous history.
You can explore the prison through either a tour guide or solo, including the cell blocks, eerie solitary confinement, and the terrifying gallows where ten executions occurred.
Be warned, however, that there have been numerous reports of ghostly sightings and activity within the prison, making for an eerie and unforgettable experience!
The Old Idaho Penitentiary also hosts a variety of unique and frightening special events outside its permanent exhibits, including Sleepless in Stripes, where visitors can stay overnight in prison and experience life as an inmate.
We hope you’re brave enough! For those seeking a more lighthearted experience, however, entertaining scavenger hunts are also put on for special occasions.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary makes for an entertaining, albeit scary day out. Whether you’re a true-crime enthusiast, history buff, or simply want a thrilling adventure, a visit to this hauntingly beautiful attraction is sure to leave a lasting impression. Just don’t bring any ghosts back with you!
As you can see, there is lots to do in Boise during your next visit. We suggest starting with these attractions and if you have more time leftover, you can explore many other great things that the wonderful city of Boise has to offer.
- 10 Amazing Things To Do In Lake Placid Worth The Money - May 3, 2023
- 13 Amazing Things To Do In Sandusky Ohio Worth The Money - May 3, 2023
- 11 Amazing Things To Do In Toledo Ohio Worth The Money - May 3, 2023