Idaho’s capital city, Boise, is also its biggest. Brimming with life, color, and amazing views, Boise filled with things to see, places to eat, and stuff to do. Don’t know where to start? Keep reading to find out everything you don’t want to miss in B-Town.
With a cityscape that’s lined with Idaho’s iconic foothills, Boise isn’t short on spectacular sights. Here are some of the places you definitely want to see while you’re in town.
Julia Davis Park provides the people of Boise with an opportunity to connect with nature in the middle of the city. With ample green space, statues, memorials, and more, the park makes for a scenic stroll with plenty of photo ops. Make sure you check out the park’s rose garden, which opened in 1939 and was accredited as a public garden in 1992.
Home to birding, bocce ball, horseshoes, tennis, fishing, and playgrounds, Julia Davis Park is a lovely way to enjoy the fresh Boise air while still staying busy. Whether you go for a picnic, cast a line in one of the ponds, or simply walk along some of the paths, this park makes for a delightful morning, afternoon, or early evening stop in Downtown Boise.
“Walking north back to the Downtown area, and we stopped in this park that we had seen on the bus tour we took in the morning. Beautiful park; amazing rose garden. The zoo is also in the middle of the park, but we did not visit. We did, however, ride the paddle boats around the lake, filled with ducks and geese. A very nice outdoor experience for the family in a beautiful setting.” -Greg C. on TripAdvisor.
The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is one of the few places in the world where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is permanently on display. This peaceful park is the ideal setting for a reflective walk where you can learn about the history of human rights. While not a typical tourist attraction, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is unique to Boise and will leave you with much to think about.
The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial offers visitors a rare opportunity to contemplate social values in a picturesque setting. Conveniently located in the Downtown area, the park is an unforgettable experience that doesn’t require you to go out of your way.
“This is a beautiful monument to peace and tolerance. The sayings range the gamut from famous to obscure, including minority voices that have been victimized so regularly in our sad human history. Best in spring, summer, and fall, as it is a bit bare in the winter without the water flowing, but you cannot leave without being impacted and hopefully, committed to understanding your fellow different human being with some grace and open-mindedness.” -Regina M. on TripAdvisor.
From the 1840s and the 1880s, nearly half a million American pioneers headed westward on the Oregon Trail. Today, you can see a portion of the legendary route right here in Boise when you visit the Oregon Trail Reserve in Ada County. Spanning seventy-seven acres, the Reserve features historical markers, walking paths, and ruts from the wagons that once made their way through the area.
Even if you’re not too interested in the historical aspect of the Reserve, there’s no better place to take in Idaho’s natural beauty. Hike, bike, and do some exploring of your own when you visit this park with rolling hills, wildflowers, and more.
“I knew the Oregon Trail cut through this area but was delighted to find a section of the original route that could be hiked. Wagon ruts made by pioneer settlers are visible, as well as a ramp they used to descend to the valley from the bluff. Great views of the valley.” -Southernroads on TripAdvisor.
Don’t worry—there’s more to eat in Idaho than just potatoes (but there are also plenty of dishes that feature the state’s famed crop if that’s what you’re looking for!). These are some of the best places in the Boise to grab some grub.
Goldy’s is a Boise favorite—and with its local ingredients, generous servings, and reasonable prices, it’s not hard to see why! But heads up: This Downtown delight closes at 2 pm, so make sure you get there nice and early(ish).
Goldy’s takes pride in its extensive menu, which includes homemade Hollandaise, create-your-own breakfast combos, pancakes, stuffed French toast, malted waffles, and so much more. In addition to breakfast, Goldy’s also serves lunch with a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and other classic American entrees.
“We looked up the best places to have breakfast in Boise, and this came up number one. We were able to walk from our hotel, The Grove . . . My husband had the Corned beef hash, over-easy eggs, and sourdough toast , and it was absolutely delicious! I had scrambled eggs with bacon and mushrooms, which was delicious, full of flavor, and filling! I would highly recommend this place to eat!” -Tara W. on TripAdvisor.
While Fork isn’t afraid to get creative with dishes like bacon beer cheese dip and asparagus fries, it also has traditional menu staples like roasted chicken and sirloin strip steak. So whether you’re looking to try something new or take comfort in something familiar, you can find it on the menu at Fork.
You’ll find vegan and gluten-free options at Fork, but meat-lovers don’t have to worry: It also has burgers, ribs, and fish. Don’t forget to check out the drink menu—Fork has a long list of craft cocktails, wines, and beers. Open until 11 pm most nights, Fork is a great place to enjoy a late-night snack and a cold drink. They also have brunch, if you’re in the mood for a Bloody Mary or an omelet.
“Dropped into Fork for dinner—sat at the bar. Started off with a Vanilla Old Fashion which was excellent. Tony, the bartender/server did an excellent job. He recommended the trout, which I ordered. It came out tender, moist, flaky, and flavorful. Ended with a Salted Caramel Bread Pudding—it was sooooo good. It was a lot, and I finished about half of it—hated to walk away from it.” -Richard A. on TripAdvisor.
Tango’s has empanadas, empanadas, and more empanadas—and they’re all delicious, whether you go with meat, cheese, vegetarian, or dessert. Known for its accommodating service and a casual atmosphere, Tango’s is always a great choice.
The empanadas at Tango’s are always made fresh-to-order, and if you want, you can create your own. There are two types of dessert empanadas on the menu at Tango’s: rich-and-sweet and fruit. The rich-and-sweet empanadas have flavors like chocolate and Bavarian, while the fruit empanadas have choices like cherry and mango. Because everything’s made from scratch, you might have to wait for a little if it gets busy.
“The food here is extremely delicious, fast, and affordable. It comes with phenomenal customer service every time too. I highly recommend the Fugazza for lunch and the chocolate for dessert.” -Tory D. on TripAdvisor.
Boise is a city that won’t leave you wanting for things to do. From outdoor exploration to cultural enrichment, this city has a long list of ways to keep you occupied. Here are a few of our favorites.
This public art exhibition uses an unconventional method to display its work: A Downtown alley serves as its showroom and as the artists’ canvas. A mix of street art, graffiti, and murals, Freak Alley is full of surprises—and conducive to however many social media posts you think your followers can stand.
Open to the public twenty-four-seven, Freak Alley changes regularly, which means that even if you’ve seen it before, it’s worth stopping by again. Plus, it’s totally free! If you want to see more art, there’s also an indoor gallery with pieces for sale. The profits go toward maintaining Freak Alley and keeping it open to the public.
“This was our first time in Boise and we loved walking down Freak Alley. What amazing artwork by very talented artists. Kudos to Boise for allowing this and turning graffiti into such a neat outlet for artists to show off their talent.” -Stacy B. on TripAdvisor.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary predates Idaho’s statehood by nearly twenty years, as Idaho was not made a state until 1890. Over the one-hundred-and-one years that it operated, the Penitentiary held more than thirteen thousand prisoners and was the site of ten executions.
The Penitentiary is said to be haunted: The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures series even toured the site during the show’s first season. According to the Penitentiary’s website, “While there is no conclusive evidence to suggest there are ghosts at this site, many visitors have seen and heard things they cannot explain . . . We continue to leave it to the individual to decide for themselves whether this is a ‘haunted’ site or not.”
“Some of the West's most desperate criminals were imprisoned here beginning in 1872, and for over a hundred years, the inmates suffered through long, hot summers and cold, cold winters. To walk through the halls and cells is a weird feeling knowing so many once were there. They say this place is haunted, and maybe it is because one can feel a chill in many places.” -Cheryl M. on TripAdvisor.
There’s nothing like twenty-five miles of trees, views, and wildlife to leave you in awe of Mother Nature. The Boise River Greenbelt is one of Boise’s most famous—and longest—attractions, and it’s one of the best ways to get to know the city. There’s no designated “start” or “stop” point, and you can access the Greenbelt from multiple points in the city.
The Greenbelt accommodating to all types of activities and forms of exercise, including biking, walking, running, skating, and even scootering. It connects multiple parks throughout the city, and there’s an app that you can download to help you navigate it.
“This is the best thing the Boise community did to improve the local environment. The building of the Greenbelt which runs for about 25 miles on both sides of the Boise River. It hosts too many recreational activities to mention. One can even walk or bike ride right into the downtown area using the Greenbelt.” -Jules H. on TripAdvisor.
Idaho’s stunning landscapes are absolutely breathtaking—and Boise’s urban setting only enhances the surrounding scenery. Temperature-wise, the best time to visit Boise is during the spring, but with such a well-rounded city, you’ll find a way to enjoy yourself no matter what time of year you go.