9 Reasons to Visit Under-the-Radar Boise

by Jaymie DeGaetano

9 Reasons to Visit Under-the-Radar Boise

by Jaymie DeGaetano

Idaho is the second-fastest-growing state in the nation, and much of that is due to the appeal of Boise. Often overlooked as a tourist destination, Boise is highly walkable and offers easy access to outdoorsy activities and its own twist on attractions you’d expect from bigger cities in the northwest. Whether you’re planning a road trip through the region or looking for a new up-and-coming long weekend getaway, here are nine reasons to visit under-the-radar Boise.

Idaho is the second-fastest-growing state in the nation, and much of that is due to the appeal of Boise. Often overlooked as a tourist destination, Boise is highly walkable and offers easy access to outdoorsy activities and its own twist on attractions you’d expect from bigger cities in the northwest. Whether you’re planning a road trip through the region or looking for a new up-and-coming long weekend getaway, here are nine reasons to visit under-the-radar Boise.

9
Boise skyline / Courtesy Boise CVB/Chad Chase
Boise Basque Center
1 of 9
Greater Boise is home to one of the largest Basque communities in the U.S.

Over 16,000 Basque Americans reside in Boise and the greater Treasure Valley, making it one of the largest of such communities in the country. The Basque Block in Downtown Boise honors this rich culture and is comprised of two boarding houses between Capitol Boulevard and 6th Street on the Grove. Start off at The Basque Museum & Cultural Center to learn the story of Basque history and culture, including the community’s migration from Europe to the Western U.S. Afterwards, head over to Bar Gernika and enjoy traditional Basque dishes and craft beer. 

Over 16,000 Basque Americans reside in Boise and the greater Treasure Valley, making it one of the largest of such communities in the country. The Basque Block in Downtown Boise honors this rich culture and is comprised of two boarding houses between Capitol Boulevard and 6th Street on the Grove. Start off at The Basque Museum & Cultural Center to learn the story of Basque history and culture, including the community’s migration from Europe to the Western U.S. Afterwards, head over to Bar Gernika and enjoy traditional Basque dishes and craft beer. 

Surfing along the Boise River Greenbelt
2 of 9
Outdoor activities are easily accessible around the city.

You can cycle, run, kayak, stand-up paddleboard — and even surf — along the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile tree-lined pathway that runs through the heart of Boise. For boat and board rentals, head to Idaho River Sports. Meanwhile, the foothills surrounding the city offer plenty of hiking opportunities, from the panoramic downtown views at Camel’s Back Reserve to a portion of the historic Oregon Trail. 

You can cycle, run, kayak, stand-up paddleboard — and even surf — along the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile tree-lined pathway that runs through the heart of Boise. For boat and board rentals, head to Idaho River Sports. Meanwhile, the foothills surrounding the city offer plenty of hiking opportunities, from the panoramic downtown views at Camel’s Back Reserve to a portion of the historic Oregon Trail. 

Goody's Soda Fountain in Hyde Park
3 of 9
You don't need a car to explore the city.

Downtown Boise, up-and-coming Garden City, and Hyde Park — a historic district lined with boutiques and restaurants — are all navigable without a car. Whether you prefer to explore by foot, e-scooter, or bike, it’s incredibly easy to get around here.

Downtown Boise, up-and-coming Garden City, and Hyde Park — a historic district lined with boutiques and restaurants — are all navigable without a car. Whether you prefer to explore by foot, e-scooter, or bike, it’s incredibly easy to get around here.

Mural by Dreyfus Art in Freak Alley
4 of 9
Local art is everywhere.

Freak Alley Gallery is the Northwest’s largest open-air multi-artist mural gallery. The eye-popping attraction, which features works from beloved local artists like Dreyfus Art, is located between 8th and 9th Streets and Bannock and Idaho Streets in Downtown Boise. Be sure to also visit the Boise Art Museum, which boasts around 12 to 16 new exhibitions per year. The museum also hosts the annual Art in the Park festival, where visitors can meet and purchase works from more than 200 artists and vendors.

Freak Alley Gallery is the Northwest’s largest open-air multi-artist mural gallery. The eye-popping attraction, which features works from beloved local artists like Dreyfus Art, is located between 8th and 9th Streets and Bannock and Idaho Streets in Downtown Boise. Be sure to also visit the Boise Art Museum, which boasts around 12 to 16 new exhibitions per year. The museum also hosts the annual Art in the Park festival, where visitors can meet and purchase works from more than 200 artists and vendors.

Demonstration at World Center for Birds of Prey
5 of 9
You can get up close to real-life raptors.

The World Center for Birds of Prey, which serves as headquarters for the Peregrine Fund, is located on the outskirts of the city, just a few miles past Boise Airport. Here, you can admire rescued California condors, bald eagles, and red-tailed hawks, among other varieties. The center also hosts educational Q&A sessions, allowing visitors to learn more about Peregrine Fund’s mission and conservation efforts.

The World Center for Birds of Prey, which serves as headquarters for the Peregrine Fund, is located on the outskirts of the city, just a few miles past Boise Airport. Here, you can admire rescued California condors, bald eagles, and red-tailed hawks, among other varieties. The center also hosts educational Q&A sessions, allowing visitors to learn more about Peregrine Fund’s mission and conservation efforts.

Sunflower, part of KIN's mult-course dinner menu
6 of 9
You can enjoy all sorts of mouthwatering cuisine.

At KIN, diners are treated to inventive multi-course communal meals. While the menu changes seasonally, locally sourced ingredients are always a staple. (We loved the Sunflower, a savory-sweet dish featuring tomato, corn, and popcorn.)  The innovative eatery also hosts pop-ups featuring local art and live entertainment. Meanwhile, Little Pearl Oyster Bar serves up ultra-fresh West Coast oysters on the half shell among other seafood-forward fare — all of which pair perfectly with a Bloody Mary or two. Txikiteo is another new establishment that's known for its Spanish tapas, wines, and charcuterie boards on the outskirts of Downtown Boise. 

At KIN, diners are treated to inventive multi-course communal meals. While the menu changes seasonally, locally sourced ingredients are always a staple. (We loved the Sunflower, a savory-sweet dish featuring tomato, corn, and popcorn.)  The innovative eatery also hosts pop-ups featuring local art and live entertainment. Meanwhile, Little Pearl Oyster Bar serves up ultra-fresh West Coast oysters on the half shell among other seafood-forward fare — all of which pair perfectly with a Bloody Mary or two. Txikiteo is another new establishment that's known for its Spanish tapas, wines, and charcuterie boards on the outskirts of Downtown Boise. 

Tasting flight at Meriwether Cider House
7 of 9
There's an excellent craft beer and cider scene.

Like many cities around the U.S., Boise has a burgeoning craft brewing scene. Beer lovers should visit Barbarian Brewing's Downtown Tap Room or Garden City Brewery to enjoy a selection of up to 24 brews. The sours — including the Sour Gummy Guys, which is made with Sour Patch Kids — are the true standouts. Meanwhile, Meriwether Cider serves up outstanding craft ciders. Don't miss the barrel-aged Cider Old Fashioned or the dry ginger root cider. 

Like many cities around the U.S., Boise has a burgeoning craft brewing scene. Beer lovers should visit Barbarian Brewing’s Downtown Tap Room or Garden City Brewery to enjoy a selection of up to 24 brews. The sours — including the Sour Gummy Guys, which is made with Sour Patch Kids — are the true standouts. Meanwhile, Meriwether Cider serves up outstanding craft ciders.  Don't miss the barrel-aged Cider Old Fashioned or the dry ginger root cider. 

Telaya Wine Company owner Earl Sullivan
8 of 9
There's a growing urban winery movement, too.

It may come as a surprise, but Idaho is home to an up-and-coming wine country, and some vinification even takes place right in Boise. At Telaya Wine Company, syrah and tempranillo are the highlight varietals. Sip on a glass or work your way through a flight on the outdoor patio and lawn overlooking the Boise River Greenbelt. Owners Earl and Carrie Sullivan also offer educational tasting tours, where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at their production space. 

It may come as a surprise, but Idaho is home to an up-and-coming wine country, and some vinification even takes place right in Boise. At Telaya Wine Company, syrah and tempranillo are the highlight varietals. Sip on a glass or work your way through a flight on the outdoor patio and lawn overlooking the Boise River Greenbelt. Owners Earl and Carrie Sullivan also offer educational tasting tours, where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at their production space. 

Trixie Mattel performing at Boise Pride
9 of 9
Boise hosts dozens of cultural, arts, and sporting events.

From Art on the Park to one of the Northwest’s largest pride festivals, Boise attracts thousands of visitors with its exciting event roster. I had the opportunity to visit during Boise Pride 2021. The three-day festival took place around a large outdoor stage right in front of the Capitol building. High-profile acts like Trixie Mattel and Kylie Sonique Love entertained the masses, while nearby venues like The Balcony Club hosted parties throughout the weekend. Coming from New York City — home to one of the world’s largest annual pride festivals, I was genuinely impressed by the packed schedule of events and thousands of attendees — all of whom had to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID test before entering the festival grounds.

From Art on the Park to one of the Northwest’s largest pride festivals, Boise attracts thousands of visitors with its exciting event roster. I had the opportunity to visit during Boise Pride 2021. The three-day festival took place around a large outdoor stage right in front of the Capitol building. High-profile acts like Trixie Mattel and Kylie Sonique Love entertained the masses, while nearby venues like The Balcony Club hosted parties throughout the weekend. Coming from New York City — home to one of the world’s largest annual pride festivals, I was genuinely impressed by the packed schedule of events and thousands of attendees — all of whom had to show proof of vaccination or negative COVID test before entering the festival grounds.

Up next...

ShermansTravel's Top Budget Destinations of 2022

dublin-ireland-1920-x-1080-copy.jpg
Go Back
Find The Best Cruises
Find a cruise

Find the best deals!

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices

Click on multiple sites to get the lowest prices