Things to Do in Boise
Most people, who are unfamiliar with Boise, are surprised by how much there is to do here! Between the Boise Foothills and the Owyhee Mountains is an open desert and rivers that provide endless outdoor opportunities. We also have cultural events, nightlife, restaurants, concerts, festivals, trails, shopping, and parks. Maybe you live here and think you have done it all or maybe you are just getting to know the area. check out this comprehensive list of Things To Do.
This local information guide is designed to give you ideas on things to do and insight to finding your way through Boise. We have done the leg work and picked the events, parks, cultural happenings, sporting events, urban explorations, and annual activities to feature in this guide. We take pride in our city and hope you venture out and experience everything Boise has to offer.
See also: Downtown Boise Self-Guided Tour |
City of Boise Parks
Boise Parks and Recreation maintains more than 90 parks throughout the city, 200+ miles of hiking trails, 25 miles of Greenbelt along the Boise River, and hundreds of acres of open space. Additional recreational amenities include Zoo Boise, two golf courses, aquatic facilities, Idaho IceWorld and more.
Table Rock is the most popular destination for scenic views of the valley.
State of Idaho Parks
The Idaho State Parks Passport
- Is just $10 for Idahoans, per vehicle, per year!
- Offers unlimited day-use access to every Idaho State Park
- Covers boat launch fees within Idaho State Parks
- Provides access to hundreds of miles of hiking, cycling, mountain biking, and Nordic trails
- Provides free parking at all events held at the Ford Idaho Center
Notable Sights & Landmarks
- Snake River Canyon & Hells Canyon
- Boise/ Sawtooth/ Payette National Forests
- Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
- Oregon Trail
- Silver City Ghost Town
- Bruneau Dunes & Observatory
- Shoshone Falls & Evil Knevil Jump Site
- Sawtooth National Recreation Area
- McCall & Cascade Mountain Resort Towns
- Thousand Springs State Park
- Three Island Crossing, Glenns Ferry
- Deadwood Reservoir
Why does Boise consistently have such amazing Sunrises and Sunsets?
It has the perfect combination of elevation, temperatures, winds, mountains, humidity, and open terrain. Especially in the winter, colors will stretch across the valley.
Go Forth and explore!
One of the greatest things about the Treasure Valley is the vast space it encompasses and for that reason; if you have an open mind, there are endless photo opportunities.
Julia Davis Park
The city's oldest park, Julia Davis Park was created thanks to a generous donation of 43 acres of land in 1907 by Thomas Davis as a memorial to his beloved wife, Julia.
The park features a formal Rose Garden, two reservable pavilions, a six-court tennis complex, a playground, a duck pond, restrooms and a section of the Boise River Greenbelt. Every year, Julia Davis Park hosts Art in the Park. This open-air arts festival takes place every year on the first weekend after Labor Day. Stop by for 3 days of arts, crafts, and food.
700 South Capitol Blvd
Boise, ID 83702
(208) 345-8330 (Boise Art Museum)
Idaho Botanical Gardens
The Idaho Botanical Gardens has blossomed into numerous specialty gardens, each with a unique focus. Included are a contemporary English Garden, a Meditation Garden, a Children’s Adventure Garden, an Heirloom Rose Garden, and a Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden. The Idaho Botanical Garden is open year-round, hosting concerts, weddings, events, and the annual Winter Garden Aglow event in the winter.
2355 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID, 83712
The World Center for Birds of Prey
The center’s research facilities are designed to enhance the health, reproduction, and reintroduction efforts of endangered species and to collect information about the general biology of raptors. The science is focused on understanding how diet, aging, and the environment affect the health, growth, reproduction, and lifespan of birds. The facility is also the headquarters for The Peregrine Fund, an international non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of raptors worldwide since its founding in 1970. The organization’s propagation program played a critical role in the successful recovery of the Peregrine Falcon, which was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1999.
5668 W. Flying Hawk Ln
Boise, ID, 83709 US
The Boise zoo is a service of the City and is supported by the Friends of Zoo Boise, a 501(c)(3) membership organization that supports Zoo Boise in the area of animal acquisition, capital improvement projects, education programs, volunteer opportunities, and special events. The goal of each of these components is to increase public awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of the zoo, wild animals, animal habitats, species conservation and the environment. The zoo is open year-round and hosts rotating national exhibits as well as holiday events and family days.
355 Julia Davis Road
Boise, ID, 83702 US
Eagle Island State Park
Bordered on the north and south by the Boise River, Eagle Island features a swimming beach, grassy picnic area, and more than five miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking or walking your dog. The park also sports a water slide that is open from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
4000 W Hatchery Road
Eagle, ID, 8616 US
The Boise Hawks are a Single-A minor league baseball team and is currently a farm team for the Colorado Rockies. The Hawks play in the Short-Season Class A Northwest League. Since the team's founding in 1987, the Hawks have won 6 Northwest League titles and 10 Southern Division titles. The Hawks have played at Memorial Stadium since 1989. 14 former Hawks players have gone to play in the major leagues and win World Series titles. There are multiple special events and giveaway games every year with great events and prizes. Every year, Memorial Stadium hosts firework displays after many games.
Boise, ID 83714
Boise State University Athletics
BSU is the largest university in Idaho and is represented by 11 different sports competing in the Division-1 Mountain West, PAC-12, and Western Athletic Conferences. Boise State is most famous for its blue turf. The famous turf made its debut in 1986 and was the first non-green colored artificial turf field in the world. Albertson's Stadium hosts all of the Bronco football home games as well as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game every December. The cross country and track & field teams enjoy success in collegiate championships in addition to national and international competition. Basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics compete in the Taco Bell Arena. The arena has hosted March Madness games, concerts, and a variety of special events.
1400 Bronco Lane
Boise, ID 83706
Firebird Raceway has been the home of Idaho drag racing since 1968. The dragstrip is officially sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association and has been named the NHRA Track of the Year 3 times. The strip hosts national competitions from April until October. Starting in 1976, Firebird Raceway began hosting the Bracketeer tournament. This has become the country's oldest continuously running bracket racing tournament. Also in 1976, Firebird started one of the first high school drag racing programs, where students could receive a varsity letter in drag racing. On December 24, 2018, Firebird Raceway was added to the National Register of Historic Places the first dragstrip in the country to make the register.
8551 Hwy 16
Eagle, ID 83616
The Idaho Steelheads are a professional minor league ice hockey team based in Boise, Idaho. The team was founded in 1997 and has been a member of the East Coast Hockey League since 2003. During the 2003–04 season and since the 2005–06 season the Steelheads have been an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars. The Austin-based Texas Stars have been Idaho's American Hockey League minor-league affiliate since the 2009–10 season. Home games are played at the 5,000-seat CenturyLink Arena in downtown Boise. The steelheads have won 3 ECHL championships and multiple conference and division titles. The Steelheads have played in the postseason every year since 1997. So far, 25 Steelheads payers have gone to have careers in the NHL.
233 S Capitol Blvd
Boise, ID 83702
Snake River Stampede
THE WILDEST FASTEST SHOW ON EARTH
The Snake River Stampede is a five-day rodeo held in Nampa, Idaho every year during the third week of July. It is recognized as one of the top twelve professional rodeos by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. The rodeo in its official form started in 1937 when it joined the PRCA. Since 1950, the Snake River Stampede has welcomed numerous country music acts including Gene Autry, Sons of the Pioneers, Reba McEntire, Roy Rogers, and Glen Campbell. Since 1997, the rodeo has taken place in the 12,279-seat capacity Ford Idaho Center.
Boise is home to the largest community of Basque people outside their native region in Europe. Their heritage is preserved at The Basque Museum and Cultural Center at 6th and Grove. Their hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Saturdays 11 am-3 pm. Call 208-343-2671. There are also several Basque restaurants and a market specializing in Basque wine, meat, cheese, and food.
The 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt is one of Boise's most beloved parks. The tree-lined pathway follows the Boise River from Discovery Park in East Boise and continues west through the heart of Downtown Boise, and into Eagle Island State Park. The Greenbelt provides scenic views, wildlife habitat and pedestrian access to many of the city's popular riverside parks in addition to Zoo Boise and Boise State University. The Greenbelt also serves as an alternative transportation route for commuters and is open to foot and bicycle traffic.
Wahooz Family Fun Zone & PINZ Bowling Center
Wahooz Family Fun Zone is open year-round and features exciting attractions for all ages. Outside features two go-cart tracks, two miniature golf courses, bumper boats, batting cages. Inside has laser tag, Kiddie Cove soft play structure, over 100 arcade games, the new XD Dark Ride, the 24-lane Pinz Bowling Center, and prize redemption center.
1385 Blue Marklin Lane
Meridian, ID 83642
Roaring Springs Water Park
Roaring Springs has everything you need to stay cool in the summer. The sprawling water park features 11 water slides, a wave pool, lazy river rafting a kids zone for younger children. Roaring Springs is a great idea for birthday parties or fun family outings. Day passes as well as season passes are available for purchase. When the sun goes down, head next door to the Wahooz Family fun zone to keep the fun going!
400 West Overland
Meridian, ID 83642
Discovery Center of Idaho
Founded in 1988, the Discovery Center of Idaho celebrates scientific literacy and seeks to educate and facilitate interest in the physical world around them by encouraging visitors to explore a rotating cast of exhibitions. The Discovery Center uses interactive, hands-on exhibits and educational programs that make STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning exciting and tangible for all ages. Their vision is to foster an educated workforce and an informed electorate in the stewardship of our planet through lifelong learning and discovery.
131 W Myrtle St.
Boise, ID 83702
The Boise Union Pacific Depot is a former train station. It was built in 1925 by the Union Pacific Railroad. The beautiful Platt Gardens were built in front of the depot. The Gardens remain a popular place for wedding pictures. On August 7, 1974, the Boise Depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1990 MK-Morrison Knudsen purchased the depot and renovated it to its pristine Spanish-inspired condition. The renovations were completed in 1993. In 1996, the City of Boise took possession of the depot. In 1997, passenger train travel stopped coming through the depot, but freight trains pass by the depot to this day. The depot is open to the public on Sundays and Mondays from 11 am to 5 pm.
2603 W Eastover Terrace
Boise, ID 83706
Boise Trolly Train
Take a tour through the historic parts of Boise in an old Trolly! Regular daily historical tours last 90 minutes and begin at 10:30 am. You will get to hear the stories behind the Old Penitentiary, the Boise Depot, the Capitol Building, Fort Boise, and many of our parks. Mark your calendars for special seasonal tours around Halloween and Christmas for more fun and exciting tours!
All tours leave from Elmer's Restaurant
(At the corner of Yale Street and Lois Avenue)
Thank you boisetownshiptours.com
Idaho City is a famous mining camp that refused to close when the gold mines did and instead has prospered into the thriving community that it is today. During its early years, it was known as Bannock City or West Bannock to differentiate between Bannock, Montana since at that time both towns were in the Idaho Territory. In 1863, Idaho City was the largest city in the Northwest with a population of more than 6,000 and was being seriously considered for the territorial capital. At the time, the territorial capital was Lewiston. It lost out, however, and in 1864 the territorial capital was moved to Boise City. With the first printing of The Boise News in 1863, Idaho City can boast it had a newspaper a year earlier than Boise. The Boise News was later changed to The Idaho World. The immediate area around Idaho City has been extensively placer mined and dredge tailings can be seen for miles along Mores Creek. Even the buildings in town were raised up on pilings so the ground underneath could be mined.
Today, Idaho City is popular for hunting, fishing, and many other outdoor activities. The proximity to Boise makes it a popular destination for day trips and weekend camping outings. In addition, Idaho City has hosted a stop on the American Rally Association national tour. Top-tier professional and amateur rally drivers push their cars to the limit on forest service roads a few minutes north of town.
Location: North of Boise off Hwy 21. The drive takes about 40 minutes.
Silver City is one of the few old mining towns that did not burn down or become commercialized into a modern city. The city became a boomtown when silver and gold were discovered in the nearby War Eagle Mountain. Because of this, Silver City was one of the first areas to have both electricity and telephone service in the Idaho Territory. In addition, miners found veins of placer and quartz, which dried up around 1890 shortly after Idaho became a state. In 1972, the township of Silver City was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Idaho Hotel looks much like it did 100 years ago except with a few modern amenities. Sinker Creek Outfitters will provide you with a historic ride back into history on horseback exploring the Owyhee Mountains as well as the ghost towns of Silver City, Empire City, and Ruby City.
Location: South towards Melba, cross Snake River, headed to Grand View and south again into the Owyhee Mountains. About a 2 hour drive.
Bruneau Sand Dunes
The tallest sand dune rises 470 feet above small lakes in the high desert south of Mountain Home. The unique state park includes desert, dune, prairie, lake and marsh habitats with opportunities to observe nocturnal species. Activities include fishing, birdwatching, camping, hiking, swimming and viewing the stars at one of only two public observatories in Idaho. Climbing and sliding down the dunes is the most popular activity. Bringing your own boards and sleds is allowed. However, specialized sand boards are available to rent at the visitor center. No vehicles are allowed off-road or on the dunes. A visitor center offers information on birds of prey, insects, fossils, wildlife and the sand dunes. Two cabins are available for rent, and there are 82 serviced campsites with water and electricity and 31 standard sites. The Equestrian Area provides facilities for visitors to camp with their horses and there is a 9-mile riding trail around the park.
www.parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/ The drive from Boise is roughly 1 hour.
A great resort town just 45 minutes from Boise, Garden Valley is known as the White Water Capitol of the world. Thanks to its proximity to the Payette River, rafting and kayaking are two of the most popular activities to enjoy. From Spring through Fall, enjoy golfing and camping as well as miles of hiking, horseback riding, and ATV trails through mountains peaking at 7,000 feet. During the winter, Garden Valley is a popular destination for snowmobile riding, snowshoeing, and soaking in multiple hot springs. Along the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, there are ample opportunities to see elk, multiple species of deer, bald eagles, foxes, and many other native animals.
Thousand Springs/ Hagerman Area
Most of the history in this area is geologic in nature. The cracks and folds of rock along the canyon cliffs record the movements of the earth, lava, and water. Early Native Americans piled rocks along the rim to capture bison and other game animals. There are numerous areas to camp, fish, and explore the Oregon Trail. Hagerman is most famous for the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. These fossil beds are unique for a few reasons. They contain fossils of plants and animals from the Pliocene era (5.3-2.5 million years ago). Most famously discovered were 20 complete fossils of the Hagerman Horse, an early descendant of horses that more closely resembles zebras. Other findings include eight species of plants and animals unique to the region. Hagerman is also home to Hagerman National Fish Hatchery, which works as part of a national effort to conserve and assist populations of local salmon and trout.
Swan Falls Dam
Swan Falls Dam is on the Snake River about 20 miles south of Kuna through the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area. Built in 1901 to provide electricity to nearby mines, it is the oldest hydroelectric power generating site on the Snake River. In July of 1976, the dam and its reservoir were added to the National Register of Historic Places and is now a historical display. Idaho Power built a new power plant in the mid-1990s and the old plant was decommissioned.
The museum is open on Saturdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
The adjacent park is day-use only, but there are multiple free camping areas above and below the dam. In 2014, Idaho Power completed a major renovation of the park and the camping areas. The boat ramps above and below the dam have been upgraded. Improvements have been made to campsites and roads. All campsites have fire rings and level parking areas. New vault toilets were installed, and additional trash facilities have been put in place. All camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors are asked to camp in designated areas only, due to the fragile nature of the soil and plant life in the area.
Arrowrock Reservoir is formed by Arrowrock Dam, which was built in 1915. Arrowrock is located 40 minutes east of Boise above the Lucky Peak Reservoir. The Reservoir is managed by the Boise National Forest (Boise National Forest map). This 18-mile narrow canyon reservoir of 3,150-acres has limited access to 60 miles of shoreline. Boating, canoeing, windsurfing, and fishing are the major recreation activities at Arrowrock. The reservoir is only 30 minutes from Boise and provides access to the city's nearest national forest. Fish species include rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, yellow perch, whitefish, and protected bull trout. Reservoir acre feet, total reservoir capacity, and cubic feet/second release rates for rivers below Boise & Payette River Basins reservoirs and select river locations are updated daily and graphically provided. The site offers vault toilets, boat ramps and docks, parking, and dispersed camping.
Directions: From Boise, north on Hwy 21. Turn east after crossing the bridge to Lucky Peak and Spring Shores Marina. Drive on to Arrowrock Dam & you are there!
Boise Art & Culture
Where The Wild Wild West meets Renaissance
- Best Downtown (Vogue & Livability)
- Best Place to Live (US News & World Report)
On the Lighter Side
Boise has several comedy clubs and Karaoke bars.
Get Your Tickets!
- Opera Idaho
- Ballet Idaho
- Boise Philharmonic
- Boise Contemporary Theater
- Idaho Shakespeare Festival
- Balance Dance Company
- Boise Public Main Library
- Log Cabin Literary Center
- Julia Davis Cultural Park
- Boise Art Museum
- Idaho Historical Museum
- Discovery Center
- Aquarium of Boise
- Warhawk Museum
- Botanical Gardens
- Zoo Boise
- Freak Alley
Festivals and Annual Traditions.
- Gene Harris Jazz Festival
- Boise Music Festival
- Art in the Park
- Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival
- Treefort Music Festival
Idaho State Museum
Founded in 1907, the Idaho Historical Museum has a comprehensive collection of over 250,000 objects. Events, special traveling exhibitions, and programs provide unique learning opportunities for families, school groups, and other visitors.
610 Julia Davis Drive
Boise, ID 83702
Monday - Friday 9 am - 5 pm (concert Fridays 9 am - 3 pm)
Closed Federal Holidays and the week of Christmas
The mission of the Boise Philharmonic Association is to musically enrich, entertain and educate through community engagement and music performance at the highest level.
As Idaho's largest and oldest performing arts organization, (established as the Boise Philharmonic in 1960) the symphony performs for over 50,000 people annually in concerts at the Morrison Center, NNU's Brandt Center in Nampa, in schools around the state, and in smaller recital halls and venues. The 80+ member professional orchestra can trace its roots to earlier than 1885 with the formation of the Boise City Orchestra. The Boise Philharmonic performs fourteen Masterworks concerts per season, with repertoire from the most well-known classical and contemporary composers, as well as commissioning new works. Additionally, a variety of "Pops" concerts, a chamber music series and other symphonic events round out each concert season. The musicians in the Boise Philharmonic hail from the best music schools in the country, including the Juilliard School in New York, the Eastman School of Music, Northwestern University, San Francisco Conservatory, and many others.
Boise Music Festival
The last weekend in June is the hottest! The Boise Music Festival is Southern Idaho's best one-day music event. The festival was initially held at Ann Morrison Park at the Gene Harris Bandshell. But the event became so popular so fast, it was moved to Expo Idaho next to the Fairgrounds to accommodate a large number of people. This family-friendly event is full of food, drinks, kids' activities, and lots of great music. BMF draws local and regional talent in addition to top-tier music stars. Previous headliners include Carly Rae Jepson, LL Cool J, Jason Derulo, and Pitbull. The Boise Music Festival never fails to disappoint!
Expo Idaho | 5610 N. Glenwood, Garden City, ID
Art in the Park
Boise Art Museum’s Art in the Park is widely recognized as one of the premier cultural events in the Northwest. This annual open-air festival provides visitors of all ages and interests with the opportunity to meet more than 200 artists and purchase their works. During the three-day event on the first weekend after Labor Day, Boise Art Museum presents a variety of contemporary arts and crafts along with an exceptional array of live entertainment, park performances, wonderful food and hands-on activities for children.
Gene Harris Jazz Festival
The annual Gene Harris Jazz Festival is a tribute to the late Gene Harris who inspired audiences and young musicians throughout his long and distinguished career. Student competitions and clinics are held on the Boise State University campus throughout the festival. Concerts are held throughout the event featuring distinguished world-class musicians who are making an impact on the musical world. In addition to helping students and the community access world-class musical talent, the festival helps support musical education at Boise State through scholarships and public outreach.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
As you enter our outdoor amphitheater and habitat reserve, you’ll be embarking upon a theatrical experience like no other! In addition to all the magic, drama and passion of professional theater, and a 770-seat, state-of-the-art facility that was built to feature the human voice, the Festival Amphitheater & Reserve is nestled in a unique habitat that is home to an astonishing variety of plant and animal species. The Festival operates under an agreement with the Idaho Foundation for Parks & Lands and the Idaho Department of Parks & Recreation. As you wind your way into the theater proper, you’ll enjoy native plants, the songs of water birds and glimpses of deer, herons, ducks, geese, and an occasional fox. Plays run from May until October and feature world-class performances of Shakespeare classics in addition to contemporary and popular plays. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival also hosts an acting camp for high school students. The camp is taught by the cast and crew of the Shakespeare Festival. Students learn about acting, stage presence, choreography, and set production. The camp culminates in a performance and talent show by the campers to a crowd before one of the plays.
Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic
Since the very first Balloon Classic for the Boise River Festival in 1991, the staff, volunteers, and sponsors have supported the basic mission of this event: to provide an exciting, family-oriented production to the community of Boise, Idaho at no charge. The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic is truly a one-of-a-kind family-friendly community event in the City of Trees.
Families flock to Ann Morrison Park before dawn to watch the crew set up hot air balloons and take off into the morning sky. Every year, dozens of balloons of all shapes sizes and colors provide a one-of-a-kind spectacle that is truly unique. Bring your camera and a blanket to watch a truly special event.
The Table Rock area offers challenging hiking and mountain biking. Most users access these trails from the Old Idaho Penitentiary parking lot, where there is a kiosk and directional signage for the trails. The Table Rock area offers stunning views of Boise and the Treasure Valley and is a favorite among trail enthusiasts for sunset hikes and rides. The Table Rock area should be avoided when the temperatures are above freezing during winter months, as well as after spring and summer rain storms, as the soils contain significant amounts of clay, and trail damage occurs easily at such times.
2445 Old Penitentiary Rd
Boise, ID 83709
A surprising waterfall and the lush riparian area filled with water birch and red osier dogwood trees. Visitors can hike the easy; ¼-mile Jump Creek Falls Trail - you may get your feet wet! - walk high and dry to the Falls Overlook on a recently improved trail or picnic near the rock crevices and meandering stream. Swimmers will find a refreshing dip at the base of the falls.
Location & Directions: Southwest of Marsing, Idaho: From Boise, take Interstate 84 West to the Nampa exit for Highway 55 (Exit 33A). Follow Highway 55 through Marsing and onto the junction with US-95. Continue 1½ miles past the junction and turn left onto Cemetery Road. Turn left at the T-intersection with a STOP sign. The road becomes Jump Creek Road as it continues south. Just after passing under power transmission lines, the road curves right, through private land – stay on the roadway as it curves back to the left toward the entry to the recreation area.