The capital of the state of Idaho, Boise, is a culturally diverse, fascinating, and historic destination with plenty to explore and enjoy.
If you are visiting this area, you will find all sorts of activities, sights and attractions that you can add to your itinerary.
Many of the Boise attractions are all about nature, from the surrounding mountains for skiing to parks for hiking, fishing, and just reveling in the outdoors. The Boise River offers a variety of great water sports.
But attractions in Boise also include some of the best museums, such as the Boise Art Museum, the Discovery Museum, and the Idaho Black History Museum.
Like most state capitals, Boise has some luxurious hotels to pamper its visitors. Adults can relish one of the best nightclubs in the West and several unexpected wineries, while children love Boise attractions such as the zoo, the Aquarium of Boise, and the Center for Birds of Prey.
Boise truly has something for everyone. Let's begin to explore the top attractions and things to do in Boise.
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The Boise River Greenbelt is an incomparable 25-mile path along the Boise River that runs through the city and is filled with wildlife and beautiful trails. It is open from sunrise to sunset.
Anyone looking for Boise attractions that include miles of birding trails and great fishing will find plenty of activity here.
The Greenbelt begins by the Lucky Peak Dam and moves along the path of the Boise River, passing several parks, wildlife, the Anne Frank Memorial, and the Lucky Peak State Park for picnicking, boating, swimming, etc.
Julia Davis Park has a lovely Rose Garden along the Greenbelt, a public pool, and a golf course.
As you stroll along the sights of the river, you will discover an abundance of restaurants where you can rest and refuel.
Address: Boise River Greenbelt, Boise, ID 83706
If you've lived a clean life and have never been to prison, one of the destinations in Boise should be the Old Penitentiary, which was built in the mid-19th century when the West was wild, and some people needed to be tamed.
As you enter the prison, be prepared for steel doors closing as you become enveloped in Boise history. More than 13,600 prisoners have spent time behind these walls, with 215 of them women.
See the solitary confinement area, cell blocks, and the prison's collection of weapons. The weapons are quite extensive, spanning from the Bronze Age to the modern era.
There are guided tours for a mere $2.00. Summer hours are from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the winter, it opens at noon. Admission is $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children under 12.
The tour also allows you to learn more about the stories and scandals surrounding the prisoners once housed there.
Address: 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712
The Idaho State Capitol building is a marvel of architecture and history. A majestic spread-winged eagle sits on top of the dome to attest to the building's importance. The Great Seal of the State of Idaho can be seen in the central rotunda.
The Capitol is open seven days a week and should be one of the things to do in Boise. Of course, certain rooms will be off-limits when the legislature is in session, so it is a good idea to check first.
However, the 4th-floor gallery is open for viewing the legislature. Visiting this grand building is free. There are self-guided and guided tours, and the gift shop has lovely Idaho-related souvenirs.
The building is open Mondays through Fridays from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Visitors can tour from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm during weekends and holidays.
Address: 700 W Jefferson St, Boise, ID 83702
The World Center for Birds of Prey is an indoor-outdoor education center and one of the must-see Boise attractions for bird lovers.
This is a place dedicated to preserving and caring for a range of birds of prey, enabling visitors to come face to face with creatures such as owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, and vultures.
Learn about these creatures in a 40-minute outdoor presentation as these beautiful birds fly above the crowd. The museum has more details and information about these birds of prey.
A car or rideshare is needed to get to the center, which is 12 miles from downtown Boise.
It is open year-round, with summer hours from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and winter hours from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost of admission is $12.00 for adults and $7.00 for children under the age of 16.
Address: 5668 W Flying Hawk Ln, Boise, ID 83709
The Aquarium of Boise is a unique Idaho attraction and a must-see in Boise for families. Here is the opportunity to explore, learn about, and feed various species of fish.
Visitors will find 35 exhibits, mostly of fish but also birds and reptiles. One of the highlights of the aquarium is its touch tanks.
Here, visitors can get up close and personal with some of the most amazing animals in the ocean, including starfish and crabs.
Other exhibits include the Bamboo Shark and the trees filled with reptiles. The shark eggs exhibit collects and display them at varying stages of development.
The Bird Aviary is filled with lively birds who love to be fed.
The staff at the aquarium are knowledgeable and friendly, always ready to answer questions or provide information about their resident creatures.
Aside from its impressive animal displays, the Aquarium of Boise also hosts educational programs and events for all ages.
Address: 64 N Cole Rd, Boise, ID 83704
Also Read: 25 Best Aquariums in the US
Many of us have asked how we know what art is? The best answer is that art is something we see and makes us think. This applies to one of the outdoor Boise attractions – downtown's Freak Alley.
Freak Alley began with a simple 2002 outdoor mural in the doorway of Moon's Kitchen. It was so attention-getting; all the neighborhood businesses wanted their own mural.
By now, more than 300 artists have created unique and precious outdoor artwork, which has also grown into an indoor gallery.
Each piece is unique, making the viewer think about and/or rethink issues.
Freak Alley is one of the spots in Boise that has gradually become a beloved gallery and expression of social conditions.
It is entirely free and provides a showcase for both new and established artists.
Address: 210 N 9th St, Boise
The Idaho Botanical Garden has a natural reputation for its collection of plants. Visitors can stroll through the peaceful Meditation Garden and continue to the native plant life of the Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden.
Enjoy 15 acres of colorful plant tapestry with over 800 plant species as you wander through 14 different gardens and truly connect with nature in one of the most delightful things to do in Boise.
Surround yourself with fresh air, twittering birds, and a variety of wildlife. Guides are available from May through September.
You will also find various events being held here at certain times of the year such as Winter Garden aGlow, and Harvest Festival. This garden is a great place to not only indulge in the pleasures of natural beauty but also benefit from an educational experience.
The entrance fee to the Botanical Garden is $12.00 for adults and $8.00 for children 12 years or younger.
Come during the holidays and see the gardens lit up with hundreds of thousands of lights.
Address: 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712
Also Read: Best Botanical Gardens in the US
Situated in the downtown area of Boise, Julia Davis Park dates back to the early 1900s and is located close to the Boise River.
You will find a host of features and places of interest to explore in the park, including Zoo Boise, the Idaho State Historical Museum, and the Julia Davis Rose Garden.
One of the main draws of Julia Davis Park is its sprawling green space that offers plenty of room for recreational activities such as picnics, frisbee games, or just lounging on a blanket.
In addition to its expansive grassy areas, there are many other attractions that you can visit while at the park, and the River Greenbelt also runs through it.
Take some time to explore the beautiful Rose Garden and admire the statues – there is plenty for everyone to enjoy at this park.
Address: 700 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702
Few people realize that outside of Spain, Boise has the largest Basque population anywhere – more than 15,000 immigrants.
The Basques have been immigrating to Boise since the 1800s, where they created their own community, now known as Basque Block.
The museum, which began as a Basque boarding house, is located amidst Spanish restaurants and taverns. Basque culture has been transported 6,000 miles to the center of the State of Idaho.
The museum has photographs, music, books, and many artifacts relating to Boise's Basque population. Visitors can also enjoy a guided tour.
The Basque Museum and Cultural Center is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Admission fee is $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for children.
Address: 611 W Grove St, Boise, ID 83702
The Discovery Center of Idaho is an interactive science center and a fun place to visit in Boise for people of all ages.
It is a fascinating place for children and adults alike to explore and learn about science through interactive exhibits and educational programs.
The museum features over 150 exhibits covering various topics like physics, chemistry, engineering, biology, and more.
One of the most popular exhibits is the virtual reality experience where visitors can put on a headset and explore different environments such as outer space or an underwater world.
The exhibit also includes interactive controllers that allow visitors to maneuver objects in their environment.
In addition to its permanent exhibits, the center also runs camps and offers outreach programs to aid others in terms of learning more about science.
Address: 131 W Myrtle St, Boise, ID 83702
One of the educational places to visit in Boise is Zoo Boise, with its 300 animals that are visited each year by over 350,000 guests excited to learn about protecting and preserving our important wildlife.
The zoo offers several private experiences to enhance any visit. The opportunity to feed a giraffe is available daily between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for $35.00.
Guests can feed an anteater for $30.00 every day at 4:15 p.m. And finally, the chance to meet and feed the zoo’s tortoise, Mr. Mac, is available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m. for $35.00. Mr. Mac can even be petted.
The top private experiences involve witnessing the training of a tiger or lion daily at either 9:00 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. for $60.00. No touching or feeding of the cats is permitted.
Ask about other private classes, as well.
The adult admission fee is $12.00, and the fee for children under 11 is $9.00. There are discounted prices on Thursdays.
Address: 2405 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID 83702
The Boise Art Museum is one of the attractions in Boise designed to create an inspirational artistic experience.
The permanent collection has 4,000 paintings, drawings, ceramics, sculptures, and modern video exhibits.
The offerings range from ancient times to the modern 21st century and include items from around the world. This is truly an extraordinary showing.
BAM, as it is affectionately known, emphasizes 19the-century European and plenty of Asian art. The store has books, toys for kids, and unique jewelry.
Admission to BAM is $6.00 to $3.00. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and opens at noon on Sundays. Admission is free on the First Thursday of each month, but donations are appreciated.
The museum’s Full-Day Camps during the summer provide hands-on art education for kids.
Address: 670 Julia Davis Dr, Boise
Also Read: 20 Best Art Museums in the USA
Visitors can prepare for some live magical drama in this state-of-the-art amphitheater – created as they were during Shakespeare’s time.
This outdoor theater is your gateway to drama and the occasional sighting of deer and foxes. Short concerts usually precede the show, considered one of the unique Boise attractions.
Since the weather can be unpredictable, bringing blankets is highly recommended, as even warm Boise days can shift into chilly nights.
The plays are put on throughout the summer season. The schedule varies, and the seating price depends on the seats, so click here for Pricing and a schedule of plays.
Seating usually starts at 6:30 p.m. as early birds rush in and eagerly await the performance. To quote the song lyrics by James Whitmore, “Brush up your Shakespeare. And the women you will wow.”
The Café Shakespeare is available for food and drinks, or you can bring it to your seat. The Bard himself would approve of a good bottle of wine.
Address: 5657 E Warm Springs Ave, Boise, ID 83716
If you are a visitor and uncertain about which destinations in Boise will be of the greatest interest to you, the Boise Trolley Tours is the answer.
There are 2-hour trolley tours, Mondays through Saturdays that hit Boise's major spots of interest, such as the Capitol, parks, Old Penitentiary, and many others.
The summer schedule lasts from March through October and begins at 10:30 a.m. The adult fare is $18.00, and children under 12 pay $12.00.
Click below for the special two-and-a-half-hour history tour explicitly designed for history buffs. The cost is $24.00 for adults and $11.00 for children under the age of 12.
Visitors shouldn’t miss the Christmas Lights Trolley Tour for exhibits of the best of Boise’s holiday lights, along with seasonal music.
The ghostly Halloween Tour visits Boise’s most haunted houses, but the most popular Halloween tour is a visit to the Old Penitentiary.
Visit the haunted cells, play prison-themed games, and speak to “inmate” actors. Snacks and pizza abound in this scary place.
The entrance fee to prison is $16.00 for adults and $8.00 for children under 12, but good behavior will set you free.
Address: 1800 West Fairview Avenue, Boise
The Boise Farmers Market is a seasonal market that opens every Saturday beginning April 1, between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
This is where to get farm-fresh produce and beautiful flowers. There is also a large variety of meats, wines, pastries, unique craft items, and a scrumptious ready-to-eat section.
Folks who can’t make the market's Saturday mornings can order online and arrange for pick up at a specified area.
Over 60 farmers and ranchers make visiting the Farmers Market one of the healthy and tasty things to do in Boise.
For the younger set aged 5 to 12, the Sprouts Kids Club teaches them about nutrition and freshness and lets them participate in games and freshness tastings.
Address: 1500 Shoreline Dr, Boise
Also Read: Best Farmers Markets in Boise, Idaho
What began as an Idaho ski resort 16 miles outside of Boise has turned into one of the best four-season places to visit in Boise.
There are still plenty of winter activities; however, as the weather warms, it turns into a different recreational spot.
Here, visitors will find the only mountain coaster in Idaho, which twists and turns down the mountain 4,330 heart-pounding feet.
If that is too tame, there is bouncing on the bungee trampoline or climbing the 32-foot wall for a stunning view.
The chairlifts are active during the summer to provide guests with an incredible view of the forest, Sawtooth Mountain, and the city of Boise.
Other warm-weather activities include outdoor yoga, hiking, and disc golf. This is truly a recreational nirvana, especially when the Boise Philharmonic arrives for its concert series.
Food is served at the Double R Ranch BBQ Smokehouse.
Address: 2405 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID 83702
Just over an hour from Boise along State Highway 21, visitors can enjoy one of the indulgent attractions in Boise by the South Fork Payette River.
From the river, a trail takes guests to the soaking pools that reach up to 120 degrees.
It’s a luxurious way to spend the day, and the charge is $5.00 per vehicle. The hot springs are open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. There is a nearby café.
The river itself is available for kayaking, rafting, and fishing. The Kirkham Ridge Trail spans 35 scenic miles for hiking, biking, and horse riding.
Address: 7658 ID-21, Lowman
Can a donut shop be one of the must-see destinations in Boise? It can if it is Guru Donuts.
This shop began in someone’s kitchen after a few people were invited for homemade donuts. Word spread like wildfire and 800 donuts were sold in 2 hours and closed down the kitchen.
Guru Donuts opened its official store in 2016 and even opened two others. These artisan donuts are that special.
They are made from total scratch and range from glazed to filled. Can anyone resist a blueberry cheesecake donut? They even have a vegan selection. Needless to say, each donut comes with the perfect cup of coffee.
The shop is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sadly, it is closed on Mondays.
Address: 928 West Main Street #100, Boise, ID 83702
Sometimes, we forget there is more to life than computers and cell phones.
There are Boise attractions to remind us, such as the Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center, that real life consists of nature and that we are a part of it daily.
There is no admission fee for the experience, which is available all year, Tuesdays through Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
This 4.6-acre center is an animal habitat where animals run free without enclosures. They, too, are a part of nature instead of residents of some zoo. The nature center has paths and bridges leading to various habitats and gardens.
The visitors center has information on the animal and plants and all available activities, such as finding a specific animal or plant.
Address: 600 S Walnut St, Boise, ID 83712
Snake River Valley, less than an hour from Boise, does not have snakes. It does have 90 percent of the vineyards in the state.
This booming industry has 60 wineries producing 132,000 gallons of wine each year. And many are award-winning specimens.
The fact is Snake River Valley has much more grapes than Idaho potatoes. Things to do in Boise for wine lovers is to opt for the Snake River Wine Tour.
For $140.00, they can enjoy transportation from Boise, visits and tastings at four different wineries, snacks, and Perrier water. Cheese, fruits, nuts, chocolates, and olives are available as an add-on.
Who doesn’t love fries? Boise Fry Company is to French fries what Guru Donuts is to donuts. For fries lovers, this is one of the can’t miss attractions in Boise.
There is nothing ordinary about these delectable fries. Guests have a choice of six different types of potatoes sliced 5 different ways, which are then prepared to perfection and served with nine dipping sauces and several seasonings. Just imagine purple shoestring potatoes with jalapeno ranch sauce.
They do potatoes right in Idaho. Of course, Boise Fry Company also has great burgers and sandwiches.
A serving of small fries is $3.35, and a large serving costs $5.00.
Address: 204 N Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702
River trips are one of the exciting things to do in Boise, starting at $65.00 per person.
These rafting trips are a three-hour tour down the Boise River, and the minimum age per participant is 3 years.
Along with a trained guide, helmets and floatation devices are included, as are non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
This rafting tour includes soaring past Boise Whitewater Park, where guests can swim and possibly encounter local wildlife. Rafting down the river is definitely seeing Boise from a unique perspective.
Address: Westmoreland Park, 6515 N. Glenwood Street, Garden City
The Idaho Black History Museum began as the state’s first Black church before it became an opportunity to tell the story of the Black population in Idaho.
Its major exhibit is labeled “The Invisible Idahoan: 200 Years of Blacks in Idaho.”
Few people know how long Blacks have lived this far west or that the original Lewis and Clark expedition included the first African American to cross the continent and see the Pacific.
One of the exhibits examines the privileges and rights Blacks enjoyed in Idaho that they did not necessarily yet have in other states. On permanent exhibit is an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Address: 508 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702
Located by the Boise River, Telaya’s Tasting Room is designed to teach the finer points of fine wines and how to savor them. It is one of the unique places in Boise for wine connoisseurs.
When enjoying wine on the patio, guests can bring their own food and/or picnic items, or arrangements can be made for individual charcuterie boxes.
Tastings of six different wines are also available in the upstairs Teton Room. Many guests opt for the behind-the-scenes tour to witness the entire winemaking process. Private tours are $4.50 per person.
The winery is open Mondays through Wednesdays from noon to 7:30 p.m. and Thursdays to Saturdays from noon to 8:30 p.m.
Address: 240 E. 32nd Street, Garden City
It can seem that Boise has it all – from a rugged wildness second only to Alaska to the best urban dining and museums. Its landscape is breathtaking, but it is also proud of its iconic art scene. Boise is famed for being a two-for-one destination.
March through May is the ideal time to visit Boise – unless skiing is your prime and sole purpose for visiting. The Spring months are still cool enough to explore the glorious Boise landscape before the summer heat rises into the 90s. The Fall months, when the temperature begins to slowly again, is also a good time to visit.
Boise is proud of its 25-mile-long Boise River Greenbelt running through the city. This tree-lined trail brings visitors to several parks and is a vibrant place for hiking, biking, and exploring. Few of us see the inside of a prison, and the second Boise attraction, due to its uniqueness, is the Old Idaho Penitentiary, encouraging visitors to remain on the right side of the law. The third top Boise attraction is its Downtown area, with its vibrant state capitol, clubs, and some of the best and freshest food anywhere.
It isn’t often that graffiti becomes treasured art, but Freak Alley in Boise has expanded its popular graffiti murals by hiring actual artists to turn this portion of Downtown into an outdoor public expression about life and art gallery.
Boise is a year-round destination. The museums and superior dining provide a sophisticated urban feel, while parks, mountains, and rivers hail the great outdoors. Skiing in the Bogus Basin is just one of Boise’s attractions for the winter, and the things to do in Boise during the summer are close to unlimited. The range of warm-weather activities includes a Shakespeare Festival, river rafting, and strolling in beautiful rose gardens.