If you’re thinking about moving to The City of Trees and plan to rent an apartment in Boise, ID or buy a home, Boise is a city that’s guaranteed to captivate you from the moment you arrive. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences and delicious food, you certainly won’t run out of things to do.
But don’t just take our word for it. To help you make the most of your time living in Boise, we’ve put together a list of must-try experiences from locals that love the city. Whether you’re an avid hiker, an art lover, a foodie, or just looking for some fun, this Boise bucket list will guide you through the must-see attractions that will make you fall in love with the city and the lifestyle it has to offer.
1. Spend time at the Boise Rose Garden
“The Boise Rose Garden is located in Julia Davis Park and is the perfect place for a small wedding, family photos, or just an afternoon walk to admire the roses,” says Miranda Renee Photography. “Beautiful from the first bloom in the spring until the fall, you can visit any time. I personally love photographing my couples and families here. It’s definitely a must-see for visitors. While you’re there, also check out the neighboring attractions, including The Boise Zoo and The Discovery Center of Idaho.”
2. Get your pizza fix
“One of the best spots in all of Boise is The Wylder,” shares Karli and David Photography. “This downtown, upscale pizza restaurant has a great vibe, staff, and the best sourdough pizza you’ll ever have. If you go, order the Honey Badger that comes with spicy fennel sausage, goat cheese, and honey. When we go with a group of friends, our entire table orders this pizza. We promise you’ll love it and you’ll already be planning your next trip back before your meal is finished.”
3. Hike or sled at Camel’s Back Park
“This local hiking trail is named for its shape – which looks like the humps on a Camel’s Back with two peaks,” explains Boise Chef Christina Bailey at Edible Times Culinary Services. “It’s right in the heart of the city’s North End, which has plenty of local flavor and the most expensive real estate. The trails offer a variety of levels, so you can challenge yourself or take the family. And the views from the top are incredible, especially in October and November when fall colors are at their peak. In the winter, the bottom of the trail and the park at the base are a great place for sledding. And only the brave (or reckless) sled down the steepest slope.”
4. Explore the local wine and craft beer scene
“With the Snake River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) a stone’s throw away, Boise is home to great locally grown and produced wine,” states Christina Bailey. “The hipster city is also a place where new craft breweries seem to pop up every year. Many of the wineries and breweries have set up tasting rooms and beer gardens near the famed Boise Greenbelt path. And it’s a great place to taste and enjoy local beer and wine, and then take a leisurely walk along the riverfront. In the summer especially, the city’s food trucks serve up wonderful, scratch-made eats in parking along the path and outside the wineries and breweries. Ones to look for: Telaya, Split Rail, Coiled, Barbarian, and Payette Brewing Company.”
5. Surprise your taste buds with an ice cream potato
“Idaho is known for their potatoes, and when in Boise you have to try an ice cream potato,” suggests Megan Tenney, blogger at Family Gap Year Guide. “No, it’s not actually potato-flavored — it’s vanilla ice cream with cocoa powder and whipped cream that looks just like a baked potato. When we tried our first bite, it was such a head fake to taste a sugary, frozen treat instead of a warm baked potato. Head to the Westside Drive In to give it a try.
6. Learn about Basque culture, history, and cuisine
“The Basque Block in Downtown Boise is a unique point of interest celebrating Northern Spain’s Basque culture, history, and cuisine,” explains Moani Hood, Travel Blogger at Appetites Abroad. “Boise is home to one of the largest Basque communities in the country and a visit to the Basque Block is the perfect way to get to know more about their heritage. If you’re a foodie, a visit to the restaurants on the Basque Block is a must. Stop in at The Basque Market or Bar Gernika to indulge in some delicious Basque and Spanish cuisine, including paella, pintxos, and tapas. If history interests you, check out the preserved historic buildings on the block or pay a visit to the Basque Museum and Cultural Center for a little bit of Basque education.”
“Boise culture and cuisine have been heavily influenced by the sheep industry and the Basque community that built it,” explains Brett Wilder, founder of Boise River Lamb. “Whether you’re new to Boise or just visiting, we highly recommend checking out the Basque block. Explore the Basque Museum, and eat local, Idaho lamb at some of the best Basque Restaurants in the region. We recommend Leku Ona, across the street from the Basque Museum, or Epi’s in downtown Meridian.”
7. Visit the Boise Depot
“The Boise Train Depot and its view is a must-see when visiting the heart of the Treasure Valley,” suggests Desiree Fabello, Owner and Professional Portrait Photographer & Graphic Designer at Foreign Perceptions Photography & Design. “The Boise Depot stands as an awe-inspiring structure, perched atop a hill that offers a breathtaking view of the city of Boise and its stunning foothills. From its vantage point, the Train Depot commands an unparalleled perspective of the city’s skyline and the surrounding landscape, providing an enchanting panorama that leaves visitors inspired. As one gazes out from the depot’s lofty heights, the panorama of the city and the Boise foothills unfolds in all its glory. The cityscape stretches out in a patchwork of colors, textures, and shapes which is a testament to the beauty of the surrounding landscape of downtown Boise.”
8. Join a community of cyclers
UpCycle Studio is an indoor cycling studio where you will always leave sweaty and smiling. The rider-base is filled with transplants and natives, alike. With instructors who uplift and challenge you, plus the community you discover, you’ll find riding at UpCycle provides a positive impact, both physically and mentally, in no time.
9. Take up biking
“Boise has a great active outdoor community, especially when it comes to biking,” states CJ Ward Photography. “Whether you are into road biking or mountain biking, you will find great roads and trails to adventure on. The Boise River Greenbelt is great for those leisurely rides in the summer. For mountain bikers, Military Reserve has several trail options to choose from, offering beautiful views of downtown Boise as you ride. When it comes to all your biking needs, visit Bob’s Bicycles. They are a locally family-owned business and always have a great selection of bikes and accessories, and will take care of all your service needs.”
10. Get takeout for a picnic
“One of our favorite activities in Boise is to grab a treat from one of our favorite restaurants and find a spot along the greenbelt or in the foothills to enjoy it,” shares local photographer Camille Lindquist of Camille Marie Photography. “Our favorite places include Tango’s Empanadas, Fanci Freeze, and DK Donuts. We also love hiking the many trails in Boise, especially the Eagle Ridge Loop and the Oregon Trail trailhead. The best time of year for the foothills is May when the yellow arrowroot flowers bloom and the hills are actually green, a rare thing the rest of the year in the high desert.”
For those who love the great outdoors, Plummer recommends heading to Camel’s Back Park for a hike and immersing yourself in nature’s beauty. After a day of exploring, head to Apericena for an unforgettable dining experience with delicious food and great wine. Whether you’re a foodie, a nature lover, or simply seeking a charming neighborhood to stroll through, Hyde Park has something for everyone.
11. Check out the trails in the Foothills
“One of my favorite parts of Boise is our amazing trail system in the Foothills,” says local photographer, Abby Hoefer of Foothills Girl. “There are trails for all kinds of activities, such as running, hiking, and mountain biking. It’s also a dog-friendly place in Boise, so feel free to take your dog to run and play. There are so many places to access the trails, such as Camel’s Back Park, 8th Street, and more.”
12. Hike Table Rock
“Hiking to Table Rock is popular among Boise locals and one of the many beautiful places near Boise,” shares travel bloggers at Mike and Laura Travel. “This moderate hiking trail is approximately 3.5 miles roundtrip, and once you’re at the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city and a glimpse of the Boise River winding through the valley below. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area and get some exercise at the same time. The trail may become demanding in many areas, so I suggest wearing a hiking backpack with space for young ones if you plan to take your kids with you.”
13. Explore the historic Hyde Park
“If anyone is new to Boise, they should definitely check out the historical Hyde Park in the North End neighborhood of Boise,” suggests wedding photographer Bernadette Madden at Bramble and Vine. “The buildings are old and the street has an early 1900’s old small town charm. Perfect for a stroll for coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Some memorable stops are Certified Kitchen and Bakery for that cup of coffee and a pastry or sandwich, Casa Mexico for Mexican, and Goody’s Soda Fountain for sweets and treats. As a photographer, I love the nostalgia of this area and if you wander into the neighborhood you can find Queen Anne and Folk Victorian houses.”
“Don’t miss out on a visit to Hyde Park, one of Boise’s most charming neighborhoods,” says Natalie Plummer, Hello Meridian Creative Director and co-host of The Boise Bubble Podcast. “This quaint area has managed to preserve much of its original appeal, with a wide range of charming coffee shops, flower stores, and local shopping spots to explore. Be sure to stop by Certified Bakery and try their mouthwatering breakfast sandwich, which is made with a 50-year-old sourdough starter – a real treat for the taste buds.”
“As a local photographer it’s my job to scout out the best visual areas for shoots so I’ve come across quite a few incredible spots,” shares Boise Photographer, Rachel Wolf. “Hyde Park is a top favorite of mine. It has so much charm, amazing food and the best shops to explore. It truly is like being transported to another world. I also love The Military Reserve. It’s the best place in the valley to watch the seasons change and visit year round. From wildflowers in the spring, lush green hills in the summer, gorgeous trees in the fall and snow capped mountain views during the winter. Any time of year this area is an absolute dream for those who love the outdoors.”
14. Float along the Boise River
“One of the unique things to do in Boise is to go floating down the Boise River during the hot summer months,” shares local blogger Jill Greising-Murschel of Thrive in Idaho. “Locals and visitors enjoy renting tubes and inflatable kayaks at Barber Park between June and early September. As you float down the beautiful Boise River, you may encounter a few small rapids, while also enjoying the greenery near the riverbanks. You’ll float for about two hours before you arrive at Ann Morrison Park in Boise where you’ll get out.”
15. Check out the locally owned coffee shop Push & Pour
“Boise is known for being home to a ton of amazing coffee shops and locally roasted beans, but my personal favorite is Push & Pour,” shares Sadie Shirts Crenshaw, owner of SS Photography & Design. “The original Garden City location on the greenbelt was opened by a couple of professional skateboarders in an old garage and they turned it into a community hub for artists, skaters, entrepreneurs, and really anyone who loves a good pull of espresso and a walk along the river.
“However, my favorite Push & Pour location is on the Boise Bench, located in a repurposed service station,” says Crenshaw. “Not only can you get an amazing latte from Push & Pour there, but their outdoor seating is shared by two other local faves — The Stil ice cream and Wyld Child burgers. My recommendation if you go to the Bench location on Latah would be to get a latte or cold brew from Push & Pour, a crispy chicken sandwich from Wyld Child, and finish it off with a boozy ice cream from The Stil.”
16. Enjoy a veggie-packed meal at Lemon Tree
“There are so many great restaurants in Boise, but my favorite is Lemon Tree,” says Food For Life Instructor Barbara Smith of Eat 4 Health. “Vegans and vegetarians can find plant-based choices while their meat eating friends can find delicious choices as well. Lemon Tree features a variety of sandwiches, soups and salads, and with three locations they are easy to find. You can visit them in downtown, Parkcenter and Harris Ranch.”
17. Treat your pooch to an adventure at Ann Morrison Park
“One of our favorite spots in Boise is Ann Morrison Park,” shares Adventure K-9. “This park has ample room to explore with your dog along with mature trees for shade in the summer. It also offers river access and a mile long walking path. They have a designated off-leash area year-round and during winter months, the entire 153-acre park is open for off-leash play.”
18. Attend a concert at Outlaw Field
“If you’re new to Boise be sure to check out a concert at Outlaw Field,” suggests local architecture and real estate photographer, Sightline Photo. “This outdoor venue at the Idaho Botanical Garden on the East side of Boise offers a concert experience with a unique outdoor setting and beautiful scenery, making for a memorable concert experience. Outlaw Field hosts concerts and events throughout the summer, so there’s always something to see. Tons of concert goers ride their bikes to the venue, and don’t forget your low-back chairs or blankets so you can comfortably kick back and enjoy the music.”
Boise, ID is a city full of wonders and experiences that are truly unique to this beautiful place. From the stunning natural beauty of the foothills to the vibrant cultural scene, you’re sure to fall in love with this wonderful city and all it has to offer. So get out there, explore, and immerse yourself in everything Boise.