We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Boise is the capital of Idaho, but most people don’t realize that it is a thriving community with a myriad of things to do. No matter whether you prefer spending time outdoors, embracing the culture and history, or maybe you are a foodie… Boise has something for everyone.
While you will find plenty to do year-round, summer opens up dozens of adventures. Here are the top things to do in Boise, Idaho in summer, according to a local (me).
Whether you are a local, or maybe you are visiting Boise from out-of-town, this list of things to do in and around Boise, Idaho has something for everyone and every budget. So let’s check out the best summer activities in the City of Trees.
Summer In Boise, Idaho
When people think of Idaho, they mostly think of potato farms and snowy winters. It might surprise you to realize that the city of Boise, and the Treasure Valley, is a thriving and growing unique urban area, with nature thrown in the middle.
It may also surprise you to know that summers in Boise can be HOT! Starting in July, you will often see temperatures in the triple digits. But there are plenty of water and indoor activities to help beat the heat as well.
If you are visiting Boise from out of town and looking for a place to stay, you will find several hotel options and even vacation rentals. You can use the map below to find the best deal on lodging for your summer visit to Boise, Idaho.
Boise is a unique location in the United States. From our cultural and historical offerings to the proximity to so many outdoor activities, and the fact that you can float down a river in the middle of downtown Boise… there is plenty to do this summer in Boise.
Things To Do In Boise, Idaho In Summer – Water Activities
Summer in Boise, Idaho is the perfect time to get out and enjoy some water activities. With a wide variety of water activities available, there is something for everyone to enjoy. From rafting down the Payette River to stand-up paddleboarding on Lucky Peak Reservoir, Boise has plenty of options for fun and recreation on the water.
Whether you’re an experienced paddler or just getting your sea legs, Boise has something to offer. Explore this list for all the amazing ways you can take advantage of the summer weather and make some waves with these incredible water activities in Boise.
Roaring Springs Water Park
Located on the edge of Meridian, next to Boise, is Roaring Springs Water Park. As the largest waterpark in the Northwest, Roaring Springs offers plenty of thrills and chills on a hot summer day.
The waterpark is also currently going through a 10-15 year, 7-phase expansion, with the first phase opening at the end of May 2023.
I suggest getting to the park early if you plan on spending the day there. Shaded seats tend to fill up fast. Cabanas are available for an added fee.
Money Saving Tip: Look into the Night Slides. This is an evening ticket for Fridays and Saturdays, from mid-June to late August. The cost is around $25 and they usually have promos to save a little extra.
Take a Dip In Quinn’s Pond
Quinns Pond in Boise, Idaho is a beautiful destination for outdoor recreation. Located in the heart of downtown Boise, Quinns Pond is situated near the banks of the Boise River and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. It’s a favorite spot for locals looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
At Quinns Pond, visitors can rent kayaks or stand-up paddle boards to explore its tranquil waters. For experienced boaters, there are boat slips available at an additional cost. Kayakers have the unique opportunity to spot wildlife such as ducks and geese that call this pond home. Fishermen can also try their luck at catching bass and trout in this popular fishing spot.
In addition to its water activities, Quinns Pond has many scenic trails that wrap around its perimeter. These paths are great for running and biking but also offer plenty of opportunities for bird watching or simply admiring nature’s beauty. If you’re looking for a great place to picnic or relax by the shoreline with friends and family, Quinns Pond is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.
No pets or alcohol are allowed at Quinn’s Pond.
Go white water rafting on the Payette River
White water rafting on the Payette River is a thrilling and unforgettable experience. The river offers intense rapids, beautiful scenery, and plenty of spots for swimming and relaxing. Most launch points are located about a 60-90 minute drive from Boise.
You can rent a raft for the day or join a tour group to take on some of the rougher stretches of the river. Rafting guides will be available to help you navigate the rapids safely and enjoy your adventure to the fullest.
While white water rafting on the Payette River can be an exciting challenge, it is important to remember to stay safe while out on the river. Be sure to use life jackets and helmets at all times, keep your hands and feet inside the boat, and never stand up or leave your seat while in rough water. The guides are there to help you stay safe so feel free to ask them any questions you may have.
Booking a white water rafting trip down the Payette River is sure to be an unforgettable highlight of your summer vacation in Boise, Idaho. With its majestic mountain views, exciting rapids, and knowledgeable guides, this outdoor adventure promises thrills and memories that will last a lifetime!
Float the Boise River
The Boise River runs through the middle of downtown Boise, all the way to Eagle State Park (and beyond). While there are many great spots for wading, and swimming, there is also a stretch of the Boise River that you can take a raft, kayak, or even an intertube down to float the river.
The common launch point is Barber Park, just outside the Boise City limits. All floaters must exit the river at Ann Morrison Park. This float goes 6 miles and take about 2-3 hours. You will experience slight rapids (very small as you can go over them in a water tube).
If rafting/floating on your own makes you a little nervous, you can book a guided tour for the Boise River Float.
The Boise River must be cleared for floating, and the opening date can vary from year to year. Some years it opens in June, others not until July. It is usually open in time for the 4th of July holiday. You can check the river conditions online.
Note From This Local: While you are welcome to bring coolers with drinks and snacks, glass containers are prohibited. Alcohol is prohibited within 250 feet of the Boise River
Go Kayaking, Water Skiing, Paddle Boarding, and more!
One of the best things about Boise, all year but especially in the summer, is that there is no shortage of nearby outdoor adventures. And that includes water adventures>
Within a short drive, you can find locations to go kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, and water skiing.
Lucky Peak Reservoir and Arrowhead Reservoir are both within a 20-30 minute drive from Boise. During the summer months, locals and visitors love to head up to enjoy water sports.
If you aren’t into water skiing, water tubing is another popular activity. Some locals even own jet skis that they take up to the reservoirs.
Don’t own your own equipment? Check out local rental shops. You can rent everything from boats, to paddle boards, to jet skis.
Take a day trip to Lucky Peak State Park
Just pass the city limits is Lucky Peak State Park. This 240 acre state park includes the Lucky Peak reservoir mentioned above, Sandy Point, and Discovery Park.
Sandy Point Beach at Lucky Peak State Park
This area includes a man-made beach, a swimming area, and a fountain in the middle of the swimming “pond.”
The grassy area surrounding the beach has plenty of tables, BBQ pits, and beyond. Inside Sandy Point you will find restrooms, paddle board rentals, and sometimes snack options.
Pets are not allowed from May 1 – October 1 each year.
Splash Around One of The Many Boise Area Parks With Water Areas
The Boise Valley has plenty of parks that include a splash area for children and adults to cool off. Some of my personal favorites include Settler’s Park, Ivywild Park, Borah Park and Discovery Park.
Go Surfing On The Boise River – REALLY!
It might sound crazy, but you can literally go surfing on the Boise River. Boise’s River Park is one of the top artificial river surfing waves in the country. It was one of the first fully adjustable river waves in the U.S., and it provides a steep, fast, green wave on “Green Wave” days, and more of a wave/hole on “Wave/Hole” days. The park follows an alternating schedule for “Green Days” and “Wave Days.”
Go Swimming at One Of The Many City Pools
The City of Boise has several pools that are available to go swimming at. I will be honest, many of them have changing rooms and restrooms that are in need of some major updates, but if you are just wanting a pool (with lifeguards) for an affordable price, they get the job done.
The Natatorium Pool also features a HydroTube that kids can enjoy. The hydrotubes cost extra, but are reasonably priced at 10 rides for $5.
Enjoy Many Beautiful Parks and Amenities In Boise This Summer
Boise, Idaho and the Treasure Valley are known for embracing the great outdoors, even within the cities. From the Boise River Greenbelt to the many parks that line the river, you will find plenty to do with places for kids to burn off energy.
Enjoy the Beautiful Boise Greenbelt On Wheels or On Foot
The Boise Greenbelt is a 25-mile path that is lined with trees, and parks, and follows the path of the Boise River. On the path you can encounter some of Boise’s local wildlife and beautiful scenery.
The Greenbelt is open to bikes, rollerblades, strollers, and those on foot (as well as to Mobility ECVs and wheelchairs). Motorized vehicles (besides mobility devices) are prohibited.
From the Greenbelt, you can access many of the parks we will talk about, the Boise State University Campus, museums, and more. There is plenty of parking at the parks on the trail, as well as some small parking lots at other access points.
Enjoy Julia Davis Park’s Festivals and Activities
Julia Davis Park is the oldest park in Boise, founded in 1907. It is a total of 43 acres, and stretches the length of the Boise State University Campus, just on the opposite side of the river.
During the summer, Julia Davis Park hosts many festivals and activities. One of the most popular events is Art in the Park where local artists can set up booths and sell their work.
Julia Davis Park also surrounds many of the Museums in Boise (more on those later), the city’s zoo, and the Boise Rose Garden. Visitors can also find paddle boats, large open grassy areas, plenty of picnic areas, playgrounds, and more.
Ann Morrison Park
Just down the Boise Greenbelt, and across one of the main streets, from Julia Davis Park is Ann Morrison Park. You might remember, this is the park where floaters must exit the Boise river.
The park is also home to several fields, a duck pond, a large fountain area, and playgrounds.
Ann Morrison Park is also where the city has its 4th of July celebration and Fireworks show, as well as the Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival (we will fly over that later).
Visit The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Located near the Boise Public Library, and right in between Julia Davis and Ann Morrison Parks is Idaho’s Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.
This outdoor memorial includes an audio tour, water features and statues reminding us that we should all have hope and fight for human rights.
Explore Idaho Flora and Fauna at Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center
The Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center is located along the Boise Greenbelt, but the free parking lot and visitor’s center are near the Fish and Game Center.
The MK Nature Center has trails that you can walk and learn about the local wildlife, the life cycle of common fish, and more. You may also be able to see deer here, otters, beavers, and large sturgeon fish. Along the trail, you will see smaller fish through glass windows including trout.
There is also a small garden with plants native to Idaho and more.
Relax and Meditate At The Idaho Botanical Garden
The Idaho Botanical Garden is a beautiful location and a great place to go, take in the plant life, and relax. Located next to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, the Botanical Gardens also host several concerts in the summer.
During the winter months, they host a “Winter Garden Aglow” event, so if you are local be sure to check that out.
Play, Hike, and More at Camel’s Back Park
Camel’s Back Park was one of the parks I spent a lot of time at as a child. I grew up near the foothills, and Camel’s Back was one of our favorite places to go during the summer.
Back then, it had a playground where part of it was up the hill a bit, and the other half was at the bottom. And there were a few slides that connected them. All the equipment was metal, so it got hot.
When it came time to redesign the park, that playground was removed. The park now features an accessible playground which is awesome.
You will also be able to hike in the Boise foothills. But be prepared with decent shoes, and the main path to the top is very sandy, so you will most likely have to empty your shoes after.
Enjoy a Peaceful Nature Walk in Kathryn Albertson Park
Kathryn Albertson Park is a nature preserve with flat walking paths, the main loop being approximately 1 mile long. Our family loves to come here in the spring. Early mornings you may spot deer, and you will definitely see a ton of Geese (watch out for presents they leave). We have also seen turtles in the water, several different birds, and more.
This location does also tend to be a popular spot for family photos, weddings, and high school dance photos, so you may find it quite crowded on Saturdays in the mid-morning or late afternoon.
Learn About Water and the Climate at Boise WaterShed Campus
The Boise WaterShed consists of an educational center with more than 15 hands-on exhibits, and a 2-acre park with a simulated river system where kids can splash and get wet while learning about the science of water and climate.
This is a popular field trip destination for schools in the spring, but also for summer camps, so just know that you may see those groups if you go during the hours of 9 am to 4 pm.
Take in One Of The Many Great Museums In Boise This Summer
Most people don’t think about museums when they think of visiting Boise. Little do they know that Boise and the surrounding area have an array of museums including art, a children’s museum, and historical and cultural museums.
Learn About Idaho’s Rich History at the Idaho State Museum
Also known as the Idaho Historic Museum, the building is located at the entrance to Julia Davis Park in downtown Boise. In the museum, you can find exhibits highlighting Idaho’s history.
The museum also hosts traveling exhibits, so be sure to check their website before your visit.
Love True Crime? – The Old Idaho State Penitentiary Might Be For You
Ever wonder what it was like to live or work in prison? The Old Idaho Penitentiary lets you peek inside the walls. From seeing what solitary confinement looked like, to where prisoners ate and worked, you can explore the history (and some of the famous true crime stories) of the Old Penitentiary.
You can also visit the Women’s Ward, a separate building for the women, the Bishop’s house and more. While you are there, stop next door to visit the Idaho Botanical Garden mentioned earlier.
The Idaho Black History Museum Celebrates The Contributions of African-Americans to Idaho
The Idaho Black History Museum is located near the state museum in Julia Davis Park. Exhibits include tributes to the black people that helped shape Idaho. From York, the slave of Lewis and Clark during their expedition, to Lewis Walker, a black entrepreneur who moved to Idaho from Maryland to pursue business opportunities.
The Idaho Black History Museum is free but accepts donations.
Enjoy Some Hands-On Learning at the Discovery Center of Idaho (A Children’s Museum)
The Discovery Center of Idaho is a great option for kids to have some educational fun. Located in Downtown Boise on the edge of Julia Davis Park, the museum has plenty of hands-on exhibits. While some exhibits are permanent, they also have limited-run exhibits from time to time.
Visit the Only Basque Museum in the United States
Boise has a thriving Basque community of over 16,000 people. The Basque Block in Boise features dining, shops and the only Basque Museum in the United States.
The Boise Basque Festival has been on hiatus during the pandemic but plans to return in 2025.
Enjoy The Boise Art Museum
Another museum located inside Julia Davis Park is the Boise Art Museum, often referred to as BAM! The museum features several exhibits, but the one most kids will enjoy is the BAM UNPACKED for kids: Mixed Media Masterpieces. The exhibition features art created with non-traditional mediums in creative ways.
Aspiring Aviators Will Love The Warhawk Air Museum
The Warhawk Air Museum is located in Nampa but definitely earns a spot on the list. About a 30-minute drive from Boise, this museum features multiple military planes. My son who hopes to be a pilot is a big fan of this museum.
Tour The Idaho State Capitol Building
Okay, this one isn’t technically a museum, but I figured this was the best category for it. The Idaho State Capitol Building is located in Downtown Boise, and is open for visitors Monday – Saturday.
Scheduled tours must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance, but no more than 6 months in advance. You do not have to do a tour to visit the Capitol Building.
Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology
The Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology is a FREE museum located on the Old State Penitentiary campus. The museum includes exhibits on the mining and geological history of Idaho, including the contributions of different ethnic groups. The Idhao museum of Mining and Geology is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays.
Idaho Military History Museum
History buffs will enjoy the Idaho Military History Museum. They have exhibits that cover everything from the Revolutionary War forward, including weapons, uniforms, and more. The military museum is located at the Gowen Field Air Air National Guard Base.
Things to Do In Boise In Summer For Outdoor Enthusiasts
As mentioned before, Boise has no shortage of outdoor activities. And while we already covered the water sports, and major parks, there is so much more outdoor adventure to be had.
Enjoy The Trails in the Boise Foothills
On the north end of the city, the Boise foothills provide a unique trail opportunity for hikers, bikers and horseback riders. The Ridge to Rivers Trail system consists of over 190 miles of trails for all difficulty levels. From short, family-friendly trails for an evening walk, to more intense trails that may take a few hours, there is plenty to explore.
Fish On The Boise River
The Boise River is open to fishing year-round but is definitely a popular location in the warmer months. There are plenty of locations for those who wish to set up and fish for a few hours where you can find a sand bar to keep a cooler and snacks (remember no alcohol is allowed within 250 of the river) and a chair. While I personally am not a fisherwoman, it is a great spot to cast a line, without having the need of a boat and a long drive.
Take On The Mountain Coaster at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
This one is on my family’s bucket list for this summer. The Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation area is known for its ski slopes in the winter and its trails in the summer, but there is also the amazing Mountain Coaster available. Idaho’s only mountain coaster, it is 4,330 feet of twists and turns.
Hike To The Top of Table Rock
If you live in Boise, especially the north end, you have most likely been to the top of Table Rock. But if you are visiting, this is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the city of trees. The hike begins near the Old Idaho State Penitentiary and is a 3.7 mile loop trail. The trail is moderate-challenging and includes an elevation gain of nearly 900 feet. Be sure to bring plenty of water with you as the trail has little to no shade.
Go Rock Climbing at The Black Cliffs
As you head out of Boise, towards the Lucky Peak area, you will see a canyon of Black Cliffs. If you are a rock climber, add this are to your must-do Boise bucket list. The cliffs are basalt, and crowds are usually minimal. Apparently most of us Boiseans are not fans of hanging off cliffs. That is good news for rock-climbing enthusiasts though. The best times for this activity are early morning or in the evening as the surface of the rocks can get quite hot in the summer months.
Go Camping in the Boise National Forest Area
So technically a bit outside of Boise, but still a great weekend activity – Camping in the Boise National Forest Area is just a short 25-45 minute drive from Boise (depending on how far up the mountain you want to venture). There are both maintained and unmaintained campsites available.
Check Out The Bat Reserve – Hyatt Hidden Lake
When my family first started to go hiking, one of our favorite small trails to take the kids was the Hyatt Hidden Lake. The cool thing about this area is that it is a Bat Reserve, so while there are tons of plants in the area, the bug life is minimal. Here you can also learn about the ecosystem of the area, and about the water cycle.
The area has both flat trails and small hills so you can tailor it to fit your ability level. It is located in the middle of Boise and edge of Garden City.
Spend a Day Exploring At The Birds of Prey National Conservation Area
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area doesn’t just have a large name, it covers a large area. With over 485,000 acres of land, there is no shortage of places to explore. The conservation area is located south of the Boise, Meridian and Kuna city limits and includes the Swan Falls picnic site, Guffey Railroad Bridge Trail, and Celebration Park (just to name a few).
Visitors can spend an entire day in the area and not explore everything. This area also includes facilities for Idaho Power (specifically at Swan Falls) so be sure to check any restrictions in place before visiting.
Go Mountain Biking
If a leisurely bike ride on the Green Belt doesn’t interest you, perhaps mountain biking in either the Boise foothills or the Mountains near Bogus Basin is more your style. Mountain Bikers have plenty of options to explore in the Boise area. Another activity that isn’t my cup of tea, but you can learn more about the best mountain biking trails in Boise from MBTProject.com
Things To Do In Boise – Zoos and Beyond
Kids love getting up close with the animals, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so in Boise. Check out all of these great activities to do this summer in or around Boise.
Visit Zoo Boise
Zoo Boise is located in Julia Davis Park and has recently undergone some major expansions. The new and improved facilities are worth a visit for those who love to learn about animals. Most summers Zoo Boise also offers a Butterflies in Bloom experience. This is a butterfly garden where you can walk in and literally have butterflies fly around you and often times, land on you.
Go Under the Sea at the Aquarium of Boise
The Aquarium of Boise is located on the bench, near the Boise Town Square Mall. While it is a smaller aquarium, it includes 38 exhibits and over 250 species of marine life. The aquarium is the perfect place to learn more about sharks, rays, reptiles, and even tropical birds.
Go Wild At The Idaho Reptile Zoo
My kids are begging to go to this one, and I think it might be time. Located in South Boise, the Idaho Reptile Zoo is a 10,000 sq foot facility with more than 300 animals at any given time. This is a rescue and education center, which means many of the residents are available for adoption… so parent beware if you aren’t ready to bring home that cute lizard.
Learn About The Hunters of the Sky at the World Center for Birds of Prey
Not to be confused with the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area, The World Center for Birds of Prey is located just south of the Boise City Limits. The facility houses several birds of prey including eagles, hawks, condors and beyond. The center focuses on education and preventing the extinction of these magnificent birds. In April 2023, the center opens it’s newest expansion to the facility. The World Center for Birds of Prey is open Tuesday – Saturday.
Things To Do In Boise This Summer – Explore The City
In addition to the activities we have already mentioned, there is so much to do and explore in Boise during the Summer. You can live like a local, take in one of the many summertime events, or just hang out in some of our unique locations.
Attend the Hyde Park Street Fair
Hyde Park is a great historical district in north Boise, near Camel’s Back Park. While we would suggest exploring the area anytime, the annual Hyde Park Street Fair (held in mid-September which is technically still summer) is a local favorite. The fair itself is held in Camel’s Back Park, but many of the local businesses also find ways to participate. The fundraising event features live music, local eats, and family activities.
Shop The Boise Farmers Market
From April to October, the capital city public market, known as the Boise Farmers Market takes place in downtown Boise. Starting at 9:30 am and going until 1:30 pm, local businesses are able to set up displays and sell their goods in the marketplace.
You will find unique jams, breads, artwork, and so much more. We love to head down to the market a few times each summer. There is just something about buying local food and goods and getting to know those that put the work into creating them.
Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival
The Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival is an annual event, usually held over Labor Day Weekend. While not as big as balloon festivals of other states, it is a great time to head down to the Boise parks and spend time with family.
Each day hosts different events, but the weekend early morning balloon flights are a must-see. One of the best places to view this is from the train depot and the roads on the edge of the Boise bench. Dozens of hot air balloons flying over the city of trees is a site you will not want to miss.
Attend the Boise Music Festival
The Boise Music Festival (along with the Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival) are the replacement of the Boise River Festival from years ago. The Boise Music Festival is a 12 hour festival with multiple musical acts. While you can buy tickets online, if you are local, local radio stations also tend to give away hundreds of tickets.
The lineup for the festival changes each year but usually includes artists that are no longer in high demand. More over though, it is a fun time to get out, enjoy time with the community, and hear some of your old favorites. 2023’s lineup includes C+C Music Factory, Gary Levox from Rascal Flatts, and Ludacris – just to name a few.
Check Out The Art in Freak Alley
Don’t let the name scare you. Freak Alley is one of the most unique art displays you will ever experience. Freak Alley is located in Downtown Boise between 8th and 9th Streets and south of Idaho Street. The alley is the northwest’s largest open-air, multi-artist mural gallery.
Some might consider this graffiti, but the work is all pre-approved.
This is also a popular location for senior photos for high schoolers. Alternative art lovers are sure to enjoy this free experience. A perfect side trip after visiting the farmers market.
Watch a Play at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Despite the name, you do not have to be a fan of Shakespeare to enjoy this outdoor theater company. The company provides education and entertainment in the performing arts. Shows may include some of Shakespeare’s work but also include productions such as Little Shop of Horrors, or Sense and Sensibility.
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is the perfect activity for a summer evening. One of the great things about this activity is picnicking is encouraged. There is also a cafe where you can get food (pre-ordering is strongly encouraged).
Explore Boise’s Downtown Area
Take in the historic buildings and history of Idaho, as well as many of the unique dining options and shopping experiences. Downtown Boise is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring. From unique art displays to the Grove’s fountains, you will find something new at every turn.
Parking is available in public parking garages or via metered street parking. Street parking is free on Sundays (verify via the meter).
Do A Boise City Scavenger Hunt
If you want something to guide you through your time in Downtown Boise, try one of the many scavenger hunts. For a small price, your group can use the scavenger hunt to explore historic and cultural sites in the city of trees in a new and exciting way.
Get Ice Cream at This Boise Idaho Favorite
I might be showing my personal bias here, but if you are in Boise in the summer, and looking to live like a local, you MUST get ice cream from Fancy Freeze. Located in the north end, this iconic mom and pop shop serves burgers and fries, but is mostly known with locals for its ice cream offerings. The cones are huge for the price you pay, and you can customize them by dipping them, adding flavors and more.
But more importantly, is their famous Boston Shake. What is a Boston Shake? Oh, it is a milkshake on the bottom half and an ice cream Sunday on the top half. With dozens of flavors to choose from for both the shake and sundae, the sky is the limit on the combos you can come up with.
If Fancy Freeze is not a good location for your visit, Big Bun on the bench at Overland and Curtis also serves the same ice creams and Boston Shakes. It started out as a partnership with Fancy Freeze, but even though that partnership is over, they are still able to serve the ice cream and shakes.
Seriously, DO NOT skip this.
Eat Your Way Around Boise
Confession: I am not a foodie, but I am married to one. If you are in Boise, whether a local or visitor and are a foodie, you will not want to miss the chance to check out some of our local diners. Here are just a sampling of some of the places that I have had friends rave about, and even those I have met on planes as I travel mention over and over.
- BACON – Yes, we have an entire restaurant dedicated to bacon. Considered the best breakfast in Boise, this downtown restaurant is a must-try. Bacon in shot glasses (a bacon flight? Is this what they mean by “when pigs fly”), bacon lasagna and more. The restaurant serves breakfast all day long.
- Meraki Greek Street Food – Authentic greek food is available at this downtown location.
- The Melting Pot – I don’t think this is exclusive to Boise, but I have had a lot of people mention eating there when I have talked to them on the plane as they leave Boise. This is basically a restaurant all about fondu. I can’t help but think of that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and the Fondu Date Night. Eating a full meal here will take a few hours, so be sure to plan enough time, but it is an unforgettable experience.
- Boise Fry Company – Idaho is known for its potatoes so I had to add the Boise Fry Company to the list. Here you can try french fries made from all different kinds of potatoes. Have you ever had a purple french fry? I have! This is a great alternative to fast food as it has the same type of menu, with an Idaho twist.
- The Basque Market – We have talked about Boise’s Basque community already, so how could I not include the Basque Market in this list. Enjoy authentic Basque food, including tapas, Pintxos, and classic European sandwiches.
- Guru Donuts – If you are attending the farmers market, you must stop at Guru donuts. Think of it as an Idaho spin on Voodoo Donuts, with unique flavors and toppings such as cereal or candies on top. They also offer Idaho Potato based donuts that are gluten free.
Attend a Boise Hawk’s Baseball Game
Sports fans will have the best time attending one of the Boise Hawk’s Baseball games. Located near the Western Idaho Fairgrounds, the Boise Hawks Stadium is home to our independent team – The Boise Hawks. They are part of the pioneer league, a partner of the MLB. Just be sure to where a hat and sunscreen and drink plenty of water as the sun can be harsh on the stadium seats in the evening.
Have Fun at the Western Idaho Fair
The Western Idaho Fair comes to Boise every August with rides, concerts, events, and of course exhibits and competitions. Each year you can enter your own artwork, crafts, livestock and more, but you can also visit and enjoy the many exhibits.
From learning how to make sheep’s wool into yarn, to riding the ferris wheel, the whole family will enjoy a day at the fair. And of course, you have to try some of the Idaho-inspired fair food – frozen spuds anyone?
Visit the World Village Festival for Cultural Performances and Food from Around the World
The World Village Festival takes place in June each year and features cultural performances and food from around the world. You can catch performances of cultural dances, try different cuisines from around the world, and more. Fun personal fact: My old hairdresser (she did hair while working her way through school) is on the board for Global Lounge (who organizes the festival) and an active member and promoter of the event.
Shop the Meridian Main Street Farmers Market
If you are staying on the West Side of Boise, the Meridian Main Street Farmers Market may be a great option for you to attend. Boise and Meridian our two cities but are right next to each other. One side of a major road is “Boise” and the other side is “Meridian.” So if you are closer to the Meridian city limit than downtown Boise, this Farmers Market might be a great option for you.
Like the one in Downtown Boise, you will find local businesses including farmers, artists, and more, selling their goods.
Race Go-Karts, Play Mini-Golf and more at Wahooz Family Fun Center
If you are looking for a way to let your kids burn off some energy, Wahooz Family Fun Center might be for you. The center includes an arcade, but also several fun zones, including but not limited to – Mini Golf, Bumper Boats, Go-Karts, Lazer Tag, and more.
The center is owned by the same company as Roaring Springs, so you can find package deals to explore both locations at a discounted price.
Have a Bucking Good Time at the Snake River Stampede
Of course in Idaho we have a rodeo every summer. The Snake River Stampede takes place in Nampa (a short 20-30 minute drive from Boise) at the Ford Idaho Center. Each July the rodeo brings locals and visitors alike together to enjoy nearly a full week of rodeo competitions and fun.
Go Wine Tasting in the Snake River Valley
Did you know that we have several wineries in Southwest Idaho? I will be honest that I have no expertise in this area, but have had friends that loved going Wine Tasting in the Snake River Valley. You can book a full tour (which my friends swore by).
Take on Challenges at Urban Air Adventure Park
There are trampoline parks, and then there is Urban Air Adventure Park. In addition to a trampoline park, you will find a ninja warrior course, a ropes course, and so much more. The Urban Air Adventure Park does require waivers for all participants in the activities.
Summer Day Trips From Boise, Idaho
Wanting to head out of the city for even more fun things to do? Even though we included a few things technically not in Boise, they were still pretty close. The list below has a few day trip ideas for those wanting to head out of Boise for a day to explore more of Idaho.
Visit Bruneau Sand Dunes and Go Sandboarding
One of the favorite things my family has ever done is when we went Sandboarding on the Oregon Coast. When we were talking with the board rental store, they let us know that we could go sandboarding even closer to home. The Bruneau Sand Dunes is a state park located about an hour outside of Boise, near Mountain Home Airforce Base. On top of having the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America (470 feet) the area offers camping, sandboarding, and other activities.
Note: Sandboarding rentals stop if the temperature reaches 80° F or higher for your safety. We suggest going early in the morning to beat the heat in the summer.
Check Out Thousand Springs Recreational Area and the Snake River Gorge
If you head to the Twin Falls area (about 90 minutes east of Boise) you can explore Thousand Springs State Park and recreational areas. Add in a visit to Shoshone Falls (the Niagra Falls of the west) and trails along the Snake River Gorge for a full day of adventure. Top it off with a visit to the 1000 Springs Resort in Hagerman at the only indoor, hot springs naturally heated pool in this part of the state.
Head to the Glenn’s Ferry Three Island Crossing State Park
Glenn’s Ferry is home to Three Island Crossing State Park. A popular location for pioneers to cross the snake river, the park used to hold a celebration here every summer before the pandemic. In years prior to 2010, that included a reenactment of the crossing, but then changed to a local festival and celebration. We hope to see the celebration return, but even if it doesn’t, this park offers cabins and camping, as well as disc golf and other activities.
Visit the City of Rocks
Emigrants of the California Trail describe the rocks here in vivid detail as “a city of tall spires,” “steeple rocks,” and “the silent city.” (Source) The City of Rocks is approximately a three-hour drive from Boise, so this could be a day trip, or if you choose to camp, a weekend trip. The area offers hiking, rock climbing, and educational opportunities.
Explore Idaho City, The Gold Mining Ghost Town
Idaho City is about a 45 minute drive up the mountains from Boise. The city, now a small town, is a historic mining town. while not really a ghost town as it has a few hundred residents in the town limits, it holds a lot of history.
During the summer, the weekends are a great time to visit and learn about the history of the town, including trying your hand and panning for gold, taking old time saloon photos, and more.
Drive Through the Scenic Owyhee Canyonlands
When I was young, on Sundays my dad would often have us pile in the family car and take drives. Sometimes it was just through local neighborhoods, but other times we would venture out of the city of Boise.
One of my favorite places for us to drive was the Owyhee Canyonlands. Located on the Idaho and Oregon border, the canyonlands have rivers and more to explore. Many locals enjoy taking the short hike to Jump Creek, while the Glory Hole at Owyhee Reservoir is also a big hit for families.
What To Do In Boise In Summer – Something For Everyone
There is so much to do in Boise, especially in the summer, that we know at least something on this list will be of interest to those reading it. The easy access to the great outdoors, city life, and cultural centers are just a taste of what Boise has to offer. Did you know about all of these great activities?