Introducing guest blogger Faith from 3 Tickets Please
If you are looking for the best things to do with 24 hours in Boise, Idaho, then we have you covered.
If you are planning a trip to Boise, you have chosen wisely. Boise is a wonderful combination of urban and wild. The walkable city is situated on the base of the foothills, so it offers numerous opportunities to get into nature, all within minutes of downtown. The areas surrounding scenery, coupled with its urban vibe made it one of the best cities in the West to travel.
We have lived in Boise for nearly 20 years and raised our family here. So we can give you the best local advice on what to do in our capital city.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
Getting to Boise
There are eight airlines that serve Boise Airport. Boise is also an easy drive from other Western cities like Salt Lake, Seattle, and Portland.
Where to stay in Boise depends on your vibe. Boise has very distinct neighborhoods, each with their own charm.
You can’t go wrong with staying in Downtown Boise for first-time visitors to Boise. If you are traveling as a couple or solo, Modern is our favorite hotel in Boise. The hotel is a renovated Travelodge that is full of mid-century modern style.
If you are traveling with family, Hampton Inn and Suites is a great choice. Another great family choice just outside of Downtown Boise is Riverside Inn. Riverside is right along the river so your family has access to the Boise Greenbelt to walk or ride. There is also an amazing pool with The Sandbar, a great bar and grill just steps from the water.
The Northend is the best neighborhood for a charming and quaint vibe. The neighborhood is just blocks from downtown and has some of Boise’s quaintest restaurants and coffee shops like Java in Hyde Park. Franklin House has a unique twist on the B&B. This boutique stay is bed and beer, and in a town known for its craft beer, there aren’t too many better pairings.
Our favorite neighborhood is the Boise Bench. We love it so much we have chosen to make it our home for over 20 years. On the bench, you’ll find many more diverse restaurants and shops. Our own son can not get enough of Tango’s Restaurant, the best place in town to get Argentinian empanadas.
The Bench is especially good if you are looking for a home rental so your family can have a little more space. We recommend looking for houses around the Boise Depot, our historic train station, so you can get a bit more space but still be minutes from downtown.
Boise’s transit system is all public bus. You can get a bus from the airport and be in downtown Boise in less than 10 minutes.
If you are planning to stay in Downtown Boise or the North End, you can definitely navigate the city by bus and ride share. However, if you want to spend more time hiking or biking in the Boise foothills or if your plans include Bogus Basin, Boise’s ski resort, then you will probably want a car.
24 Hours in Boise
If you are in Boise for only 24 hours, you are going to want to start your day with breakfast. Goldy’s Restaurant in Downtown Boise is a local favorite. Don’t be confused by the no-thrills exterior. Inside this little gem is some delicious eats. Just be prepared to either get to Goldy’s early or wait for a table…it is that good.
Or if you are looking for a fast place to grab a cup of Joe and get off for your adventure, then Flying M coffee shop is an excellent local choice in downtown Boise. Be sure to add a few minutes to stop at their unique shop inside the coffee shop. The sticker choices alone are worth the stop.
If you stay in the Bench, start your day at the Blue Bruchette. It has the most amazing omelets, and be sure to ask about the mimosa trees.
After breakfast, it is off to do some adventure. Boise is a four-season city with outdoor adventures just minutes away from downtown. What you do after breakfast really depends on the season.
Boise in Summer
In summer, we definitely recommend a day on the water in Boise.
Running through the center of the city is the Boise River, and locals will tell you a day floating the river is a true local pastime.
You can rent inflatable tubes or rafts at Barber Park, where you’ll start your float. The float takes about 2-3 hours, and at the end, you can catch a bus back to your car. Be sure to book tickets for the bus where you rent your inflatable.
Or, if you prefer a more active day on the water, there are so many great places in Boise to paddle a kayak or spend some time on a stand-up paddle board. One of our favorite places to paddle is Esther Simplot Park.
The 55-acre park actually has over 20 ponds for swimming and fishing, but a local favorite is definitely Quinn’s Pond.
Quinn’s has flat water and lots of room, making it the perfect place to learn stand-up paddle board or kayaking. And the best part is you can rent just steps away at Idaho River Sports. Just be sure to reserve your gear early, as they often sell out on a hot summer day.
If you are looking for a more exhilarating way to spend a summer day, just 15 minutes from Boise is Roaring Springs Waterpark.
The park has over a dozen rides, along with a lazy river and a wave pool. For smaller swimmers, there is also a kids’ zone full of fun ways to splash and swim.
If you are in Boise at the end of summer, be sure to check out the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic. Held during Labor Day weekend, the festival has over 50 balloons soaring over the city. The Glow Up Night, where they tether the balloons to the ground and light them against the night sky, is not to be missed.
Boise in Spring or Fall
In spring or fall, a day riding bikes on the Boise Greenbelt is a perfect activity. The 25-mile paved walkway that runs all along the Boise River is an oasis in the middle of the city.
Boise’s original name is Les Bois, which is French for “the woods’ and nowhere is the city’s density of trees felt more than on the Greenbelt.
The paved path runs along the river and through the heart of Boise’s green spaces. There is no better way to spend a day in Boise then walk, run or ride the Greenbelt.
If all that biking makes you hungry, along the greenbelt are delicious places to stop for a bite to eat, but perhaps the most unique is Green Acres Food Truck Park.
Green Acres is truly a family-friendly stop, and even Fido is invited. The park often has live music and there are always lawn games to play while you wait for your delicious meal to be ready.
After lunch, spend some time in Boise’s amazing parks. Along the Greenbelt, Boise has three parks that make up the green lung of Boise: Julia Davis, Kathryn Albertson, and Ann Morrison. All three parks are wonderful places to visit, but Julia Davis is the best stop for travelers, especially families.
Julia Davis not only has beautiful green space, it is also home to the Boise Zoo, Idaho State Museum, the Boise Art Museum, and the Discovery Center of Idaho.
Should you happen to be in Julia Davis Park on a raining day, The Discovery Center is an excellent STEM museum. When our own son was younger, we spent hours upon hours exploring their interactive exhibits. The museum also has visiting exhibits that are truly world-class.
When the sun comes out, head to the Julia Davis pond where you can rent paddle boards to take in the mountain sun.
In the Spring, Boise is home to Treefort, one of the largest music festivals in the Pacific Northwest. The festival boasts an amazing 500 bands and over 25,000 attendees, but because the festival is spread out amongst numerous sites throughout downtown Boise it never feels crowded. Treefort takes place in March.
Boise in Winter
In the winter, there is no more perfect way to spend 24 hours in Boise than a day skiing. Boise’s Bogus Basin is one of the few non-profit ski resorts left in the world. The resort’s nonprofit status means you can have great family skiing at an affordable rate.
If you are an expert skier, you might think a non-profit ski resort won’t have the challenge. You would definitely be wrong in the case of Bogus. Bogus has 10 ski lifts and nearly 2,000 acres of skiable acres.
New to skiing? Bogus has wonderful ski lessons. Ski lessons for little ones begin at 4 for group lessons and 3 for private lessons. It is where our son learned to ski, and while we are biased, we can confidently say that Bogus has some of the best ski instructors in the West.
If you don’t ski, Bogus also has tubing and cross-country skiing. Bogus Basin’s close proximity to Boise–at just 18 miles from downtown–means even if you don’t want to ski or tube, you can just drive up for the views. They are the best in the Valley.
After all that adventuring it is time for dinner. Any trip to Boise should include the Boise Fry Company, the reason is literally in the name. Here you can get four different types of fries. From yams to russet, you will not regret a stop here.
If your time in Boise calls for a more upscale meal and you like Indian food, then do not miss Taj Mahal. One of the ways we save money to travel is by minimizing eating out, but if we have ANY special event or celebration, we head directly to Taj Mahal.
The Ishaq family has owned and operated the restaurant for over 23 years. They have always treated us like family and I know they will do the same for you.
Meals are made upon order, which is the true sign of a great Indian restaurant, so expect to spend a few hours here. But we promise it will be so worth it.
Conclusion: Boise in 24 Hours
Boise is one of the best mountain cities in the West.
Its location at the base of the foothills makes it a beautiful mix of wild and urban, and its size makes it absolutely manageable and enjoyable for all types of travelers.
Whether you are floating the river, riding the Greenbelt, or skiing in the nearby mountains, the city will also welcome you with its walkable downtown and unique neighborhoods.
We have made Boise our home for over 20 years. We have traveled much of the world, but there is something truly special about Boise that always brings us back home.
About the Blogger
3TicketsPlease is a budget family travel blog with a focus on adventures. We specialize in teen travel and using public transit and bikes to see the world. We are mom, Faith; dad, Matthew, and teen son O. Together, we have explored more than 20 countries and started this blog to help other families find affordable adventures.
With thanks to 3 Tickets Pleases for their contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read about outdoor adventures in Spokane, WA with kids, or head to Oregon and learn more about Bend with kids.
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