Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Boise

The Boise State Capitol Building from the outside
The impressive Boise State Capitol Building

Why We Love Boise: Boise is quickly becoming one of America’s favorite travel destinations. Tourists and locals alike cherish Boise for its lively food scene and impressive outdoor recreation. Experience the 25-mile greenbelt along the Boise River, and take day trips to nearby hikes and hot springs. Whether you’re looking for adventure, a romantic getaway, or a family destination, The City of Trees will not disappoint.

Best of Boise

Things to Do

A colorful art at the Freak Alley Gallery
One of the pieces from Boise’s open-air gallery, Freak Alley

Even though Boise is a smaller city, you’ll have no trouble filling up your itinerary with these exciting activities:  

  • Freak Alley Gallery – This constantly-changing immersive outdoor art installation is free to visit. 
  • Boise River Greenbelt – Walk or bike along this 25-mile path on a journey through the greenspaces of downtown Boise.
  • Old Idaho State Penitentiary – Take a guided tour through this historic prison for a look into the lives of Boise’s past criminals.
  • Float the Boise River – Feel like a local as you ride an innertube down the Boise River during the summer months. 
  • Idaho State Capitol Building – Admire the stunning architecture of this impressive building. 

👉 Explore all things to do in Boise.

🗺️ Where to Stay

While downtown Boise is certainly the most popular place to stay, you can’t go wrong with any of the surrounding areas:

  • Downtown Boise – Walk to many Boise attractions and popular restaurants from this central location.
  • Southeast Boise and East End – A more laid-back area that is close to many outdoor activities. 
  • West Boise – Stay in one of the chain hotel options here to cut down on cost and stretch your travel budget. 

👉 Read the complete guide on where to stay in Boise.

View of cars on the road in downtown Boise
View of downtown Boise with snow in the foothills

🛎️ Best Hotels

The Grove Hotel from the outside
The Grove Hotel in downtown Boise

Boise has many chain and boutique hotel options to satisfy any type of traveler. A few of the best options include:  

  • The Grove – Nestled in the heart of downtown, this luxury hotel offers plenty of amenities, including a hot tub and rooftop terrace. 
  • Hotel 43 – An upscale boutique hotel connected to an award-winning, fine-dining steakhouse.
  • Riverside Hotel – An elegant, family-friendly hotel with a heated outdoor pool for year-round fun.

🍽️ Restaurants

The author smiling for a photo during her launch at Tupelo Honey
Taylor enjoying lunch at Tupelo Honey

You’ll have trouble finding a place you don’t want to eat in Boise. Be sure to visit on an empty stomach! 

  • Bacon Boise – As the name suggests, this breakfast and brunch spot is home to all things bacon. 
  • Barbacoa Grill – Snag a reservation at this upscale steakhouse for an exotic and unforgettable dining experience. 
  • Tupelo Honey – Enjoy a bright outdoor patio and made-from-scratch Southern comfort food. 
  • Fork – Farm-to-table local ingredients create vibrant entree options for every palette. 
  • Bittercreek Alehouse – High-quality, locally-sourced pub fare in a laid-back bar atmosphere. 

👉 Read the full list of the best Boise restaurants.

🚗 Day Trips

The author admiring the view during her hike in Sawtooth Range
Taylor on a summer hike in the Sawtooth Range outside of Stanley
  • Stanley – An outdoor adventurer’s paradise and one of the most breathtaking places in Idaho. 
  • Twin Falls – Explore hidden waterfalls, enjoy great views of the Snake River, and hike to pristine natural springs. 
  • Bogus Basin Recreation Area – A top mountain biking, hiking, and ski destination just 45 minutes from Boise.
  • McCall – Enjoy a laid-back day at the lake and some fantastic food in this small mountain town.
  • Craters of the Moon National Monument – Take a trip to the moon and experience epic stargazing at this International Dark Sky Park. 

👉 Read the complete guide to the best day trips from Boise.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

View from the entrance to Boise State University
Boise State University in Southeast Boise
  • Garden City – This small city located north of downtown Boise is a great base for day trips in the mountains. 
  • Downtown Boise – Close to the action and immersed in the restaurant and nightlife culture.  
  • Meridian – This adjacent city is home to many hotels, chain restaurants, and shopping options. 
  • Eagle – This suburb, nestled in the Boise Foothills, boasts numerous golf courses, spas, and mountain views.  
  • Southeast Boise – This neighborhood contains Boise State University and has easy access to hiking trails.

🍸 Bars

A glass of cocktail with lemon slice and rosemary
Enjoy fancy cocktails at Press and Pony
  • Cactus Bar – A laid-back pub that has been serving beer and frozen drinks for almost 100 years. 
  • Liquid Lounge – This open-mic comedy club and bar is a great choice for a night out.
  • Press and Pony – Delicious cocktails in a fun bar with eclectic vintage decor. 
  • Whiskey Bar – Enjoy whiskey-based cocktails in a casual bar setting. 
  • Symposion – Bring your dog to this friendly bar for a quality, frill-free drink.

🥾 Nearby Hikes

Closeup view of colorful wildflowers during a hike in Cervide
Wildflowers on an early spring hike up Cervide
  • Table Rock – A favorite local hike with a great view overlooking downtown Boise. Go early in the summertime to beat the heat.
  • Stack Rock – This intermediate hike is well-shaded and the perfect longer excursion for the more experienced hiker.
  • Cervide – This short yet strenuous trail is excellent for an early spring hike and provides beautiful views of the nearby reservoirs. 
  • Hulls Gulch – Bring your pup along on this moderate hike in the Boise foothills. 
  • Adelmann Mine  – Hike to an old abandoned mine building. There’s no shade, so wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water.

🥾 See the full list of best hikes near Boise.

👙 Nearby Hot Springs

View from the Boat Box hot spring in Boise
The unique Boat Box hot spring near Stanley
  • Kirkham – Arrive early to snag one of the best pools at this popular natural hot spring. 
  • The Springs – This commercial hot spring and resort has private pools for the perfect spa-day vibe. 
  • Trinity Hot Springs – Get the best of both worlds at this commercial hot spring pool with a natural bottom.
  • Pine Flats – Soak at your leisure in this natural hot spring along the river. 
  • Boat Box – Enjoy a unique soaking experience after hiking in the Sawtooths.

Boise Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

With intense summer heat and cold, snowy days, Boise is no stranger to the seasons. Carefully consider the timing of your visit, as the weather will determine much of your itinerary. 

  • 🍂 Fall – It’s called the City of Trees for a reason. Enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage and ideal hot spring weather. 
  • 🌞 Summer – Though the afternoons can get hot, summer in Boise means you can enjoy the mountains and our famous lakes and rivers. 
  • 🌼 Spring – This is the perfect time to explore the nearby foothills during their peak green season.
  • ❄️ Winter – While this is the coldest season, plenty of nearby ski resorts make it worth the trip.

🚌 Getting Around

If you have a car, Boise is a straightforward city to navigate. Check out our top tips for getting around the City of Trees:

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – With a WalkScore of only 38, it’s hard to get around without transportation unless you stay downtown. 
  • 🚗 Driving – Downtown parking isn’t too bad, and having a car is ideal for day trips from the city. 
  • 🚇 Public Transit – Boise has a bus route system, an affordable option for getting around.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Lyft and Uber are available in Boise if you decide to skip a rental car.  
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – Downtown Boise is very bike-friendly, and most streets have bike lanes. 
  • 🛴 Scooters – There are electric scooters on nearly every corner in downtown Boise.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 😎 – Get Out Early – Many people are shocked by Boise’s toasty summer weather. If you are visiting in June-August, get an early start.
  • 🚗 – Take a Day Trip – While there’s plenty to keep you busy in the city, a day trip will give you a glimpse into the natural beauty of Idaho
  • 🚲 – Rent Bikes – Check out some of our famous mountain biking trails or bike along the Greenbelt for an authentic local experience. 
  • 🍽️ – Make Reservations – Many of the most popular restaurants and hotels get busy. Plan in advance and make reservations. 
  • 💨 – Prepare for Wind – Boise weather is generally mild, but it can get blustery. Have a backup plan for windy days.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🥾 – Hiking Boots – Many of the best activities around Boise involve hiking. Bring hiking boots or sturdy shoes.
  • 🩱 – Bathing Suit – Whether you want to hit up a hot spring, go whitewater rafting, or try paddleboarding, you’ll want a bathing suit on hand. 
  • 🧴 – Sunscreen – The high-desert sun can burn you quickly if you’re not prepared. 
  • 🧥 – Jacket – Mountain evenings can get chilly, even in the summertime. Pack a light jacket or heavier cold gear if visiting in the winter. 
  • 💧 – Reusable Water Bottle – Depending on what you’re doing, drinking water may not be readily available. Bring your own bottle.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2021) – 237,446 (city), 764,718 (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Mountain Time (UTC -7 / UTC -6 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 208, 986
  • Airports – Boise Airport (BOI)
  • Nickname – The City of Trees
  • Demonynm – Boisean
  • StateIdaho
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $150-$250+/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $60+/night
  • Rental Car – $50+/day
  • Public Transit Ticket – ~$2.50 ($1.50 to the airport from the center)
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $10-15
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-30
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $60-140
  • Draft Beer – $6-11

FAQs About Visiting Boise

Is Boise safe for tourists?

Boise is safe for tourists and is often considered one of the safest cities in the world. Even as the population grows, the city has maintained its stellar reputation. Travelers should take reasonable precautions but can generally feel safe exploring all parts of the city.

Is Boise worth a visit?

Boise is worth a visit. Though it is the largest city in Idaho, it still maintains a friendly, small-town vibe that will make it feel like home.

Is there a lot to do in Boise?

There is a lot to do in Boise for every type of traveler! It is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise that offers plenty of cultural and historical activities.

What is the best month to visit Boise, Idaho?

The best month to visit Boise, Idaho is June, in my opinion. It usually offers optimal weather, though any time in early summer is ideal for avoiding hot temperatures and wildfire season.

What is Boise best known for?

Boise is best known for its 25-mile Greenbelt, the Boise State blue football field, the Idaho State Capitol Building, and the foothills.

Meet Our Boise Travel Expert

Taylor Ramsey, a Travel Lemming writer

Taylor Ramsey

Taylor Ramsey is an Idaho-based freelance writer with a passion for all things adventure. She loves camping, hiking, backpacking, paddle boarding, and traveling to new and exciting places with her husband. If she’s not on a mountain somewhere, you can usually find her at a local coffee shop on an endless quest for the perfect chai latte.

👉 Read Taylor’s Articles

📰 Boise Travel Guides

Boise has a lot to offer, but it’s just the start of the incredible wonders of Idaho. Check out our Boise travel guides to help you plan the ultimate bucket list trip.

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