27 Best Things to Do in Boise in 2023 (By a Local)
👉 Jump To: Best Things to Do in Boise | Museums & Culture | Sights and Attractions | Parks & Hikes
I’m a Boise local here to help you find the absolute best things to do in Boise. This fast-growing city has a range of activities, perfect for any traveling styling and budget.
In this guide, I cover art museums, parks, old prisons, botanical gardens, and more. I also share a few hidden gems that you won’t want to miss when exploring the exciting City of Trees. If you’re just visiting, be sure to see my guide to where to stay in Boise.
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27 Best Things to Do in Boise
Boise River Greenbelt
Pedal along the Boise River on the famous tree-lined path
📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Boise River Guided Rafting Tour
Biking or walking down the highly-accessible Boise River Greenbelt is one of the best ways to see the city. This 25-mile trail connects parks, some of the best restaurants in Boise, and museums downtown. It also links over 850 miles of trail systems, creating a green sanctuary in the city’s heart.
Rent bikes, walk, or try out an electric scooter on the paved trail. The Boise River creates a serene natural environment, with flowing water, wildlife, and gorgeous flowers and trees. The Greenbelt is a memorable experience for people of all ages and abilities.
Along the Greenbelt, you can also check out Boise whitewater park. Here, waveshapers create the perfect conditions for surfers and kayakers to hone their skills.
👉 Pro Tip: The Greenbelt goes right by the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and Julia Davis Park. Be sure to stop and take in the sights!
Browse unique animal exhibits in the Downtown Boise Zoo
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 608-7760 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $9 adults, $6 under 12, free 2 & under
Zoo Boise, located in Julia Davis Park, boasts over 300 different animals from 100 different species. This is a great way to get outside for 3-4 hours and observe various exotic animals. Hands down, visiting is one of the best things to do in Boise with kids.
Unlike other zoos, Zoo Boise focuses on species preservation and conservation. You can feel great knowing your admission money is going to a good cause.
Plan your trip around fun events such as the butterfly exhibit or the giraffe encounter in the summertime. You can even book a private animal experience! Visit the zoo farm to hand-feed goats, sheep, and llamas for just $1.
Old Idaho State Penitentiary
Take a tour through the haunting historical buildings at the Old Idaho Penitentiary
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 334-2844 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $8 adults, $5 under 13
A functional prison from 1872 to 1973, the Old Idaho Penitentiary has a spooky past sure to intrigue any history or true crime buff. This is one of the things to do in Boise that you can’t miss.
This 19th-century prison stands as one of the last remaining ties to the turbulent period in history that marked the end of the “wild west.”
You can join a guided tour for just $2 on certain days (call in advance) or take a self-guided tour during operating hours. Walk among crumbling walls and feel the confinement of life as an inmate as you tour through the eerie cellblocks.
👉 Pro Tip: I highly recommend taking the guided tour! My guide was very knowledgeable and offered a lot of insight into the history of the prison.
Freak Alley Gallery
Snap pictures in front of Boise’s open-air gallery
📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: free
Freak Alley Gallery is a testament to the collective creative brainpower of hundreds of local artists and 20 years of new paintings. This unique alleyway in downtown Boise is the northwest’s largest outdoor gallery.
It is free to visit, open all year round, and the murals are constantly changing, so even if you’ve been before, you might see something new on your next visit. It’s the perfect place to take cool photos to document your time in Boise.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
Catch a top-tier theater production
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 336-9221 | Website | Hours: Seasonal, May-Sept | Entrance: $25-$56, depending on seating
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival is one of my top summertime activities and one of my favorite things to do in Boise. The Idaho Shakespeare Company puts on a series of plays throughout the summer in a unique outdoor theater. Each year, you can see plays like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and other fan favorites such as Little Shop of Horrors.
They offer chairs or lawn seating (the cheaper option), and you can bring your own low-back chair or borrow one of the provided chairs. Bring your own food and drinks to this relaxed theater experience and enjoy a quality production with a delicious picnic in the warm summer air.
👉 Pro Tip: The plays rotate each summer and run for a few weeks each, so plan in advance if you want to see a particular show.
Idaho Botanical Garden
Wander through thriving natural gardens
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 343-8649 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily, seasonal hours | Entrance: $11 adults, $6 under 12, free 3 & under
Explore the natural beauty of The Idaho Botanical Garden in full bloom. This thriving, 50-acre botanical garden boasts stunning scenery and intricately-designed gardens. It is the perfect place to stroll or to read on a quiet bench for a few hours. There’s nothing quite like the fragrant scent of blooming flowers on a spring afternoon.
👉 Pro Tip: Spring and summer are the best times to visit, but there may be special events in the winter, so always check the website before going.
Boise State University
Root for the Boise State Broncos Football Team
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 426-4737 | Website | Hours: Event dependant | Entrance: Event dependant
Events at Boise State University are some of the top things to do in Boise. Even if you’ve never been to the city, you likely know about the famous blue football field, home to the Boise State Broncos.
Catch a game at this football stadium or get tickets to one of the other thrilling sporting events. You’ll love being part of the local energy on game day. Make sure to wear your orange and blue!
If sports aren’t your thing, see one of the excellent plays at The Morrison Center for the Performing Arts. Found on the Boise State University campus, this center offers stellar productions throughout the year.
Boise Trolley Tours
Ride around downtown Boise in style
📍 Google Maps | Phone: 208-433-0849 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily, may be adjusted for special events | Entrance: $22
If you are looking for exciting things to do in Boise, downtown trolley tours are a must. Enjoy a ride on the vintage, open-air trolley as your experienced guide takes you on a trip through Boise’s past. This 75-minute tour is perfect for the whole family. It offers a fun ride, optimal sightseeing opportunities, and engaging historical education.
📚 Related Reading: 25 Best Day Trips from Boise in 2022 (By a Local)
Boise Art Glass
Try your hand at glass blowing
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 345-1825 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily, Closed Sunday | Entrance: $35-95
If you’re feeling creative, book a glass-blowing class at Boise Art Glass. Or sign up for a demonstration to see the talented artists make intricate pieces of glass. You can also visit their shop or view the gallery of incredible glass art. You’ll be entranced by this delicate and fiery art form!
Boise Museums & Culture
Basque Museum & Cultural Center
Explore the rich history of this unique culture
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 343-2671 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Tuesday-Friday, 11 am – 3 pm Saturday, Closed Sunday and Monday | Entrance: $5, adults, $3 under 13, free under 5
Boise is home to the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, the only Basque Museum in the United States. Explore the rich history of the vibrant (and often forgotten) Basque culture through art, images, and exhibits.
You can even take a tour through the Cyrus Jacobs/Uberuaga House and Fronton Building. These attractions give you an even more intimate look into the lives of historic Basque people in Idaho.
👉 Pro Tip: After visiting the museum, walk around Basque Block and check out one of the authentic Basque restaurants or the Basque Market.
Boise Art Museum
Browse through exciting exhibits and unique art installations
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 345-8330 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: $6, adults, $3 student, 5 & under free
The Boise Art Museum in Julia Davis Park is a must-see for art lovers. The impressive building offers an array of rotating exhibits to pique your interest.
Most of the exhibits are in a modern style, making this museum the perfect place for anyone interested in modern artistic expression.
See a show at this relic from the Golden Age of Hollywood
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 387-1273 | Website | Entrance: varies between shows
Cinema buffs will love this glimpse into the bygone era of silent movies and 1920s Hollywood stardom. This restored historic landmark is a functioning theater, housing concerts, comedians, and plays. It even has a classic movie night, where you can catch an old film in an authentic fashion. Check the website to see what is playing, and get tickets before you go.
Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Pay your respects at this sobering memorial
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 345-0304 | Website
This public memorial is open 24/7 and free to visit. It was designed to bring to light various human rights issues and encourage an open dialogue about the triumphs and tragedies of the human race. On your self-led tour through the memorial, take advantage of the various audio boxes during your visit.
At the center of this memorial is a statue of Anne Frank, and she is surrounded by quotes from various human rights activists. This is the only Anne Frank Memorial in the United States, and it is well worth a visit if you are looking for things to do in Boise.
Discovery Center of Idaho
Get hands-on at the Idaho Discovery Center
📍 Google Maps | Phone: 208) 343-9895 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Saturday, 12 am – 4:30 pm Sunday | Entrance: $20 adults, $13 under 18, Free under 2
The Discovery Center of Idaho offers interactive STEM activities. It’s the perfect place for the budding scientist! Get kids interested in learning or simply have a day of wacky fun at this innovative science center. Kids and adults will enjoy engaging in the fun, and with over 150 exhibits to choose from, your day will be packed with excitement.
Idaho State Museum
Dive into Idaho’s past
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 334-2120 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Monday-Saturday, 12 pm – 5 pm Sunday | Entrance: $10 adults, $8 under 18, Free under 5
The Idaho State Museum is all about the history of Idaho and the people who called it home. This interactive museum is perfect for curious people of all ages. It offers engaging and educational displays that bring history to life.
It also expands on the importance of nature in shaping history and is perfect if you want to learn more about the ecology of the Gem state.
Boise Attractions and Sights
Idaho State Capitol Building
See state legislature in action at the Idaho State Capitol
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 332-1012 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Sunday
You can’t visit Boise without at least walking by the impressive Idaho State Capitol Building. Even better, go during public visiting hours and take a look inside. Gaze at the impressive domed ceiling and take a free tour to learn about the history of the building and the public officials who work there.
👉 Pro Tip: Tours are a great option, but you must book them two weeks in advance, so plan ahead!
Aquarium of Boise
Immerse yourself in the underwater world
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 375-1932 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm M-S, 12 pm – 5 pm Sunday | Entrance: $13, adults, $10 ages 7-11, $8 ages 3-6, free 2 & under
The Aquarium of Boise is a great place to visit if you happen to be in the city on one of Boise’s rare bad weather days. Kids will love spotting bright fish hiding in the colorful coral and petting the sting rays in the touch pool. Make sure to check out the bird aviary as well!
World Center for Birds of Prey
Get “nose-to-peak” with fascinating raptors
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 362-8687 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily, Closed Mondays | Entrance: $10, adults, $5 under 16, Free under 3
The Peregrine Fund’s World Center For Birds of Prey is an educational center focused on the conservation of critical birds of prey. The Peregrine Fund is an international non-profit organization dedicated to preserving raptors worldwide.
Visit the center and get “nose-to-beak” with raptors like eagles, owls, falcons, and hawks during one of the daily live presentations.
Enjoy a full day of family fun
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 898-0900 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 11 pm Friday – Saturday, 12 pm – 8 pm Sunday and Wednesday – Thursday, Closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: $40-50
Wahooz is the top family-fun center in Boise. It is perfect for children (or children at heart). Take your family to the arcade-like activity center for a thrilling day of go-karts, miniature golf, and arcade games.
In the summer, swing by the attached Roaring Springs Water Park and cool down in the river or have some fun in the wave pool or waterslides. There’s something here for everyone!
Boise Train Depot
Take in historic architecture and great views
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 608-7644 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm Sunday and Monday
The Boise Depot is an excellent stop if you’re looking for things to do in Boise. This historic building opened in 1925 as a Union Pacific passenger depot and was a functioning train station until 1971. Now, it is used for community events, tours, and private functions.
Visit on a Sunday or Monday during visiting hours to go inside and look at the stunning historic architecture. Walk around the grounds to get a great view of Downtown Boise, or take a picture with the retired historic train engine Big Mike.
Capital City Public Market
Browse local artisan crafts and food
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 345-3499 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 1:30 pm Saturday | 👉 Culinary and Cultural Tour of Boise
Capital City Public Market is one of the best things to do in downtown Boise on a relaxed Saturday morning. Walk around vendor booths and enjoy the community atmosphere.
On certain Saturdays, there will even be live music or other entertainment, such as street magicians. Get a taste of local Boise (quite literally) by trying any of the delicious food and drink options.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re already out visiting the Capital City Public Market, head over to the nearby Boise Farmers Market to pick up some local produce. The Boise Farmers Market runs at the same time, so it makes for the perfect addition to your weekend morning outing.
Boise Parks & Hikes
Julia Davis Park
Get in on the action at Julia Davis
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 608-7600 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 12 am daily
If you only visit one park while you’re in Boise, Julia Davis can’t be missed. It is home to Zoo Boise, The Boise Art Museum, and The Idaho State Museum. It is even right next to the Discovery Center of Idaho!
Plus, it has free parking, easy Greenbelt access, and a beautiful rose garden that is free to visit. You should also stop by the Idaho Black History Museum while you’re there!
Morrison Knudsen Nature Center
Spot local fish through underwater viewing areas
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 334-2225 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3 pm daily, Closed Mondays
Located along the Greenbelt, the Morrison Knudsen Nature Center is great if you’re looking for free things to do in Boise with kids. It has numerous walking paths, underwater fish viewing areas, and protected wildlife habitats.
Make a stop at the small visitors center to read displays and learn about Idaho’s natural wildlife.
Table Rock Hike
Get your hike on at this local favorite
📍 Google Maps | Website
Table Rock hike is one that you can’t miss. If you want fantastic views of Boise, look no further. This moderately challenging, 3.7-mile loop hike is an excellent option for anyone looking to get some good exercise and sunshine.
A cross at the top offers a great photo op with a neat view of the city in the background.
👉 Pro Tip: This trail isn’t shaded and can get very hot during the summer. Get an early start and always pack extra water and sunscreen! See our Hiking Essentials Checklist for more tips.
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Ski down snowy mountains or bike on pristine trails in the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation area
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 332-5100 | Website
Bogus Basin is the premier outdoor recreation location all year round. Boise locals and visitors alike come up the mountain to get out in the fresh air and sunshine.
In the winter, this is the closest place to try out some winter sports. The ski resort offers 10 lifts and 80 runs for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. They even have paths for snowshoeing and tubing!
Head up in the summer and take a scenic chairlift ride or fly down the mountain roller coaster. You can even go hiking or mountain biking around the many trails. Shafer Butte and Stack Rock are two of my favorite hiking trails in the area.
🚗 How to Get There: In the winter months, the road up the mountain can get a little dicey. It’s always best to go with an AWD or 4WD vehicle. Compare costs and agency ratings with Discover Cars.
Float the Boise River at Barber Park
Tube, raft, or kayak down the Boise River
📍 Google Maps | Phone: (208) 577-4584 | Website | Hours: 8 am – sunset daily 👉 Boise River Guided Rafting Tour
Barber Park is the main location to launch a float down the Boise River. Rent a tube, raft, or kayak (or bring your own) and float down the Boise River. You’ll end up in Ann Morrison park, where you can take a shuttle back to your car at Barber Park.
Remember, floating the Boise River is strictly a summertime activity. However, you can still enjoy Barber Park in the off-season.
👉 Pro Tip: If you want to bring your phone on your float, invest in a waterproof pouch and keep it around your neck. I’ve seen many people lose their phones to the river!
Camel’s Back Park
Get into nature at Camel’s Back Park
📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: 6 am – 9:30 pm daily
This is one of my go-to parks when I want to get some outdoor exercise but don’t want to drive too far out of the city. It offers a neat outdoor gym area and has a long staircase that takes you to the top of the nearby hill. It will get your heart rate up for sure!
This park offers easy access to nearby hikes in the Boise Foothills and the Hulls Gulch Reserve and is connected to miles of public trails. Take in the downtown views from the hill or enjoy a round of tennis and a picnic. You won’t run out of things to do at Camel’s Back Park!
FAQs About What to Do in Boise
What is Boise famous for?
Boise is famous for its stately capitol building, the Broncos blue turf football field, and the Boise Greenbelt. It is also known for its large collection of parks and greenspaces in the city center.
Is there a lot to do in Boise?
There are so many things to do in Boise! The city’s great restaurant options, museums, parks, and attractions could keep you busy for a long time in the City of Trees. There are also several day trips from Boise worth experiencing.
I hope this guide to things to do in Boise has been helpful and that you have a great time on your trip! What attractions did you decide to visit? What were your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
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I’m visiting Boise area to stay with friends in September and hopefully hike the Grand Canyon. Your info piece was helpful for a visitor from Australia . Good blend of outdoors and cultural content. ( outdoors for me )