Boise, Idaho is one of those places you discover and almost want to say, “Shhhhh…, don’t tell anyone.” It’s kind of one of the best kept secrets in the Pacific Northwest. Easy airport, easy going people, and easy everything. And when I want a quick getaway, easy is important. I could spend a month in Boise, but it does make an ideal quickie getaway because you can pack a whole lot into two days with very little effort. Here is my ultimate 48-Hour Guide to Boise, the summer edition.
WHERE TO STAY IN BOISE
My top pick is Inn at 500 because the location is ideal, it’s brand new and luxurious, and it’s dog friendly too. We loved the comfort factor, the gallery level art that is all over the hotel, the knowledgable staff and our spacious bright room with a view of the capitol. At Inn at 500, you are within walking distance of tons of wonderful food and drink options and just about everything that is on this list. There is also a complimentary car service for when you need to go just a little bit further. Read my detailed hotel review HERE.
WHAT TO DO IN BOISE
You will not run out of exciting things to do in Boise, I promise you that. But you can distill the list down to a few meaningful activities that embrace the location and leave you with a better understanding of the area and feeling satisfied that you used your time in a meaningful way without getting overloaded.
You have to ride bikes on the Greenbelt. This is one of the easiest and most satisfying thing to do in Boise and you can use the greenbelt as a method of getting from one place to the other. And–if you stay at Inn at 500, you can use their fabulous Electra Townies. It’s nice and flat, gorgeous and runs along the river, so it is a refreshing place to be in the summer. We seriously could not get enough of the greenbelt and rode it every chance we had. In fact, we rode bikes a lot in Boise because it is extremely bike friendly downtown.
Idaho is famous for high quality river rafting experiences and there are outfitters within a short drive of Boise that will take you out on a thrilling rafting trip. We went with Cascade Raft & Kayak and had an absolute blast. I was apprehensive from a bad rafting trip years ago and this completely changed my mind about river rafting and I can’t wait to d it again. Read about that experience HERE.
There is a thriving Basque community in Boise, and by visiting the Basque Block you can learn all about the history and get some authentic Basque food like freshly made Paella cooked out in the open air. You can read all about that HERE.
Historic Egyptian Theatre
I love old arthouse theaters with a theme, and Boise has a wonderful one. The Historic Egyptian Theatre was built in the 1920’s and provides a killer venue for movies and concerts.
It’s the oldest theater in Boise, probably one of the oldest in the country, and it’s really a thrill to stand inside and take in the Egyptian theme. There are only a handful of these left in the country and they are treasures. If I lived in Boise, I would be a regular at this theater.
Street Art at Freak Alley
One of my favorite things about Boise is the colorful street art scene. Freak Alley is where you will find loads of graffiti, but you do see it all over the city. I’m talking about beautiful street art that’s bold and inspiring like halo’d birdies and energizing tigers and dragons.
Electrical boxes are beatified by street art and it creates a sense of life and energy around you. Pops of color and imagery in unexpected places tell stories you have to have some inside knowledge to understand, like the cute sheep electrical box in the Basque Block.
WHERE TO EAT and DRINK IN BOISE
There are a few places you cannot miss in Boise for excellent food & drink. I’m sure there are way more than this, but I can personally vouch for these, and next time I’m in Boise I for sure will go back to each. The first is Fork. This is a farm to table restaurant with a cute patio and fantastic food. You can ride your bike right to the front door and get some nourishing sustenance with uber high quality food. Also, the staff is as sweet as can be and make you feel extremely welcome and relaxed. Read about my experience at Fork HERE.
Brunch at the Modern
Next up is Brunch at the Modern Hotel and Bar. Holy Cow. This is the best brunch I’ve ever had. I learned to like Bloody Marias here, and tasted things I’ve never had before in my life. This is art on a plate and in a glass. They have a nice outdoor area that made it taste all the better alfresco. See more pictures and read my detailed review HERE.
You should probably do some cycling or river rafting after that brunch to build up an appetite for dinner because you want to go hungry to this next place. Bittercreek Ale House is another farm to fork restaurant and pub with excellent food. I had an excellent veggie burger and salad made with local greens and homemade ranch dressing.
Bittercreek Ale House
We sat on the patio and enjoyed fresh air and the bustle of the Farmers’ Market crowd. My son said this was his favorite meal in Boise and still talks about the burger he had there. This brewpub has a worm composting system in the basement where they compost all the waste from the restaurant and use that nutrient rich earth to donate and help rebuild the integrity of local soil. Read more about that meal HERE.
A couple of other places you need to know about are Boise Brewing which has the best beer I’ve ever tasted: Red Velvet Cream Ale, which tastes like Red Velvet Cake. OMG. I brought a growler home–the first time I’ve ever done that. This place is friendly and one of the best microbreweries I’ve ever been to.
For the sugar lovers, Guru Donuts is a fun place that has interesting flavored donuts. My son scarfed them down so fast I couldn’t get pictures, but they sure looked good. The atmosphere is cozy and it’s a great place to get caffeinated and do some work or get sugared up before heading off on an adventure.
48-Hour Guide to Boise Bottom Line
Boise is an artful, sophisticated city with the heart of a small town. It’s an ideal family friendly destination to spend a long weekend or quick stopover. It has something to please everyone whether you are a foodie, historian, art lover or hard core adventurer. It was one of my favorite trips and I do plan to return (I already have a list of places I didn’t make it to the first time). I can’t imagine going here and not having an incredibly satisfying trip.
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River rafting image courtesy of Cascade Raft & Kayak