Find Your Own Brand of Fun in Boise

Surfers and kayakers take turns playing on the Boise River surf wave in Garden City

Boise really knows how to do stress-free summer. It’s easy to be here—sunny skies, plenty of outdoor activities in town, friendly faces, and an ever-growing plethora of food and drink. And it’s simple to get here, too; downtown Boise is just a seven-minute drive from the Boise Airport. With 21 non-stop destinations and over 60 flights daily, it’s a quick and easy getaway.

Whether you’re searching for a relaxing weekend getaway or thrills that’ll keep your heart pumping, you’ll find your own brand of fun in Boise. All you have to do is choose: Easygoing weekend or non-stop excitement?

No-Stress Indulgences

Need a breather? Boise has your back. De-stress like a local on Ridge to Rivers, a beloved 190-mile trail system that’s just a short bike ride from downtown. You’ll find hiking and biking trails that weave throughout the Boise foothills, from short walks to technical mountain biking terrain.

If a leisurely stroll is more your pace, get on the Boise River Greenbelt and meander along the banks of the Boise river, which travels from the high mountains north of Boise into downtown. The Greenbelt follows the river’s path for 25 miles, connecting Boise’s stunning Ribbon of Jewels—public parks named after prominent Boise women—and offering plenty of shade on a hot day. Travel on foot or rent one of the Boise GreenBikes available at stations throughout the city.

Rather get into the water than stroll along it? Idaho is, arguably, home to the best fly fishing in the country—and in Boise, anglers can cast for trout and steelhead in the middle of the city. Rent gear from Idaho Angler on the way from the airport to downtown and you’ll be set up for an early-morning excursion.

When you’re ready to take a break, take your relaxation to the next level at one of Boise’s thriving wineries—many of which are located directly on the river or just a short drive away. Telaya’s patio on the banks of the Boise River is a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon, or bike down the Greenbelt to escape from the heat in Cinder’s casual tasting room (don’t be afraid to ask for a tour of the vats in the back). Coiled, only a few minutes from the river on Chinden Boulevard, is celebrated for its Rizza: a crisp, sparkling white wine. Down the street, Split Rail Winery offers wine in a can (really!) to pack on your next adventure.

More indulgences await downtown. Food in Boise is all about local, local, local, and it’s hard to find a downtown restaurant that doesn’t proudly display its allegiances to area farmers and producers. Even high-end dining in Boise is on the casual side, with establishments like Juniper, Fork, and Red Feather featuring seasonal menus that are not intimidating. (Just remember to make reservations. These places fill up fast! Head to The Modern for some of Boise’s greatest craft cocktails and a kitchen helmed by a James Beard nominee. Speaking of James Beard, travel slightly out of downtown to State & Lemp, where three-time Beard nominee Kris Komori crafts delicate, whimsical tasting menus.

Non-Stop Action

If you’ve never surfed river waves, now is your chance! Kayakers, boogie boarders, and surfers in wetsuits flock to the Wave Shaper at the new Boise Whitewater Park. When you’ve worked up a sweat, take a break on the beach at the adjacent Esther Simplot Park, one of Boise’s Ribbon of Jewels.

Of course, you could always live like a Boisean and float the river from Barber Park to the takeout at Ann Morrison Park, a 6-mile stretch that provides two to three glorious hours of indolence. Rent an inner tube, raft, and anything else you might need for the trek at the Boise River Raft and Tube stand at Barber Park.

After a summer day on the river, spend your evening enjoying live music: Head to Alive After Five, a free summer concert series that runs every Wednesday (starting at 5 p.m., of course) from June through August at The Grove Plaza.

Or you can head to the Idaho Botanical Gardens, located on the grounds of the Old Idaho Penitentiary (prisoners haven’t been housed at this site since the 1970s, but the building is open for tours). The Gardens’ Outlaw Field once was home to the Old Pen’s prison baseball team, but now it’s more famous for the Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series. Past acts include Paul Simon, Alabama Shakes, Jackson Browne, Brandi Carlile, and other top-notch tours.

The action heads to the streets on July 14, when the Twilight Criterium takes over downtown Boise. More than 20,000 people pack sidewalks, patios, and restaurants to watch cyclists furiously tear through the city for the chance to win a USA Cycling title.

Of course, summer isn’t summer in Boise without a trip to the Basque Block. Boise has one of the most active Basque populations in the world, and you can experience this unique culture at its dancing, drinking best during the San Inazio Festival the last weekend in July. Get caught up in rollicking dances, weight lifting contests, and drink your fill of kalimotxos (pronounced kal-ee- moh-chos), a strangely refreshing concoction of red wine and Coca-Cola.

If crowds aren’t your thing, adventure awaits high at the top of Bogus Basin resort: The Glade Runner, Idaho’s only alpine mountain coaster. Whiz through the trees at 25 miles-per-hour on the coaster’s 4,330-foot track. The coasters are pulled to the top of track by an independent lift, and then whoosh! You’re off on an unforgettable mountain experience.

All that adventure works up a thirst. Thankfully, Boise is a beer haven—it seems as if a new brewery crops up every week! Slake your thirst at Payette Brewing, Barbarian Brewing, Woodland Empire, Cloud 9, Boise Brewing, or Clairvoyant (just to name a few). Boise is packed with local, easygoing restaurants that serve up perfect accompaniments to a cold one. Try a tacodilla at Manfred’s, croquetas at Gernika, poutine at Bittercreek, burgers and fries at Boise Fry Company, or a classic pie at North End Pizza.

For more information or to start planning your getaway, visit boise.org