This author is a paid content writer for Idaho Tourism.

Those who have journeyed to Idaho know how much we enjoy our outdoors, this fact especially rings true in the Gem State’s capital. Boise is praised for its vibrant culture, lively crowd, and active community on a regular basis, in fact, Forbes named the City of Trees No. 2 for Best Cities For Raising a Family.

So what should be on your list during your visit to Boise? Well, we have an active arts community, out-of-this-world local restaurants, a lively downtown, oh, and did I mention we are only 15 minutes away from rafting, boating, biking, hiking and camping spots? If you’re headed into town for a short weekend visit, do what the locals do, and experience a typical day in the life of a Boisean.

1. Explore the Ridge to Rivers Trail System

An air balloon floating over a city landscape.
A scenic view of downtown Boise from the Ridge to Rivers Trail System. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

There aren’t too many places where you can find a 25-mile riverside Greenbelt path right outside your hotel room. You’d be even more hard pressed to find city lodging that’s five minutes away from endless hiking trails, biking, and scenic foothills. Well, that’s exactly what you get when you visit the City of Trees, over 190 miles of expansive, interconnected trails only 5 minutes from your hotel room. You could spend days exploring the Ridge to Rivers Trail System and never hit the same trail twice. No matter which route you choose, you’re bound to come down from the foothills and bump into a local brewery – the perfect finish to an evening run or bike ride.

2. Have a beer at one of Boise’s breweries

Pouring a glass at Payette Brewing.
Pouring a glass at Payette Brewing. Photo credit: Payette Brewing

Speaking of local craft beer, Boise has tons of it. The City of Trees has long been home to a proud group of brewers and grain wranglers who have been mastering the craft of flavorful drafts for decades. Boise’s beer community has grabbed the attention of beer connoisseurs all over the U.S. From Highlands Hollow’s classic charm, hosting skiers and boarders after long days up on the hill, to joints like Payette Brewing with new state of the art breweries capable of keeping up with the national players. Tap into an Idaho brewery during your visit and check out the Idaho Brewers Trail Map.

3. Float the Boise River

Air balloons floating over a river surrounded by trees.
Air Balloons floating over the Boise River. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Nothing really compares to a lazy day float down the Boise River in the heat of summer. Good friends on a lazy afternoon, your feet dangling in the cold water, drifting between outstretched trees – that is what a quintessential summer day in Boise should look like. Many who float the river journey down the stretch between Barber Park, east of downtown, down to Ann Morrison Park. The put-in area at Barber Park has free air pumps that you can use to pump up your tubes as well as ample parking. To view shuttle services and rental fees, click here.

4. Grab dinner on 8th Street

8th Street in Boise
A warm summer day in the heart of Downtown Boise. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

No matter who you ask in Boise, they will tell you that the food scene is unique and delicious. We take pride in our state, and many of the restaurants downtown reflect that, using locally sourced ingredients from nearby farms and ranches. That being said, no trip to Boise is complete without stopping and indulging in some hearty cuisine – looking for a swanky lounge vibe? We have it. Casual pub food? Check. Mouth-watering desserts? All I can say is, bring your appetite. Check out a full list of downtown restaurants here.

5. Shop Downtown Boise

Downtown Boise at night.
Downtown Boise at night. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Did you know that Boise is the biggest metropolitan area between Portland and Salt Lake City? That makes the City of Trees a huge shopping destination for Northwest travelers and visitors. In addition to outstanding retail shopping, we boast hundreds of one-of-a-kind local businesses. Don’t forget to enhance your Boise shopping experience by visiting one of the popular weekend public markets, Capital City Public Market or The Boise Farmers Market.


6. Channel your inner drama nerd

A performer acting at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Enjoying a summer play in Boise at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Photo Credit: Idaho Shakespeare Festival

Idaho summers are one-of-a-kind, as any local will tell you. Not only for outdoor enthusiasts but for culture buffs as well. For instance, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival kicks off in July and performance runs all the way through September. Reserve your seat at their outdoor amphitheater and fill your soul with classic performances and beautiful productions under Boise’s starry night sky.

What’s on your list for your visit to Boise? Tag us on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #VisitIdaho and share your Boise experience with us. We’re always looking for something new to try in the City of Trees!

Tyler Schnur

Published on August 9, 2016