Download GPX file for this article
43.61361-116.20333Map mag.png

Boise

From Wikivoyage
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Boise City, Oklahoma.
The Idaho State Capitol, looking north from Capitol Blvd.

Boise is the capital and largest city of Idaho. Although its economic growth has its roots in agriculture, the city is now home to many high tech industries. Notable firms such as Albertson's, Micron, WinCo Foods and the J.R. Simplot Company are headquartered here.

Understand[edit]

Although the exact origin is disputed, the name "Boise" is thought to be derived from the French les bois, or "the trees." The name is a reference to the tree-lined Boise River, which passes through the heart of the city. To this day the city takes its "City of Trees" moniker very seriously, although before settlement there were actually very few trees in the area.

Boise began its life in the mid-1800s as Fort Boise, a U.S. Army installation located at a strategic junction on the Oregon Trail between what were then the major settlements in southern Idaho Territory, the mining camps of Silver City to the south and Idaho City to the northeast. A city grew quickly around the fort, and by 1865 became the capital of Idaho Territory (much to the chagrin of northern Idahoans, namely residents of the original capital of Lewiston). By the dawn of the 20th Century, Boise was far and away the dominant city in the region, having long eclipsed the likes of Silver City and Idaho City.

Today Boise is sometimes seen as the eastern edge of the Pacific Northwest, or the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, or both, depending on who you ask. Downtown Boise and the North End neighborhood offer a PNW feel every bit as strong as anything in Portland or Seattle, while suburbs such as Meridian and Nampa steadfastly cling to the decidedly self-reliant ethos of the Intermountain West.

Boise is a sports town strongly supporting its local teams, including the NBA D-League Idaho Stampede, the ECHL Idaho Steelheads, and of course its emerging college football powerhouse at Boise State University – all with recent league and conference championships. Slowly but surely, Boise is beginning to accept its role as a major metropolitan area in the western United States, while at the same time embracing its small town past.

Regions of the city are best distinguished by the age of construction (pre-1950's, 1950's-1980's suburbs, and post-1990 suburbs) and the affluence of their inhabitants, with the premier exception being the downtown core, which primarily consists of non-residential corporate and nightlife establishments. The North End refers to a distinct neighborhood due to the grid style of street construction, smaller pre-1940's suburban houses, relatively dense vegetation, and numerous amenities within walking distance of most residents. Boise has no culturally discernible neighborhoods, although a few ethnic restaurants and food stores exist.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Boise Airport BOI IATA is located less than 5 miles (8.0 km) south of downtown Boise. It can be directly accessed from both directions of Interstate 84 at Vista Rd (Exit #53). Getting downtown from the airport is simple, essentially requiring driving in a straight line (i.e. north on Vista Avenue). The airport is serviced by several airlines, including Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Southwest, and United.

The airport sports a modern terminal building and offers free WiFi.

By car[edit]

Boise can be accessed by car via Interstate 84, which connects to Meridian, Nampa, and eventually Oregon to the west, and to Twin Falls and eventually Utah to the southeast. Boise can also be accessed via State Highway 55 from McCall and Northern Idaho.

By bus[edit]

  • 1 Greyhound, 1212 W Bannock St (12th and W Bannock St in downtown Boise), +1 208 343-3681, toll-free: +1 800 231-2222. Greyhound travels primarily on Interstate 84 (Portland, Hood River, The Dalles, Baker City, Stanfield/Hermiston, Pendleton, La Grande, Ontario, Nampa, Boise, Twin Falls, Burley, Tremonton, Ogden and/or Salt Lake City) some eastbound buses continue contiguously from Salt Lake City to Denver. Passengers transfer buses in Portland, Salt Lake City and Stanfield, OR to reach additional destinations.
  • Northwestern Trailways, Greyhound Depot @ 1212 W Banncock (12th and W Bannock St in downtown Boise), +1 509-838-4029, e-mail: . Connects Spokane to Boise via Pullman, Moscow, Lewiston, Cottonbird etc.via US Hwy 195, 95, ID-Hwy 55. Some variations of the route connect through Couer d'Alene from Moscow.
  • Salt Lake Express, Bus stop at Boise Airport (load in the Shuttle/Taxi pick up lane.), +1 208 656-8824, toll-free: +1 800 356-9796. Travel primarily on Interstates 84 & 86 towards Pocatello via Mountain Home, Burley and Twin Falls. Passengers transfer buses in Pocatello to continue to their other destinations in Idaho, Montana, Utah and northwestern Wyoming.
  • 2 Autobus Los Paisanos, 799 S Orchard St (S Orchard & W Cassia), +1 208 342-4147. M-T and Th-F 8AM-3PM. Connects Caldwell, Boise, Jerome and El Paso, Texas.

Get around[edit]

By public transportation[edit]

Idaho is not known for public transportation, so your own vehicle is pretty much mandatory to get around outside the city center. There is a city bus service, ValleyRide, but routes are lacking compared to other cities of similar size. In addition buses stop running after 6:45PM Monday through Saturday, and don't run at all on Sunday.

By car[edit]

Cars can be rented at the Boise Airport from major rental companies including Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise. Traffic in Boise is relatively light and peaceful, especially compared to Seattle or Portland. That said, Boise is no stranger to heavy traffic in certain places. Interstate 184, Capitol Boulevard, Meridian Road, Eagle Road and State Street should be avoided during rush hours. Interstate 84 between I-184 and the Garrity Boulevard exit in Nampa (and sometimes into Caldwell) can be challenging as well. I-84 traffic in eastbound lanes is heavy in the morning, and in westbound lanes in the afternoon.

If I-84 is in bad shape, Ustick Road can be a smart alternative from Boise to Canyon County and vice versa, passing north of Nampa and south of Caldwell. Ustick runs unbroken for some 35 miles (56 km), from the Boise Bench neighborhood to U.S. Route 95 northeast of Homedale, close to the Oregon border. Victory Road provides a similar but more direct alternate route between south Boise and Nampa.

Traffic east of the Idaho City (State Highway 21/Federal Way) exit on I-84 from Boise towards Twin Falls is rarely - if ever - problematic. However, winter storms can make the Mountain Home area treacherous.

If you're going downtown, expect to pay to park even though parking meters aren't enforced on weekends or after 6PM After hours you might get lucky finding a spot on the street, but chances are you'll be heading to a private parking garage and paying a $2 minimum. This is especially true on weekends. Fortunately, parking outside the downtown core (i.e. east of Broadway, south of Myrtle, west of 15th and north of State) is insanely easy - and almost certainly free 24-7.

By taxi[edit]

Taxi service is adequate and available 24-7, but because the city is so spread out even traveling between neighborhoods can easily run over $20. Both companies and drivers must be licensed by the city. Established companies include:

By bicycle[edit]

The Boise city center is extremely bicycle-friendly. The Boise Greenbelt is a paved pedestrian and bike path that stretches approximately 25 miles (40 km) from Lucky Peak Reservoir east of Boise all the way through town [1]. For avid bikers and walkers, much of the river and Boise's parks can be accessed this way.

Cyclists should avoid main thoroughfares west of downtown, particularly Meridian Road and State Street west of 27th Street. Several bicycle-related fatalities have been recorded in those areas in recent months. Stick to side streets in Meridian and western Boise.

See[edit]

Boise is the administrative and cultural hub of Idaho. Many of Boise's main attractions are located in the downtown area.

Downtown[edit]

  • 1 Idaho State Capitol Building, 700 West Jefferson St (Downtown at the northeast end of Capitol Blvd). If you are bold, you can ring the bell at the foot of the Capitol steps. The Capitol underwent extensive renovation and in early 2010 reopened amidst much fanfare after being completely closed (including to government officials) for the better part of two years.
  • 2 Basque Museum & Cultural Center, 611 W Grove St (Downtown between Capitol and 6th St), +1 208 343-2671. The Boise area is home to one of the largest concentrations of Basque populations in the world outside the Basque Country itself. The museum, located in a part of downtown known as the "Basque Block," is a great place to visit whether or not you are of the Basque descent. Chock full of enriched heritage and even a bar to hang out at. A must see if you are in the Boise area.
  • 3 Julia Davis Park (Downtown with entrances on Myrtle St. and Capitol Blvd.). sunrise to sunset. This Olmsted-esque urban park contains many of the downtown attractions in Boise. It sits across the Boise River from Boise State University. Located within its confines are Zoo Boise, the Rose Garden, Boise Art Museum, a scenic railroad, and the Idaho Black History Museum.
  • 4 Boise Art Museum, 670 Julia Davis Dr (In Julia Davis Park), +1 208 345-8330. A great contemporary art at a very reasonable price. This museum is planned out beautifully and much more than most would expect from a town the size of Boise. Great local pieces as well as other western art. General Admission $5.
  • 5 Idaho State Historical Museum, 610 N Julia Davis Dr (In Julia Davis Park), +1 208 334-2120. History of Idaho from prehistoric days to now. Includes exhibits on Native Americans, Basques, pioneers, and Chinese history.
  • 6 Discovery Center of Idaho, 131 Myrtle St (Downtown next to Julia Davis Park at 2nd St), +1 208 343-9895, e-mail: . An interactive science museum that offers educational programs sensory exhibits designed to make the sciences, technology, and math tangable.
  • Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, 777 S 8th St (Downtown next to Julia Davis Park), +1 208 345-0304. Park with reflecting pools, waterfalls, and a statue of Anne Frank. "Never Again," a moving tribute to the Dutch hero and all those who struggle to advance the dignity of us all. Free.
  • Zoo Boise, 355 Julia Davis Dr (in Julia Davis Park), +1 208 608-7760. 10AM-5PM. Is one of the most popular attractions in Southern Idaho as well as a living science facility that is home to over 201 animals from 83 various species. On Thursdays there is discounted admission. $7/adult, $4.50/senior, $4.25/child.

East of Downtown[edit]

  • 8 MK Nature Center, 600 S Walnut St (1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of downtown on Warm Springs Ave), +1 208 334-2225. Located right on the Greenbelt, the museum and stream-walk present a glimpse of Idaho's wildlife. The walk also includes viewing windows giving a glimplse of life in the river.
  • 9 Old Idaho Penitentiary, 2445 Old Penitentiary Rd (2 miles (3.2 km) east of downtown on Warm Springs Ave), +1 208 334-2844. A great sight to see. This gem is a museum set in the Old State Penitentiary where guests can sit in old prison cells, solitary confinement, and explore the inner workings of this supposedly haunted prison. Admission: Adults $5, Children $3.
  • 10 Idaho Botanical Garden, 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd (2 miles (3.2 km) east of downtown on Warm Springs Ave), +1 208 343-8649. A truly serene place to visit. The gardens have been the site of many weddings and performances because of its beautiful setting of vibrant flowers and other vegetation. At no cost, it is a superb setting for a picnic. If you happen to be visiting in the month of December, you will find the gardens decked out in an impressive display of holiday lights. Adults $5.
  • Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology, 2455 Old Penitentiary Rd (2 miles (3.2 km) east of downtown on Warm Springs Ave), +1 208 368-9876. Historical museum includes photos and exhibits from the earliest days of mining in Idaho. Also there are diplays of the geological treasures of the state.
  • 11 Barber Park, 4049 South Eckert Rd (7 miles (11 km) east of downtown on Warm Springs Ave). 8AM - sunset. A local favorite. The Ada County Barber Park is in Southeast Boise and is a refuge for various wildlife, including: deer, elk, bald eagles, hawks, various birds, salmon, trout, and many more. Barber Park is also the starting point for a summer tradition in Boise: floating down the Boise River.

South of Downtown[edit]

  • 13 Idaho Museum of Military History, 4748 Lindburgh St (7 miles (11 km) south of downtown, south side of airport at Gowan Field), +1 208 272-4841. History of Idaho's military. Includes the World War II Farragut Naval Training Station and the Air Force Gowan Field.
  • 14 World Center for Birds of Prey, 5668 W. Flying Hawk Ln (12 miles (19 km) south of downtown on Cole Rd), +1 208 362-8687. The name explains itself. A fascinating place to visit, many birds of all types constantly in your line of sight. Many hawks, eagles, and other big birds of prey. Admission: $7 General, $5 Youth.

West of Downtown[edit]

  • 15 Aquarium of Boise, 64 N Cole Rd (5 miles (8.0 km) south of downtown on I-184), +1 208-375-1932. Home to over 250 species of marine life including sharks, manta rays, puffins, and sea turtles.

Do[edit]

Because of Idaho's massive outdoor recreation industry, Boise is the starting point for many outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains, including rock climbing, mountain biking, and kayaking. However, since Boise is also a large city, it also has urban attractions consistent with its status as the largest city in the state. Local activities include:

Arts[edit]

  • 1 Boise Contemporary Theater, 854 W Fulton. Since 1997, Boise Contemporary Theater has been Boise's premiere professional contemporary theater. Located in downtown Boise, BCT creates, produces, and presents vibrant and dynamic professional theater that illuminates enduring themes while exploring contemporary issues and ideas. BCT has had several world premieres, including Last of the Breed by Maria Dahvana Headley (author of The Year of Yes) and No.You Shutup, a one-woman show starring former Daily Show correspondent Lauren Weedman.
  • Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Of course, this is why you come to Boise. During summer, shows are performed at the theater at the base of the Boise foothills.
  • First Thursday (Downtown). Just like it says, on the first Thursday of every month there are a variety of events including a gallery stroll, live music, and in-store entertainment.
  • [dead link]Gene Harris Jazz Festival, Student Union Building (Boise State University). Held in the Student Union on the BSU campus, this March event benefits the Gene Harris Scholarship Endowment.
  • Capital City Public Market (Downtown). Boise's largest farmer's market. Held every Saturday from April to December, the local producers offer a wide variety of produce alongside local artists and live music.
  • Alive After Five, Grove Plaza (Downtown). Every Wednesday evening is the summer concert series that also features food, beverages, and the Grove Plaza fountain. Free.
  • Hyde Park Fair. Held every August, the Hyde Park Fair is in the North End of Boise at Camel's Back Park. It houses various indie rock bands and various hippie cultured events, clothing, and accessories.
  • Art In the Park, Julia Davis Park (Downtown). September Art in the Park features artists from across the nation. There is live entertainment, food, children's activities, and a pub.
  • Winter Garden Aglow, 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd (2 miles (3.2 km) east of downtown on Warm Springs Ave). Located in the Idaho Botanical Gardens, this event is held every November through January. This holiday festival of lights includes a special visit by Santa and a train ride.

Outdoors[edit]

Floating the Boise River
  • Boise River Greenbelt. A great place for a walk, rollerblading, biking, or just walking the dog. The greenbelt is a walkway follows the Boise River through beautiful trees, through golf courses, and brings you through downtown. It is one of the more popular and beautiful walks that Boise has to offer.
  • Floating the Boise River. This is something of a local tradition, with the floating season starting in the summer dependent on river conditions. The put-in site is at Barber Park. Floaters may bring their own tubes or rafts, or rent them at the put-in site. The 5 miles (8.0 km) float takes around three hours, and ends at Ann Morrison Park. There you can take a shuttle bus back to your car at Barber Park.
  • Table Rock. Take a trip to Table Rock, located directly above downtown Boise, to see the spectacular view overlooking the city and the entire valley. You can see herds of deer and elk frolicking through the rolling hills. You can drive up the winding roads to the summit or climb up the relatively rounded hill, a short and low grade fifteen-minute hike.
  • Hull's Gulch Nature Trail (End of Eighth St). A great opportunity to explore Idaho. Very good for hiking, biking, sightseeing, and taking the dogs.
  • Hike or Bike the Foothills. Hundreds of miles of trails throughout the foothills on the north side of the city. The Ridge to Rivers organization manages paths throughout the area including those on Table Rock and Hull's Gulch.
  • Lucky Peak Reservoir. About 10 miles (16 km) east of Downtown on Warm Springs Ave to Highway 21 you will come to Lucky Peak State Park. A huge reservoir that residents love to wakeboard, water ski, tube, hang out, camp, and even cliff dive. A great day trip for the summer.

Sports[edit]

  • Boise Hawks, Memorial Stadium (5 miles (8.0 km) west of downtown in Garden City on Chinden Blvd).
  • Boise State Broncos (Just south of downtown). The school's sports teams are huge in Idaho, especially the football team. Boise State football entered the national consciousness after a stunning upset of perennial power Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl – which arguably ranks as the single most iconic moment in Idaho sports history – and triumphant returns to the same venue in 2010 and 2014. The most famous landmark on campus is Albertsons Stadium (formerly Bronco Stadium), best known for its unique blue artificial turf. Albertsons Stadium is also home to the December college football classic, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Don't forget about the basketball, tennis, track, and other teams!
  • Firebird Raceway (20 miles (32 km) west of Boise in Eagle). An NHRA dragstrip offering a full season of racing and shows.
  • Idaho Ice World, 7072 S Eisenman Rd (7 miles (11 km) southeast of downtown in the Boise Outlet Mall at SR-21 and I-84), +1 208 331-0044. Public rink offering skating lessons, figure skating, and hockey.
  • Idaho Steelheads, CenturyLink Arena (Downtown). ECHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars.

Amusement[edit]

  • Wahooz, 1385 S Blue Marlin Ln, Meridian (11 miles (18 km) west of downtown on I-84 to the Meridian Rd exit), +1 208 898-0900. Bowling, miniature golf, go-karts, laser tag, bumper boats, batting cages, etc, etc. Next to Roaring Springs.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Boise Towne Square, 350 North Milwaukee. The city's main mall. It is a fairly large mall, mostly due to its lack of competition from any other similarly sized shopping center in the city. Its anchor-stores include Dillard's and a particularly upscale Macys (formerly the Bon Marche). The mall also contains its own free-standing MAC makeup store.
  • Eighth Street Marketplace (in the center of downtown Boise). The eighth street marketplace is a popular sight to go shopping, have a bite to eat, and go dancing at night. It's all three in one! This area has recently undergone significant revitalization and is often referred to as "BoDo," short for "Boise Downtown."
  • Miscellaneous Shopping. Along with the Eighth Street Marketplace, you may want to just wander throughout the downtown core. The area of Broad St (between 9th and Capitol) and 8 St (between Front and Myrtle) is home to many fashionable retailers like Urban Outfitters. As well, the area of 9th St. between Idaho and Main, parts of Main Street, areas of Idaho St. around 8th St. are all good areas to walk around and spot a few good shops and restaurants.
  • Historic Hyde Park (N 13th Street north of Alturas Street). A view into Boise's "greener" lifestyle, the Hyde Park district is on the National Historic Register due to both its unique architecture and unique environment. Hyde Park sports a great number of eateries such as the 13th Street Pub and Grill, as well as some more "independent" retail stores such as Hyde Park Books and Dunia Marketplace. It's almost like a little offshoot colony of Portland.

Eat[edit]

Most of the fancier restaurants are in the downtown area.

  • Lucky 13 Pizza, 3662 South Eckert Rd, +1 208 344-3967. Pizza and beer in a patio setting snuggled into the Harris Ranch area of East Boise. A great place to go on a warm summer evening. Smoking is allowed on the patio.
  • Flying Pie Pizzaria, 6508 West Fairview Ave, +1 208 345-0000. Possibly the best pizza in the Northwest. They have a great selection of beers which can be delivered (along with the pizzas themselves). In August Flying Pie offers a habanero pizza which is definitely not for the timid - the heat equivalent of pounds of jalapenos. Flying Pie and their habanero pizza have been featured on the Travel Channel's "Man vs. Food." The "Pie" also has locations on State Street and in Meridian.
  • Rockies Diner, 3900 West Overland Rd, +1 208 336-2878. Featured on the Travel Channel series Man vs. Food, Rockies offers a eating challenge with an electric guitar as a prize for the intrepid, and great 50s-themed offerings for everyone else.
  • Big Jud's, 1289 Protest Rd, +1 208 343-4439. Not to be outdone and with a national reputation in its own right, Big Juds offers quite possibly the biggest hamburgers in the state. They have one-pound burgers, and yeah, they do doubles. In 2013 Big Jud's completely rebuilt its restaurant. Gone is the original "hole in the wall" location, which featured a grand total of 10 tables and a capacity of maybe 25. In its place is a new building with a much larger dining area.
  • Cottonwood Grille, 913 West River St, +1 208 333-9800. http://www.cottonwoodgrille.com/. An amazing place to eat. With its specialties in American and Caribbean foods, it is one of the most popular places to eat in Boise. Whether you're going on a date or just want a nice night out, you can't go wrong. Reservations recommended.
  • Cazba Greek Mediterranean, 211 North 8th St, +1 208 381-0222. A local favorite. Cazba serves European, Middle Eastern & African foods and is known for very good service.
  • Asiago's, 1002 Main St, +1 208 336-5552. An intimate setting and very tasty Italian cuisine for a reasonable price. Reservations recommended.
  • Mai Thai Restaurant & Bar, 750 West Idaho St, +1 208 344-8424. A great selection of Thai cuisine. The lunch bento specials are a nice sampling of various dishes. Dinner runs on the pricier side.
  • Boise Fry Company, 111 Broadway Ave, Suite 111, +1 208 495-3858. Home grown, cut and made fries, "with a burger on the side." Choose your type of potato, the cut, and size and then fry them to order. Get a Bison burger to go along.
  • PizzalChik, 7330 West State St (Technically in Boise, but close to Eagle), +1 208 853-7757. Touted on the Food Network and stone's throw from Eagle on State Street, Pizzalchik offers some of the city's best roasted chicken and most distinctive pizzas.
  • Shige Japanese Cuisine, 100 North 8th St, Suite 215, +1 208 338-8423.
  • Superb Sushi Downtown, 280 North 8th St, Suite 104, +1 208 385-0123. Touts itself as "The Ultimate Untraditional Sushi." Offers an all you can eat special on Mondays and Tuesdays. Occasionally hosts sushi classes, which includes a two-course mini meal and instruction from the chef on how to roll your own sushi. See website for details.
  • Taste of Thai, 8053 W Emerald St, +1 208 323-8424. Thai food

Drink[edit]

Boise has a surprisingly well-rounded nightlife, all stereotypes to the contrary, but once again, the best places to drink are all downtown. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, throngs of young women in midriff-baring outfits (no matter the weather) and young men strutting their stuff cruise downtown bars.

Boise bars may serve from 10AM-2AM daily, however some close earlier. All bars within Boise city limits are smoke-free, although smoking at bars is still permitted in nearby Garden City.

  • 1 Bittercreek Alehouse (Red Feather Lounge), 246 N. 8th (8th & Idaho downtown Boise), +1 208-345-1813. 11AM-late. Very busy local independent downtown hangout, rustic northwest food & beer. Focus on local organic products and 30 beers on tap from small batch regional brewers. The above standard "pub grub" fare is also vegetarian friendly. lunch dinnner.
  • Red Feather Lounge. Sibling of next door's watering hole Bittercreek, these two bars/restaurants share a bathroom and a patio, but just about nothing else. Red Feather is a swanky, low-lit lounge with an amazing three story, award winning wine selection. Red Feather's menu emphasizes products that thrive in the southwest Idaho region. Both have freshly made cocktails and share an outdoor see-and-be-seen patio on the pedestrian friendly 8th street corridor.
  • 2 Bardenay Restaurant and Distillery. Bardenay, the first restaurant in the nation to include a distillery, features hand crafted cocktails of the finest ingredients. Bardenay distills rum, vodka and gin and uses them all in their drinks. This bar has an outdoor patio and a cool, laid-back vibe.
  • 3 Crescent 'No Lawyers' Bar & Grill, 5500 W. Franklin Rd (Franklin Road west of Orchard Street Boise Bench neighborhood), +1 208-322-9856. varies. When the owners of a then-nondescript Boise Bench neighborhood watering hole were sued by a lawyer neighbor over a residential dispute in the 1980s, they turned the experience into some free publicity and a theme for their business. Known citywide for its excellent bar food (as well as for turning lawyer jokes into a veritable cottage industry), today Crescent No Lawyers is one of the city's largest sports bars.
  • McCleary's Pub, 604 N. Orchard St, +1 208-342-3007. daily 8AM-2AM. A friendly neighborhood bar on the Bench which tends to get livelier as the night progresses. McCleary's also has a location on State Street towards Eagle.
  • 4 Ranch Club, 3544 W. Chinden Blvd (Corner of Chinden and Orchard), +1 208-343-7447. 11AM-2AM daily. Perhaps best known for the large bucking horse statue featured in the 1980 Clint Eastwood movie Bronco Billy, the Ranch Club is a well-established venue for drinking and dancing which attracts a diverse clientele. Located just inside the independent municipality of Garden City, the Ranch Club is exempt from Boise's citywide smoking ban, a situation smokers take full advantage of.
  • Dirty Little Roddy's. Maybe a little what you might expect; Country music, sawhorse tables, peanuts and a mechanical bull that ladies can ride for free. You might not expect that this bar is popular with college kids and is nearly impossible to get into on a weekend night. It's in the basement, so be prepared to walk drunk up a narrow flight of stairs if you plan on spending any time here.
  • 5 China Blue, 100 S 6th St. Owned by the same man as DLR, China Blue is the resident dance club, playing hip-hop music and catering to college-goers. There's an obligatory VIP section, as well as a bed and a gong to alert patrons to the presence of a big tipper. There is usually a cover, and drinks are expensive, especially for Boise, but on the up-side, the ladies restroom has a private champagne bar and bartender, so any annoying boys with too much bling can wait outside while you drink in the bathroom.
  • Mulligans. A typical would-be Irish dive bar with a very distinctive, but not altogether unpleasant smell. There's pool, of course, but also airhockey and foosball. And well shots sometimes. It's a great place to enjoy a drink on the patio and people-watch.
  • 10th Street Station. Located in the basement of the Idanha Hotel (now apartments) you can experience the relaxed crowd, friendly staff, and charm of a former speakeasy. As long as you don't ask for a 'pint' (only 10 oz glasses are served) you'll be welcome to stay the night. Note that they generally close early at 1:30AM.
  • Neurolux. The stiffest drinks in Boise, bartenders here use a five-count pour, instead of the standard three-count, so yes, that is a rum and coke, even though it is clear. Arguably the best jukebox in town, featuring Charlie Parker, George Jones, Beastie Boys, The Ramones, Wilco, and the Rolling Stones. And that's not even the best, just the ones you're most likely to know. The clientele are about as varied as their tastes in music, so nobody is judgmental of anyone else, just what's playing on the jukebox. This is the place for indie rock shows, if you couldn't tell. The biggest bands played here before they played the arenas. Beware, it is always dark at "The 'Lux," despite the big picture window letting in sunlight (they have black blinds for when it's too bright for Rock&Roll).
  • Grainey's and J.T. Toad's. Across the street from China Blue and Dirty Little Roddy's, these twin bars (on two levels of the same building) typically charge a cover but provide relatively cheap beverages once inside. In addition, there are often two live bands playing, one on each level. The basement band typically cajoles more bar-hoppers into dancing than its upstairs counterpart. While somewhat low on atmosphere, these bars can be a lively stop, particularly for the younger crowd. Note that Grainey's may be the oldest 'original' bar in boise great charm for a happy-hour drink.
  • Reef. Boise's Tiki outpost. Along with tasty Pupu's, a good menu and freshly made exotic drinks the Reef has plenty of live music. Rooftop patio with full service outdoor bar.
  • 6 Leku Ona, 117 S 6th St (downtown on 6th). A Basque restaurant with a good bar and home to a slightly older set than the rest of the downtown scene.
  • Pengilly's Saloon. Also home to the slightly older crowd and smoke free. Most nights have live music, usually jazz or alt-country. There are pub quiz and open mic nights.
  • Montego Bay, Lake Harbor Ln (off State Street). You can't miss the billboards that show the way. Montego Bay is a bar and restaurant with a dock on the water, open from May until September-ish. The drinks and food are kind of expensive, but the ambiance is great, and if you're a non-smoker, the open air dock is a good way to escape the smelly smoke of the inside. There is a dance floor in the building, and patio furniture outside, with tableside service, and outdoor bars.
  • Les Bois Park Clubhouse & Turf Club. Tuesday Night Ladies Night will usually have around 2,500 people, free admission and a wide variety of drinkers. Beer is cheaper than most other sports entertainment venues (definitely colder) and has a couple of bars and multiple areas to get around and not be stuck at a table or bar until you fall over. There are two restaurants with pay-for tables and a patio with the same. Expect a lot of very lightly dressed women and hope for a longshot to win one of the races so you can get $2 drafts for 20 minutes.
  • Mr. Lucky's, Chinden. A step above the dive bar. They have live bands on Friday and Saturday nights; sometimes good, sometimes not, but always loud. The drinks are affordable, and if you sit at the bar, the bartenders are usually friendly.
  • The Emerald Club, 415 South 9th Street, +1 208-342-5446. One of 3 gay bars in Boise. The others are The Balcony and The Lucky Dog.
  • 7 The Balcony, 150 N 8th St #226. The most well known LGBT bar in Boise, The Balcony is so named for its wrap around, open-air balcony, right above the pedestrian center of downtown (beautiful view). The dance floor is big and has two separate raised areas for dancing in the limelight, and the latest remix of the latest Gaga song is sure to play twice. The drinks are of average strength, but keep your eyes open for some drag queens you wouldn't believe were "packing" (and some you would).
  • Pie Hole, 205 North 8th St, +1 208 344-7783. 24 hours. This place is great for late night college life. It has an old-school feel, with classic video games like Pacman at the tables.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 The Grove Hotel, 245 S Capitol Blvd. A part of the Coast Hotels chain, it's probably the highest end hotel in Boise.
  • 3 Idaho Heritage Inn Bed & Breakfast, 109 W Idaho, +1 208 342-8066. Built in 1904, former Governor's mansion, near downtown shops and dining, close to parks and historic district. Rooms $70-85, Suites $99-110. All have private baths and are furnished in turn of the century antiques. Free wifi. Free gourmet breakfast.

Cope[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

  • The Idaho Statesman. The Idaho Statesman serves as the newspaper of record for both Boise and the state of Idaho in general. $1 daily, $2 Sunday.
  • Boise Weekly. Published on Wednesdays and available citywide, the Boise Weekly is the city's primary source for arts and entertainment news. Free.

Consulates[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Idaho City. 40 miles (64 km) northeast from Boise via State Highway 21, Idaho City makes for a good day trip from Boise. Once the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, this small mountain town offers a glimpse of Idaho's rich mining history. The winding road to this town of 500 offers some of the beautiful scenery provided by Idaho's natural forests.
Routes through Boise
The DallesNampa  W I-84.svgUS 30.svg E  Mountain HomeTwin Falls
Bend/PrinevilleOntario  W US 20.svgUS 26.svg E  Mountain HomeCraters of the Moon



This city travel guide to Boise is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.