Boise travel guide

Boise Tourism | Boise Guide

You're Going to Love Boise

With its beautiful setting in the Rocky Mountains, fine-dining scene, bohemian communities, and numerous family attractions, Boise competes with any city in the American West.

From touring eerie penitentiaries and visiting the State Capitol to meeting the locals at Boise Zoo or wandering around the Botanical Gardens, visitors are never short of places to visit.

Mix in a little gourmet food from Basque and French-inspired bistros, green space around every corner, and the chance to hike, climb or ski a few miles away, and it's easy to see why Boise is such an appealing destination.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Boise

1. Plenty of Family-Friendly Attractions

Boise is a wonderful place for families with children. There's Boise Zoo, with its Amur tigers, sloths and Komodo dragons, the Discovery Center of Idaho, which teaches young ones about science, and the Wahooz Family Fun Zone in Meridian, with mini-golf, go karts, and much more.

2. Historical Sights and Museums for Culture Lovers

Boise is a major political center, and nobody who visits should miss a tour of the State Capitol. Other historical highlights include the Old Penitentiary and the historic Boise Depot train station, while the unique Basque Museum showcases the city's strong links with the Basque region in Spain and France.

3. Artistic Attractions for Creative Tourists

Modern Boise is also an artistic hub for the northwest. You can tour the excellent Boise Art Museum (and be there for the Idaho Triennial when the festival rolls into town). Alternatively, head to smaller galleries like the Stewart Gallery to find out what cutting-edge contemporary artists are doing.

4. The Rockies Are Right on Boise's Doorstep

The Rocky Mountains are sublime, especially around Boise, and getting out to explore is easy when you base yourself in the city. Strap on your skis and try out the slopes at Bogus Basin, hike the Red Mountain Trail in Boise National Forest, or hire some tackle and try trout fishing on the Snake River.

5. Wonderful Food and Drink

There are authentic Basque dishes on offer at the Basque Market and Bar Gernika, the chance to sample locally produced (and beautifully fried) potatoes at the Boise Fry Company, gourmet European style food at Fork, and craft cocktails at Bardenay. In fact, there's something for everyone.

Where to Eat in Boise

If you love Basque or Spanish food, Leku Ona, Bar Gernika, and Epi's are great places to eat. Gourmet bistros include Bleubird and Bardenay, Matador is an excellent Mexican restaurant, while the Boise Fry Company cooks locally sourced fries and delicious organic burgers. Expect meals to cost between $10 and $15 for burgers and upwards of $20 for sit-down meals.

Most popular restaurants in Boise

American
Excellent (401 reviews)
Contemporary Italian
Excellent (269 reviews)
Cocktail bar
Excellent (223 reviews)
American
Excellent (218 reviews)
Contemporary American
Excellent (133 reviews)
Bar / Lounge / Bottle Service
Excellent (94 reviews)

When to visit Boise

Boise in February
Estimated hotel price
$94
1 night at 3-star hotel
Boise in February
Estimated hotel price
$94
1 night at 3-star hotel

There really isn't a bad time to head to Boise. Alpine sports fans should head there between December and March when the ski season is in full swing. Sightseers will find cheaper accommodation in May and June and from late September onwards, while families will prefer summer, when the temperatures are always warm and the attractions are at their best.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Boise

Plane

The best way to reach Boise is by flying into Boise Airport (BOI), which is a couple of miles south of the city center. The cheapest route into town is via the Number 3 Valley Ride bus, which costs $1, and taxis and rental cars are available at the terminal as well.

Train

There is no Amtrak service to Boise any more, but the city is on the Thruway bus network. If you'd like to travel part of the journey by train, you can alight at Salt Lake City, then take the bus to Boise.

Car

If you are driving to Boise from the east, take Route 80 to Salt Lake City, then switch to Route 84 into Boise. Route 84 also runs from Seattle in the northwest, while Route 80 connects Boise with San Francisco and the rest of California.

Bus

Boise is served by both Greyhound and Northwestern Trailways routes, both of which stop at 1212 W Bannock Street near the center of town.

Airlines serving Boise

United Airlines
Good (69,474 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (47,655 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (28,391 reviews)
KLM
Good (3,804 reviews)
Delta
Good (30,730 reviews)
Air France
Good (4,357 reviews)
British Airways
Good (23,339 reviews)
Iberia
Good (6,157 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Excellent (11,525 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (25,041 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (30,301 reviews)
Finnair
Good (3,874 reviews)
Spirit Airlines
Okay (63,076 reviews)
ITA Airways
Excellent (15 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (3,954 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (9,962 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (6,169 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (12,983 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (4,703 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Excellent (4,642 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Boise

Boise has a wide range of accommodation providers, from standard family hotels to boutique options. If you just need a dependable no-frills hotel, try the Holiday Inn near the University or Hilton's Homewood Suites. For something more luxurious, give the Grove Hotel or Hotel 43 a try. Both offer intimate, boutique-style accommodation and excellent service. Budget travelers could also try A Country Place in western Boise, which offers cheap beds in a friendly neighborhood.

Popular neighborhoods in Boise

Downtown Boise (BoDo) - the center of Idaho's government and a major business hub, BoDo has its share of office blocks and traffic, but it has plenty of highlights too. Attractions include the family-friendly Discovery Center and Boise Zoo, as well as the elegant State Capitol, and the recently redeveloped Boise River waterfront.

Southeast Boise - Downtown is great, but many of the most interesting attractions are actually in Southeast Boise, where you can tour the spooky Old Idaho Penitentiary (including the site of the gallows) and relax in the surroundings of the Botanical Gardens. With a large student community, it's also a great place to drink and dine.

Garden City - possessing its own municipal government, Garden City is just north of Downtown Boise. Clustered around Chinden Boulevard, it's a bohemian community characterized by small art galleries like Surel's Place and lovely green spaces like Bernardine Quinn Riverside Park.

Where to stay in popular areas of Boise

Most booked hotels in Boise

Oxford Suites Boise
Excellent (9, 455 reviews)
$194+
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Boise ParkCenter
Excellent (8.9, 500 reviews)
$192+
The Riverside Hotel, BW Premier Collection
Excellent (8.7, 732 reviews)
$194+
The Grove Hotel
Excellent (8.5, 693 reviews)
$211+
Red Lion Inn & Suites Boise Airport
Good (7.8, 1602 reviews)
$136+
Safari Inn Downtown Boise
Good (7.4, 8 reviews)
$71+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Boise

Public Transportation

Valley Ride provides a local bus service to most parts of Boise, but services can be infrequent and unreliable at times. However, at $1 single fares are affordable, so check the schedules to see whether your favorite routes are covered. If not, renting a car is a much better option for getting around.

Taxi

Taxis are a handy way to get around Boise which, though it's not a large city in terms of population, is fairly spread out. Expect to pay a meter drop of around $2.40, then an extra $2.40 per mile, with a waiting charge of $0.40 per minute. Uber is slightly cheaper, at $2 for the meter drop, then $1 per mile.

Car

Having your own car is a huge benefit in Boise. The city is easy to drive around with plenty of city center parking. The suburbs sprawl a little, so taxis can be expensive, and the countryside is best seen with a rental car as well. There are branches of Thrifty, Avis, and Enterprise in the city, and rates can be as low as $25 a day, so it's an economic option as well.

The Cost of Living in Boise

Shopping Streets

Boise isn't famous as a shopping destination, but it does have some excellent places to buy clothes (and potato-themed souvenirs). Boise Towne Square is the best of them, featuring stores like Aldo, Banana Republic, and Forever 21. Broad Street in BoDo and Eighth Street Marketplace are other great places to shop.

Groceries and Other

Supermarkets in Boise include familiar names like Walgreen's, Walmart, and Whole Foods as well as local companies like the employee-owned WinCo. There's also a farmers market on 8th and Fulton every Saturday. Expect to pay around $2.30 for a gallon of milk or $1.60 for a pound of oranges.

Cheap meal
$13.00
A pair of jeans
$39.00
Single public transport ticket
$1.00
Cappuccino
$3.97