A stop in Boise, Idaho was a must on our trip for a number of reasons. Beyond the budding food and arts scene that we kept hearing about while doing our research for our expedition, I got to visit with my great uncle and his family, reminisce on fun stories of my time studying abroad in Sharjah with an old friend, and eat purple potatoes.
Boise was a refreshing change of pace from our trip up the Pacific Coast so far. Charming small town vibes, no traffic and free parking options made our visit feel easy peasy. (Can you tell I’m still bitter about the traffic in Seattle and Vancouver?) To top it off, we were able to find many things to do in Boise that fit within our shoestring budget.
1. Hyde Park
Our first stop in Boise was Hyde Park, an eclectic neighborhood known for its mix of shops, eateries, and historic architecture. Though this area is much smaller than we expected (we’re coming from San Francisco, after all), we enjoyed browsing the quirky goods at shops like Hyde and Seek and discovering the killer views from Camel’s Back Park.
Hint: Wear comfortable shoes! You won’t want to miss the views from the top of Camel’s Back. Aka don’t do what I did and hike up in sandals.
2. Idaho State Capitol
When in Boise, eat potatoes and visit the Idaho capitol (try Boise Fry Company to compare the Idahoan varieties). The capitol building is just at the end of 8th Street, the main throughway of downtown Boise. Stop by to admire the architecture and ring the replica of the Liberty Bell.
3. Freak Alley Gallery
Freak Alley Gallery is the most colorful corridor in Boise. Murals of all kind fill the walls - whether you’re looking for art with political undertones, humor, or tribute to the great musicians of our time, Freak Alley will have something that speaks to you.
Once a year, the walls are scrubbed clean to reinvent the essence of the alley. If you’re lucky enough to visit Boise during the Mural Event, stop by to see the artists creating their masterpieces.
8th Annual Freak Alley Gallery Mural Event
August 4 - 11, 2018
4. Julia Davis Rose Garden
Stop and smell the roses in Julia Davis Park (a quick walk from downtown). The garden is home to almost 2,000 rose bushes (at least that’s what the sign said), and entry is $FREE.99.
5. Float the Boise River
Yes, we are on a budget. And yes, we are getting creative with cheap activities to keep us entertained. But take my advice: BUY A PROPER TUBE TO FLOAT THE BOISE RIVER. Our $4 tubes from Target might have saved us a few coins, but the flips in the rapids and the constant ab engagement that the tube required to keep yourself stable will leave you wishing you paid the extra few dollars for days (yes, I was sore).
Otherwise, float the Boise River. It is a beautiful way to take in the nature of Idaho, cool off from the heat of the summer, and spend a few hours on the cheap.
6. Alive After Five
We came all the way from the Bay Area to find the San Franciscan band The Stone Foxes headlining Alive After Five, a free summer concert series in downtown Boise.
Hint: Take advantage of the abundant happy hour options in downtown Boise before the show. Our favorite was 2 for 1 craft cocktails at Mai Thai.