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.
And we’re off! Brent and I successfully moved out of our apartment, wrapped up our time at work, and minimized all of our belongings for the next four months to fit into my Honda CRV. The days leading up to our trip were hectic to say the least - balancing catching up with friends and making time to get everything done is quite the challenge.
Day one on the road was very surreal. It still feels like we’re on a vacation and heading back to the Bay after our drive up the coast. We didn’t have much planned for the first day other than driving through the Avenue of the Giants to see the Redwoods, but of course Highway US 101 presented many stops and detours for us to explore.
1. Avenue of the Giants
The US 101 is the oldest and longest stretch of highway remaining in California, connecting all of the major cities along the coast of the Golden State. The Northern stretch, also known as the Redwood Highway has been on my bucket list since I moved to the Bay four years ago. Its twists and turns through the historic Redwood trees will leave you stunned.
Download the map of the 31 mile scenic drive here.
2. Visit Downtown Eureka
Eureka is the largest city between San Francisco and Portland and sits on the coast of Humboldt Bay amidst the Redwood Empire. The historic downtown area is a great place to stretch your legs or grab a bite to eat on your way up Highway US 101. Stroll through the downtown streets where you’ll find remnants of Victorian Era architecture, and then take in the Bay views at the seaport. Eureka is still an active fishing town, so if you stay long enough you’ll see boats chugging in and out of the harbor.
3. Lost Coast Brewery
Beyond the charming Victorian architecture and sweeping views of the Humboldt Bay, downtown Eureka offers many options for a tasty lunch break. Lost Coast was one of the first craft breweries that caught Brent’s attention when he first got into beer, so it was a no brainer when it came to pit stop consideration. I warned you, we’ll be eating and drinking our way across the country.
Lost Coast is most known for Great White, their interpretation of an American Wheat Ale (and one of my very favorites on a hot summer day), but I wanted to try something new since we were at the motherland. I went for the Sharkinator White IPA, a session IPA with a similar flavor profile to Great White, but with much bigger and bolder character.
Brent’s choice was the Indica IPA, which shifts away from the trendy citrus and tropical variations and offers a more floral taste.
Both were Brent approved ✓✓
4. Trinadad Beach
You can’t drive up Highway US 101 without a stop to revel in the natural beauty of the Pacific. There are many pull offs with impressive views, but our favorite was Trinidad Beach - just about 20 miles north of Eureka. We cracked open a Trumer and soaked in the scene.