City Cheat Sheet: A Travel Guide For Boise, Idaho
Long a destination for the hiking enthusiast, today Boise embraces its outdoor lover ethos while dialing into a bonafide chic city vibe. Its hip downtown is attracting all types of visitors and keeping young locals put, making this capital city the perfect destination for a weekend of unrivaled natural splendor and top-rated food and drink. Just ask Allie Mann, The Scout Guide Boise editor who has known Boise since its sleepy days in the early 80s.
“I remember Boise as a quiet little town, and now it still has these gorgeous surroundings but so much more to do,” Allie says. “From all the new local businesses, amazing farm-to-fork dining, and the breweries, there is literally always something going on, especially in summer.” Here, Allie shares a carefree summer weekend itinerary that embraces the outdoor enthusiast and city lover alike.
WHERE TO STAY
The Riverside Hotel (2900 Chinden Blvd.) is a beautifully refurbished spot right on the Boise River, perfect for kayakers and cyclists. It’s right next to the famous Whitewater Park and the Greenbelt, 25 miles of tree-lined pedestrian and bicycling paths hugging the river. Have a drink at Sandbar, which has a resort-like feel and live music on the weekends.
If you want to be right in the middle of the action, The Modern Hotel and Bar (1314 W. Grove St.) is a hip downtown boutique hotel housed in a sleekly redone old motor lodge. Visitors love the luxurious appointments, mid-century modern furnishings and vintage vibe.
DAY ONE: BIKE, SIP & NOSH
During the summer, Boise is best experienced by bike. Allie suggests you make an early morning run to the Boise Co-op (888 W. Fort St.), a local institution full of natural and healthy foods to pick up a picnic. If you’re in town on a Saturday, you can also pick up your picnic supplies at the Boise Farmers Market (10th and Grove St.). You’re going to need a strong cup of coffee for this day, and this town has great local coffee shops. Allie loves Big City Coffee & Cafe (1416 W. Grove St.), where you can splurge on a cinnamon roll as big as your head and Flying M (500 W. Idaho St.) for fabulous coffee and its beloved eccentric gift shop.
After you’re properly caffeinated, rent your bicycle through Boise Green Bike and embark on a ride along the Greenbelt to sample the local boozeries. If you don’t mind mixing, then stop at multiple spots. Or, take it easy and stay a spell at the one that suits your taste.
Sip a glass of the award-winning Syrah at Telaya Wine Co. (240 E. 32nd St. Garden City) while taking in the peaceful river view. Next, bike seven miles along the Greenbelt to, Meriwether Cider Co. (5242 Chinden Blvd.), for locally brewed cider. “If the Blackberry Boom is on tap, order it,” Allie recommends. For Idaho beer, bike up to Powderhaus Brewing Company (9719 W. Chinden Blvd Garden City). Order a flight and catch some live music.
All that biking and drinking is bound to work up an appetite and Boise’s farm-to-table dinner options hit the spot. Allie recommends Camel’s Crossing (1304 W. Alturas St.), an eclectic spot in the unique Hyde Park neighborhood that’s known equally for its vegetarian options as its Wagyu beef. After dinner, walk across the street to Goody’s Soda Fountain (1502 N. 13th St.) for homemade ice cream. Or try State and Lemp (2870 W. State St.), a tiny restaurant with a price fixe, multi-course menu prepared by a James Beard-nominated chef that’s an experience to remember.
DAY TWO: BRUNCH, GARDENS & SHOPPING
After your first day of adventure, Allie suggests taking things a bit slower. Start with a homemade liège waffle at Waffle Me Up (204 N. Capitol Blvd.) or a classic egg scramble at the always-bustling Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro (108 S. Capitol Blvd.).
Spend your morning ambling around the Idaho Botanical Gardens (2355 Old Penitentiary Rd.), Allie’s go-to off-the-beaten-path spot in Boise. The gardens are located adjacent to the old Idaho state penitentiary, right at the base of Table Rock. They are almost always quiet, but if peace is really what you want then make sure to spend some time in the shady Meditation Garden. While you’re out that way, you won’t want to miss Cravins Candy Emporium (3064 S. Bown Way). “This is a locally owned candy lover’s paradise where you will see candies you haven’t been able to find since you were a kid!”
Round out your day by shopping for souvenirs, and don’t forget something for yourself. For the bookish, The Rediscovered Book Shop (180 N. 8th St.), one of the last true independent book stores in the state of Idaho, is a mandatory stop on this list. Idaho Made (108 N. 6th St.) embraces all things local and has beautiful artisan made items from across the state. Pop into Piece Unique (205 N. 10th St.), a fabulous upscale clothing boutique featuring designer clothing for both women and men. They even have a consignment floor featuring only high-end luxury items, where you can snap up some serious finds. Then head up to Allie’s favorite quirky shop, Re-POP Gifts (3107 W. State St.), for a nostalgic mix of super fun gifts for all.
Cap off your visit with dinner back at The Modern Hotel and Bar (1314 W. Grove St.). This fireside patio restaurant is Allie’s ideal place to grab a quiet meal in town. She notes that the Merguez & cheese curds appetizer, prepared by the restaurant’s James Beard-nominated chef, is a must, elevating a Midwestern classic.
Pictured above: The Scout Guide Boise editor Allie Mann. Photograph by Ampersand Studios.
For more insider’s tips on what to do and see in Boise, follow Allie on The Scout Guide Boise’s Instagram.