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Best Things To Do in Boise

As the capital and most populous city in Idaho, Boise contains a host of things to do, ranging from outdoor attractions, such as the Boise River Greenbelt, the Kathryn Albertson Park and the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. But its downtown area is a great place to explore as well, and several unique attractions, such as the Old Idaho Penitentiary and the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, are worth including on your itinerary.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Boise

Free
The Boise River Greenbelt stretches 25 miles along the Boise River and offers runners, joggers, walkers and cyclists a beautiful place to get some exercise. Since it travels through the heart of downtown Boise, some commuters even use it as a route for reaching their workplaces. The tree-lined trail also winds past several of the city's most popular parks, including Kathryn Albertson Park and Julia Davis Park. What's more, the city created a scavenger hunt with a map and clues on its website that prompts visitors to explore the trail and learn more about the city's history along the way.
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Boise River Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt stretches 25 miles along the Boise River and offers runners, joggers, walkers and cyclists a beautiful place to get some exercise. Since it travels through the heart of downtown Boise, some commuters even use it as a route for reaching their workplaces. The tree-lined trail also winds past several of the city's most popular parks, including Kathryn Albertson Park and Julia Davis Park. What's more, the city created a scavenger hunt with a map and clues on its website that prompts visitors to explore the trail and learn more about the city's history along the way.
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#2

#2 in Boise

Free
The 41-acre Kathryn Albertson Park is filled with broad footpaths and peppered with gazebos, which are ideal for the main attraction here: wildlife watching. Along with various waterfowl, herons and owls, this park contains salamanders, turtles, bullfrogs, beavers and rabbits, among other wildlife. In fact, the park prohibits dogs between March 1 and June 30 because birds nest during this time. The park was named for Kathryn Albertson, a Boise native and a major donor to the city.
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Kathryn Albertson Park
The 41-acre Kathryn Albertson Park is filled with broad footpaths and peppered with gazebos, which are ideal for the main attraction here: wildlife watching. Along with various waterfowl, herons and owls, this park contains salamanders, turtles, bullfrogs, beavers and rabbits, among other wildlife. In fact, the park prohibits dogs between March 1 and June 30 because birds nest during this time. The park was named for Kathryn Albertson, a Boise native and a major donor to the city.
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#3

#3 in Boise

The Idaho Botanical Garden occupies more than 30 acres of what used to be the grounds of the Old Idaho Penitentiary, but now those acres are filled with gardens ranging in theme from succulents to roses to native Idaho plants. There are also vegetable, herb and meditation gardens, and a lineup of workshops and events, such as the "Winter Garden aGlow," in which the garden lights up with hundreds of thousands of holiday lights. Although you can take a self-guided tour at your own leisure, the Idaho Botanical Garden also offers guided tours for groups at no additional charge, though you'll need to schedule these ahead of time by calling the attraction.  
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Idaho Botanical Garden
The Idaho Botanical Garden occupies more than 30 acres of what used to be the grounds of the Old Idaho Penitentiary, but now those acres are filled with gardens ranging in theme from succulents to roses to native Idaho plants. There are also vegetable, herb and meditation gardens, and a lineup of workshops and events, such as the "Winter Garden aGlow," in which the garden lights up with hundreds of thousands of holiday lights. Although you can take a self-guided tour at your own leisure, the Idaho Botanical Garden also offers guided tours for groups at no additional charge, though you'll need to schedule these ahead of time by calling the attraction.  
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#4

#4 in Boise

Free
Occupying less than an acre of space, the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is a park "inspired by Anne Frank's faith in humanity," according to the City of Boise. Designed by Idaho Falls architect Kurt Karst, the educational park employs natural elements, such as water, stone and native flora, to extend a message of hope and spread information about human rights issues. A 180-foot quote wall, with words from humanitarians, and a bronze sculpture of Anne Frank as if she's pulling open the curtain from her attic hideaway, are two of the park's highlights. Visitors may be surprised to learn this is the only Anne Frank memorial in the United States.
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Monuments and Memorials Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Occupying less than an acre of space, the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is a park "inspired by Anne Frank's faith in humanity," according to the City of Boise. Designed by Idaho Falls architect Kurt Karst, the educational park employs natural elements, such as water, stone and native flora, to extend a message of hope and spread information about human rights issues. A 180-foot quote wall, with words from humanitarians, and a bronze sculpture of Anne Frank as if she's pulling open the curtain from her attic hideaway, are two of the park's highlights. Visitors may be surprised to learn this is the only Anne Frank memorial in the United States.
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#5

#5 in Boise

Free
Downtown Boise – or Boise's central business district – sits north of the Boise River and welcomes visitors with its local restaurants, shops and attractions. Here you'll find the Idaho State Capitol Building and the nearby Zoo Boise and Albertsons Stadium, home to the Boise State Broncos football team. Two markets operate from the spring to the fall and winter, and a collection of popular events, such as Restaurant Week, fill downtown Boise's calendar.
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Shopping Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Downtown Boise
Downtown Boise – or Boise's central business district – sits north of the Boise River and welcomes visitors with its local restaurants, shops and attractions. Here you'll find the Idaho State Capitol Building and the nearby Zoo Boise and Albertsons Stadium, home to the Boise State Broncos football team. Two markets operate from the spring to the fall and winter, and a collection of popular events, such as Restaurant Week, fill downtown Boise's calendar.
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#6

#6 in Boise

Less than a 20-mile drive north of downtown Boise, the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area attracts visitors to its ski and snowboard slopes in the winter and its hiking trails in the summer. Bogus Basin also provides skiing and snowboarding lessons – and a lodge to relax and enjoy a bite and a drink after being out on the slopes.
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
Less than a 20-mile drive north of downtown Boise, the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area attracts visitors to its ski and snowboard slopes in the winter and its hiking trails in the summer. Bogus Basin also provides skiing and snowboarding lessons – and a lodge to relax and enjoy a bite and a drink after being out on the slopes.
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#7

#7 in Boise

The Old Idaho Penitentiary started receiving criminals to its cell blocks, solitary confinement and even gallows back in 1872 – and closed in 1973, after a prison riot. Over the 101-year timespan, Old Pen – as it's sometimes called – housed more than 13,000 inmates. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the prison is open to visitors who wish to learn more about some of its notorious inmates and the harsh prison conditions on a tour.  
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Old Idaho Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary started receiving criminals to its cell blocks, solitary confinement and even gallows back in 1872 – and closed in 1973, after a prison riot. Over the 101-year timespan, Old Pen – as it's sometimes called – housed more than 13,000 inmates. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the prison is open to visitors who wish to learn more about some of its notorious inmates and the harsh prison conditions on a tour.  
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#8

#8 in Boise

In the last few decades, Idaho's wine industry has experienced remarkable growth. According to Visit Idaho, the state contains upward of 50 wineries and more than 1,200 acres of vineyards – including a handful or so within striking distance to Boise.
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Tours Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Wineries
In the last few decades, Idaho's wine industry has experienced remarkable growth. According to Visit Idaho, the state contains upward of 50 wineries and more than 1,200 acres of vineyards – including a handful or so within striking distance to Boise.
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#9

#9 in Boise

To learn about the Basque history and heritage, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center is a must-do. Established in 1985, the museum is the only Basque museum in the United States and its mission is to educate visitors on Basque history in Idaho and worldwide. The exhibits tell a narrative of the Basque history in northern Spain and shine a light on the Basque community that settled in Boise as sheepherders.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Basque Museum & Cultural Center
To learn about the Basque history and heritage, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center is a must-do. Established in 1985, the museum is the only Basque museum in the United States and its mission is to educate visitors on Basque history in Idaho and worldwide. The exhibits tell a narrative of the Basque history in northern Spain and shine a light on the Basque community that settled in Boise as sheepherders.
... more
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