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Old Idaho Penitentiary picture in Boise
Terryfic3D / Getty Images

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  • Sightseeing, Tours Type
  • 1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.0
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    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.0

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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.  

Recent visitors recommend watching the short video on the history of the penitentiary on-site, as it gives great context to the rest of the tour. Other travelers warn against bringing young children, as some of the descriptions of the inmates' crimes and executions might be too graphic.

Adult admission to the Old Idaho Penitentiary costs $6; admission for children ages 6 through 12 costs $3. Children 5 and younger can enter for free. Old Pen is open seven days a week. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it's open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the rest of the year, it's open from noon to 5 p.m. It's located in Warm Springs, just east of Boise, and free parking is available. Visitors can take a free guided tour of the attraction at 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Keep in mind, there's also an 18-minute video, which visitors can watch whether they're on a self-guided or guided tour. For more information, visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary's website.

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#1 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 ... Read more » Anna Gorin / Getty Images

#2 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 ... Read more » Courtesy Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau

#3 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 ... Read more » Terryfic3D / Getty Images

#4 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 ... Read more » Courtesy Wassmuth Center for Human Rights

#5 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 ... Read more » Anna Gorin / Getty Images

#6 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 ... Read more » Steve Bly / Getty Images

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#8 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 ... Read more » Courtesy Cinder Wines

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Anne Frank picture in Boise
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Old Idaho Penitentiary picture in Boise
Wineries picture in Boise
Boise River Greenbelt picture in Boise
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Downtown Boise picture in Boise
Bogus Basin picture in Boise
Old Idaho Penitentiary picture in Boise
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The Boise River Greenbelt is a must-do, especially if you're traveling in fall when the trees turn gold. Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Kathryn Albertson Park is one of the most beloved parks in Boise, and it sits conveniently along the Boise River Greenbelt. Courtesy Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau

Starting in 1973, the former prison grounds of the Old Idaho Penitentiary underwent a transformation of what would become the beautiful and serene Idaho Botanical Garden. Terryfic3D / Getty Images

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. Courtesy Wassmuth Center for Human Rights

Downtown Boise is filled with interesting shops and dining establishments. Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Powder hounds have only good things to say about Bogus Basin's ski runs and views. Steve Bly / Getty Images

Touring the Old Idaho Penitentiary gives visitors a sense of what it was like to be incarcerated in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s. Terryfic3D / Getty Images

The Boise area is home to an up-and-coming wine scene, with more than 20 nearby wineries to explore. One traveler favorite is Cinder Wines. Courtesy Cinder Wines

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