Old Idaho Penitentiary

#7 in Best Things To Do in Boise
Old Idaho Penitentiary picture
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Key Info

2445 Old Penitentiary Rd.

Details

Sightseeing, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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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Type
Time to Spend
#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 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.

"Peaceful" and "relaxing" are two words travelers commonly used to describe their experience walking their dogs or riding their bikes on the trail. Other travelers appreciated that the Boise Greenbelt isn't very crowded, but it still feels safe with lights illuminating the trail in most places.

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