Entertainment In Boise
What Is There To Do In Boise Idaho For Fun?
Since the early 1970’s Ballet Idaho has been a part of Idaho. Starting in Moscow the organization relocated to Boise in 1982. Their first show was the following year in 1983, and they have been thriving since. Now, they have a whole team consisting of professional dancers, professional ballet instructors, costume designers, production staff and around 40 Boise Philharmonic musicians that provide music. If you wanted to be apart of Ballet Idaho they offer professional training and open enrollment all year long. Not just ballet though they also teach other dance forms such as Hip Hop dancing. They put on about 20 shows from November to May. Perfect for the contemporary and classic dance lovers out there! The Ballet offers class and camps through out the year. Held in the 5 state of the art studios at The Ester Simplot Preforming Arts Academy. Including offerings of a youth ensemble that preform end of the year concerts, basic and intensive summer camp and summer classes with Ballet Idaho's Academy. There is also a 10 week artist in residence program.
Boise Philharmonic boasts the distinction as the largest and oldest performing arts organization in Idaho. The organization actually began in 1885 and has grown to over 80 professional members. Their shows each year serve to entertain over 50,000 people! They offer classes for the kids with the goal to musically enhance, teach and delight through high quality performances. Every year they throw a themed gala for the public. Live entertainment, 3 course meal, silent auctions tickets are in the pricier range but all proceeds go to the organization so they are able to produce such awesome and elegant shows.
In the late 1960’s the The Boise Philharmonic discontinued operatic productions. A void once created was quickly filled. Opera Idaho was created. Opera Idaho has been apart of Idaho for over 40 years now. They are located in Downtown Boise on 8th street. Presenting a handful of shows every year, tickets range from $20-76. They have a children’s chorus for children and young adults from 2nd grade – 10th grade. They perform primarily at The Morrison Center and occasionally at the Egyptian Theatre. Recently they went on tour to 37 schools in the Treasure Valley and beyond performing for about 16,000 children.
The Idaho Shakespeare Festival has become a staple part of summer entertainment scene in Boise! Beginning at the end of May and with shows continuing well into September and each summer a new line up. With delightful green shows leading of each nights performance, the Festival typically rotates one non Shakespeare play with 3 or 4 from the Baird. It all takes place at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater in Northeast Boise's Barber Valley. This is a wonderful venue with seating at tables, and on the grass. Bring your own picnic basket or buy one on your way through the door. Rest assured there is plenty of parking available and designated drop off zones. There is reserved box seating available but also a general admission lawn where you can bring a picnic and blanket and enjoy on the grass.
The historic and one of a kind Egyptian theatre has called Boise home since 1927. The name has changed a few times since then but has remained the Egyptian since the 70’s. The detailing of this theater is remarkable, as the name implies think Tut and walk like an Egyptian. It’s one of those you have to see it to believe. There are events going on at the Egyptian year round and has gotten attention from some celebrities you may recognize. Aaron Paul one of the stars of the crazy popular show ‘Breaking Bad’, (fun fact is an Idaho native himself), rented out the theater to premier one of the episodes of ‘Breaking Bad’ when it was on the air. The Egyptian theater was also the spot for the premier of Seabiscuit, and The Bourne Identity saga. All created by extremely successful American film producer Frank Marshall who is known to love Boise and visit when he needs a little break from Hollywood. Aside from movies and film, the Egyptian is home to other forms of entertainment too such as concerts, and comedy acts. The Egyptian is also the sight of a good number of fund raisers for local non profits.
If you want to go back in time or just across space a couple you should check out The Flicks theater. Showing independent movies, foreign films and occasionally a box office smash movie. Established in the 80’s the theater features a café, and a video/DVD rental shop…Yes, they have VHS that you can still rent. Crazy, I know. In their café, you can get yourself popcorn, warm pretzels, candy, cookies, espresso and alcohol. Before the Village Cinema opened in Meridian, Idaho The Flicks was the only theater in the treasure valley allowed beer and wine in their theaters. Uniquely, the theater added solar panels to their roof in 2014. This provides the theater with 25% of it’s total power used by The Flicks.
Idaho Ice World is basically your one stop destination to all things on an ice rink! They are open to the public for ice skating and offer hockey leagues for young and old, figure skating programs and lessons. They feature 2 NHL sized rinks, locker rooms, an arcade and a Blimpies sandwich shop. You are able to rent the ice rinks by the hour for private events, corporate, birthday, etc. Idaho Ice World is open Monday-Saturday year round! Inside they also have a shop for all your ice skating and hockey needs.
Lions, Tigers, and Bears oh my! And many more animals can be found at our very own, Zoo Boise. Over 300 animals call Zoo Boise their home. Zoo Boise’s mission is to help wildlife and in the span of 10 years Zoo Boise has donated $2 million to various wildlife conservation programs all over the world. Their Zoo grill uses all biocompostable products like plates and utensils. You are also allowed to bring your own bag lunches just don’t bring straws or glass. There are many hands on exhibits you can experience like the butterfly exhibit or if you really want an experience you can feed some giraffes! 100% of proceeds for these hands on exhibits go to conservation funds created by Zoo Boise. Also of course, all encounters are animal and weather permitting. Some of the best times to visit Zoo Boise are in the late Spring and Summer months. They also hold a big event each Halloween called BOO At The Zoo! and a giant Easter egg hunt every year for Easter.
The Discovery Center is a one of a kind hands on learning experience fun for all ages! Exhibitions have a theme and they rotate through out the year. Previous themes have included, H2O, Dinosaurs, skeletons, explosives, and ‘fintastic’ sharks. Over 150 exhibits and it is conveniently located next to Zoo Boise The Discovery Center is your number one source to interactive and fun STEM learning. They have quite of few permanent attractions that will be there for you to enjoy years to come. They also offer spring break and summer camps for the kiddos that are themed.
Boise Art Museum, originally began as The Boise Art Association in 1932. Since then, the organization has brought fine art to our Treasure Valley. Their aim is to educate, inspire and welcome the public to a well cultured environment. The exhibits rotate fairly frequently so there’s always something new to see. The museum hosts ‘Art in the Park’ annually which allows artists to display their art, and the public to enjoy and even purchase the pieces they can’t stop raving about all accompanied by food and music. Each year it gets bigger and better. The museum also offers classes for all ages and is located in Julia Davis Park, near downtown and across the river from BSU.
Also conveniently located in beautiful Julia Davis Park, we have the Idaho Historical Museum to delight and educate the public. From the two headed calf to the display about the murder of Governor Steunenberg there is deep and breadth of field. Learn about the Corps Of Discovery and Lewis and Clark in Idaho and so much more. The museum opened their doors in 1950. The facility has grown and expanded over the years and even before the latest expansions it had become part museum part events center. The museum underwent a 4 year renovation in 2014, and will finally be opening late Summer 2018. With over 250,000 objects and artifacts there is much to see and learn. Plus there is always different events happening so be sure to check their calendar!
The Knitting Factory founded in 1987 in Brooklyn, NY started as just one venue then spanned into Spokane, WA, L.A and lucky for us, found its way to Boise! In the heart of downtown, this venue welcomes concerts and entertainment shows of all kinds.Typically old tired hippy bands or strong up and comers. We saw Brandi Carlisle here in her first tour. However this venue definitely has more to offer than just a place for shows. A center stage, two stories, with a balcony set up plus bar makes the venue a perfect place for private events from weddings to corporate parties.
Presented by Boise Schools, Community Education is a collection of classes happening now in the Treasure Valley and are open for the public. There are classes for just about anything you can think of and located all through out the valley. They usually have a fee and you have to sign up in advance. Due to popularity classes can fill fairly quickly and the list is always updating so be sure to check their site! Classes range in fees but most are from $10-50 dollars.
The World Center for Birds of Prey is a facility created by The Peregrine Fund. The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 in hopes to remove the Peregrine Falcon from the endangered species list. Their efforts helped save over 100 species of birds all across the world. At the center, you will delve into a unique and interactive experience, awesome for all ages. The center offers live presentations, indoor and outdoor exhibits, tours and is even home to the world’s largest captive flock of California Condors. This is just one of two breeding centers for the endangered skinheads. A general ticket is only $10 so it’s a perfect day activity that won’t break the bank.
Roaring Spring Water Park is awesome during our warmer months. From thrilling water slides, wave pools, to a giant lazy river this park has something a lot to offer. The park is conveniently located right off the freeway in Meridian, Idaho. You can buy season passes that allow early park entry and additional discounts. If you’re too busy during the day take the family at night! Friday and Saturday nights the park will be open from 6p.m-10p.m. They offer a few birthday party packages that you can choose from and you can even arrange corporate events/personal group events too.
Located right next to Roaring Springs, Wahooz is a giant indoor fun zone for the whole family. There are attractions indoor and outdoor so this place is a fun pick no matter the time of year. Inside they have bowling at Pinz, laser tag, and recently just added a ton of expansions including indoor bumper cars, The Twister ride, The Frog Hopper ride, a rope course, climbing gym, a giant ball pit playground, laser maze and a 3D ride. All of that plus arcade games, and that is just indoors! Outdoors they have a few go-kart tracks, mini golf courses, and water bumper boats. There is a grill for food and refreshments as well. There really is so much to do here. You can make your kid the coolest in school by throwing them their birthday parties here with similar birthday packages like Roaring Springs offers.
In Boise we have a few indoor rock climbing gyms. Asana and Urban Ascent are our two dedicated to rock climbing and then there is also a climbing gym at our downtown Boise YMCA. Both Asana and Urban Ascent are awesome. Prices run the same so it really just depends what location fits your preference. They both offer on site massages, Asana massages are a little cheaper than Urban Ascent. Both gyms also offer yoga classes. You can throw birthday parties, group events, and team building events at these locations. One cool thing to mention about Asana is their after school program they offer for kids 6-17 years old. It’s a four week program for $31 for residents. Pretty sweet deal! Both gyms have calendars on their sites so be sure to check those to see upcoming events/classes. You can read my blog about Asana's Grand Opening
If you really want a unique experience you should check out peddles and pints. Think trolley with each side linded with seats and pedals. Get a group of 15 people and peddle your way from bar to restaurant and back to bar again! Accompanied by a driver you and your group will tour downtown stopping along the way to sample at local pubs, breweries and restaurants you can also bring your own beer and wine if you would like but no hard alcohol is allowed. You need a minimum of 10 people to rent the bike but the price breaks down to about $20 per person if you have a full bike of 15 people. Tours are available 7 days a week and you get two hours anytime from 10:30 a.m-10:30 p.m! We celebrated a friends birthday this way and we are all still talking about it!
If you are a gearhead, you are going to love Firebird raceway. Drag races, Roadster shows, swap meets, and more. Firebird is family owned and operated by the New family who created Firebird in 1968 and built the track from nothing off Highway 16. Pit passes are a must!. Events at the race way are very affordable making it a great family outing. If you have your own race car you are able to register for whatever type race that suits your car and go racing! They have junior and high school categories as well as motorcycle events. Be sure to check their schedule on their site to be up to date with upcoming races.
Round and around they go and when they stop no one knows. Another car track in the Treasure Valley is the Meridian Speedway, this one is an oval. Also very affordable, this track is perfect for that family evening outing. It’s closer to town (Firebird raceway is a little outside town), making it really convenient.For small dirt track atmosphere this is the one.
Western Idaho Fair Grounds
The Western Idaho Fair Grounds and Expo Idaho, commonly nicknamed “the fairgrounds” is home to many events happening year round. Owned by Ada county the venue hosts the fair, trade shows, auctions, sporting events, festivals and more. Hosting such events as the Home and Garden show, the annual Fly Fishermen Of Idaho fair, to gun shows and the annual ski swap, this is the place to buy it, sell it or trade it at the weekly Saturday flea market.
Through mismanagement, the Ada county commissioners squandered a wonderful live horse racing set up. While there is still simulcasting, I fear live racing is a thing of the past here in Boise. This is the track that hall of fame jockey Gary Stevens started at. The Boise Hawks baseball team plays at Memorial Stadium located right next to the fairgrounds. The Western Idaho Fair is the 3rd week of August every year. There's hundreds of acts and concerts every year and a carnival with fair rides with a petting zoo too. And of course, fair food galore. Many local vendors and businesses set up booths on the fair ground lawn and inside the Expo building. Inside the Expo building you will find various fair competition entries as well from agriculture to photography. Another big event that happens at "the fairgrounds" is the Boise Music Festival. The festival started 6 years ago and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. The festival takes place in June and features many local bands of all genres through out the fair grounds then big time acts on the main stage.
Rumored to be haunted, you can take a tour for yourself at the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. The pen opened up in 1872 where some of the worst criminals of the west were locked up. It served as a functioning prison for 101 years. In it’s time it housed over 13,000 inmates when it’s capacity was only 600… so as you can tell, a lot of problems were created. It’s opened year round for tours and there are plenty of artifacts to see as well as a lot of history. Every year around Halloween the Old Pen hosts an event called “Frightened Felons” a complete Halloween experience with costume contests, food trucks, beverages, and actors portraying inmates of the past. To make it even spookier you’ll get a tour of the grounds at night and even be able to enter a haunted cell. The Old Pen was even featured on the famous paranormal investigation show “Ghost Adventures” you can read about that here, you know if you are into that sort of thing. Whether you believe in the paranormal or not the Old Pen is still rich with history that is quite intriguing.
Idaho Botanical Garden located next to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in the Old Penitentiary Historic District, is 15 acres of botanical wonder. One of the first botanical gardens in the state of Idaho. Here you will find beautiful flowers, plants, trees and shrubs of all color. The Idaho Botanical Gardens introduced the Winter Garden aGlow in 1997 lighting up the garden with fewer than 2,000 lights and an audience of only 200. Now Winter Garden aGlow has become a Boise tradition and winter staple. Today Winter Garden aGlow proudly displays over 300,000 lights and welcomes thousands of visitors. The Idaho Botanical Garden offers many programs for kids in the summer such as nature camps and tours. You can even host events from wedding to corporate to parties and receptions.
The Boise City owned Boise Train Depot is a historic monument in Boise. It is an absolute period piece inside. You could film a Humphery Bogart movie in there and not change a thing. It is managed by the Boise Parks and Recreation department and is used as a meeting space for the public or weddings. It was actually designed by New York architects in the 20’s. It is very elegant and overlooks Boise facing the capital. There are various open house dates where you can go inside and check out the building just be sure to check their calendar on the Boise Parks and Recreation site. Guided tours are often held in the afternoon.
So if you didn’t know…Boise is our state’s capital. Our Capitol Building is a magnificent piece of architecture that can be seen from all over Boise. Its grounds cover 2 blocks and it took 15 years to complete building… 7 years to just build the center part of the building and its dome alone. John E. Tourtellote and Charles Hummel were the architects and they used many different materials for the construction of our capitol. Red, gray, and green marble from various states and black marble imported from Italy. You can tell a lot of inspiration came from Roman structures as well as our U.S Capitol in Washington D.C. You can partake in a self guided tour if you would or you could do a guided tour. Guided tours have to be scheduled two weeks out and you will need a group of at least 5 people.
Created in hopes to preserve and educate Idaho of military history, especially such that has a connection to the history of our very own. The Idaho Military Museum opened it’s doors in 1995 and is located near Gowen Field, in Boise. Gowen Field is Idaho’s Air National Guard base. Tours are offered and it takes about an hour to see everything in the museum.
Located next to the old Idaho State Penitentiary, the Museum of Mining and Geology was opened in 1989 created by a Boise jeweler and geologist Mr. Fred Shute. With a rocky start (pun intended) the museum didn’t actually have a permanent location until 1994. Now the museum proudly provides seven monthly mining field trips, lectures, workshops, school tours and a summer program for kids. Some of their exhibits include meteorites, a live earthquake tracker, and minerals that glow in the dark. The best part is admission to the museum is free!
They put on several shows throughout the year and offer a few youth programs as well. Located in downtown Boise, their season runs from October through May. Their plays are intriguing and inspiring, and usually take into account different perspectives of the world around us. Their theater is much smaller than the Morrison Center at Boise State where other plays and shows are shown, so you will get a much more up and close experience at the contemporary theater. The Boise Contemporary Theater also offers a Children’s Reading Series with free pizza, milk and cookies! Recommended for children ages 6+.