Boise Parks, Places, Pastimes
What About The Boise River Greenbelt & Parks In Boise?
The Boise River Greenbelt is a recreational trail lining the banks of the Boise river. What a tremendous community resource! “The Greenbelt” as it is commonly known stretch’s the length of the Boise River from Lucky Peak State Park on the east end, all the way down stream to just past Eagle. In many areas it is on both sides of the river and provides access to walk, run and bike or fish. You can wade, swim or catch a few crawdads for dinner! The vast majority is paved and there are few restrictions aside from no motors or electric bikes. Two sections of the Boise River Greenbelt do not allow for bicycle riding. One near Riverside Village in Garden City and the other is the unpaved section between Barber Park and River Run. The access provides a great commuter corridor. All tolled there is roughly 30 plus miles of usable trail that ties together the extensive park system that makes Boise’s core so incredibly awesome. It is a safe, wholesome, family friendly experience for denizens of the whole valley to enjoy! With the addition of the recently finished Esther Simplot Park, the “Ribbon Of Jewels” is complete! In addition to many smaller community parks along the river, there are 4 parks that make up the “Ribbon Of Jewels”. They are a series of large parks along the riparian area adjacent to downtown Boise. They are named after the wife’s of prominent local business men who donated the parks. Julia Davis, Ann Morrison, Kathryn Albertson and Ester Simplot parks form the core of a one of a kind system of parks providing public access and recreational opportunities un paralleled anywhere. From soccer to softball, art museums and zoos, fishing, floating or surfing at the white water park are all popular. Each park from the big ones to neighborhood haunts has its own character and identity. From the raft launch and woodsy feel at Barber Park, to the softball and bmx track at Willow Lane Athletic Complex there is something for everyone. Julia Davis, with the band shell and Idaho Historical Museum, the Boise Art Museum is unique and quite different from all the others. So is the quiet reflections to be had watching the wildlife in Kathryn Albertson’s natural grotto. If you are coming for a visit a stroll along the greenbelt after dinner or a show will give you a great taste of what a life in Boise might be! Below is a list of highlights along the Boise River Greenbelt From East to West!
Lucky Peak State Park
Day use state park with opportunities to picnic, swim, fish and paddle. The highlight is in the spring when they release water from the dam at high volumes which forms an impressive “rooster tail”.
Put in for the ever popular day floats through town. A sensational events center and the east terminal for the natural unpaved walking section of the greenbelt.
Marianne Williams Park
A recontoured and reclaimed mill site with ponds and wetlands. Designed to promote the beauty and wildlife while improving fisheries, and provide wildlife viewing opportunities. Limits on bikes and dogs. On leash only. I know i had to get a leash for my bike too.
Large grassy park with picnic and bathroom facilities. Adjacent to the city arboretum and the MK Nature Center. The annual Boise Basque picnic is held in this park each summer.
MK Nature Center
The Idaho Fish and Game’s - MK Nature Center is a 4.6 acre site that has an interactive glass paneled river walk display called “Streamwalk” and is complimented by a great educational visitors center. It is open to the public and the destination of many elementary field trips for young and old to learn about the wildlife of the Great State of Idaho!
Julia Davis Park
One of the big 4, aka the "Ribbon Of Jewels" It sparkles like a diamond. It is packed with amenities. The Zoo Boise, The Idaho State Historical Museum, The Black History Museum, A band shell, The Boise Art Museum or BAM, The Rose Garden and Home To Art In The Park! Adjoining is The Discover Center, a kids hands on science exhibit and just over the arched river bridge is Boise State University.
Anne Frank Memorial
A very nice riverside tribute to one of the most courageous young ladies to ever live. Replete with architecture, quotes and bronze statuary giving the feeling that she is standing right there beside you.
Boise State University
Not exactly a park, but certainly a public space. Grab a cup of joe at the student union building, attend a show at the Velma Morrison Preforming Arts Center or watch some of the great college sports on the blue!
Ann Morrison Park
The second in the ribbon, sublime like a ruby. Ann Morrison Park is the largest by area of the Boise parks. Here you will find buses waiting to take you back to Barber Park at the end of your float. Enjoy feeding the ducks at the ponds or playing on the extensive array of playground equipment. Enjoy a stellar round of Frisbee golf. There are lots of soccer practices that take place here and some top of the line facilities for softball or Bocce’.
Kathryn Albertson’s Park
The third of the ribbon. Like an emerald in the rough, a quiet and reflective walk through a wetlands that is managed and landscaped, but let go enough to provide an abode for just about every animal that calls the Treasure Valley home. Waterfowl and squirrels, foxes and chickadees. Quail and pheasant scurry hither and yon. Pull up a seat on one of the stone benches and just stop to think for a while. Very relaxing, calming and meditative.
Whitewater Play Wave
Two adjustable water features that are manipulated for kayakers and surfers to enjoy. Stage one, more water park to come just downstream!
Esther Simplot Park
The final of the parks that tie the downtown core together this water rich park shimmers like a sapphire. Consisting of series of interconnected waterways with walking paths. Paddleboard or walk your way to health. Roughly half of the 55 acre park is ponds suitable for swimming, fishing or playing in. With the addition of the remaining sections of the whitewater park this will be a waterman's paradise.
Veteran’s Memorial State Park
Large grassy expanse with restrooms and tall ass pine trees! Good local picnic spot and access for the greenbelt. The hunting community utilizes for a snake avoidance training ground each July as well.
Willow Lane Park & Athletic Complex
Grassy areas interspersed with softball facilities, restrooms, a bmx track, the Boise High School soccer field and more.
Riverside Village Fishing Pond
Pond stocked with catchable sized trout by the Idaho Fish & Game. See state regulations for rules.
Reid Merrill Park In Eagle
Eagle’s answer to the great Boise park system! It’s no slouch. Great kids water features and play equipment. Excellent covered picnic facility and of course access to the river trails to get away from it all!. At Halloween you will find the Eagle fire departments spooky haunted woods along the river near here!
What About Parks In Boise Metro Area That Aren't On The Greenbelt?
The City of Boise has over 50 facilities from small community parks like Winstead Park, to Olympic size public swimming pools at Ivywild, Borah and Fairmont parks! Add in the two Olympic sized ice skating rinks and an archery range and you will see there is no shortage of publicly sponsored recreation. No matter which part of town you call home there is one or two parks or facilities near you! From longtime sledding favorite Camelsback Park which also plays host to the Hyde Park Street Fair to the newly completed 20 acre Molenaar Park on Maple Grove in Southwest Boise, our parks run the gambit. From the Dick Eardley Community Senior Center to the two public golf courses there is something for everyone. The city owns the old Union Pacific Train Depot which has served as a back drop for many a senior photo and more recently an event center you can rent for receptions or gatherings of all kinds. From grassy open space parks tucked in developments throughout town, like Hewitt Park in West Boise, to au natural wildlife parks such as the Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve pictured above. The diversity will astound. Add In The Boise River Greenbelt and the “Ribbon Of Jewels” and all I can say is small city, big vision! The list goes on and HERE is a link to the City Of Boise webpage if you want to learn more now!
The Parks in the city of Meridian are top notch as well, the Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park near The Village at Fairview and Eagle roads boasts ponds and paths, a community center and more. At 58 acres you can fish, play basketball or attend cross country meet. Settlers Park, Meridian’s other anchor park has tennis, frisbee golf, baseball, fishing, horseshoes and more!
I Heard That Boise Has A Great Botanical Garden, Is It True?
The Idaho Botanical Gardens which is located next to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary East of downtown Boise is a sight for sore eyes. Established as a nonprofit in 1984, the gardens are located on a portion of the old penitentiary that was used by the inmates as a farm and nursery. Comprised of 15 acres of botanical wonder. Here you will find beautiful flowers, plants, trees and shrubs of all colors. Specialty gardens dot the complex, each with its own little slice of heaven. The Idaho - Lewis and Clark Native garden open in 1990 and strives to highlight 145 species of native plants and is wheelchair accessible. If you have kids, be sure not to miss the Childrens Adventure Garden. If roses are your thing the Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden features roses that were in exisatence prior to 1920. Other gardens including a meditation garden an herb garden, one that is fire wise. The Muriel and Diana Kirk English Garden is worth more than a minute or an hour. One of the favorite events and fund raisers held at the Garden is Winter garden Aglow, complete with Santa Claus and hot chocolate. First introduced 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.
What Is The Deal With The Ridge To Rivers Trail System?
You may not have heard but Boise is written up as one of the top 5 recreation cities in the United States year in and year out. In no small part based on the world class hiking and biking system that permeates the “Boise Front”. Called the Ridge To Rivers Trail System, its success is based on the fact that many great donors have gifted or granted land and easements to make this world class trail system what it is. Hey, giving back is just the way we roll here. A gigantic network of trails and roads, almost 200 miles of them, on both public and private land wend, wind and climb there way from Eagle in the west to Lucky Peak on the east end. From the high ridge line at Bogus Basin all the way down to the Boise River greenbelt on the river’s edge. A handful are walking only and please don’t leave fido’s poop. Volunteer opportunities abound if you are new and looking to meet new friends to walk or bike with!
Is There A Good Art Guide In Boise?
Art in Boise is Alive And Well. From Freak Alley To BAM. VAC to Outlaw Field, There Is Something For Everyone. Follow The Link To The Boise Art Guide For Details!
What is Alive After 5?
31 years strong and still kicking it! Free summer concert series in the courtyard at The Grove in downtown Boise. Ever Wednesday all summer long find your best friend or a new friend while kicking up your heels. All ages, all the time even the grey haired crowd shows for this event! From kids playing in the fountain to 3 piece suits fresh from the court room, meet, greet and then go out and have a steak or some sushi to round out the evening! Check Out The Downtown Boise Events Calendar HERE.
What Is First Thursday?
This one is fun but a different experience depending what you are after. Primarily an art walk, all the merchants are open and many have specials on food or whatever the deal of their week is. My wife and her friends really enjoy picking apart the fine art. While my buddies and I are there to people watch and poke a little fun at the worst examples of “art” we can find. Either way it is a gas. Hit The Piehole for a slice or the Bitter Creek Ale House for liquid libation as you stroll through the various galleries and shops plying their wares! Yep, held all summer, on the first Thursday every month!
Does Boise Have Good Concerts?
Summer concerts over the last 10 years have primarily been held at The Outlaw Field located at the old Idaho Penitentiary of Warm Springs Boulevard. The likes of Willie Nelson, The Indigo Girls, John Melloncamp, Allison Kraus, Santana, Fun, and tons of others I can’t remember. Occasionally and especially in the winter you will find concerts at Taco Bell Arena at Boise State, and the Idaho Center in Nampa. Smaller Venues like the Knitting Factory and Vac or the Visual Arts Collective have smaller acts either new and up and coming or old and on the fringes. Erica and her friend went and saw Suzanne Vega at Vac earlier this year and had a ball. The Visual arts collective is just 3 blocks from the famous old Boise watering hole The Stagecoach, start there with the bar prawns and a cold one and let the good times roll!
Are There Good Restaurants In Boise Idaho Metro Area?
I am going to have to admit Portland has us beat with their awesome restaurant scene, which is over the top. But we have a solid array of restaurants to keep your tongue busy. My personal favorite is the artsy Barbacoa in east Boise. Famous for the Hot Rock steak and a lot more. The scallops are a solid contender each and every time and the chimichurri and pepper corn steak sauces are to die for. The bathroom peep hole lets you see into a whole other world and definitely do not stare into the eyes of the larger than life medusa or your check might double, that could be worse than getting turned to stone! Not cheap but awesome. Their happy hour ends at 6 and includes 2 for 1 drinks and appetizers. Other great restaurants to try would be The Cottonwood in Boise, Lucky Fins Seafood in Boise and Meridian, Gino’s Italian in Meridian, Le Coq de Or in Eagle for classic French. Here is a link to some good places to eat for those here relocating to Boise and looking for a solid list of spots to dine!
Does Boise Have Good Micro Breweries?
Attention Boise Ale Trail – ers. Maybe you have not heard that Boise is a beer and ale drinkers paradise. Why you might ask? Because it is a brewers paradise. The Boise Ale trail is long and all encompassing when it comes to styles and qualities. Boise is surrounded by fields of barley and hops ensuring only the finest quality and freshest ingredients make the way into the wort.
We have more than a handful of national award winning micro breweries here in the Treasure Valley, there is a style and size for every palate. All the breweries and distilleries in Boise have their own unique atmosphere so there’s something for everyone. They make great hangout spots for friends and Friday night outings. Most offer bar food and more alongside their wide array of beverages. With so many selections you could make a ‘Brews Bucket List’ and try to try them all! These are just a few of the most popular… there really is so many in the Treasure Valley. Mostly all of them are on Yelp and you can check the reviews and every one of them is rating pretty well. Listed below are the popular breweries in the valley. I’m sure this list will change often though as we are always seeing new breweries opening up!
White Dog Brewing Boise, Idaho
Started by two brothers in their garage located in Bozeman, MT and Boise, ID! Great reviews on Facebook and they are also heavily involved in the community and hosting events.
Boise Brewing Boise, Idaho
Boise Brewing started back in 2012 they offer a program called Community Supported Brewing or CSB for short. Basically, you become a member and it’s like owning a “share” of the brewery. Every month you get paid in beer and they create it specifically for their members. It’s unique for a brewery to have a program like this in fact it’s only one out of a couple in the country.
Payette Brewing Boise, Idaho
After leaving his job at Boeing and getting his degree in Brewing Technology, Mike Francis came back to his home roots and opened his own brewery. Some Idaho history for ya, Francois Payette was a French Canadian fur trader and trapper in the 1800’s. He ventured to what is now Payette, Idaho and is credited to being one of the first men of European descent to settle in that area. He was known to be helpful to travelers and admirable. The brewery is named after him.
Woodland Empire Ale Craft Boise, Idaho
Started by married duo Rob and Keely Landerman emphasis they strive to not only focus on the quality of their beers but the effects on the environment too. “Woodland” comes from their spin on “City of Trees” Boise’s commonly known nickname. They have a very cool unique style!
Mad Swede Brewing Boise, Idaho
Viking themed and started by another power brew couple. Jerry and Susie Larson. There are food trucks available at their location almost always. You can check their site for a calendar of the different food trucks. There is plenty to do for entertainment, they have shuffleboard, dartboards, music and more.
Longdrop Cider Company Eagle, Idaho
Founded in 2014, and located on Capitol Blvd in downtown Boise this place offers unique hard ciders. You can also purchase their canned and bottled hard ciders at Whole Foods, The Boise Co-op, Trader Joe’s and more.
Crooked Fence Barrelhouse Garden City, Idaho
Their new taproom is opening up in Spring 2018. Very popular in Boise and if you can’t wait to try their beers before the grand opening, you can purchase their beverages at local bars, restaurants gas stations and grocery stores.
Crescent Brewery Nampa, Idaho
Nampa’s first brewery was built in 1906 and opened for business a year later unfortunately due to the prohibition and more the brewery closed it’s doors in 1950 and the building was demolished in the mid 60’s. In 2009 Two Nampa, Idaho natives decided to reboot the piece of history that was and now is Crescent Brewery!
Barbarian Brewing Downtown Taproom & Garden City location
Their downtown taproom features 23 beers on draft as well as local cider and wines and their garden city location offers about 17 of those. Their specialty is sours and barrel aged beers.
Brewery & Restaurant
EDGE Brewing Co Boise, Idaho
Cool space with things happening daily. Wing Wednesday, Beer and Basketball, and $3 pints from 3p.m to close to just name a few! All of their products are made from local ingredients and it’s located in Boise.
10 Barrel Brewing Boise, Idaho
Started in Bend, Oregon 10 Barrel found their way to Boise and opened a brewpub in Downtown! This place is awesome in Summer with the patio seating. Cool atmosphere and located in the heart of downtown. It’s located kiddie corner from Freak Alley making it a great date night spot, dinner and some local art!
Highlands Hollow Brewhouse Boise, Idaho
Located in the super hit and awesome North End neighborhood in Boise. Every Monday you can come fill your growlers for $8 and they even have growler punch cards. They also have live local music every Wednesday night. They also are Boise’s first microbrewery.
Sockeye Brewery Boise, Idaho
We have 2 locations in Boise. Both with happy hours and live music this makes a great atmosphere to not only enjoy a brew but some great food too. Probably one of the better known breweries in Boise. Their flagship beer is nationally recognized Dagger Falls IPA. Check out their calendar and menu on their site!
Cloud 9 Brewery Boise, Idaho
Also located in the Northend neighborhood, Cloud 9 is a nanopub. Their beers on tap are constantly rotating. Their approach to brewing is unique as they are always striving to be creative in their food and drinks. They are a certified organic brewery.
8 Feathers Distillery Boise, Idaho
8 Feathers is also locally sourced much like our previously mentioned. They get all their grains from Weiser, ID. Their Idaho Corn Whiskey and Idaho Moonshine has received a handful of awards. If you are thinking about starting your own distillery 8 Feathers has a school teaching you all you need to know!
Bardenay Eagle, Idaho, Boise, Idaho
The name comes from sailors back in the day which was their word for “cocktail”. Many of their cocktails are made with their own distilled products (vodka, rum, gin) they also have a great menu for food. There is a location in Eagle, ID and one in Boise as well.
Koenig Distillery Caldwell, Idaho
Koenig is also a big winery in Caldwell, but they create their own brandy and vodka too! You can visit their tasting room open daily 12-5.
How about Wineries?
Bitner – Caldwell, Idaho
Established in 1981 by Ron and Mary Bitner, their vineyard produces 1,000+ cases of hand crafted wine from their Estate Grown Grapes. They also have a bread and breakfast. Open: Winter/Spring - Nov-Apr - Fri-Sun - 12pm-5pm, Summer/Fall - May-Oct - Wed-Sun - 12pm-5pm
Fujishin – Caldwell, Idaho
This smaller boutique was established in 2009. Started by winemaker Martin Fujishin who began working at Koenig as an assistant wine maker. He also assists Bitner vineyards with vineyard management part time. Open daily: 12pm-6pm, closed Tuesdays
St Chappelle - Caldwell, Idaho
Established in 1975 this winery offers weddings, wine tastings, winery tours and an exclusive wine club. Hours: Monday - Saturday 10am-5pm, Sundays 12pm-5pm - winery tours by appointment only. Corporate events and weddings are offered year round.
Huston – Caldwell, Idaho
Another “newish” boutique winery located in Caldwell, opened it’s doors in 2006. They are open Friday-Monday: 12pm-5pm or by appointment.
Indian Creek – Kuna, Idaho
Located in Kuna this winery is a little hidden away from the other ones. They are open June-October: Thursday- Sunday: 12pm-5pm November- May: Friday- Sunday: 12pm-5pm. They too offer weddings, wine tasting, wine club and event facilities for corporate/large gathering events.
Koenig – Caldwell, Idaho
One of Erica’s favorites, established in 1996 offers wine tasting, and a wine club. They are open daily 12pm-5pm. Aside from wine, they also craft Idaho potato vodka and brandies.
Sawtooth – Nampa, Idaho
Located in Nampa, Sawtooth offers weddings, wine tasting, a wine club and is a great spot for picnicking. They own over 500 acres of vineyards. Open from Wednesday-Sunday: 12pm-5pm
Snake River – Not open to the public, tasting room in Downtown Boise
Williamson – Caldwell, Idaho
Family owned for 4 generations, their family farm was established in 1909. They started growing fruit and some time later decided to take advantage of their high desert location and start growing grapes. They have over 50 acres of vineyards of many variety. They are open Wednesday - Sunday: 12 - 5 pm.
Split Rail Winery Garden City, Idaho
A more urban take on wine, Split Rail is extremely unique. They produce boutique bottles as well as wine cans, and even wine growlers! They are open to the public Wednesday- Sunday 12pm-6pm.
Cinder Wines Garden City, Idaho
Established in 2006 Cinder is another great urban winery. Open daily from 11am-5pm, located minutes from downtown Boise.
Coiled Garden City, Idaho
Coiled Wines was established in 2008 by winemaker and owner, Leslie Preston. The name of the winery was inspired by the Snake River Valley. They currently showcase two labels under the Coiled name: Coiled and Translations.
Telaya Wine Garden City, Idaho
Located right on the river and the Boise greenbelt, you can enjoy your wine with a great view too! Open daily from 12pm-6pm. They offer wine tasting, tours, a wine club and seated tastings are available as well. Their patio is dog friendly!
How Is The Shopping In Boise Idaho Metro Area?
Shopping has really taken 3 steps forward in the last 10 years in Boise. The clean, cute and vibrant downtown core is loaded with hundreds of small specialty shops. As a matter of fact, just in the last year, over 2 dozen new stores opened in the downtown area. From upscale outdoor retailers like The North Face Store to Sonoma Williams and The Basque market. Trader Joe's, Wholefoods and the Boise Consumer Co-op are all great spots to grab a pre-made meal or a bottle of wine. Out near the Boise Towne Square Mall, find all the big boxes surrounding the mall like Cabela’s, Best Buy & multiple Costcos. Add in all the stores in the mall and shop ‘til you drop. Then finish off the day with a stop at The Cheesecake Factory! The newest addition to the Boise Metro shopping scene is The Village in East Meridian. Located on the corner of Eagle Road and Fairview avenue you will find a bunch of big box stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, The West Boise Consumer Co-op. Known simply as “the co-op” is an independent styled Wholefoods. I feel the Co-op has the best wine selection in town. The Village is a combination of a “Las Vegas” Style experience with shopping in multiple buildings throughout the area and a common courtyard area surrounded by restaurants along with a fountain light show that doubles as ice skating in the winter.
How Is The Public Library System In Boise Idaho?
If you are a library lover Boise is for you. Every town has a library and they are all tied together. Check out a book downtown and return it in Meridian. If the Star library is the only one with your book, you can have it delivered to your local library! There is a bookmobile that visits local parking lots as well.
Where Are The Saturday Market and Farmers Markets?
Farmers markets and Saturday markets can be found in the warmer months pretty much all over the valley! You can find local treasures from seasonal fruits and veggies to homemade goods, crafts and such. From grass fed beef to local Idaho wines, arts and crafts, cut flowers, just about anything you can imagine. Just like the varied and dynamic individuals of this great state, you will find, a little of this and a little of that. The bread vendor from Vale in Eagle is great. I try and get the the old market in Boise for the huckleberry jam
Let’s start with Boise. First off we have the Capital City Public Market every Saturday beginning in April, from 9:30 a.m-1:30p.m. Since 1994 this has been THE Saturday market in Boise. It’s located on 8th street in downtown Boise. Then we have the Boise Farmers market. The Boise Farmers market is for the foodies. Near 11th and Idaho! There’s a lot of home made food goods and fruits and veggies. Also beginning in April, you can check it out every Saturday from 9:00-1p.m. Since they are located just a few blocks away hit them both. One of the newer Saturday markets is the West Boise Saturday Market presented by Art Zone 208. This markets primary point of sale is art and jewelry. It is located at Cole and Ustick right by the Library.
Moving onto Eagle, The Eagle Saturday Market is every Saturday beginning April 29th from 9:30a.m- 2p.m. It’s located in the middle of downtown Eagle at Heritage Park and is accompanied by live music, food, and local vendors.
Nampa has a Saturday Market! Beginning late April every Saturday from 9:00a.m-1:00p.m you can check out the fresh and local produce Nampa has to offer.
Caldwell, Idaho has a farmers market beginning a little later than the rest in early May. You can check this one out Wednesday nights in the Spring through Summer from 3:00p.m to 7:00p.m.
And lastly, Kuna’s Saturday Market also begins in May open from 9-12 you can find all your local produce needs and more.