Oh boy, oh Boise. Since many people (read: members of my family who are reading this) will be flocking to Boise this week for the total eclipse
of the heart of the sun, I thought a Boise guide would be apropos.
When you think of Boise, you may think of potatoes or Boise State University, but this capital city is really trendy, with new restaurants and revitalization of its downtown core. They don’t call it the Portland Jr. for nothing (although I think it stands on its own quite nicely). The proximity to world class skiing doesn’t hurt either. I was pleasantly surprised visiting Boise, it’s serene and wide open. I’m a person who appreciates space, and “sleeper” destinations that aren’t yet overrun by tourists.
Turn around, bright eyes…or you may miss all there is to see!
BOI is a small airport, but it is very close to downtown, less than 5 miles. First on the agenda if you arrive in the morning is coffee. The District is a hipster shop located a few blocks away from the state capitol building. Mornings are a little brisk, but I find it best to explore any downtown during its off peak time, before it gets too crowded to really take your time. The problem with the weekend is, a lot of the restaurants are closed in this area. Hopefully as the city grows, there will be enough business to sustain extra hours for these businesses.
It’s not a large downtown area, maybe a square area of about 10 blocks, so very easily managed on foot. There’s a huge farmer’s market on 8th street on Saturdays where you can mingle with the locals and sample some of the bounty of the “treasure valley.” After spending a little time meandering, head to Wild Root Cafe for a healthy, innovative brunch (check out the way their food is presented, there’s gotta me someone with architecture engineering interest in the kitchen). It is a great spot for vegetarians and vegans, too.
After filling your stomach to the brim, head south to Julia Davis park, where you will find a large greenspace dotted with the Boise Art Museum, Discovery Center, Zoo State Historical Museum, and Black History Museum. Across the road from the Art Museum is the Boise Public Library, and you have got to love a city with this much enthusiasm in their library sign.
It’s probably close to check in; I stayed at the Grove Hotel when I was in town, which is very convenient to both Old Boise and the Boise Centre shopping district. The Basque museum, which I did not get a chance to visit, is located in Old Boise, along with a myriad of restaurants and boutiques. Apparently, there exists one of the largest Basque communities in this area.
For dinner, I highly recommend Fork, in the middle of the emerging downtown. There is a reason why this is a perennial favorite of locals and visitors alike. The Wagyu burger I had was insanely delicious. And what should be no surprise to anyone, the french fries were amazing. The Owyhee is a collective of restaurants and salons that has a Lobby bar that is a good place for a drink as well. After dinner is a great time to explore downtown and Old Town before calling it a night.
If you are in town for the eclipse, it is happening around 11:30 AM, and you’ll have to drive a little bit to get to a good viewing area, so I recommend picking up donuts from Guru Donuts to snack on while you experience a total eclipse (of the heart).
After you’ve hopefully not burned your eyes, why not end your trip on a High Note? Like seriously, that’s the name of the restaurant–they have sandwiches and light fare. Another place I wanted to try while I was in Boise but couldn’t because it was a weekend was Bleubird. Another sandwich/boxed lunch spot that’s supposed to be phenomenal.
You can’t leave Boise without driving across the river to take a peak at the campus of Boise State. Albertson’s Stadium is a site to see and is open on one end so you can see the field pretty well if you’re just passing by (although you wouldn’t know it by my picture). The Boise Depot, train station, also sits on this side of town, and is a beacon of white Spanish architecture with panoramic views of the valley.
Before departing, you can’t squander another opportunity to eat some more fries. NEVER waste an opportunity to eat fries. Boise Fry Company has multiple types of potatoes, in multiple cuts, with multiple sauces. There are convenient locations around the region, including one downtown that you can stop at on route out of town.
Have a great weekend and protect your eyes!