Monday, July 4, 2011

Hanging in Boise...

During the week our house revolves around just getting everything done, and making sure everyone gets to where they need to go. Though we spend time together the more relaxed quality time is the time we have on the weekends. We also tend not to travel out of town too much on three day weekends, too many others have the same idea. What do we do then on those long weekends? Enjoy where we live. There are so many great things to do and places to go here in Boise that we can always find something.

A friend recently started a travel blog, Tundra Rat Travel Blog, and I am getting to Boise before he does. UPDATE: He beat me to it and just posted his Boise post a few hours ago, it is great and I highly recommend it. I am sure if and when he does Boise though it will be a little more adult centric, and this more family oriented travel notes on Boise, Idaho.

There are tons of things to do in Boise, especially in the summer. 
If you are in town on a Saturday between April and October, Capital City Public Market in Downtown Boise is always a must attend. There is great fresh produce and flowers, along with amazing food booths, local wine, and craft booths. The great thing about Market is it encapsulates so much of Boise into one location. 
There are plenty of parks, and I covered that in an earlier post but it deserves a mention here, especially since four other great things are located in the parks. Julia Davis park is one of the largest in Boise and contains the Idaho History Museum, Boise Art Museum, and Zoo Boise.  The Zoo, though small is enjoyable,  and the giraffe slide is an all time favorite of every kid that has ever been.  In the summer Zoo Boise has a butterflies in Bloom exhibit, it is a true treat to get to see all the butterflies. Zoo Boise is a member of the AZA reciprocal program, so if you are a member at your home town zoo you may get free admission into Zoo Boise.  The Boise Art Museum is another treat, currently the exhibit is about shoes and both the Things are anxious to visit it. There is a great kids museum experience in the back of the zoo out of the way that the Things always beg to go play in.  The Boise Art Museum hosts an amazing open air art fair every year in early Septemper, Art in the Park, there is a great mix of fine art and craft vendors.  The Idaho State History Museum is another good museum, a particular treat is the History Comes to Life exhibit they do. Once a year, with the help of tons of volunteers there are games, people in period clothes, live demonstrations and the dioramas upstairs come to life.  A few other parks that can save you on a hot day are Hill Park and Settlers Park, they have super fun water play areas that kids are drawn to from the moment they see all that water spraying all over the place.
The Discovery Center of Idaho is located near Anne Morrison park, a long block from Julia Davis. The Discovery Center is a kids science museum, for you Bay Area folks think the Exploritorium, there are tons of hands-on exhibits and staff around to answer those pesky questions us parents can't.  They also are members of the ASTC Reciprocal Museum group, so check to see if your local membership covers admissions here.  The current exhibit is Gyrations and The Things spent about an hour just in the front room playing and trying out all the different exhibits.
The Idaho Botanical Garden, the Old Penitentiary, and the Birds of Prey Center are other great places to visit.  All these places do wonderful events throughout the year and have plenty of helpful volunteers around year round to answer questions and help with anything. The Botanical Garden and Old Pen are right near each other at the north east part of town.  The Birds of Prey is located a ways out south of Boise.  I have to say the Birds of Prey is an amazing place and definitely worth the drive out there.  If you can try to catch a concert at the Botanical Garden, it can be a great adult escape on a kid heavy day. 
Bown Crossing is another section of town to visit. Located in East Boise and home to Powell's Sweet Shoppe, this is a fun everyone can be a kid candy store.  The Bown area has a great outside market on Sundays in the summer, one of my favorite vendors there is Funky Monkez, they make unusual creative sock monkeys, there is also a great Etsy group that is usually there.
One last thing I always recommend if you are here in the summer is Idaho Shakespeare Festival.  This is an outdoor amphitheater that is a great place to bring dinner and a drink of choice and sit and see a great show while the sun sets. We tend to go as a date night, but they do have family nights throughout the season.  There is a cafe on site, but I find a picnic so much more fun. Make sure to get grass seats, the first rows are all grass and you can rent low chairs to watch the show with.  The Hubs favorite part of any show is the green show put on my the Fool Squad about a 1/2 hour before any show starts. 
A cruise by Boise State University to see the blue field is a must for any football fan.  Being in town in the fall or winter, I would defiantly recommend trying to catch a game, football and either men's or women's basketball.


People make assumptions a lot of the time when they first see Boise or when they are in route. That Boise is this small town with nothing real interesting and that the food will be meat and potatoes with out a lot of deviation.  They are wrong, Boise has a great food scene.
We are breakfast people particularly when we travel, so when we 'staycation' there is at least one breakfast morning.  Goldy's is a downtown institution and there is a reason, they make great food with good atmophere, but Jo Mama's and The Griddle are two other great breakfast places with lots of variety and very family friendly. 
The current downtown favorite of The Things for lunch is Boise Fry Company.  It is a place where you order your burger on the side, and pick from a variety or potatoes, including purple.  They have tons of different types of ketchup like dips and speciality salts. For those that don't eat meat, there's a quinoa salad.
The Market has tons of food vendors with varied cultures. There are crepes, vegetarian sambuca, and my personal favorite a pizza place that has gluten free pizza crust. 
There are a few local old school drive ins that always are a treat, Fancy Freeze and the West Side Drive in.  West Side has a lot on the menu besides the classic fair and Fancy Freeze specialized in great soft serve ice cream treats, the Boston milkshake is a treat I was crazy about during pregnancy with Thing One. 
A few other Boise favorites that the kiddos love, Stan's and Donnie Macs.  Stan's is off Vista and is a hot dog and burger place that makes great custard and has a sauce called Bronco Sauce that makes a hot dog so much more.  Donnie Macs is a trailer park theme where you can eat in a car on a lift and the kids can have spagettios in a can with Cheetos. 
For slightly less kid centric fair that is still kick back Bardenay and Red Feather are always great. Bardenay makes their own rum and has lots of drink options to check out, my favorite is the iguana bana.  Red Feather  has great drinks and does a lot of small plate items, we really like when they have the risotto.
Delsa's has amazing homemade ice cream that is a definite stop when you are up on the bench.

Now that I am hungry and anxious to go explore we are off.  This just covered a few basics about Boise, fun stuff to do and food ideas. There is great music, tons of events and always things going on in the outlying communities. If you come to visit I hope you enjoy yourself and see how great the city is, for those that live in it and those that visit.

1 comment:

  1. I love that we were totally on the same wavelength with the Boise posts! Hahaha. Also, I completely agree with you about the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, it's a great time and a wonderful venue. And for those not familiar with Boise, try the Basque food, it's a delicacy that's not easily found even in the largest cities, and it's fantastic. And speaking of "staycations" my favorite one was when McIndoo borrowed the keys to my house while I was out of town so he could tell everyone that he was on a "road trip" so nobody would bother him. He figured "well, I WILL be down a road. That makes it a road trip."