Boise is the gateway to Idaho’s nature
Boise, the state capital of Idaho is also the second largest metropolitan area in the Rocky Mountain region and is growing as a tourist destination. Many of its visitors are transiting from the coast to some of the country’s stunning national parks of the Midwest, however Boise provides ample points of interest to be a notable stopover. Nature and the outdoors form much of the city’s focus and Boise rightly has a reputation as a green urban area. This is demonstrated by its array of parks and the prominent Boise River cutting through the centre.
By the banks of the Boise River
The central area of Boise is home to an increasing array of attractions despite the city’s strong nature focus. In terms of navigation and understanding the city layout, the Boise River is a strong focal point. Much of the commercial centre is located just north of the river and bordered by the military reserve which initially founded the city. The Idaho State Capitol Building is one of the most recognisable constructions and sits proudly above Capitol Park. From here visitors can access much of the city on foot, although as with most American cities away from the East Coast, car is the most common method to get around. There are dozens of hotels to choose from across the Downtown, most of which offer rooms with views of the Boise Mountains as a backdrop to the northeast of the city. Boise State University campus is located on the banks of the river, on the opposite side to the Downtown. A popular activity amongst locals and travellers is to head to the university to watch the Boise State Broncos in a college football game at the Bronco Stadium, a venue known for its unique blue artificial turf.
Understand the city’s cultural mix
The city has an increasingly diverse population and a consequent colourful history in its short time since initial settlement. A variety of museums present an opportunity to increase one’s knowledge of the city and its surroundings, including the Idaho Black History Museum. The museum showcases a range of art and educational programmes and is located in Julia Davis Park, very close to the city centre. Also in this park lie the Boise Art Museum, Zoo Boise and the Rose Garden, whilst the grounds offer a peaceful green area frequented by those seeking an escape from the urban streets a few blocks north. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center is another well-visited and unexpected attraction. Boise is indeed home to one of the largest populations of Basque culture outside of the Basque Country and the museum explains their history in the Midwest. The area surrounding the museum is still home to many Basque inhabitants and as a result contains many eateries and shops of a similar theme.
Contemporary culture and diversity
As with any large American metropolitan area, there are dozens of cuisines represented across the city, largely in and around the downtown. Italian and American style diners are most common, however there is a growing alternative scene offering a variety of international choices including Japanese, Caribbean, Thai and many more. In terms of bars, Boise is not short of drinking options. Across the centre there are dozens of bars and pubs of varying size and demographic orientation, including a small LGBT scene. Live music is well represented particularly at weekends, providing visitors a chance to experience Boise’s livelier side. Furthermore, with regards to entertainment, the Boise Contemporary Theatre houses regular distinctive live performances which engages the creative side of the city and often addressing a range of contemporary issues. In a similar but more historically focused vein, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival is held throughout each summer in the foothills north of the city and sees guests come from across the state and beyond to enjoy reproductions of the quintessential English playwright.
Discovering a variety of nature and adventure
Boise is surrounded by stunning nature in all directions and is also renowned for being a particularly green city. Indeed, there are several major park areas across the city centre and further afield and these form a large chunk of the city’s tourism appeal. Idaho Botanical Gardens and the World Center for Birds of Prey, plus the aforementioned Zoo Boise are great activities for young families and a present chance to get up close to a variety of wildlife. Outdoor adventure activities also feature prominently in the city’s guidebooks and ‘things to do’ lists. Lucky Peak, a short drive out of the city is a well-frequented area focused around the Mores Creek, with visitors enjoying a variety of nature trails and water-sports. Similarly, the Boise River presents an assortment of adventure, including rafting, tubing and various golf courses along the riverside. Further into the mountains there are endless trails and natural wonders, plus heaps of snow during the winter months. The Bogus Basin Ski Resort, just forty minute from Downtown Boise, offers a range of winter sports opportunities plus a selection of hotels and lodging.
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