Must See Places in Boise


It’s no surprise that Boise is an increasingly popular city. There are jobs, great food, good weather, and loads of fun things to do. However, with all the new development of Boise, it is important to keep the traditional Boise attractions alive for future generations. The following is a list of the Must See Places in Boise for the next time you are looking for something to do. They were selected because of their historical or cultural importance, or because it has been a long-loved tradition.

The View from Table Rock

If you want a view that will take your breath away, the view from Table Rock is the place to go. Table Rock is a massive sandstone outcropping that sits just above the Idaho Penitentiary, overlooking the entire valley. It is a fantastic view—one that allows you to see all the lights of Boise, Meridian, Eagle, Kuna, Nampa, and Caldwell. It is a sobering place where many people come to sit and think, get exercise, or just go for an adventure. The view also extends out to the open expanse of Southwestern Idaho and into Eastern Oregon.

To get to the top of Table Rock you have two options. Option one being a mid-level hike up the face of the outcropping, and option two being a drive up the backside that takes you 95% of the way. However, whatever way you get there, it will always be worth it.

Many people go up to the top in the early morning and late in the evening to watch the sun rise and set, and still many people go up to explore the many caves that surround the base of the rock.

Boise Historic Districts

There are several historical districts in Boise, some of them are in the North End and others in parts of downtown. Whichever you visit however, they are spectacular to behold. In the Historical Districts, the homes appearances are not to be changed, they must remain how they were when they were declared a historic landmark. People may live there, but they are required to keep the homes looking as they did. These historic districts allow future generations to see what life was like in Boise almost a hundred years ago. They can walk up and down the shaded and serene streets and take in the overwhelming sense of heritage. One of the most attractive historic districts is Harrison Boulevard. Located in the North End, Harrison Boulevard is a stretch of road that, when you walk down it, you can truly feel the great spirit of old Boise.

The Botanical Gardens

The Idaho Botanical Gardens are a true jewel. It is a beautiful place to visit and enjoy now matter if you like horticulture or not. The Idaho Botanical Gardens are a large multi acre park that resides near the Old Idaho State Penitentiary; it is full of small garden attractions like an elegant rose garden and a soothing meditation garden. However, if you want to learn more about the plants and horticulture, then the Botanical Gardens has that too. The Idaho Botanical Gardens provides a host of education opportunities for all ages to learn about and understand plants, gardening, and horticulture in general.

The Idaho Botanical Gardens was started by a man named Christopher Davidson (a doctor of Botany) back in the early ‘80s. He, and the first board of directors came together and established the gardens on donations only. The Botanical Gardens are completely run independent of government or private funding, it is simply funded by visitors and avid supporters of the Garden’s mission.

Merritt’s Café

Want some great food? What about a fun place to hang out and enjoy some time with friends? If this is what you look for in a restaurant, then you need to get to Merritt’s Café. This breakfast joint is a Boise classic and is a popular place among the locals of every age. Since 1975 Merritt’s has been the number one place to come for scones, however, that isn’t all they offer. Merritt’s Café’s breakfast menu is to die for, and the other great food they have make it easy for anyone with any taste to enjoy themselves.

Food isn’t the only thing that Merritt’s Café is known for, their classic ambiance is another reason so many people like to eat there. Though it may look old and a little worn down, the atmosphere that exists in Merritt’s Café is one that evokes memories of good old home cooking. The jukebox in the corner, the sounds of dishes clattering in the kitchen, and the rustic furniture and lighting are some of the contributing factors to Merritt’s cozy atmosphere, but whatever draws you, the food or the air, you will feel at home when you go to Merritt’s Café.

The View from the Top of the Zion’s Bank Building

Downtown Boise is a chic urban environment. It has amazing walkability, plenty of places to work and shop, as well as some amazing places to eat, but one thing that it is not huge on is skyscrapers. Due to the American West’s philosophy of expanding outward before expanding upward, Boise doesn’t have that many skyscrapers, but the few it does have, have exclusively breathtaking views. The Zion’s Bank Building located just a few blocks east of the capital building, is the tallest building in the city and the newest skyscraper.

If you have the opportunity to take a trip up to the top of the Zion’s Bank building, then you are in for a treat. Thanks to its vertical advantage it has over the rest of the city, it offers a unique and exciting views of the city. From that vantage point, you can see down on the historical downtown below, as well as out over the valley.

Lucky Peak Dam, Reservoir, and State Park

Just southeast of Boise is the ever popular Lucky Peak Dam. This dam impedes the flow of the Boise River and creates the Lucky Peak Reservoir, a popular place for all sorts of outdoor activities. The reservoir is surrounded by beautiful beaches that are complete with boat docks, swimming areas, picnic pavilions, and even places to fish—not to mention, it has places that are wheelchair accessible. Luck Peak is almost always being visited by boaters, swimmers, fishers, etc. during the summer months. However, activity at Lucky Peak is not to be stopped when the cold comes around.

Among the many events that take place at Lucky Peak, the Polar Bear Challenge is one of the most notorious. Put on by the Idaho Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Polar Bear Challenge is a way for people to donate to, and show their support for, the foundation. If you have never seen or experienced a Polar Bear Challenge, in essence, it goes like this: participants line up on the water’s edge one an exceptionally cold morning (for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, they go for January 1st) and, at the sound of the mark, charge into the frigid water. This is a yearly tradition for the foundation and is almost always held at Lucky Peak.

World Center for Birds of Prey

If you have ever wanted to get up close to some amazing animals, then you need to check out the World Center for Birds of Prey. This facility is located just south of Boise, approximately an 11 mile trip outside the city. It is a wonderful place for learning about and appreciating local wildlife.

The World Center for Birds of Prey is an amazing facility that allows visitors to see up close, dozens of different species of birds. They have birds from around the world, Falcons, Eagles, Vultures, and much more. There are even endangered species there as well. The center allows people to learn about the birds through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and observation of the birds.

The center is also home to one of the largest facilities for Falconry literature and research. They have hundreds of documents in their library that they are continually adding to as well for future generations to learn about. The center’s information facility is also a great resource for people at Boise State University who are studying Raptor Biology (a master’s program).

Aside from education and research, the World Center for Birds of Prey also acts as a rehabilitation centers for injured birds and a breading facility for endangered species. Thanks to the efforts of the World Center for Birds of Prey, the Peregrine Falcon—one of nature’s most majestic birds of prey—is no longer heading for extinction. And thought saving the Peregrine Falcon from certain death is an impressive feat, the center is not stopping there; currently the center is working to rebuild the California Condor population. California Condors are the largest birds in North America. They are vulture like creatures that can have a wing span of 10 feet and weigh up to 30 pounds. These birds were all but extinct when the center started capturing them to breed in captivity—in fact, only 40 of them or so were reported to be alive at the time. And now, there are over 400.

Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

As dark and dreary as Anne Frank’s life was, she had a profound influence over American’s everywhere. The record of her diary has been read thousands of times and her legacy and optimism have transcended time to touch the hearts of us in the present day. And the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial pays tribute to that brave girl.

Located behind the library in downtown Boise is the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. It is a charming place that pays homage to Anne Frank and all others who suffered through that part of history. It is adorn with quotes, statues, and historical plaques, all in order to promote human rights, love and harmony.

The State Capitol

The Idaho State Capitol may not sound that exciting at first, but it has some stuff you’ll want to see. It is located in the heart of downtown Boise at the head of Capitol Boulevard and has stood there for over a hundred years. It is made of granite and marble and stands several hundred feet tall. The Idaho Capitol Building is an iconic building because of its intricate granite design, both inside and out. It is a beautiful building that surrounds its visitors in a strong encasing of stone.

If you go to visit the Capitol during a senate or house session, you can go to the balcony and watch the proceedings from there—allowing visitors to see laws being debated and passed. It is also an education opportunity as visitors can see and talk with senators, house members, and other people of authority, even the governor.

Kathryn Albertson Park

If you want to visit a peaceful place for quiet thinking, then the Kathryn Albertson Park is the place for you. Unlike most other parks, Kathryn Albertson does not have any playgrounds or games to enjoy. Instead it has 41 acres of peaceful paths, plants, and placid water features. The city has designated it as a sanctuary for wildlife as well as a place for peaceful meditation. Kathryn Albertson Park is one of three massive parks that populate Boise downtown. It is place where many people come to find solace, take pictures, or just enjoy the beauty of nature.

However, it is important to remember that geese choose this park for nesting and will aggressively dominate the area. During their nesting season, no dogs are allowed, and people are to use caution, as the birds may be hostile.

The Old Idaho Penitentiary

The Old Penitentiary is a local attraction for several different reasons. One reason being its historical significance, and the other for its allegedly haunted nature. Thousands of prisoners were detained in the Old Idaho Penitentiary during the 99 years it was in operation and during that time there were several famous prison riots, reports of abuse, and nearly a dozen executions. Whether the Old Penitentiary is actually haunted or not is still up for debate, but its significance as an American historical heritage is irrefutable.

However, aside from acting as a typical historical museum, the Old Penitentiary also hosts dozens of events every year for the community. Events like car shows, poetry readings, and . . . paranormal investigations. The rumors of a haunted prison still cause hundreds of people to venture out under the shadow of the prison in search of specters, people from the past, and so on. However, the prison also holds a Halloween carnival (a today event) with food, activities, and more as well as special events on Friday the 13th.

The Boise Foothills

The border between Boise and the Rocky Mountains is what is commonly referred to as the Boise Foothills. It is a system of hills and trails that stretch for miles. They are full of wildlife, recreational areas, and even some homes and ranches. However, whatever brings you to the Foothills, you will be hard pressed to not enjoy yourself.

The Boise Foothills is a cornucopia of great activities. For instance, there are places for motocross, hiking, picnicking, shooting, trail riding, and much more—there are even parks that back up to the Foothills allowing residents to enjoy both developed, and natural recreational areas.

The Foothills are also a great place for scenic picture taking and wildlife viewing. Not to mention all of the local plants that can be found and researched along the way. For more information about the Foothills, contact Ridge to Rivers, the group that tends to the Foothills.

With all of the amazing things you can do in Boise, it’s a wonder why the people here are so happy. While you are here, whether it’s for the day or you are here to stay, try out some of these must see places! Contact one of our licensed agents for more information about Boise’s fun attractions and the Boise real estate market.

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