Here it is! Part 2 of 16 Thins to do in Boise in 2016. This half of the list is filled with 8 more things that you need to do, if you haven’t already, while on your escapades in Boise.
9. Tour the Old Penitentiary
Whether you are a history buff, paranormal investigator, or just looking for a fun and educational thing to do, you will love the Old Idaho Penitentiary. A penitentiary? Yes, a penitentiary. The pen, the slammer, the big house— the old prison. Strange, maybe— cool, definitively!
The penitentiary was built when Idaho was just a territory back in 1872 and was a fully functional prison until 1973! It was built in several phases, each time growing larger and larger to accommodate more inmates. One of the interesting things about the construction of the prison was the fact that it was actually built by the inmates themselves. Sandstone would be quarried from the foothills near Table Rock and then taken down to the prison to be built into cells, walls, and so forth.
The penitentiary was in use back at the end of the cowboy era and during the depression so it saw its share of interesting stories and diverse inmates. One of the most famous inmates was Lyda Southard one of America’s first female serial killers. She was what is known as a black widow (someone who murder’s their spouse) murdering 4 of her husbands. It is suspected that she did it to collect insurance money. She was sentenced to 10 years to life in the penitentiary but ended up escaping once only to be caught and sent back to prison a few months later.
Since 1973, when the new correctional facility was built just south of Boise, the Old Penitentiary was turned into a historical landmark. It is open for tours most days and, due to rumors of it being haunted, is open every Friday the 13th and other nights that are significant to supernaturalists. The penitentiary was even featured once on an episode of Ghost Adventures (a paranormal investigation show).
10. Visit Lucky Peak Reservoir/ State Park
Are you a fan of water sports? What about the water in general? If that is the case, then you really need to check out Lucky Peak. This man made reservoir is held together by the Lucky Peak Dam (and subsequent state park) and is a very popular place to for people who like to boat, fish, swim, and explore. Many people take Saturdays during the summer to play in and around the water, eating picnics, enjoying the outdoors, and so on.
Lucky Peak is also a common gathering place for events. Sometimes there are bon fires and parties on the beach. However, there are also big sponsored events like Polar Bear Plunge, an event that supports the Idaho chapter of the Make-a-Wish foundation. It is held every New Year’s Day in the early morning. People pay, and all the proceeds go to the foundation, and then the all line up to rush into the freezing cold water!
11. Float the Boise River
The Boise River is one of the reasons Boise is even here at all. When the French explorers were making their way through the high desert they were ecstatic to see all the trees and vegetation that grew up around the river. It still serves as a strong part of our ecosystem as well as a gathering place for people throughout the valley. During the summer months it is a popular activity to rent tubes and float down the river from southeast Boise to downtown Boise. It is a medium difficulty float that will be fun and leisurely for adults, but may be especially difficult for children.
12. Discover the Foothills
As you will remember from the paragraphs on Table Rock, the Foothills are the rolling hills that stretch from downtown Boise up to the Rocky Mountains. At first glance it may not seem like much, but they are an amazing asset to the city and its residents. One that is not only fun but one that is also a source of exercise, discovery, and adventure. The Foothills are the backdrop for a vibrant ecosystem. It is home to many animals and vegetation that are native to the area. Not to mention it is covered in thousands of miles of trails that allow for residents and visitors to come and go amongst the beauty of the hills whether it be on foot or on bike.
13. Travel the Greenbelt and Subsequent Parks
Speaking of great assets to the community, there are few as amazing as the Boise Greenbelt. The Greenbelt stretches all the way from Lucky Peak out to parts of Canyon County with many loops and offshoots along the way. These trails follow the Boise River and connect many of the different parts of town together; downtown is connected to Veteran’s Memorial Parkway, the Garden City Library is connected to the Boise Library, and so on.
This network provides not only a means of transit for people who don’t want to drive, but it also is a place for recreation, exercise, and just getting in touch with nature.
14. Learn More About Idaho’s Majestic Birds at the World Center for Birds of Prey
One of the things that makes Idaho great is its large population of diverse birds of prey. Eagles, falcons, owls, kestrels, and so on, they are all here and they make for amazing bird watching. However, these majestic animals are not always treated with the respect they need. In order to protect them there was a series of events a few decades ago that have made Idaho a real world headquarters for bird enthusiasts.
First off, there were thousands of acres donated to the state to be a conservation area for the birds, an area that is free of hunting, shooting, and development. Another of the events was the creation of the Peregrine Fund and its moving to Boise. The fund’s purpose is to save endangered species of birds, like the peregrine falcon, take them ‘under their wing’, and save them from extinction. They did this with the Peregrine Falcon and now they are doing the same with the California Condor. Lastly, the World Center for Birds of Prey was created. This center is a place for the Peregrine Fund to work out of and it is also a place for bird research and rehabilitation. The center also houses an archive of information about birds of prey from all their research as well as a visitor’s center so that the public can come and learn more about the birds.
It is a thrilling place to go for an afternoon and, if you are lucky, you may even get to see a demonstration by one of the falconers and their bird.
15. Tackle the Slopes at Bogus
Now, this next one is a given; many people around the valley are always itching for ski season to start just as much as the football season.
Bogus Basin is a skiing area located just above Boise in the Boise National Forest. It is a great place for beginners and more experienced skiers of all kinds. Not to mention, it is a popular place for night skiing.
16. Catch a Show at the Egyptian Theater
Of all the amazing sights there are to see in historic Boise, the Egyptian Theater is not one to miss. The theater has been a part of Boise for as long as most can remember. It showed many a movie, play, and so forth on its stage and screen, but now it is used for private events, screenings of classic movies, and presentations of all kinds. It is a wonderful building that captures the beauty of old Egypt in its murals, statues, and so forth. One of the interesting things about the Egyptian Theater is that it has also been the premier location for several Hollywood grade movies; the most well-known of which were the Bourne Movies. All four, the Bourne Identity, the Bourne Supremacy, the Bourne Ultimatum, and the Bourne Legacy were shown first here in Boise’s own Egyptian Theater. (This is due to the director of the films having many amazing memories of spending summers here in Boise during his college years).
Bonus: Big Jud’s
There aren’t many people who have lived or visited Boise that haven’t heard about Big Jud’s Diner. Big Jud’s is a classic Boise restaurant that serves delectable burgers, fries, and shakes. It is also home of the 1 and 2-pound burger challenges, a challenge that once even got the attention of the Travel Channel’s Man V Food.
Big Jud’s is a Boise staple, one that everyone must eat at once in their time here. This eatery is located in downtown Boise off of Boise Avenue and Protest Way near Boise State University.
So, there it is: Part 2 of our 16 things to do in Boise in 2016. Don’t forget to enjoy your time here. As amazing as this place is, it should never be ignored. Come check out Boise for yourself, you may like it enough to stay. Contact one of our local licensed real estate agents for more information on the Boise area and when the best time to visit would be.