Boise, Idaho is a hidden treasure in the western United States. Nestled in the southwestern part of the state, the city has grown from a small bustling town to a major metropolitan area with plenty to keep you busy. Whether you’re visiting family, on vacation, or even live in the area, there’s plenty of attractions you can find that will be fun for the entire family.
The following are four of the most popular tourist attractions for you to experience while visiting Boise Idaho, referred to as The City of Trees.
Old Penitentiary Site
For history buffs, the Old State Penitentiary is a place you must visit. The prison opened up in 1872, over a decade before achieving full statehood, and remained functional until its closing in 1973. At the height of its usefulness, the prison held a maximum of 600 prisoners.
When visiting the penitentiary you’ll be able to go on a self-guided tour and walk around the prison grounds to see how prisoners lived. Don’t forget to visit solitary confinement (would you keep your sanity in there?) and, if you’re really brave, you can visit the gallows where state executions took place.
At the time of this writing, tickets must be purchased in advance and admission is less than $10.
When you’re finished visiting the penitentiary, you can go next door to the Botanical Garden. This little slice of horticulture heaven boasts 50 acres of 6 different gardens that feature thousands of species of flowers, plants, herbs, and more.
If you’re interested in learning about the different plants the garden features, you can sign up for a guided tour that is led by a knowledgeable staff member. Please note that reservations are required for group tours. But you’re also more than welcome to explore the beautiful gardens on your own. All you need is a map (given to you at the entrance) and a sense of exploration.
The Botanical Garden also has special events, like art exhibits, classes about using garden herbs in your cooking, and learn about plant propagation to help your own garden at home. Reservations are required for these events. If you become a member of the Botanical Garden you can save money on general admission and special events.
Bogus Basin Recreation Area
Less than an hour away from the city center is the Bogus Basin Recreation Area. With 10 chairlifts and 80 runs, you’ll be able to ski all day long. And if you want to ski after sunset, night skiing is also an option at a reduced rate. If skiing is not your sport, Bogus Basin offers everything from winter tubing to snowshoeing. You can also ride the Glade Runner Mountain Coaster down the snowy slopes if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.
If you’re visiting in the summertime, Bogus Basin still offers plenty of outdoor activities for the entire family. Summer activities include mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, hiking, horseback riding, and hiking. Don’t forget to visit the Shafer Butte Mining Company and see if you or your kids can strike gold.
One of the biggest benefits of visiting Bogus Basin is that it’s run as a non-profit. This means that prices are lower than other recreation areas and all profits are reinvested back into equipment, facilities, and improving your experience.
Discovery Center of Idaho
For those interested in science and history, a visit to the Discovery Center is an absolute must-do. This is an interactive museum that allows both adults and children to discover how fun learning can be. The museum features both temporary and permanent exhibits. You can also listen to lectures by experts in the fields of history and science. Interactive exhibits allow you and your children to explore different fields of science, including physics, chemistry, magnetism, and more.
You must buy your tickets and make reservations in advance. Admission prices are under $20 per person depending on age.
Always Plan Ahead
Just like with any tourist attraction, it’s best to plan ahead when visiting Boise. Keep in mind that hours and ticket availability change during different seasons, holidays, and special events.