When you’re in the mood to get out of town, or the snow, rain and slush of the winter is getting you down, look no further than Idaho’s own state capital, Boise, for the perfect weekend getaway without blowing the bank.
Located in the southern end of our state and just a quick (and relatively cheap) flight out of Spokane, or eight hours by car, Boise is a destination that is worth the distance. Between the Idaho State Capitol building, Boise State University campus, Boise Factory Outlet mall, Bogus Basin, and the vibrant downtown area there is plenty of shopping and activities guaranteed to make every member of the family happy this December.
Look no further than Bogus Basin for all of your skiing and snow sport needs. Topping at 7,582 feet in elevation, and with 78 named runs and over 2,600 acres of skiing, there’s plenty of room to let out your inner speed demon. Open between the first week of December through early April, this is the place to go for fun all winter long.
Nordic skiing and snowshoeing is also available at Bogus, they have miles of trails, plus you can head out day or night, which is the perfect opportunity to get in a full moon experience out on the snow.
If you’re not a skier or snowboarder, the Pepsi Goldrush Tubing is the place for you. The 800 ft. downhill slide has the beautiful convenience of a paddle tow back to the top so you can ride again and again. This is the perfect activity for large groups, friends and family looking for a fun and exciting activity outdoors. The season should open on December 10 but be sure to check out the Bogus Basin website to check available times or to make a reservation: www.bogusbasin.org.
Julia Davis Park
The city’s oldest, and arguably the most iconic, park, Julia Davis Park is known as the cultural and historical heart of the city. The 89.4-acre park is the home of Zoo Boise, Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Historical Museum, Discovery Center of Idaho and Idaho Black History Museum. The park also features a formal Rose Garden, two pavilions for summer events, a six-court tennis complex, playground, duck pond, restrooms and a view of a section of the Boise River Greenbelt.
The history of the park’s founder is intriguing. Founder Tom Davis was an early Boise pioneer and helped layout the blueprint of the city and owned and developed thousands of acres of agricultural property. Julia, known for her kindness, would welcome new emigrants traveling on the Oregon Trail as they stopped their wagons along the river to rest from their journey. She died in 1907 after assisting a traveler who may have had typhoid fever.
Allreds Adventures, LLC – Sawtooth Wilderness Outfitters
If you and your family, or loved one, are looking for the perfect holiday-themed activity, look no further than Allreds Adventures. Located one hour outside of Boise in the Garden Valley, Allred’s offers horse drawn sleigh rides for the whole family in the winter season. Nothing compares to riding in an old fashioned sleigh, snuggled under warm blankets, listening to the sounds of sleigh bells. Be sure to check in with their website to make a reservation before making the drive: www.idahosleighrides.com.
The Discovery Center
If the family needs a break from the snow activity, or if you’re an avid museum goer, the Discovery Center is a wonderful choice and a big hit with the kids. The Discovery Center inspires lifelong interest and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics with their interactive exhibits and educational program.
This winter, check out their new exhibition: Matter Splatter! Matter Splatter is a one of a kind 3,000 square foot exhibition full of hands-on exhibits and experiences where kids can learn about all kinds of ooey-gooey material without you having to clean up the mess. For more information and for exhibit hours, be sure to visit their website: www.dcidaho.org.
Jump Time Idaho
Another option for an indoor activity, and one that will help get all of your kid’s energy out, is Jump Time Idaho. With over 14,000 square feet of trampolines, foam pits, slam dunk basketball, and fun for the whole family, this is a great option for when you need a break. Check out their website for prices and daily hours: www.jumptimeidaho.com.
Idaho State Capitol
Dubbed the Capitol of Light, our state capitol building is a must see if you’re in the area. Originally designed by architects John E. Troutellotte and Charles F. Hummel, the capitol is nestled in the heart of downtown on West Jefferson St. With carefully crafted design, natural light floods the interior of the building, reflecting light from the white walls and light colored (floor to ceiling) marble – but it’s definitely something that you will need to see first hand. Visiting hours are open every weekday, and on the weekends, be sure to check the state’s website for hours, since they change with Legislative sessions: www.capitolcommision.idaho.gov.
Juniper, downtown, is a brick-walled space with old-timey cocktails and seasonally inspired New American cuisine. I walked here for Saturday brunch during a visit with my sister in September and we both devoured our Mole Huevos Rancheros and OG Bloody Marys. With strong ties to sourcing local, non-GMO, organic ingredients, as well as cage free chicken and grass fed beef, Juniper truly pays homage to not only the region, but to the state we are so lucky to call home. (211 N. 8th Street)
Another great farm to table restaurant, Fork, happens to be just across the street. With mouth watering eclectic eats like the Boise chopped salad, dubbed the B.C.S. with smoked Idaho trout, voodoo chicken, and the cast iron buttermilk fried chicken and cheddar waffle, this is a “Loyal to Local” establishment that you won’t want to miss. (199 N. 8th Street)
For grab-n-go options before a day on the hill or out playing in the snow, visit the Boise Co-Op in one of their two locations. They have daily hot bar items and soups, a beverage bar with fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, coffee and tea, plus local and regional brews and kombucha on tap. The Boise Co-Op is a community-owned food cooperative and marketplace that not only educates but also connects the community to high quality, natural, organic foods. Since their start in 1973, they’ve established a community of more than 24,000 co-owners and have become a reliable source for fresh, delicious foods in Boise.
Since Boise is a college town, the options for bars and nightlife outings are endless. On any given Friday or Saturday night, while school is in session, the downtown area is the place to be. Just keep in mind that any dive bar that sells cheaper cocktails will be inundated with young people.
One of my personal favorites was the Spacebar Arcade. Serving beer and wine, and packed with every retro arcade game and pinball machine imaginable, this place is all about fun and is guaranteed to bright out your inner child. (200 N. Capitol Blvd.)
If you’re looking for artisan cocktails and a laid-back atmosphere, head over to Press & Pony. Established just last year and conveniently located downtown, the Press & Pony offers fresh handmade juices, tonics and syrups their cocktails and also hand carve all of their ice cubes. Trust me when I say that you’ll want to see their mixologists in action.