Fly: Most major airlines, including Southwest and Alaskan Air, have service into the Boise Airport, which is located a mere 6 miles from downtown. Idaho’s national centricity means that most flights are only a couple of hours for those traveling from west coast hubs.
Stay: Enjoy the swanky amenities at Hotel 43, located right where you want to be in the heart of downtown Boise. Take advantage of the hotel’s ‘Art Passport’, which will always grant you free admission into the Boise Art Museum and will provide discounts on the weekend’s art and theatre events and performances. (Hotel 43 is only five miles away from the Boise Airport and offers a free shuttle.)
Play: Where’s the nightlife at in Boise? During winter, it’s on the slopes at Bogus Basin. Boise’s infamous neighborhood ski resort is only 16.5 miles from downtown, arguably one of the most accessible ski resorts in the country. According to Outside Magazine, it also offers the most extensive night skiing in the Northwest. Unpretentious, this ski resort has a neighborhood vibe that’s all about having fun. But don’t underestimate the slopes. Bogus has wide groomers, vertical challengers and terrain parks, along with beginner slopes, that will exhaust skiers and boarders of any skill level. Day lift tickets are only $48.
Fuel-Up: Nosh at the Boise Fry Company. While there’s certainly more to Idaho than just potatoes, Idahoans celebrate their state’s infamous crop. The Boise Fry Company shares the love deliciously, serving up at least seven fry flavors: russet, white, sweet, gold, yam, purple and Okinawa. The BFC also serves locally grass-fed and harvested beef, bison and vegan burgers.
Go Basque: Boise is home to the nation’s largest concentrated population of Basque Americans. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center in the middle of Downtown Boise’s Basque Block is worth a visit. Head to Bar Gernika for the croquetas and chorizo sandwiches, and the next closest experience to being in the old country. The Basque Center is a favorite watering hole for local Basques; it’s open to non-Basques too. Warning: drinks are enjoyably stout. Across the street is the Basque Market. Here you can find amazing tapas and buy a bottle of Davis Creek Cellars Tempranillo and packaged chorizo to carry home.
Cheer: Catch an Idaho Steelheads Hockey game downtown at the Qwest Arena. This professional minor league hockey team is currently ranked first in the ECHL West division. Intense matches and a fun-loving crowd makes these games wicked-fun times.
Taste the Local Flavors: The Bittercreek Ale House offers a monstrous list of microbrews and sampling options. Bittercreek received accolades in Boise Weekly’s Annual ‘Best of Boise 2009’ awards for its food and local flavor. The Ale House’s mantra is “just eat local,” which means all the food you savor at this cozy pub didn’t travel very far to get to your table. Neither the beer nor the food will disappoint.
Get Wild in the West: At night, 8th Street is the place to be if you’re looking to bar-hop and people watch. Slightly off late night’s beaten path, you’ll find Pengilly’s on 5th Street in the Old Boise Historic District. Located in the 1892 Spiegel Building, Pengilly’s has some of the better live music in Boise and a great old west atmosphere. Ask for a vodka-tonic with 44 North Mountain Huckleberry Vodka, made with potatoes and distilled in Rigby, ID.
Do Brunch: Goldy’s or Bardenay are hot-spots for brunches – both for food, drinks, and socializing. At Goldy’s, sip on the flavored mimosas and savor the Eggs with Salmon & Dill Hollandaise. The wait for a table in this quaint space is long, so be prepared to leave your name and stroll the downtown shops for 30 minutes or so.
Bardenay has a Basque-inspired brunch menu and amazing drink options; the Basil Instincts are highly advised and the Bardenay French Toast is served with Basque style chorizo on the side.
Culture in the Desert: Boise’s surprising number of local theatre companies makes it easy to find a live production whenever you visit. The Boise Contemporary Theatre, Opera Idaho, and The Boise Little Theatre offer a fabulous range of productions from classics like Faust to American epics like “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Take a Walk: The Boise River runs right through downtown and past Bronco Stadium. Stroll southeast on the paved and marked path, which runs five miles out of town to Barber Park. Those who want to bring their waders and purchase a fishing permit can fly fish the south fork of the Boise River in the winter months. Local outfitters like Cascade Outfitters in downtown Boise rent gear year round.