While we were planning our six week road trip around the U.S. we knew we needed to make a stop to recover from several nights of camping at Grand Tetons and Yellowstone before driving on to Bend, Oregon and Crater Lake National Park.
Boise was the perfect distance. But we’d never been to Boise or knew much about it at all. We definitely weren’t expecting to absolutely love it.
After five weeks on the road, my husband asked me where I would like if I could live any of the places we’d been so far. St. Paul, MN was gorgeous, but I know I couldn’t survive the winters there. “Honestly…..I think Boise is the only place we’ve visited that I can really see myself living.” To my surprise, he agreed. Boise is cool, y’all.
Why did we love it?
1. It’s gorgeous.
Plenty of trees and right next to the mountains. It’s got history and culture, but it’s easy to drive in and still feels small enough to not be overwhelming.
While I love to travel and visit big cities, I am not a big city girl. But I’m not a small town girl either. I guess I’m a small city girl.
2. It has beautiful parks.
The kids had a great time playing at Camelback Park and climbing trees next to the play ground.
Nice city parks are a must for me and this one was just perfect with hiking trails nearby.
3. There’s plenty of great restaurants.
We were in town for less than 48 hours but we were given wonderful suggestions for restaurants. We ended up at Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro and it was splendid.
Located downtown with breakfast food to die for. They make potatoes a myriad of ways and I chose wisely with the sweet potato hash browns with salmon. I also devoured some of the blueberry pancakes. SO good. Goldy’s is a tiny little place and very busy. If you have a large party, expect to wait for a table because everyone wants to eat there.
They also had wonderfully quirky decor that reminded me of snitches from Harry Potter and something I’d see in Austin, TX.
We also went to the Westside Drive In, one of Boise’s original drive-ins to get burgers (with gluten-free buns for the kids! Hallelujah!) and truly amazing shakes.
Daniel was so disappointed that we didn’t have a chance to eat at some of the Basque restaurants! There are a few downtown because there is a large Basque community in Boise. The scent of the paella was alluring. Next time!
We also barely missed a big Basque festival.
4. The downtown is historic and lovely.
Speaking of downtown, Boise’s downtown is wonderful. Gorgeous buildings, easily walkable.
We wandered around and explored. The capitol building is heated by geothermal heat! So cool!
5. The Egyptian Theatre is to die for.
We happened upon a wonderful historic theatre built in the early 20th century in Egyptian style. The word on the street is that Jimmy Stewart used to play piano there for silent films so I felt like I was on hallowed ground.
The decor was stunning and apparently they play It’s a Wonderful Life! every year during the holidays and I think that’s pretty much all I need to be happy.
It was hot and summery in Boise during our visit, something I wasn’t expecting coming straight from chilly Yellowstone. And according to the residents we met, it doesn’t get as frigid during the wintertime as most of that part of the country. Everyone in Boise was so friendly and we had a blast.
We stayed at the Riverside Hotel which was wonderful (and so luxurious after several nights of camping in a row!).
If you’re traveling, I highly recommend it. It has a wonderful pool and the kids loved it there. (And we loved that they got so worn out from swimming in the pool.) The Riverside also had the best breakfast buffet we’ve ever seen. It was even locally-sourced food!
I can’t wait to go back! And who knows. Maybe we’ll end up there someday.
A big thanks to the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau for helping us set up this trip!
Ah yes- my plan is working: Lure you in, tempt you with Jimmy Stewart trivia, ply you with grilled kale-then you move here, there you go.
P.S- Jack was super excited to have made it into the blog!
Don’t forget the peaches!!!! <3
Boise IS the best. I miss it so much. I’m glad to have met you all on my last trip home. You should all move there and we will move back- it will be perfect!
It was such a treat to meet you, Jackie!
Glad you liked Boise! It’s pretty great. It’s too bad you didn’t make it to Flying M- you guys would’ve enjoyed it!
Is Flying M a restaurant? We obviously need to go back for more Boise 😉
It’s a coffee house. It is probably the best known and well-patronized one in Boise! Also, coincidentally, my favorite.
Also your home.
Colleen Mathias says
Whenever Becca goes missing……Flying M finds her.
Caitlin Bootsma says
We have family in Boise and often say how hip it’s become …love the size, the vibe and definitely the Basque section!
The Egyptian Theater looks amazing!! Thank you for writing up this Boise fangirl post, it really helps give a more positive image of Boise in my mind. My only experience in that area had been sitting in an airport for a several-hour layover, and that experience caused me to be a bit unimpressed with the area (but most airports that aren’t international probably fall into that category). I should end up back there sometime and give Boise another shot! 🙂
Don’t judge a city by an airport- especially Boise. Our airport is actually a hallway, and it is situated in one of the uglier areas of town. It doesn’t provide an adequate synopsis of Boise at all!
Colleen Mathias says
Our airport is going through a transformation and overhaul, especially in the eateries.
Another Boisean Mathias sister representative here. So glad you all had a chance to check out Boise! Seeing your post made me so proud of our little big city 🙂 come back soon!
This is such an interesting blog post about a city in an area I have never explored! Thanks for sharing! I often would visit cities when I had one or two kids and think “I could live here”. In fact, I even moved across the world with all my littles for my husband’s job a few years ago!
A good friend of mine recently posted on facebook that she threw her back out and her two kids were over at her mom’s house for the day and to spend the night while she recovers and drags herself to chiropractor. It hit me that when I threw my back out last winter, I laid on the floor for two days while four kids crawled over me and I laid there, helpless (husband couldn’t call into work). So now I have been praying to God that my mom somehow ends up in the same city I am in someday. With only a handful of kids being alone wasn’t a big deal but now that we are on in large family territory, it would be SOO nice to have help nearby!
Wishing you all the best as you continue your road trip and can’t wait to hear about the new farm adventure!!
Great to see this and timely. My wife and I are in Boise for a month. We live in Mesquite, NV and are contemplating a move from the desert (So hot in the summer) to the mountains. Boise sounded like a place we would like and we were right. We find it to be a terrific place and we are planning our move. Of course we need to sell our home in NV first but I think we won’t have a problem since Mesquite is a great golf community during the winter months.
Carmel Crock says
I moved to Boise in 2001, had raised my children in Mtn. Home (you drove past on your way from Yellowstone) I have found Boise to be the most fulfilling community I could ever call my home. There are more charitable actions happening here. The sustainable community, organic community, arts community is vibrant.. you can even have coffee at The District Coffee House on 10th & Jefferson and part of your purchase sponsors children in the countries from where the coffee you are drinking is grown. The proximity to real mountain experiences are within 1/2 hr drive. Boise is rated #3 BEST Town on a River…and there are so many TOP 10 BEST lists that Boise continues to be posted on. It’s a great place to raise a family. Have nothing but the best time on your tour and I”m hoping your family relocates to Boise… It’s a great wholesome place to live and create a life! Cheers!
Sarah Knapik says
Moved from Seattle to Boise after being sick of the rain, traffic and drugs all over. We love it so much here and can’t get enough of all there is to do! Perfect balance between small town and big city. Floating the Boise river should be next on your list when you come back! And when you’re ready to move here for good, let me know! I’d love to help you buy a home!
Yessssss!! When I heard you all were moving to Texas to work on a farm, I was slightly jealous. And although I do love Texas, it isn’t where we want to start our farm. The Boise area is! My husband went to college in Nampa, ID (30ish min west of Boise) for 6 years. And we both have many cousins who live in the Nampa/Boise area. We just love it! Like really really love it. It’s where we want to settle our little family down and grow deep roots til we die, Lord willing! So I completely concur with this post ?!
Well, our little family now, but hopefully someday big family!
Boise is beautiful. It also has a serious traffic problem; very smoggy air most of the winter which is politely called the “inversion”; seriously smokey at least part of each summer due to wild fires; the air is so bad here two thirds of the year, it might as well be L.A. There continues to be lbgt persecution and few gay rights; also racial and gender bias. It is a right-to-work state so you can be fired for any reason. Truly bad public education with lots of private and charter schools. There is also some serious religious bias here. Our governor has told us he is not interested in early childhood education so turned down funding for that in our state. People are mostly friendly so that is a plus. Public transportation is pretty bad. Good jobs are difficult to find. Lots of festivals and seasonal events, a couple of local theater companies, concerts etc. Lived, worked, played and voted here in Boise for more that 30 years. For those of you who might think it is paradise, be forewarned and make an informed decision about moving here. Also, check out the crime rates!
Holy cow, maybe you should move away! You highly exaggerate the negatives. Are you trying to keep more people from moving here by chance?
Leslie M-B says
I don’t think Sid is exaggerating the negatives at all.
Laurie Boyd says
I was born in Boise in 1956 and lived there until 1976. I would go to the Westside drive-in after school and have a marshmallow coke. When I was 16 I worked at the Egyptia
n theater for 6 months (of course at that time it was called the Ada theater). Never heard the one about Jimmy Stewart but I know Robert Redford used the manager’s restroom for the premiere of Jeremiah Johnson. And it was a spooky place late at night.
Colleen Mathias says
My kids didn’t take you to Flying M? I have failed as a parent! 😉
You need to come back for more! It is the most pleasant place to live.
Leslie M-B says
I moved to Boise five years ago. The city has much to recommend it, as reflected by the various lists the city tops–lists usually written by people who have spent only a few days in town. Boise is lovely in the late spring and summer (except with the regular wildfires we now get every summer–we had many red-alert air quality days this year).
However, the rest of the year, it’s pretty bleak and dismal, aesthetically. We get inversions that last for weeks in the winter–no sunshine at all–and make for really awful air quality. And many trees are leafed out only 3.5 or 4 months a year. It’s cold, but there’s not much snow. Even the local mountains didn’t get enough snow last year to support a decent winter recreation scene.
Plus, if you’re used to living in a moderately or progressively political state, extreme red state living is hard. Education is terribly underfunded, even in the urban/suburban Treasure Valley (where Boise sits). The legislative session is a horror show of bad ideas, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia. The state’s infrastructure–especially roads and bridges– is crumbling. It’s expensive to get anywhere, as Boise is the most isolated city of its size in the lower 48 states. And the cost of living here is actually *above* the national average–we’re currently paying the 6th-highest gas prices in the U.S., for example–while our wages sit at 78% of the national average. Idaho has the highest number of minimum-wage workers per capita in the U.S. It can be very, very hard to make ends meet.
Plus, folks here like to say Idaho is safe, but it actually has a high rate of gun violence per capita.
Some days, I’m glad I moved to Boise for my job at Boise State, which has eager students and excellent faculty and staff. But I really miss ethnic diversity, great Asian restaurants, fresh produce, and a reasonable cost of living. I wish my son was more often around people who are don’t look like him and who come from different cultures.