Boise has a lot to offer. From urban outings to rural adventures, the Gem State is full of interesting and special 'gem' places. Boise Weekly compiled a few of our favorites to get people started and even threw in a few from outside the city that are especially cool.
Zoo Boise is a great place to spend the day and rumor has it that the zoo was actually started after a train crash allowed a monkey to escape into the desert. Nowadays, the zoo has much more than a monkey, and also a bunch of interactive exhibits. zooboise.org.
Idaho State Museum
Kids that grew up in Idaho will remember fourth grade Idaho history class and the much-anticipated field trip to the Idaho State Museum. But a trip to the museum is fun at any age. Currently, the newly remodeled museum is open, and has some high-tech exhibits coupled with fan-favorite artifacts that have endured the test of time. And yes, they still have "Deja-Moo," the two-headed calf. The museum is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon - 5p.m.
Julia Davis Park Rose Garden
This rose garden has over 2,000 bushes and over 200 different rose varieties. The gazebo and the blue fountains also add a picturesque touch. Due to COVID-19, the garden is only taking reservations of 50 or fewer, but it’s still open for people who want to picnic or walk through and smell the roses. Free. cityofboise.org.
Boise Art Museum
BAM reopened June 5 with extra precautions taken for COVID-19. The museum has a wide range of exhibitions like Ceramics and Textiles From the Southwest, Women in American Impressionism and others from Ann Gardner and Margaret Jacobs. $3-$6. boiseartmuseum.org.
Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
The memorial was dedicated to the public in 2002 and was made to facilitate discussion among the visitors. It has several major elements including an attic amphitheater, memorial quotes walls, a water feature, the Rose Beal Legacy Garden and the Marilyn Shuler Classroom for Human Rights. Free. annefrankmemorial.org.
Old Idaho Penitentiary
This is a fun family outing that’s also educational and visually engaging. The Old Pen encourages people to pre-purchase tickets online and is offering self-guided tours only during the pandemic. With over 100 years of Idaho’s prison history under one roof, it makes for a busy day. $3-$6. history.idaho.gov.
Idaho Botanical Garden
There are 15 acres of beautiful plants for people to explore at the Idaho Botanical Garden. The garden has many native and domestic plants, and is one of the first and oldest botanical gardens in Idaho. Because of COVID-19 some smaller trails are closed but that shouldn’t dampen the experience. $5-$8. idahobotanicalgarden.org.
Cleo’s Nature Trail at Walter’s Ferry
Cleo’s Nature Trail, about 18 miles outside of Nampa, is well worth a road trip. It is a winding, eclectic and pretty magical place. It’s located near Melba by Walters Ferry and was made by the late resident Cleo Swayne, who bought the land with her husband. She turned it into a wild, art-filled trail in 1976 with a museum. It also has a fair amount of religious scenes and iconography. And bird houses and pinwheels. It’s open every day from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission is by donation. On Facebook.
Evel Knievel Jump Site
Evel Knievel launched across the Snake River in September 1974, but he didn’t make it across. Since that time, seven other daredevils have considered the jump, but the only one to make it was stuntman Eddie Braun in 2016. People can still visit the launch site. It’s an earthen ramp that’s located about two miles from the Twin Falls Visitor Center, a couple hours from Boise. Free. visitsouthidaho.com/adventure/evel-knievel-jump-site.
Boise State Football
What more needs to be said? The famous blue turf is home to the Broncos and Boise is all about football. People can experience a game inside the stadium or join in on the tail-gaiting that happens in the BSU parking lot prior and during the games. Ticket prices vary, boisestate.edu.
Esther Simplot Park/ Whitewater Park/ Quinn’s Pond
This huge and newly renovated complex is a perfect daycation spot. The pond has sandy beach areas and is open to fishing, swimming and paddleboarding; and the Whitewater Park that sits within the river is perfect for kayakers and surfers. The park also has a lot of open play areas, wetlands and trails. FREE. cityofboise.org.
This museum is little bit out of the way and anything but ordinary. The property located outside of Grandview, Idaho about 30 miles or so from Boise, used to be an emu farm, now there’s only a few left but the museum is huge. It’s a series of cabins and scenes that that are filled with different memorabilia, antiques and themes like sports, cars, barbering, Christmas, hunting, fishing and even a mock '50s-style diner, there’s something interesting for everyone. The museum is currently closed through the winter due to the death of the founder but it hopes to re-open in the spring. emuzum.com.
What is Jump, exactly? No one really knows. An acronym named for Jack Simplot, Idaho's late and great Potato King, Jack's Urban Meeting Place is a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland tractor museum, event space (both in- and outdoors), creative maker space and playground — yes, there is a tubular five-story slide for ages 3 and up, weather permitting; check the website for hours. jumpboise.org.