Thinking about moving to Boise? Part of the beautiful Pacific Northwest region, Idaho’s capital city offers a low cost of living, a host of fun outdoor activities, and a lively arts and culture scene. Here are 12 things you need to know about living in Boise!
An Affordable Place to Live in the Pacific Northwest
Want to live in the Pacific Northwest but without the high price tag of cities like Seattle and Portland? Boise is one of the most affordable cities in America! In fact, your dollar goes further in the Boise housing market, where the median monthly rent is $879, and the median home price is $221,475—both of which are well below the U.S. national average. And if you’re looking for job opportunities in infrastructure, food services, technology, or health insurance, you can find work with top Boise employers like Idaho Power, Albertson’s, Micron Technology, and Blue Cross of Idaho!
It’s One of the Best Cities to Raise a Family
Not only is Boise an affordable place to live, but it’s also filled with family-friendly activities, making it one of the best cities to raise a family in the U.S.! Looking for fun things to do with kids? Make your way to Zoo Boise to see penguins, red pandas, and snow leopards. Participate in interactive exhibits like the Boomtown Gallery and History Lab at Idaho State Historical Museum. Head to the Discovery Center of Idaho, where you’ll find hands-on STEM activities the kids will love. Stroll through the beautiful Idaho Botanical Garden when it’s in full bloom. Tour the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site to get a better sense of the city’s history with fun and informative activities that all ages can appreciate. Or soak up the sun with water park fun at Roaring Springs Water Park, which has slides, lazy rivers, a wave pool, and more!
There’s Plenty of Green Space
With only 2.59 people per square mile, the City of Trees has tons of green space available for its residents to enjoy! Visit Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile stretch of riverside parks and trails for a scenic spot to jog or ride your bike. Get some fresh air at Julia Davis Park by strolling through the gardens or renting a paddle boat to take out on the water. Head over to Ann Morrison Park, which offers everything from cricket fields and bocce courts to horseshoe pits and a dog park. Let your pup run free off-leash and play in the swimming areas at 5.4-acre dog park Treasure Valley Dog Island. Or hike the incredible natural terrain at The Military Reserve, including the Crestline Sidewinder Loop Trail and Cottonwood Creek Trail to Toll Road Trail.
Enjoy Outdoor Recreation All Year
It won’t be hard to find ways to stay active in Boise! With mild winters and summers that aren’t scorching hot, Boise’s weather allows residents to experience outdoor recreation year-round! Hiking, mountain biking, and trail running are popular activities in the City of Trees, as locals can take advantage of the area’s many outdoor trails. You can challenge yourself to a hike paired with breathtaking views on Camel’s Back Trail Loop, one of the best places to go hiking in the area! Want a great place to ski and snowboard in the winter? Make the trek to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area & Ski Resort to hit the slopes. And come summer, you can head down to the Boise River, which runs through the city, allowing for easy access to kayaking, inner tubing, fishing, and paddle boarding.
Boise State University Is the Pride of the City
Located along the banks of the Boise River, Boise State University (BSU) offers more than 200 fields of study with excellent nursing, computer science, and engineering programs. The university has even been ranked among the top 50 most innovative schools in the nation! If you’re moving to Boise, you’ll quickly learn that BSU football is widely supported in the area. Don’t forget to gear up for football Saturdays in the fall and watch the Broncos play on the iconic blue turf of Lyle Smith Field!
Spend a Day in Downtown Boise
Downtown Boise, often referred to as BoDo, is an ever-growing trendy spot with shopping and dining that you won’t want to miss! If you’re looking for a cup of joe while strolling through BoDo, stop by Slow by Slow Coffee for a pour-over or fresh-roasted cappuccino. From April to December, you’ll find the Capital City Public Market, where you can pick up fresh produce, handmade pottery, and baked goods. Snag unique gifts, homemade beauty products, and local artwork and jewelry at Mixed Greens. Nerd out at what some call a “mini Comic Con” at Re-POP Gifts, where you can purchase pop culture items and pose with their Stranger Things couch or iconic TARDIS time machine from Doctor Who. Want to see a show-stopping public art display? Make your way to Freak Alley, the largest outdoor art gallery in the Northwest, where murals and graffiti come to life in magnificent colors, shapes, and styles!
Celebrate the City’s Basque Culture
With more than 16,000 members, Boise has the largest concentrated Basque population in the world outside of Spain! Boise’s Basque community is celebrated here and even has its own block that includes the Basque Museum & Cultural Center. At the Basque Market, you can take cooking classes, shop handmade items, and try traditional Basque foods like tapas, paella, and bocadillos. You can also see a group of Oinkari Basque Dancers performing traditional dances along the block at the yearly San Inazio Festival. Another Boise Basque event to keep on your calendar is the Jaialdi Festival, which happens every five years and showcases Basque culture, food, dance, and live music!
Music Lovers Will Thrive Here
Boise is a musical epicenter in Idaho, so if you’re looking for fun things to do, checking out upcoming concerts should be your first stop! Catch a show featuring indie bands or country artists at the Knitting Factory Concert House. Get tickets for the summer concert series at Outlaw Field, where you can see artists like Foster the People, Louis the Child, and The Avett Brothers. Attend a show with the Boise Philharmonic to experience the classical stylings of a talented group of local musicians. Head out to the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, an event supported by BSU that spans two days and four concert venues. Or you can find live music at smaller venues like Boise Brewing and The Olympic!
Taking the Idaho Potato to the Next Level
Idaho’s farmers produce over 13 billion pounds of potatoes annually, so Boise has a bit of thing for potatoes. That’s why you’ll see the spud featured in unique ways across local restaurants! The Westside Drive In, home of the Ice Cream Potato, offers a sweet treat that’s made to look like a baked potato. There’s the Boise Fry Company, known for its “Burgers on the Side” tagline, where you can orders fries from six different types of potatoes and at least five available cuts. If you’re looking for a fun take on pizza, head to the Pie Hole, where they serve Potato Bacon Pizza. Potato lovers should also check out Goodwood Barbecue Company, a BBQ joint with an amazing potato skin appetizer and potato salad recipe! It might not surprise you that this starchy obsession extends beyond Boise restaurants, too. You can actually rent a 336-square-foot overgrown potato Airbnb with a surprisingly trendy interior!
Boise Has Great Food Finds
With rich culture in the area and a trendy downtown, it’s no surprise that Boise cuisine’s is top notch! Put Bittercreek Alehouse high on your list of restaurants to try and be sure to sample their poutine! Craving a greasy burger? Go big with Big Jud’s famous one-pound hamburger or their Man Versus Food Burger. Looking for a great Italian place? Luciano’s Italian Restaurant gives you classic Italian dishes like 3-Cheese Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Chicken Gorgonzola in a cozy Tuscan-inspired space! There’s also Fork, a popular Downtown Boise restaurant, that serves up classic American fare like Grown Up Grilled Ham & Cheese and Signature Warm Butter Cake. Need a delicious brunch spot? Chow down on hearty options like Stuffed French Toast, Biscuits & Gravy, and Corned Beef Hash at Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro. Or savor the best steaks and seafood in the area at Chandlers Steakhouse—and don’t forget to try the cocktails from their hip martini bar during their social hour!
Snake River Valley Is the Napa Valley of Idaho
Part of the up-and-coming Snake River Valley wine region, Boise has become a hot destination for those looking for wine tasting and vineyard tours! Head out to Coiled Wine Bar, where you can try their famous Sidewinder Syrah or Rizza Riesling, both made from Idaho grapes. Visit Talaya Wine Co. for a cozy place to sip a glass of local wine on a patio and overlook the Boise River. Check out Split Rail Winery to get a four-pack of canned wine, which includes their Daft Pink Sparkling Rose and Swamp Donkey Red variants! If you love wines that come with a bit of a wildcard ingredient, Potter Wines is the place to go to try a slightly spicy Jalapeno Wine and the Jalapeno Wine Lemonade. Or make your way to Cinder Wines, where you can hang out in the large tasting room and sample a variety of Idaho wines!
Experience Boise’s Exciting Nightlife
Looking for things to do at night in Boise? There’s plenty of nightlife to go around! Attend an open mic night at Liquid Laughs Comedy Club & Lounge, where you can have a drink with friends and watch local comedians perform. Order a pretzel along with an authentic German bier served in a hefty mug at Prost German Pub. Head to your not-so-average dive bar, the Cactus Bar, which has been a local favorite in Downtown Boise since 1936, thanks to its drink specials like the Keep Calm & Cactus On and the Idahome. Settle in for live music with touring indie bands and late-night dancing at lounge Neurolux. Or play some classic arcade games while sipping on craft beers and listening to live music at Spacebar.
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