Heading to Boise, Idaho? In this 2 day Boise itinerary we’re sharing with everything you need to know before you visit including where to stay, what to eat, the best things to do in Boise, and more!
Back in 2016, when we were still living in Texas, I (Kathryn) went on a work trip to Boise. It was my first time ever in Idaho and I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly fell in love with the city and even thought to myself, “we could totally live here someday!” I loved the smaller city feel, beautiful nature all around, the walkability downtown, and everyone was so dang nice.
Less than two months after that trip, we packed up all of our belongings and moved to Seattle (not so fun fact: I got laid off from my job while in Boise for work, which sped up our timeline to move to Seattle). Both on our move up to Seattle and three years later on our drive back down to Texas to move into our van, we drove through Boise and always made a point to stop for some food or coffee in town. But we never really had enough time to properly explore.
So during summer of 2020, as we road tripped across Idaho, we made it a priority to spend a couple days in Boise and see more of what the city was about. We ate delicious food and ice cream, had awesome coffee, saw some cool murals, and went for a beautiful hike. And the feeling I had from my first visit still rang true, but this time Adam was also on board: we could totally live here someday.
We’re super excited to share a 2 day Boise itinerary and guide full of things to know before you go, tips on where to stay, and all of our favorite foods and things to do in Boise. Boise took us by surprise and we hope that this guide can help you experience what a gem the city is!
Looking for more things to do in Idaho? Check out our other Idaho guides:
- 2 Days in Southern Idaho: The Best Things to Do in Twin Falls, Idaho
- The 10 Best Waterfalls in Twin Falls, Idaho
- Backpacking to Alice Lake in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains
- 2 Days in the Sawtooth Mountains: Things to Do in Stanley, Idaho
- Riding the Route of the Hiawatha Trail
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
Located in southwestern Idaho, close to the Oregon border, Boise, which is pronounced “Boy-See,” is the capital city and most populous city in the state. It’s in the Treasure Valley region of Idaho, which is named that because of the “treasure chest of resources and opportunities that the region offers.” But we like to think it’s because the city is just a treasure!
Boise is surrounded by the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, is home to Boise State University, which you may know from their blue turf field, and has the largest Basque community outside of Europe with over 50,000 people!
Combine that with great food, cool coffee shops, beautiful parks and hikes, a surfable river, and there is just so much that Boise has to offer!
When to visit Boise
Boise sports four distinct seasons. The summers are hot and dry and can reach 100 degrees on occasion, while the winter lows hover around the 30s with about 19” of snowfall each year, which usually come in 3” waves. The spring and fall are much more mild, but don’t last as long.
We have only ever visited Boise in the summer months, which can be a bit toasty, but that just means more ice cream from The STIL right? (More on how much we love The STIL in a bit!) To experience all of the things to do in Boise mentioned in this guide, we’d suggest visiting in the late spring to early summer or the late summer to early fall.
That way, you can enjoy the trails and outdoor activities in the area without snow. But if you do love snow, there is some good skiing near Boise, so a winter trip may be more up your alley!
Getting to Boise
If you’re flying into Boise, you will fly into the Boise Airport (BOI), which is located only 10 minutes from downtown Boise. While not a huge airport, major airlines fly into it, including Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest, and United, but you may have a layover depending on where you’re coming from.
On a road trip? Here’s how far Boise is from other nearby-ish cities!
- Stanley, ID: 133 miles, 2 hours and 45 minutes
- Twin Falls, ID: 129 miles, 2 hours
- Salt Lake City, UT: 339 miles, 4 hours and 45 minutes
- Jackson, WY: 370 miles, 5 hours and 45 minutes
- Spokane, WA: 427 miles, 6.5 hours
- Portland, OR: 431 miles, 6.5 hours
- Seattle WA: 494 miles, 7.5 hours
- Missoula, MT: 388 miles, 7.5 hours
Getting around Boise
One of the things we love about Boise is the size! The downtown area is very walkable and getting to other areas outside of the downtown area doesn’t take much time at all. While renting a car would give you the most freedom, we’d lean towards using other methods to get around if you just plan to stay in the Boise area. Here are some other options!
Rent a bike
There are a few places you can rent bikes around town for a fun afternoon of exploring. We recently rode eBikes on the Route of the Hiawatha and LOVED them and think it would be a super fun way to experience Boise too! Check out Pedego Electric Bikes Boise to rent an eBike for the day or Idaho Mountain Touring for non electric bikes.
Uber or Lyft
Taking an Uber or Lyft around to farther away spots would still likely be cheaper than renting a car. We recommend looking at their fare estimator tools (Uber, Lyft) to see how much you’d expect to spend, just to make sure it will be within your trip budget.
Where to Stay in Boise
We know we’re a broken record by now, but Boise’s smaller size means that anywhere you stay will likely be close to everything you want to do while in town. However, there are a few areas we’d recommend looking at when deciding where to call your home away from home.
Downtown Boise is super safe and full of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and things to do! After visiting the first time, I got some young Austin vibes from the downtown area, before Austin blew up into what it is today.
- Option #1: A bright studio apartment right by downtown.
- Option #2: A beautiful 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom historic apartment.
- Option #3: This 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom cottage is technically a 15 minute walk to downtown, but still very close!
- Option #4: A cool loft that sleeps 3 with exposed brick!
- The Grove Hotel
- The Modern Hotel
- Hampton Inn & Suites Boise Downtown
- Inn at 500 Capitol (they have complimentary bikes!)
- Hyatt Place Boise/Downtown
- The Boise Guest House: This is a big house in downtown Boise with 6 different separate suites, each with a dedicated bathroom, and some have a kitchenette or kitchen as well.
Garden City is technically its own city, but it’s right next to Boise, so we’re including it! We really enjoyed this area when we visited. It’s right along the Boise River, so it’s close to trails and water activities, has one of our favorite coffee shops in the area (Push and Pour), bars, and more!
- Option #1: A 1 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom townhouse.
- Option #2: 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment on the greenbelt!
- Option #3: A 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom townhouse.
As the name implies, West Downtown is located right to the west of downtown. It’s a bit quieter than the downtown area, but still close to many of the sights!
- Option #1: This gorgeous studio a mile from downtown is so pretty that you may never want to leave it!
- Option #2: This 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom townhouse sleeps 5!
- Option #3: A cute and cozy 1 bedroom cottage
Full of historic homes in the Hyde Park area, the North End is a quieter and charming spot to call home in Boise!
- Option #1: This 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom bungalow is adorable and they provide bikes for you to use!
- Option #2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo is a short walk to downtown.
- Option #3: A beautiful 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo is close to everything!
2 days in Boise itinerary
In this Boise itinerary we’re sharing some of our favorite things to do in Boise if you have only two days to spend! From awesome food, coffee, sights, and hikes, you’ll get to experience a lot of what this incredible city has to offer.
- Grab donuts at Guru Donuts for breakfast! (closed Mondays) Want something savory instead? Goldy’s Breakfast Bistro has tons of options!
- Enjoy coffee at The District Coffee House or Necktar Coffee (closed Sundays), both of which are cool coffee shops in downtown Boise.
- Walk through Freak Alley, an alley in downtown Boise full of murals and street art and is said to be the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest. It started in 2002 with the painting of a single alley doorway and now extends from the alley itself to a gravel parking lot.
- Wander around downtown Boise, check out the cute shops (City Peanut Shop is a good one!), and walk by the capitol! You can go inside the capitol to explore and learn about Idaho history!
- Have lunch at Basque Market (closed Sundays and Mondays). As we mentioned above, Boise has a large Basque community and this market, with both hot items and snack items, wine, etc, is an awesome spot for lunch. We loved the croquetas, Paella (Wednesdays and Fridays at noon!), and other pintxos they offered.
While you’re in the Basque Block, learn more about the Basque culture at the Basque Museum & Cultural Center (closed Sundays and Mondays).
- Visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary, which opened in 1872 and held up to 600 prisoners at one time, is said to be one of the most haunted buildings in the state. You can take a tour of the penitentiary and see 100+ years of prison history. Depending on the time of year, they are either open from 10 AM or 12 PM to 5 PM and the last entry is at 4:15 PM. Make sure to book your time slot in advance (tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for kids)!
- Hike up to Table Rock! This 3.7 mile hike, with 895 ft of elevation gain, had great views of the city and the foothills. There are a few trails to take on the way up, but we took the #15 trail. Once you get to the top, go over by the mural covered concrete buildings for great foothill views without all of the people.
We recommend going close to sunset, as the hike is very exposed and can be hot midday. And you may see an EPIC sunset (the sky was SO colorful for us)! When we went in July, sunset was at 9 PM, so we’d suggest eating before if you decide to go at sunset!
- Grab dinner at Boise Fry Company! It wouldn’t be a trip to Idaho without potatoes and they have multiple types of potatoes to choose from, as well as tons of unique sauces to dip them in.
- Enjoy some of the best ice cream ever at The STIL (The Sweetest Things In Life)! Y’all know we love ice cream and The STIL has officially earned a place in our top 5 ice creams we’ve ever had! They have unique flavors, fun seasonal options, and also have vegan and gluten free options. It was SO hard to pick flavors because they all sounded so good!
- Have breakfast at Big City Coffee, which is a popular order at the counter spot for breakfast.
- Drink coffee at Push and Pour, one of our favorite coffee shops! We loved the vibe of this spot and the drinks were delicious!
- Spend the morning walking or biking on the Boise River Greenbelt. If it’s the summertime, you can float the river as well! Feeling brave? Try surfing at Boise Whitewater Park. It’s also fun to just sit and watch the surfers if you are like us and have zero surfing skills. 🙂
- If you’re a beer fan, there are a handful of breweries and brewpubs near the greenbelt to check out: Lost Grove Brewing, Powderhaus Brewing Company, Western Collective, Barbarian Brewing, and Payette Brewing.
- After a fun morning of biking or walking around the greenbelt, have lunch at Lemon Tree in downtown Boise. This spot makes an awesome sandwich!
- Wander around the Hyde Park area of the North End, just north of downtown Boise. There are cool shops in the area, like Hyde and Seek! You can also grab ice cream from Goody’s Soda Fountain, an old school ice cream parlor.
- Freshen up a bit and have dinner at Fork or Bittercreek Alehouse!
If you have extra time…
Looking for more things to do in Boise? Here are some extra ideas, from places to eat, coffee to drink, and activities!
- Tin Roof Tacos
- Wild Root Cafe
- Tupelo Honey
- Tarbush Kitchen
- The Ranch Scottish Highland Burgers
- The Wylder
- Janjou Patisserie
- Try the ice cream potato at Westside Drive-In
- Certified Kitchen & Bakery
- Boise Pie Co
- Visit Bogus Basin Mountain! In the winter, this is a great spot for skiing, winter tubing, and snowshoeing and in the summer it’s popular for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, and they even have a mountain coaster (our favorite!).
- Boise has lots of great events year round, like the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in the summer. Check out what events are happening during your visit here!
- Go to a Boise State Football game and see the smurf turf—a blue football field! You can also view the field if there is not a game!
- Test your ping pong and axe throwing skills at Basecamp Pong & Axe.
- Go swimming at Lucky Peak State Park.
- See beautiful flowers at the Idaho Botanical Garden.
- Take a day trip out to the Bruneau Dunes, which is a little over an hour from Boise. This state park is home to the tallest freestanding sand dunes in North America at 470 feet.
- Explore more of Southern Idaho! Check out our Southern Idaho guide for all of the best things to do in Twin Falls.
Ready to explore Boise?
Pin this guide with the best things to do in Boise to help plan your trip!