In late May, we spent a few days in Boise, Idaho. It turned out to be one of the most delightful cities we’ve yet visited, a near perfect combination of culture and nature (and great food).
We biked along the lovely riverfront trail every day, discovered wonderful restaurants and cafes, explored the attractive downtown, and enjoyed the relaxed, sunny ambiance of Boise. Several times I remarked to Eric, “This is how a city should be.”
Somehow, Boise has maintained a small town feel, even with a population of more than 200,000. Honestly, the city was very different from what we expected—given that it’s the capital of one of the “reddest” states in the country, we assumed it would be much more conservative. But that’s not the vibe we got. There’s a strong commitment to the environment, to human rights, to building healthy and vital communities, and to organic and sustainable practices. When we toured the capitol building, I was most impressed by the simple note on a legislator’s desk—in large print, it read, “Do No Harm.”
Our RV Park backed up to the Boise Greenbelt, making it convenient to hop on our bikes and head into town. Any city that makes it easy and enjoyable for people to get around via walking and biking scores big points with us—and the Boise trail system is one of the best we’ve come across in our travels. Twenty-five miles of paved trails hug the banks of the Boise River, offering a scenic ride through wildlife habitat and riverside parks, and providing easy access to the city center. I even felt comfortable biking the streets of downtown Boise—not something I generally enjoy.
We biked for several hours each day, exploring whatever caught our attention along the way, including the lovely city parks, the Boise Art Museum sculpture garden, the inspiring Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, and the attractive capitol building (which looks like a miniature White House).
One of the highlights of our time in Boise was a visit to the Basque Block in the heart of the city. Basques originally made their way to Idaho as miners and sheepherders. I imagine that they felt comfortable in the golden hills of Idaho, which must have reminded them of the Pyrenees, their homeland that straddles the border between Spain and France. Boise has one of the largest Basque populations in the United States, and the Basque Block is a lively community, with a museum, cultural center, and restaurants featuring delicious Basque specialties (paella!). Our dinner at the Basque Market was excellent.
Boise surprised us with other fine food offerings—we had a memorable casual lunch at Bleubird, a friendly downtown café where the owners turn out creative and delicious sandwiches and salads and make their own fresh fruit and herbal sodas (the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, rosemary infused simple syrup, and club soda was the best non-alcoholic drink I’ve ever had). We liked it so much we biked twice to the café for lunch.
With more than 50 craft breweries, we narrowed our choice down to Cloud 9 Brewery in the charming North End neighborhood. Salted Caramel Stout? Yes, please!! All of the beer was excellent at this sweet little pub—what makes them stand out from the crowd is their commitment to sustainable, local, and organic beers. Their small restaurant shares the same commitment and is equally excellent—on a delightful evening, we enjoyed a perfectly prepared risotto with local salmon, asparagus, and spring peas.
About the RV Park:
Boise Riverside RV Park is basically an enormous gravel parking lot with large sites, most with concrete pads, and some with shade trees. We were there in late spring, and had a very nice site that backed up to a grassy area with trees. It’s all about location here—the park is on the Greenbelt multiuse trail, which offers miles of peaceful walking and biking along the river; a 15-minute bike ride takes you to the downtown parks.
Along the Route Bonus Tips:
Three Island Crossing State Park: Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho
En route from Angel Creek, Nevada to Boise, we spent one night at Three Island Crossing State Park near Glenn’s Ferry, Idaho. This pretty, peaceful park is set along the Snake River, with spacious sites surrounded by shade trades. There’s a small museum devoted to the Oregon Trail and a view across the river of the deep wagon ruts carved into the hillside by intrepid pioneers who chose to cross the river here. We were wishing we had more time at this lovely park.
Shoshone Falls: Twin Falls, Idaho
Known as the Niagara of the West, Shoshone Falls (located at the edge of Twin Falls, Idaho) was on our route to Boise. Created by seasonal runoffs from the mighty Snake River, Shoshone is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the United States. We stopped for a picnic and a walk—it’s well worth a visit.
Coming Full Circle: Joseph, OR