Boise Provides Unexpected Surprises

Downtown Boise
I very much enjoyed downtown Boise.

Earlier this year, Chris and I were looking for places to go in October to see fall foliage. We spent weeks looking. Vermont and the Northeast would have been awesome but flight times, prices, and hotel prices didn’t lend itself to a long, inexpensive weekend. We thought about going back to Tahoe, but we’d previously been in October and felt like there wouldn’t be that much new to see. Last year, we went to Carmel. It was nice, but expensive and unseasonably warm.

So we looked at what was a short flight and relatively cheap. Boise popped up. I’d always wanted to go to Sun Valley since seeing the resort on the cover of an ice skating magazine. So we settled on that – one night in Boise and three nights in Sun Valley/Ketchum. Oh yeah, the visit also coincided with the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival. Win win! More on that in another blog post.

The flight from Phoenix is a little over two hours. We arrived, grabbed our bags and the rental car and headed to the Idaho Military Museum after seeing a brochure in the airport. It’s located only a few minutes from the airport. They have a lot of really cool tanks, some old aircraft on display and several unique exhibitions. I enjoyed the tanks very much as well as the exhibition of the various commemorative military medals. I also learned that M&Ms were also used in some of the soldiers meal kits. The museum is free though donations are encouraged.

Idaho Military Museum
Be sure to check out the Idaho Military Museum close to the Boise Airport.

From there, we headed downtown. I have to say I was very impressed with the downtown. It was clean, there was lots of new development and there seemed like there was a lot to do. The Capitol Building is beautiful and we walked by landmarks such as the Egyptian Theatre.

The Capitol Building.
Boise has a beautiful Capitol Building.

One of the things I really wanted to do was visit the Basque Block. Idaho has a very large Basque population, and I wanted to see their neighborhood and grab a snack at the Basque Market. The block is right downtown. Reasonable public parking is available across the street. We paid and went over to the Basque Market – first stopping to take a few photos of one of the oldest houses in the area and admiring the Fall foliage. We popped into the Market. It was very small, but cozy. We ordered two glasses of tempernillo and some croquettes (fried cheese balls). The waiter also brought little tapas of cheese, peppers, olives and a tortilla omelette. All were delicious, especially those croquettes. (Try the croquettes!!) The bill was a bit pricey though due to the wine – it was about $9-10 a glass, but the experience made up for it.

The Basque Market
Try a glass of wine and some tapas at the Basque Market.

Croquettes at the Basque Market.

Try the cheese croquettes at the Basque Market.

From there, we did a bit of walking around downtown and headed to Boise State’s campus to see the blue football field. The campus was pretty with all the fall leaves and the pathway along the river. Unfortunately, the stadium was closed to the public due to football practice.

We walked through Julie Davis Park. The Zoo is there so we saw a giraffe as we walked by. We also walked past an Abe Lincoln Statue. I’d recommend a visit to this park, it’s really nice.

We stopped for lunch at White Dog Brewery. The beer was good. I had one that had flavors of rum as well as a burger to eat. The heirloom tomatoes were so fresh and juicy.

White Dog Brewery
Lunch at White Dog Brewery.

We then drove down Warm Springs Road to view the gorgeous old houses on the way to the Botanical Garden before heading to the hotel. It was really enjoyable to see all the old homes.

We checked into our hotel (the Oxford Suites), and had initially planned to Uber to dinner somewhere downtown, but we were stuffed from lunch. Our hotel had an evening reception with snacks and wine so that was sufficient. It was also close to a shopping center which had a huge, nice movie theater. We actually went an saw Bad Times at El Royale which was strange but enjoyable. The hotel offered free breakfast the next morning, but the way the lines were managed was a mess, and honestly the hour we went through all that would have been better spent hitting McD’s and getting out of town.

We did stop by the stadium on the way out of town to see the football field but the band was practicing and we were only able to get a quick glimpse.

The Blue Field at Boise State’s football stadium.
The Blue Field at Boise State’s football stadium.

Overall, I superbly enjoyed my visit to Boise. I certainly wasn’t expecting what we got, but perfect weather, a lot to see, and good food, led me to having a great time and wondering why I haven’t visited sooner. I’ll definitely be back to see the things I missed that I wanted to visit like the Old State Penitentiary and The area with the murals called Freak Alley Gallery.

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