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BOISE, IDAHO - Where wilderness and adventure are only minutes from a lively downtown. Laid back and friendly, where friends meet on the way home for burgers and brews after a day of skiing or tubing at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area. From gourmet and trendy restaurants, funky local shops, craft breweries galore, and a strong community spirit, Boise is a thriving city where a river runs through it, dirt trails are out your front door, and live theater performances are an Uber ride away.
This flourishing city is the state capital of Idaho, with a population of more than 228,790. Boise is ideal in that it’s large enough to have everything you could want at your fingertips, yet small enough to still be friendly and easy to navigate. It’s no wonder it is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.
Outdoor recreation is a way of life in Boise, no matter the season. The foothills of the Rocky Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop to this vibrant city and include more than 140 miles of trails—literally out many residents’ back doors. You’ll find mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers, and dog owners with their canine pets on these trails at any time of the year. The Greenbelt offers 25 miles of paved and dirt trails along the Boise River to run, ride, or stroll with hundreds of spots to fish or play in the water. Floating the Boise River is a must during summertime, while skiing is a huge part of the Boise winter with Bogus Basin just 20 miles up the mountain.
And if the outdoors isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll find plenty of other ways to fill your event calendar in Boise, including annual jazz and music festivals, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, and many other theater performances throughout the year. Home to the largest Basque community in the United States, Boise hosts a huge Basque festival, Jaialdi, held every five years—the next one taking place this year in 2020. Boise is also home to the Boise Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho, Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, and several museums.
And sports fan, don’t fret! While Boise may not have a professional football team, the Boise State Broncos (as fans would agree) are just as good as many professional teams! You won’t go far around town without seeing the classic blue and orange colors of Boise State University. Another sports favorite is the Idaho Steelheads ice hockey team. With practices and home games played right in the heart of downtown Boise, you’re sure to rub elbows with one of these professional players any day of the week.
Like all major cities, Boise is composed of several distinct neighborhoods. Continue reading for a synopsis of each community.
Downtown Boise is the cultural center of the city and home to more than 100 shops, 80 restaurants, and several microbreweries and nightlife venues. Downtown Boise is an energetic, clean, and livable community that is also walkable and friendly. Community events such as the Saturday Farmer’s Market, First Thursday, and the weekly Alive-After-Five outdoor concert series on The Grove Plaza bring large crowds to the area. The 8th Street Marketplace provides a lively pedestrian zone lined with boutiques, local restaurants, and bars. Downtown Boise’s popular attractions include Julia Davis, Ann Morrison and Kathryn Albertson parks, the Idaho State Capitol, the classic Egyptian Theatre, the Boise Art Museum, and the Basque Block.
Just on the other side of the river from downtown is Boise State University, surrounded by residential neighborhoods and businesses catering to the student population. Located on the BSU campus, the unique blue-turf field at the 37,000-seat Albertsons Stadium is home to the Boise State Broncos football team and is a major city landmark. The university campus is also home to Extra Mile Arena, which hosts a variety of concert and sporting events, as well as the Morrison Center, which hosts the Idaho Ballet, Broadway shows, and many other cultural performances.
Located near downtown, the North End is Boise’s historic treasure and is comprised of many of the city’s older homes and quiet neighborhoods. It’s known for its tree-lined streets such as Harrison Boulevard and the Historic Hyde Park District with its boutiques and popular eateries. Each year, residents look forward to the Hyde Park Street Fair located at popular Camel’s Back Park.
The proximity to the foothills, the Greenbelt, and downtown makes Northwest Boise a favorite among many locals. Tucked between the City of Eagle and downtown Boise, this community contains a mix of old and new neighborhoods with some areas of older homes that have a similar aesthetic to the North End. Amid its many conveniences, the beauty of the Boise foothills running along the northern side is what makes this neighborhood iconic.
This part of Boise is where many locals take friends and family when visiting. From the northeast corner of downtown along Warm Springs Road sit historic grand mansions, the Old Idaho Penitentiary, the Idaho Botanical Gardens, and the Warm Springs Mesa. This area derives its name from the natural hot springs that flow from Boise’s fault line and warm many of the homes in the area using geothermal energy. It is one of Boise’s oldest, most expensive and sought-after neighborhoods with its good schools, popular restaurants, and direct access to downtown. As you make your way further east, you will discover highly sought-after communities such as Harris Ranch and River Heights in the Barber Valley, in an area also known as Boise’s East End.
Known locally as “the Bench”, this area boasts some of the best views of Boise as it sits about 60 feet higher than downtown. It’s generally an older residential neighborhood with a strong sense of community, old-school culture, and hipster vibe. The Bench gets its name from the sudden rise, giving the appearance of a step, or bench. It is home to the Boise Union Pacific Depot, offers easy access to the freeway and downtown, and overlooks beautiful Ann Morrison Park.
Southeast Boise covers a large area from Boise State University to the edge of the city, where Micron Technology is located. Most of Southeast Boise was developed in the last 30 years with suburban-style homes, including one of Boise’s most exclusive neighborhoods, River Run, a community offering riverfront properties. A newer, growing addition to this region is the popular Bown Crossing. This community is surrounded by unique neighborhoods with quaint homes. Offering some of the best restaurants in Boise along with specialty shops, a new library, and a vibrant community spirit, Bown Crossing has quickly gained the attention of many families moving to the area.
What once was known for its sparsely populated neighborhoods and acre sized plots, Southwest Boise is now a booming residential community with a suburban feel. The widespread growth of new homes and neighborhoods near Interstate 84 has made this section of Boise a desired location among newcomers and long-time residents alike with nearby conveniences such as theaters, golf, shopping, Costco, and the airport.
West Boise is home to Boise Towne Square Mall, the largest in the state, as well as many restaurants, strip malls, and residential developments, ranging from new subdivisions to apartment complexes. West Boise accounts for a large section of the city’s residential population, connecting Boise to the cities of Meridian and Eagle. One of Boise’s top employers, Hewlett Packard’s printing division is also located here, employing more than 3,000 employees.