Whether you’re a millennial and can’t stay put for more than three days or are curious about the buzz on Boise, here are some ideas for a day trip off the saddle from Idaho Dude Ranches — McGarry Ranches, Red Horse Mountain Ranch, Diamond D Ranch or Western Pleasure Guest Ranch.
Boise is the fastest growing city in America! The airport is easily accessible to downtown Boise via a ten-minute ride. It’s a small, ‘bigger’ city with a mixture of hipster shopping and eateries and old town charm.
If you choose an overnight, Inn at 500 should be your first pick. (innat500.com) It’s the newest and most luxurious hotel in the capital city and has whimsically-themed rooms such as Boise Art Museum (curated by museum staffers), The Flicks (for the art-house movie theater next to the hotel), and Idaho Wine (note that all guests get complimentary glasses at check in), and wins for location. Grab a drink or dish at Richard’s in the hotel aptly named for Chef Richard Langston, a James Beard 2014 semifinalist for Best Chef Northwest, and storied Boise resident and restaurateur.
Downtown Boise is extremely walkable and worthy of a few hours of shopping, touring the capital, and eating in this growing culinary hotspot. Boise boasts the largest Basque population outside of Spain, and much homage is paid to this culture throughout the city. Stop by The Basque Market for paella lunches and a trendy meat, cheese and tapas market. Head to Bardenay for a bloody Mary (with house-made vodka made from Idaho potatoes) or Red Feather Lounge. Don’t miss Boise Fry Company for the best spuds (get a burger on the side).
As with most towns across the West, the craft beer is strong. Payette Brewing, Bittercreek Alehouse, Cloud 9 Brewery, Highlands Hollow Brewhouse and Boise Brewing are all standouts. But note it might be the craft women winemakers of the Snake Valley River AVA that are garnering the most awards and attention. Cinder, Coiled Wines, Split Rail Winery, Syringa Winery and Telaya Wine Co. are a handful of the most popular and offer tastings and comfortable sitting areas.
Chances are you will be visiting in summer when the majority of ranches run their seasons. Rent a bike and cruise along the Boise River Greenbelt with numerous parks, eateries, and wineries along the way. Stop and grab a SUP from Idaho River Sports and hop on Quinn’s Pond to paddle around for a couple of hours.
If you’re looking to grab some authentic items to remember or commemorate your dude ranch week, visit Mixed Greens for hundreds of boutique items, Idaho Made for Idaho-made gifts and crafts, or pick up a culinary treat at City Peanut Shop and The Chocolat Bar. The Capital City Public Market and The Boise Farmers Market in season are excellent options for finding local vendors and wares.
Spring through late summer the Idaho Shakespeare Festival runs in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater. Come early to explore the grounds and bring/purchase a picnic to enjoy with the show. Wednesdays throughout summer, Alive After Five fires up in Grove Plaza with music, beer and wine vendors, food trucks and restaurants, fountains for the children to splash and cool off, and a great downtown experience.
Check out the Oregon Trail—you can even see ruts from wagon wheels and “advertising” rock art still carved in stone near Boise. Connect to the trail easily at the Oregon Trail Reserve, but if you want more Idaho history, visit the newly-opened Idaho State Museum, just steps from the Inn at 500.