Boise, Idaho is one of the rare cities that is amazing both in summer and winter. If you find yourself there during the hottest months of the year, you have quite a few things to choose from — whether you have kids or not, want to stay outdoors or indoors, and for any budget. If you are visiting the City of Trees, here are our top things to do in Boise, Idaho in summer.
Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:
Float the Boise River
Walk/run/bicycle the Boise Greenbelt
Boise’s Whitewater Park
Have a Drink on an Outdoor Deck
Boise State Blue Turf
Idaho State Penitentiary
Wahooz & Roaring Springs
Idaho’s Oregon Trail
Float the Boise River
Floating the Boise River is maybe as “summer in Boise” as it gets. The river is not very deep where you float, and you are only allowed to do so once it gets very shallow, slow, and very safe.
To float the river in Boise, you will enter the river at Barber Park. There are companies that rent out intertubes and rafts, or you can bring your own (something you can find for fairly cheap).
You will get out of the river at Ann Morrison Park, and — very important — you need to get out when you are told to. There is a dam not long after the exit point and it is incredibly dangerous if you are still in the river.
That gives you a few hours of fun floating time. The river is cold, so be prepared for that, but if you are out on a hot day it feels great.
About a decade ago, the City of Boise began banning alcohol on the river, so make sure you leave your beer at home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time and enjoy a nice refreshing day on the Boise River.
Walk/Run/Bicycle the Boise Greenbelt
The Boise Greenbelt is another iconic activity in Boise, Idaho. The Greenbelt runs more than 10 mies on each side of the Boise River and runs throughout Boise and into Garden City and the rest of Ada County.
You can run, walk, or bicycle the Boise Greenbelt, which runs through wooded areas and along the Boise River most of its length.
Along your path, you will find a rose garden, soccer fields, and plenty of bridges.
Learn more about the Boise Greenbelt here.
Whitewater Park Boise
The Whitewater Park is a fairly new addition to Boise. Located in Esther Simplot Park, the Whitewater Park is a location for kayakers and other whitewater enthusiasts to enjoy the sport without leaving the city.
The park also has a beach, a nice lake, and plenty of walking paths.
In 2019, the park banned dogs, which is one downside of the park, but it was done to ensure the cleanliness of the water in the lake and whitewater course.
Boise’s Outdoor Decks
Downtown Boise is an amazing place to visit during the summer. In the last few years, there has been a sort of renaissance in the area, with new breweries, restaurants, and all kinds of venues.
There are quite a few amazing outdoor decks where you can go enjoy a beer or glass of wine and relax. Plus, people watching is a fun summer activity!
Here are some of our favorite outdoor decks in downtown Boise:
- 10 Barrel Brewing
- Residence Inn Downtown Boise
- Old Chicago
- Anything in the 8th Street Alley
Boise State’s Blue Turf
When outsiders think of Boise, many thing of Smurf Turf, or the blue football field at Boise State University. Although it’s not open all the time, if you can score a tour of the field it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any Boise visitor.
The Boise State Broncos play on the blue field, which is one of the last non-green fields in NCAA football — because it was grandfathered in. The football season begins in August, so if you cannot get a tour, it’s worth coming during a game weekend to see the field.
Old Idaho State Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary is a fun place to visit in Boise for a few reason. Not only is the Old Idaho State Penitentiary an important piece of Idaho history, but it’s rumored to be haunted as well.
Visit the museum every day of the week, and take a walking tour of the grounds. They also offer other events, including yoga in the yard.
You can also sign up for one of the many ghost tours conducted at the penitentiary. The tours take place across the grounds and especially in the cell blocks. As someone who has been in the cell blocks, I will tell you I felt completely uncomfortable standing in there in the daylight. I am not sure I could handle a ghost tour! At night.
Learn more about the Old Idaho State Penitentiary here.
Bogus Basin is the ski mountain located within Boise, 16 miles up from the city center. So it may not seem like an optimal place to visit during the summer. But they actually offer a number of activities when the snow melts.
There is an amazing roller coaster at the top of the mountain. It’s a unique opportunity to see the mountain close up while winding around its hills.
Bogus Basin also offers numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. Grab your hiking shoes or bicycle and park at the top for a day full of mountain adventure.
Roaring Springs and Wahooz is a theme park and water park combination located in Meridian, just outside of Boise. The water park itself could take up a whole day of fun, whether you have kids or not.
There are dozens of different kinds of slides and a lazy river, and there is something for every age.
Wahooz is more of an arcade/theme park, with go-karts, bumper cars, a bowling alley, miniature golf, a ropes course, and plenty of other activities.
Wahooz and Roaring Springs offer birthday parties as well, so you can bring your family and friends and let them plan the day for you.
Oregon Trail History in Idaho
Idaho was the last stop before making it to Oregon for those on the Oregon Trail and there are still plenty of places to see it in the area. If you are in the Boise area, there are a few locations you can travel within a few hours:
Three Island Crossing
Three Island Crossing just outside of Glenns Ferry is a site where the wagons had to cross the river. Every year this crossing is re-created by locals. It’s a fun event to go to and see what life was like during the Oregon Trail (except you get to go home to your bed).
The Oregon Trail History and Education Center is open all year for a self-guided tour both indoors and outdoors.
Learn more about Three Island Crossing.
The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is also in Glenns Ferry, Idaho, and is more of a museum, with demonstrations, programs, exhibits, and special events.
One of the best parts about the the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center is that there are four miles of trails, with signs and information on the Oregon Trail in Idaho.
Learn more about the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Idaho.