There is so much to do when visiting Boise, Idaho for the first time. The capital of Idaho is full of history, outdoor activities, breweries, and more. Here are our favorite things to do in Boise, Idaho for a first-time visitor.

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

Boise Greenbelt
Table Rock
Watch a Boise State Football Game
Boise Beer & Food
Float the Boise River
Ski at Bogus Basin
See a Hockey Game
Old Idaho Penitentiary
Visit the Basque Block

Boise Greenbelt

Boise Greenbelt on the Boise River in Boise, Idaho.

The Boise Greenbelt is a gem in the middle of a big city. Growing up in Boise, I had no idea how special the greenbelt is — but very few other cities have similar paths throughout the city.

The Boise Greenbelt is a paved path that runs along the Boise River for miles, along both the Boise side and Garden City side. It also runs through the Boise State University campus and downtown, making it great for any students who want to commute by bicycle or on foot.

The Boise Greenbelt is a great place to visit in Boise to see nature, to enjoy the Boise River, or to get some exercise. Any time of year you will see plenty of walkers, joggers, and bicyclists along the greenbelt.

Learn more about the Boise Greenbelt — including a map.

Table Rock

Driving or hiking Table Rock Boise, Idaho.

Table Rock in Boise is another special place you will find in few other cities. Table Rock is a rock formation overlooking the city of Boise that you can hike to or drive up (in a normal year – driving up is not possible in 2020). Table Rock includes a large cross that overlooks the city.

The Table Rock trailhead is located on the grounds of the Old Idaho Penitentiary, and is a steep yet quick hike to the top. If you want to drive, you can get to the top quickly as well. Depending on the time of year, you may have to hike a little ways up — even if you are driving.

From the City of Boise: “The Table Rock area is not accessible from sundown to sunup. A gate at the parking area closes at sundown with the help of a solar powered monitor. Hikers are also advised to not enter the viewing area after sundown as it poses risks to personal safety, fire safety, and wildlife.”

Find the map and hiking or driving instructions to Table Rock here.

Watch a Boise State Football Game

Visiting the Blue Turf - going to a Boise State game and finding Boise State tickets.

Boise State University is the pride of the city, and going to a game is one of the most Boise things you can do. Since Boise State became competitive on a national level in the mid-2000s, the games are sometimes packed — but you can generally get good tickets any time during the season, and you can get a good view of Boise State’s blue turf.

If you’re not in town during Boise State football season, you can still visit the Blue Turf any time.

Boise Food & Beer

Highlands Hollow Brewing - the best beer and breweries in Boise

Beer has become an important part of the Boise landscape in the last decade or so, and you will find plenty of breweries all around Boise. No matter what kind of beer you like, most restaurants will carry some kind of Boise beer, and there are nearly a dozen breweries just in the downtown Boise area.

You will also find plenty of Boise wineries and a few cider houses as well, if that is what you prefer.

While you are experiencing Boise beer, don’t forget about food in Boise too — the food scene in the area has become increasingly diverse and delicious. Whether you are downtown or in other areas of Boise, you will find plenty of great options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Learn more about the breweries in Boise.

Float the Boise River

Floating the Boise River - Boise Greenbelt on the Boise River in Boise, Idaho.

There are only a few cities in the country where you can float a river right in the middle of the city. The Boise River is only a few feet deep during the summer months, with a slow flowage during that time.

You will float the river from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park, which can take a few hours — and makes for a relaxing summer day in Boise. You can rent a tube or raft (or bring your own) at the beginning of your float, and drop it off at the end.

Floating the Boise River is a fun family or solo activity and an inexpensive way to spend your day.

Ski at Bogus Basin

Skiing at Bogus Basin is something to be done in winter months in Boise, but is an easy drive directly up the mountain from downtown Boise. You can rent your gear at the bottom of the mountain or bring your own.

There are plenty of mountains to ski on in Idaho, but Bogus Basin is the best way to spend a day if you are staying in Boise.

If you have some more time, check out skiing at Tamarack Resort, Sun Valley, or Brundage Mountain.

Watch a Hockey Game

Idaho Steelheads at the Century Link Arena Boise - Where to find the best hockey in Boise

Boise is home to an ECHL hockey team, the Idaho Steelheads. The ECHL is two levels below the NHL, which means the Idaho players get moved up and down all the time.

The Idaho Steelheads play at the CenturyLink Arena in downtown Boise, a 3,500-capacity arena attached to the Grove Hotel. A hockey game is a fun date night in downtown Boise — you can grab dinner at one of the many downtown Boise restaurants, see a hockey game, and take a walk after.

Learn more about watching or playing hockey in Boise.

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Visiting the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho.

The Idaho Penitentiary is one of the coolest places to visit in Boise. Located just a few minutes outside of downtown Boise (probably too far to walk, but a short Uber ride), the penitentiary has been closed for decades — but you can take a tour and walk through the grounds.

The Old Idaho Penitentiary opened in 1872 and housed hundreds of convicts until it closed more than 100 years later. The penitentiary is managed by the Idaho State Historical Society, which means it’s not only a static museum but also has exhibits that change every few months or years.

Learn how to visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary here.

Visit the Basque Block

Best Boise museums - Basque Museum in Boise, Idaho, located on the Basque Block in downtown Boise.

The Basque population is Boise is a significant piece of the fabric of Boise. Home to the largest Basque population outside the Basque country (located in both France and Spain), the Boise Basque Block is home to the Basque Museum, Basque House (a former boarding house), the Basque Center, a Basque market, a handball court still in use, and a few different Basque restaurants.

Although the Basque Block is an amazing piece of culture to visit any time of year, visiting during one of the Basque festivals would be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for anyone.

The San Inazio Festival happens each year in July, and includes the Oinkari Basque Dancers, food, and other entertainment. Jaialdi happens every five years, and will take place in Boise in 2020.

Jaialdi is one of the largest Basque festivals in the world, and people from all over the world come to Boise to participate. There are dance exhibitions, a sports night, and other events — plus all the amazing food you can eat.

If you cannot visit Boise for a Basque festival, definitely make a point of visiting the Basque Block, because it’s an important piece of culture in Boise.

Visit the Basque Block in Boise.

Learn more about the San Inazio Festival.

Learn more about Jaialdi.