7 Best Summer Activities in Boise, ID
It’s summer, and the more people who get their COVID vaccinations, the safer it gets to take part in seasonal activities. It’s been encouraging learning that fully vaccinated people can go without masks and knowing that we’ll be able to enjoy museums, shows, and more again.
Here are seven excellent summer activities to enjoy here in Boise. Each of these will let you get out in the sunshine and celebrate the season.
Boise River Greenbelt
This 20-mile long, natural wildlife habitat has 30 miles of trails. Want to go for a walk, jog, or bike ride? Then you need to check out the Boise River Greenbelt. While you get some exercise, you’ll see a variety of trees like false indigo, Himalayan blackberry, Russian olive, Siberian elm, ornamental pear, and many more. You’ll also likely spot ducks and squirrels. The Idaho birding trail area is a good place to see eagles, falcons, hawks, and geese.
Oh yes, you can go fishing here. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game keeps it filled with trout.
There are also many parks along the Greenbelt. These include Lucky Peak State Park, Marianne Williams Park, Kristin Armstrong Memorial Park, Barber Park, Kathryn Albertson Park, and Plantation Island.
Old Idaho Penitentiary
It’s fun to learn something new during the summer, and one place to learn some interesting local history is at the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Are you intrigued by American history from the Wild West into the 20th Century? Well, this prison opened in 1872 and closed in December 1973. This is a great place to learn about one hundred years of prison life in the U.S.
The prison features many cell blocks, weapons, and old gallows. There are exhibits on executions and unlikely escapes. Make a reservation, since they limit the number of people allowed inside at once to 50.
Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Behind the public library, where the Boise Greenbelt meets 8th street, you’ll find the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, a testament to the importance of protecting human rights everywhere. The memorial opened in 2002.
Since it’s behind the public library, this is a quiet place to expand your knowledge, get some fresh air, and read. The park commemorates the victims of the Holocaust, includes a universal declaration of human rights, and has two walls filled with relevant quotes. You can also take a virtual tour on the website.
Near the Greenbelt you’ll find Zoo Boise. After you’ve spotted some wildlife on a Greenbelt walk, head here to see many more animals. The zoo has giraffes, red pandas, snow leopards, zebras, crocodiles, olive baboons, warthogs, penguins, California kingsnakes, African clawed frogs, and many others. Your child might even get to come here on a field trip during summer school, or you can simply take your family for an enjoyable summer’s day.
When you buy a ticket, you’re helping support wildlife conservation, a major mission of Zoo Boise. They give out grants to various environmental organizations, like Table Rock Restoration, Wildlife SOS, Global Wildlife Conservation, and Bowling for Rhinos.
As COVID restrictions ease, we still recommend buying your tickets on the website. There, you can also learn more about the zoo, the featured animals, and how to donate. The online gift shop is a great place to pick up a souvenir or a present.
The Boise Music Festival
Since 2010 the Boise Music Festival (BMF) has been a major event in Ann Morrison Park. Sadly, COVID has interfered with it, but this all-day event will return in late June 2022. It’s definitely something many will want to participate in as part of their summer fun.
BMF features local bands and well-known performers. If you’re in a Boise musical group, you can apply on the site. The event is about music, but there’s also an associated carnival you can attend. Get a wristband for unlimited rides! Or, if you’re not into the concert and just want to hit the rides, you can get a carnival-only ticket. Musical acts have included Train, Joan Jett, Backstreet Boys, Pitbull.
Idaho Botanical Gardens
We recommended visiting the Old Idaho Penitentiary, and now we’re going to recommend visiting the location of the Old Idaho State Penitentiary Farm. That’s right, the Idaho Botanical Garden is on that 50-acre site. Several unique areas fill the space, including an English garden, an Idaho native plant garden; an herb garden, a water garden, and a rose garden. There’s also a meditation garden where low-security 1930s and 1940 inmates planted trees.
Each garden contains more than plants. The water garden has amphibians. Every garden has some art included, including many metal sculptures by Dr. Maximilian Kaslo. Artist Amber Conger created The Suspended Gear exhibit, which she crafted from salvaged antiques and steel. Artists Christophe Guigon and Corrin Olson created the meditation garden exhibit, Untitled Ocean.
Idaho Shakespeare Festival
It’s always fun to go to the movies, and with pandemic conditions improving, it looks like we’ll be able to go again safely soon. However, seeing a live play is something special, especially when it’s one by the Bard himself. The Idaho Shakespeare Festival features local actors performing brilliant theater. Usually, the shows go from late May through late September, but they truncated the 2021 schedule because of the pandemic. Still, watch the site for when tickets go on sale!
This theater company performs plays by Shakespeare and other greats. The 2020 shows included Much Ado About Nothing, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Henry V, Emma, and Sleuth.
Whether you’re visiting Boise this summer or you live here, we hope you enjoy these activities.