Idaho

How to Spend a Long Weekend in Boise: 3 Day Summer Itinerary

August 4, 2022

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Boise is a city with access to mountain foothills and vast desert. It’s a city full of delicious food, outdoor activities and great people. The Idaho capital is known as the “City of Trees.” The Boise River Valley is a bit like an oasis of green among the vast desert region of Southern Idaho.

I spent a month based in Boise and really fell in love! Here are the top restaurants and outdoor activities that I recommend if you are spending three days in Boise.

This guide includes a lot of hiking. If you’re new to hiking, check out my beginner hiking guide! Whether you are new to hiking or not, make it a priority to learn the principles of leaving no trace.



Where to Stay in Boise

If you’re in Boise for a short trip, stay downtown within walking distance of restaurants and activities! A couple great hotels to look at downtown are The Grove Hotel and Hotel 43.

A large potato that can be rented on Airbnb
The Big Idaho Potato Hotel

For a unique stay a bit outside of town, you can sleep inside of a potato! I stayed one incredible night here. The potato is beautifully designed and even a friendly cow outside to greet you.

I also had a nice long term stay at this affordable Airbnb in the West End. It is only a 5 minute drive from downtown.


When to Visit Boise

I visited Boise during summer and it was very hot but it didn’t slow me down. High temperatures in the summer months are usually in the 90’s°F.

As with many places, the spring or fall would be the best time to visit to enjoy more mild temperatures that aren’t too hot or too cold.

Boise receives a lot of snow in the winter and is a popular skiing destination during the winter months.

A mountain covered in greenery and trees at Bogus Basin near Boise.
Bogus Basin in the Summer

How To Spend 3 Days in Boise

Day One:

Breakfast at Big City Coffee

Big City Coffee is a homey space with farm-inspired decor and incredible food served in large portions. I visited twice and left feeling very satisfied both times. I ordered the veggie wrap and it was a giant burrito with steamed eggs, potatoes and a ton of vegetables including zucchini, asparagus and more. It also came with fruit and salsa. It was full of flavor and very filling.

Holding up a white coffee mug that reads "Big City Coffee & Cafe, Boise, Idaho" in red letters.

A bagel sandwich with fluffy steamed eggs and cheese from Big City Coffee.

Big City Coffee

On my second visit, I ordered the Plain Jane bagel sandwich with egg and cheese. It was piled high with fluffy steamed eggs and was so delicious.

In addition to many savory breakfast meals, they also serve giant cinnamon rolls and a variety of other pastries and desserts.

The restaurant is full of vintage signs with a farm theme and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. It’s popular so expect to wait during peak times. If you love breakfast food, Big City Coffee is a must during your time in Boise.


Take a Walk on the Boise River Greenbelt

The Boise River Greenbelt is a 25-mile paved pathway that follows both banks of the Boise River. It’s a wonderful place to walk or bike and explore the riverfront. The tree-lined path is shady and has many great views of the river.

A duck swimming in the river along the Boise River Greenbelt.

A bridge for bikers and pedestrians along the Boise River Greenbelt.

Boise River Greenbelt

There are several parks along the way to explore or begin your walk. Check out Julia Davis Park (home to museums, the zoo and a rose garden), Bernadine Quinn Park (you can watch people surf here!) and Ann Morrison Park. Other stops to make include the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and the Payette Brewing Company.

You may also see people floating down the Boise River on a nice day. This is another great activity if you have time!

Whether you walk one mile or rent bikes and explore the entire path, it’s worth allotting some time to see this beautiful part of the city.


Have an Adventure at Bogus Basin

Spend the afternoon at the closest ski resort to Boise! While it’s primarily a ski resort, there are some fantastic summer activities too. You can partake in hiking and mountain biking, or take in the views from their scenic chairlift.

The Glade Runner alpine coaster tracks with a view of the mountains ahead.

A trail in Bogus Basin.

Bogus Basin

For adrenaline junkies, be sure to ride Glade Runner, their alpine roller coaster. If you’re traveling to Boise with kids, they’ll love the gem mining, the bungee trampoline and the summer tubing.

In addition to the outdoor recreation, there is a bar and restaurant area. You can pack a picnic and enjoy live music on certain days.

The drive up to Bogus Basin is very windy but has incredible views. It will take about 40 minutes between downtown Boise and the Bogus Basin area. Be sure to take your time!

For hiking in Bogus Basin, I recommend some or all of the 7.1 mile Bogus Basin Loop trail. Part of it was closed during my visit so I hiked about 5 miles of the loop counter-clockwise. The trail has wonderful mountain views and wildflowers during the summer months. Just be prepared to yield to mountain bikers along the way.

I also highly recommend the alpine coaster! You get to control your speed and can ride with a partner. I had so much fun riding the coaster and taking in the views.


Dinner and Drinks at Bavarian Beer Bar

If you enjoy unique brews and tacos, head to Barbarian Beer Bar in downtown Boise to finish your day. This brewery specializes in unique sours with flavors like mojito, watermelon and limoncello.

A flight of 6 beers from Bavarian Beer Bar.

A plate of two tacos from Calle 75 Street Tacos in Boise.

Bavarian Beer Bar

My favorite beer was ‘Death by Snu Snu,’ a sour beer made with gushers! All of the beers I tried were bursting with flavor and it was fun to try a flight.

You can order tacos right to your table from Calle 75 Street Tacos next door. I really enjoyed the tacos and was impressed with the vegetarian options. They were full of flavor and the delivery was quick!


Day Two:

Breakfast at Push & Pour

On day two, head to Push & Pour for breakfast! They have a few locations, but I loved the location on S Latah Street. They share a patio space with a location for The STIL and there is an awning that looks like it belongs to a former car wash.

A breakfast sandwich with brioche bread, avocado, eggs and tomato from Push & Pour.

A coffee with latte art inside of Push & Pour.

Push & Pour

In addition to great coffee, they have delicious breakfast sandwiches. The sandwiches are served with scrambled eggs, avocado, tomato and garlic aioli on a fluffy brioche bun. It was delicious and the bread really made it extra special. This is a great atmosphere to get some work done or catch up with loved ones.


Hike to the Top of Table Rock

Table Rock is an iconic trail that provides a great view of the city. The trail to reach the view begins right next door to the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, a historic museum. The trail has a steady but somewhat steep ascend to the top.

A view of rolling mountains from Table Rock in Boise.
Views from Table Rock

You can add on other trails if you would like, but the most direct route is about 3.2 miles with 879 feet of elevation gain. The trail has some great views along the way with the best views at the top.

On top of the rock, you’ll enjoy 360 views of both the city and the surrounding foothills. There is also a giant cross at the top. While I’m placing this in the morning for this itinerary, this is also a great spot to watch the sunset.


Explore the Freak Alley and N 8th St

Freak Alley is an open-air mural gallery in an alley off of N 8th St. Artwork covers the entire alley and is constantly changing. One iconic piece is the “Breaking Boise” mural modeled after the Breaking Bad logo. This area is worth spending some time walking through the alley and taking some photos, especially if you’re also eating dinner in the area.

Looking down the center of Freak Alley in Boise.

A mural that reads 'Breaking Boise' in Freak Alley in Boise.

Freak Alley

Right off of the alley, you’ll find a pedestrian street with several great restaurants. Two restaurants I recommend nearby are Bittercreek Alehouse and Fork.

Bittercreek Alehouse is a beer bar that offers dishes like poutine, cauliflower wings and fish and chips. They have a fantastic beer selection and amazing cauliflower wings.

Holding up a purple cocktail from Fork in downtown Boise.

A plate of fried asparagus from Boise.

Fork

Fork is a higher end restaurant housed in a former bank. It is best to have a reservation for this spot. They serve farm to table dishes and have a great cocktail selection. I enjoyed the fried asparagus appetizer and the lemon ricotta ravioli.


Try an Ice Cream Flight from the STIL

If you still have room, ice cream from The STIL is a must during your trip to Boise. STIL stands for the “sweetest things in life” and their ice cream is made in small batches with real ingredients.

Looking straight down at a flight of beer, wine and ice cream from The Stil.

A side view of a flight with 4 ice cream flavors, two beers and two wines from The Stil.

The STIL

They have a variety of unique flavors including churro, lemon blueberry pie and raspberry, goat cheese and almond. They also serve great dairy-free options and several booze-infused options.

I loved bake sale (brownies, cookie dough and chocolate drizzle) and the Idaho Wilderness (lavender & berries) but I don’t think you can go wrong.

Another unique thing about this spot is that they offer flight pairings where you can enjoy beer or wine with your ice cream. You can also order a flight entirely of just ice cream flavors. You’ll definitely want to try multiple!

The STIL served some of the best ice cream I’d had in a while and I highly recommend it for your time in Boise.


Day Three:

Breakfast at Certified Kitchen and Bakery

On day three, I have a third wonderful breakfast and coffee cafe to recommend. Certified Kitchen and Bakery is located in Boise’s historic Hyde Park neighborhood and is known for their delicious bread along with their breakfast and lunch offerings.

Holding up a to-go coffee mug from Certified Kitchen and Bakery.

Holding up a breakfast sandwich on an english muffin from Certified Kitchen and Bakery.

Certified Kitchen and Bakery

They use a 52-year old sourdough starter for their english muffins, which are fantastic. I highly recommend the breakfast sandwich. The classic version includes egg, arugula, white cheddar and fresno crème fraiche on their english muffins. You can add bacon, avocado or tomato for an extra fee. It was a great sandwich and the english muffin really made it special!


Hike at Camel’s Back Preserve

Not far from Boise’s North End, Camel’s Back Preserve is a beautiful place for hiking or biking. Note that on some trails, such as the Lower Hulls Gulch Trail, usage by hikers and bikers is separated on even vs odd days. The Lower Hulls Gulch is only available to downhill bike traffic on odd days but open to hikers on even number days. Check current restrictions before you go.

A view of rolling hills and desert landscape at Camel's Back Preserve.
Camel's Back Preserve

I hiked the 3 mile Red Cliffs Nature Center trail. The trail takes you through the Idaho foothills and past a couple small areas of red cliffs. I really enjoyed being surrounded by the rolling hills and desert landscapes. This is a great way to get a little taste of the Southern Idaho desert landscape.

There are many more trails here to pick from and it’s a beautiful area to explore right next to town.


Eat in the Basque Block

Boise is home to one of the largest communities of Basque Americans in the United States. (Basque Country is a region between France and Spain). The Boise Basque community numbers about 16,000 and the Basque Block includes several restaurants along with the Basque Museum and Cultural Center.

The exterior of the Basque Center in downtown Boise.
The Basque Block

Grilled cheese, fries, a sandwich and croquettes from Bar Gernika in the Basque Block.
Bar Gernika

I really enjoyed a meal at Bar Gernika, which had some good vegetarian options. The restaurant has a great craft beer list, outdoor patio seating and fast service. I really enjoyed the shishito peppers and the grilled cheese. For meat eaters, they are especially known for their croquettes and lamb grinders.


Hike or Paddle at Lucky Peak State Park

Lucky Peak State Park and the surrounding area is a great place to paddle or hike. It is located 20 minutes from downtown Boise. To explore by water, you can visit the Sandy Point unit of the park to rent a paddleboard and explore the water.

An abandoned mine with rolling desert hills behind it.
Adelmann Mine

There are some beautiful hiking options too. I hiked to the Adelmann Mine, located a few minutes away from the Sandy Point area. This trail is 4.7 miles and leads to an abandoned mine that was active in the early 1900s. The mine apparently mined gold, silver, lead and quartz.

The trail has a gradual incline as you follow an old road. There is not a lot of cell reception, so I recommend downloading the offline map on All Trails before you go. You should also keep an eye out for snakes and be prepared for a lot of grasshoppers. It is really neat to reach the mine and there are incredible views along the way.

Another nearby trail that is on my list is Cervidae Peak. This very steep trail leads to an incredible view of the surrounding foothills and waterways.


Step Back into the 50's at Westside Drive in

The Westside Drive In has been in business since 1957 and still feels straight out of the 50’s with its vintage decor. They have a large menu of classic diner options with several unique twists. Plus, the restaurant was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

An ice cream sundae made to look like a baked potato.

Holding up the baked potato ice cream in front of the West Side Drive in.

Westside Drive in

There are two drive-through lines for cars or you can approach the window by foot. I loved that they had good vegetarian meal options and enjoyed the veggie focaccia sandwich and fried zucchini.

One of the most unique menu offerings is an ice cream dessert that looks just like a baked potato. The ice cream is shaped like a potato, covered in a chocolate powder that looks remarkably similar to the skin of a potato and topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, nuts and oreo crumbles. The dessert was absolutely delicious and I was impressed by how realistic it was.

This gem is the perfect way to grab a casual meal and end your time in Boise.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed my time in Boise and I think it’s an underrated city that should be on your bucket list! The city is very active, downtown is walkable and there are many gems to discover.

If you're looking for the perfect weekend trip from Boise with activities like hot springs, hiking and white water rafting, check out my guides to Lowman, Idaho and Stanley, Idaho!

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Find out the best way to spend a long weekend in Boise, Idaho with this guide! Learn about outdoor activities in Boise, the best food in Boise and more.

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Find out the best way to spend a long weekend in Boise, Idaho with this guide! Learn about outdoor activities in Boise, the best food in Boise and more.

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Find out the best way to spend a long weekend in Boise, Idaho with this guide! Learn about outdoor activities in Boise, the best food in Boise and more.

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