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One of our stops on our trip to coastal Oregon was Boise. Milana is on a quest to visit all 50 states and Idaho was number 17. Dave and I have been to 49 (just missing Alaska) and she asked us to wait until Alaska is her last state so we can go as a family so we are revisiting all the others with her and will make Alaska number 50 for all of us.
Idaho isn’t really a destination many people think of when choosing where to travel however I must say, Boise was a really pleasant surprise! We visited in the summer and the weather was perfect. We flew Southwest (using points + companion pass) from Portland and stayed for 3 days.
I used my Marriott points and we stayed at the Towne Place Suites Boise Downtown which was in an awesome location. I booked the regular room however upon check in, we were upgraded to a massive 2 bedroom suite!
THINGS TO DO
I didn’t have many expectations for Boise but it surprised us both in a good way! There is so much to do here with kids, no matter what season you visit. Since we came in the summer, we wanted to see the Boise River since we don’t have rivers at home in SoCal. We headed to Barber Park, which was a great spot for river playing. In the summer, you can rent tubes at this park and float down the river but we didn’t want to do it so we just played in the water for a bit.
Another place that’s great for families is the Morrison-Knudsen Nature Center. It’s free and there are some great, kid-friendly trails to wander around and see some nature and wildlife.
Just like in Oregon, Boise had plenty of toy stores to visit! We love visiting local toy stores, as they are often much better than huge chains. We visited Toytown, which had one of the best Gamewright game sections we’ve seen to date. If you’re not familiar with Gamewright, they make some of the best kid games, many of them card games which are easy to pack for travel.
We also visited G Wilikers, which is in a cute neighborhood with lots of other shops and restaurants.
The Discovery Center is the closest thing to a children’s museum in Boise and being part of the ASTC Passport Program means it’s free for members so we didn’t have to pay. Great way to spend a few hours when the weather isn’t so great!
On Saturday morning, we went to the local farmers market in downtown. It was several blocks long, with some great prepared food and fruit samples to try. Milana loved the local blackberries, which were in season during our trip. We even found a vendor selling pet treats, so we purchased one for our English Bulldog, Porkchop.
The farmers market is in downtown, an area that’s definitely worth checking out! Lots of shops and restaurants here to explore.
Boise has lots of playgrounds and we were hoping to visit a few, however we found Terry Day park on our first day and ended up going there every evening since it was less than 5 minutes from the hotel. Milana made friends as soon as we arrived, and played with the same kids 3 days in a row so we decided to stick to that one. It’s an awesome park, with a fun playground and beautiful grounds as well if you’re looking to walk around.
We also visited the aquarium, which is not really a huge aquarium like in most cities but more like a small space in a strip mall parking lot. If you are visiting the aquarium, you won’t need more than an hour! You can buy fish food for some of the tanks, and the fish will come and suck it off your arms!
I must say, I was impressed by the food options in Boise! One of the first places we tried was the Bittercreek Alehouse because of how kid-friendly it was supposed to be. It’s in downtown and the inside is pretty dark. We didn’t see any kids when we were seated, however the waitress brought out a lunch box with crayons and toys for Milana to play with during our meal. The food was really good too, Milana chose the hummus plate and fish and chips and I had to try the poutine, which was surprisingly good!
We also drove to Casa Blanca Cuban Grill, a bit out of the way but definitely worth the visit if you want something different. Milana had the arroz con pollo and I had the garlic shrimp, both were excellent.
One of our favorite places was a local chain, the Boise Fry Company. We came here twice to sample different types of fries. They have a list of potatoes you can choose from as well as different cuts (regular, curly, etc.) and a ton of different dipping sauces. It’s a must try!
Of course, no trip is complete without desserts! We love donuts and Guru Donuts was highly recommended by many people. They use natural ingredients and no artificial colors, so we had to try them. The donuts are fresh and really good, I highly recommend this place!
We also went to Goody’s Soda Fountain for some ice cream. This is right next door to G Willikers, so you can have some ice cream and check out a cute toy store all in one day.
We also went to The STIL ice cream shop. They have more unique flavors, and ones that are infused with alcohol too if you’re into that! Milana had the after school special and I had the summer hike. Both were really good!
As you can see, there is a ton to do with kids in Boise. In just 3 days, we managed to do a ton. In the winter, you can head up to the mountain just a short drive away for some snow play. If you’re looking for a cute, family-friendly city to visit for a few days with kids, I highly recommend Boise!