Idaho’s capital is rapidly growing into a trendy escape for every kind of traveler. Family-friendly attractions, niche lodging, outdoor recreation and great walkability add to its allure. What’s even cooler is that the city’s earth-conscious mindset has created a realm of sustainable activities and establishments that help preserve the area, while making for a unique destination for visitors. Fish the Boise River which runs right through the city center, stop by for a tasting at countless earth-friendly cider houses, wineries or breweries—keep reading to find out more ecotourism activities in Boise.
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Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve
Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve contains 44 acres of preserved land, right within Boise. Animals like birds and bats call the reserve home, and researchers provide things like manmade nests to help certain species thrive. You cannot swim, boat or even bring your dog unless they are a service animal, so the environment is completely protected. But you can come here to totally disconnect, or search for your favorite winged critter while exploring the abundance of walking paths. Restrooms are available in the reserve.
Boise’s Greenbelt is a road tucked against the river, and it sweeps by wineries, restaurants and recreational areas throughout the city. Motor vehicles are prohibited from driving on the path, so pedestrians can walk, bike, jog and skate without much worry. Developers also created the Greenbelt to make an efficient way to get around without burdening the environment.
The Modern Hotel is a depiction of the preservation efforts in Boise. While now it’s becoming somewhat more common to renovate old properties, Boise decided an old, lifeless motel could be revived into a hip urban space infused with local art, sustainably sources food and minimalist decor. In the restaurant, you can enjoy Idaho kombucha on tap and some seriously fresh and tasty breakfasts.
Snake River Tea
Snake River Tea is often featured at various businesses throughout the city, and this practice, in general, is common. You’ll see a local crafter’s beer at the Boise Fry Company, or the nearby dairy farmer’s milk being used in The Stil’s artisan ice cream. But you can go to their actual location and immerse into a world of 110 different teas, with complex flavor profiles and aromas. Snake River takes healthful tea drinking, and turns it into a craft experience, like wine tasting. Many selections are organic and sustainably sourced—get some loose leaf to take home and also leave with a piping hot cup of something truly unique.
Boise Farmers Market
At the Boise Farmers Market, shoppers not only get to choose from the freshest, closely sourced products and produce, but their are also goodies from all over the state. Soups, sauces, unusual cheeses, wine and a list of other finds abundantly overflow from each vendor booth. There’s also a market in the winter, but it’s not quite as booming as the summertime gatherings. Food trucks and entertainment make this a place you could spend hours.
Any foodie can appreciate the Boise Co-op, a glorious grocery store abundant with regional treats. Breads, granola, fresh food and even body products can be discovered at this staple shopping hub downtown. While it sounds like a basic grocery store, it’s a cool experience to be truly appreciated.
Bogus Basin is a small ski resort a short drive from downtown. Operating as a non-profit organization, the small but mighty Idaho wonderland puts all its profits into education programs and equipment. Downhill skiing, modest lifts, a gravity-driven mountain coaster and snow tubing can be found atop the mountain, and now Bogus has added a new initiative to prevent emissions waste—a new carpool lot to encourage more people to condense the number of vehicles they use for transportation.
Boise Green Bike
Boise Green Bike stations can be found throughout the city. You can pay right there, hop on a bike, then drop it off at another station after you’re done. This encourages tourists to explore by foot, or at least minus a vehicle, and even locals take advantage of the convenience. Bikes also seem a bit safer than the scooters that can be found in Indianapolis or Atlanta.
MK Nature Trail
The MK Nature Trail is located on Walnut Street, where you’ll first pull into a parking lot. A path then leads you under towering trees, and to the streamside path. Gazebos and places to just stop and enjoy the water are dotted throughout, but the coolest part might be the viewing windows built into the side of the stream, so visitors can discover the complexities of the river bed, and why it’s so important to preserve the precious ecosystem. Careful, you’re likely to get splashed by a feisty trout.
Several of Boise’s sustainably efforts as a whole are on display at the tasty Bittercreek Alehouse. Much of their waste is consumed by worms, aka The Urban Worm, since Boise currently offers composting to just residents. Bittercreek also operates off the city’s geothermal energy system, and they aim to only use 100 percent clean energy. Along with other establishments, this place is helping pave the way for other restaurants in the area, and it’s just not uncommon to see similar efforts elsewhere. So come sit down for a hearty meal and a brew.
And finally, the City of Trees has done an impeccable job at preserving culture, whether it be through grand buildings like the Egyptian Theatre, one of the few movie palaces left in the U.S., or the enriching Basque block, which overflows with the unique heritage of a Spanish-French group that migrated here years ago. If you go to Basque block, try the Pintox, kind of like Tapas, at the market, and stop by the museum to gain a better understanding of this specific ethnicity.