Emily and I spent last October in Boise, Idaho. Our first few nights were downtown at The Grove Hotel, then rented an Airbnb close to BSU for the rest of the month. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with Boise’s liveliness, and I had a great time.
- The Boise River Greenbelt is amazing - 25 miles of walking/biking paths by the Boise River, running straight through the middle of Boise. You can even fish in the river!
- We were surprised by just how green Boise is. There are a couple big parks right by downtown, and of course, the Greenbelt.
- Downtown Boise is big and nicely walkable! It’s most food & bars rather than shops - unfortunately with COVID numbers spiking during our visit, we weren’t comfortable eating indoors so we missed out on what I’m sure were some great restaurants.
- We spent our first couple nights in Boise at The Grove Hotel. It’s right at the corner of downtown Boise and walkable to everything. The hotel restaurant, Trillium, is surprisingly good, and the fitness center actually has free weights!
- 8th Street has a wide selection of American food - we tried Fork which was excellent and Eureka which was passable. We also loved pizza at The Wylder. The Bourgeois fries at Boise Fry Company are as amazing as they sound! The burgers, however, are only OK.
- There’s a Basque presence right off downtown Boise - the Basque Market had excellent tapas; the croquetas are especially tasty.
- There are also lots of coffeeshops around - my favorites downtown are Neckar and District Coffee. Form & Function is a great place to park & work and gave me free coffee for voting!
- Boise High School’s track was open to the public, at least before school restarted on October 19th.
- This is where we stayed for the month. It’s just across the river from downtown Boise and borders Boise State.
- Zero Six Coffee Fix makes an excellent latte.
- Axiom Parkcenter is an excellent gym - plenty of racks and benches and a decent selection of specialty equipment. My only wish is for a bigger hex bar - the bars there top out safely at 4 plates with a clip or 5 plates without.
Rest of town
- Hyde Park in the North End is cute and full of restaurants. I was hoping it would have a few more specialty shops since we weren’t hungry when we visited!
- Table Rock Trail ends with an excellent view of the entire city, which is aptly named the City of Trees:
- Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls looked like Yosemite in the summer - there was almost no water.
- Nampa and Meridian have big shopping centers, but otherwise are pretty ordinary suburbs.
- Like other Western cities, the Boise metro area is surrounded by a bunch of nothingness on all sides. The next “big” city is probably Twin Falls (pop. 49,764) two hours away, and you have to go all the way to Salt Lake City or Reno to find a city over 100,000.
- Coming from San Francisco, I’m used to minimizing in-person interactions, but everybody here is extraordinarily pleasant and happy to have a conversation!
- Boise is not diverse at all - Emily & I occasionally played “Spot the minority” without luck. I was a bit uncomfortable with the overwhelming whiteness during my first couple days, but I got used to it quickly. It reminded me somewhat of growing up in Pleasanton (90% white in 1990 -> 67% today) before the huge Asian population explosion there (5.6% -> 23.2%(!)) in my lifetime.
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