When you have an out-of-town visitor, what’s the number one thing you want to show them in your city/town? When I can manage to remember, I’m planning to ask random people this question and hopefully discover the people’s guide to the best things to do in a city. Last weekend, we were in Boise for a work/fun visit, and I had the opportunity to solicit opinions for what I thought would be my first city post.
To my surprise, it seems that the best things to do in Boise aren’t actually in Boise. Amber, a native Californian who has lived in Boise for many years, summed it up like this: “Boise is a great city, but it’s just a city. Sure, it has great restaurants, bars, and shops, but it doesn’t have anything that you can’t find somewhere else.” In Amber’s opinion, the best thing about Boise is its proximity to the wilderness. “If I had a visitor who had never been to Idaho before, I’d take them on a two hour drive north to McCall. Payette Lake is beautiful, and there are tons of outdoors activities available in the area.”
Sarah, also a native Californian, had an eerily similar opinion. “The best thing about Boise is the outdoors. The Boise foothills are great, I’d take a visitor there on a hike to get a great view of the city. But if I had more time, I’d take them on a trip to Stanley. It’s in the middle of the Sawtooth mountains and it is absolutely gorgeous and unique. In Boise itself, the river walk is a great place to bike or stroll.”
After visiting Boise, I am in definite agreement about the beauty of the surrounding area (though we’ll wait until it’s warmer to fully explore it), but I disagree about the non-uniqueness of the city itself. I think the locals are just being modest. Boise has a large Basque population, one of the largest outside Spain, and this means that Basque restaurants and culture abound. Every five years, the city celebrates Jaialdi, a Basque festival of eating, drinking, and dancing that looks like a load of fun. The next festival is in 2015, and I’m already looking forward to trying the kalimotxo — a blend of cheap red wine and Coke served over ice that you probably should only have once every five years.
Do you have any other suggestions for things to do in Boise, or any other western city, for that matter? Please share in the comments!