Boise is a small city that really values the outdoors. I’d say that it grew on us the longer we were there. At first, it felt like a big city. Driving into downtown Boise feels remarkably similar to driving around downtown Denver. Then we realized, though, that downtown Boise is just very dense. It’s only a few blocks square, which means it’s very bikeable and walkable. You get the benefits of a city downtown area (art & culture, good restaurants, variety of things to do) without as much of the traffic as say, Denver. At least that’s how it seemed to us.
We enjoyed a night downtown of dinner at Fork (rated by the local alternative paper as Boise’s best dinner and 3rd best dessert) and checking out Freak Alley outdoor art gallery. Good stuff, all around.
We also took full advantage of the trail system. They have a huge network of trails called the Ridge to Rivers trails that includes paths and parks along the river that link to trails in the foothills overlooking town. They’ve even worked out agreements with local landowners to provide easements for trails through private property! To me, that says a lot about the shared values there. It’s pretty common for runners or mountain bikers in town to start from their own backyard (especially if they live on the north side of town) and head for the hills for full adventure day, no car required.
The trail system made for a great place to finish up the last of my training runs before the Frary Peak Hill Climb race.
Boise also has a play park for kayakers and surfers. Luckily for Nik, play waves have actually been pretty common in towns we have visited. Salida, Missoula, Gardiner (sorta), and Bend (and of course Denver) all had man-made parks he was able to check out. If Nik were to create his dream town, he would have a play wave and a skiing hill both within biking distance of his door, so he tends to seek these places out, I suppose. 😉 Lots of Boise kayakers definitely did the”biking distance of their door” thing, bike trailers towing kayaks back home were a pretty common sight near the play park.
We are a little bit of a broken record, I guess. “Look at these great trails! Look at this great kayaking!” Ha. Oh well.
Boise’s foothills were really pretty. It’s high desert there, and you really feel folded in to the hills in a way you don’t quite get in the Colorado foothills.
Overall, Boise is great if you want tons of green space with the conveniences and economic activity that a small city provides.