When my husband Flavio asked if I wanted to go to the memorial for a childhood friend’s dad in Boise, Idaho, I hesitated at first, but then the adventurous side of me remembered that we had never been there and this would be a good time to check it out. We had just part of the weekend to actually see the area, but we squeezed in a plethora of activities that were diverse and enjoyable.
For those of you familiar with Dutch Bros Coffee, you are probably a die hard fan like my daughter, so that was our first stop upon arrival at 10 pm for a peach iced tea to help cool us in the almost 100-degree heat. The next morning it was off to explore the up and coming downtown area and we discovered BACON, where we enjoyed scrumptious grits, eggs, and of course, homemade bacon on the outdoor patio. Next, we took a quick driving tour around Boise State University.
Then it was off to Barber Park to rent a raft and float down the Boise River. The six-mile float cannot really be called river rafting because it is pretty tame, but we highly recommend it for a relaxing afternoon. My husband did a great job steering us down the river while I basked in the sun. We didn’t dip too far in the chilly water, but imagine it gets warmer as the summer progresses.
Being the self-proclaimed queen of French fries, I knew I had to score some while in the home state of potatoes. We discovered Boise Fry Company and were amazed by the options. There were six choices of potatoes, five cuts of fries, more than a dozen seasoning salts and dipping sauces. They serve burgers on the side that were tasty as well. We tried red potato curly fries and home style gold potatoes, which were unique with a combination of salts and sauces.
Not wanting the typical shopping mall experience, we set off for Hyde Park, a picturesque neighborhood with darling craftsman homes and quaint shops and eateries. I found a great rope decor item at the eclectic Hyde and Seek boutique that I squeezed into my suitcase. A quick coffee and ice cream pick me up can be found at Goody’s Soda Fountain.
On the way back to our hotel, we discovered JUMP (Jack’s Urban Meeting Place), sponsored by the J.R. Simplot Company, where there was an event going on giving away French fries by the hundreds for National French Fry Day. I honestly wondered if I was living in the wrong state for the amount of potatoes that were crossing my path.
On the recommendation of a friend, we made reservation at Barbacoa, and it was a good thing we did because even though it was a large restaurant, it was a packed and happening place. The menu had a wide variety of options from fire breads to burgers to steaks and fish. The side choices were plentiful, ranging from zucchini chips sprinkled with cheese to garlic mashed potatoes and paired perfectly with my signature “Hot Rock” steak and Flavio’s baked salmon with chimichurri sauce.
We finished the evening at The STIL (Sweetest Things in Life) ice cream. With flavors like Licking the Spoon Brownie Batter, Idaho Wilderness with Lavender and Berries, and Easy Like Sunday Morning featuring espresso and caramel, it was hard to choose, but we enjoyed the cool deliciousness to beat the still nearly 100-degree heat. They offer a variety of gluten free, dairy free, vegan and booze-infused options, as well as beer and soda floats and ice cream sandwiches, which are all hand-made with local ingredients.
Our friend Jake and his daughter Amanda arrived late that night, so the next morning we had to try the potato doughnuts at Guru Doughnuts. We were amazed at the seasonal selection of decadent gluten free and vegan donuts. The vegan apple fritter we shared was one of the best doughnuts I’ve ever tasted. With names like the Hipsterberry and Alice in Wonderland, these doughnuts are tasty and creative. Then we were off to Capital City Public Market, which is held downtown on 8th Street every Saturday morning from April to September and boasts a variety of food vendors and local craftsmen. We grabbed a quick coffee at Black Rock Coffee Bar, where their motto is “Fuel Your Story.”
The rest of the day was spent reminiscing with friends on Jack’s life well lived and we arrived back in Boise at nearly 10 pm, just in time to see the final few laps of the Twilight Bike Criterium as they raced right next to us at 30 mph on the city streets. We didn’t realize it at the time but found out later that Lance Armstrong was calling the race at the finish line.
The next morning, we headed to the airport before 6 am, having thoroughly enjoyed our quick, yet fun-packed time in Boise. With more time, there are lots of outdoor activities in the area and we were sad we didn’t have the opportunity to explore more, but felt like we got a great overview. Here are some hikes for future consideration. The locals all bemoaned the increase in housing prices due to people from out of state moving there, especially Californians. We will definitely be back to visit, if only for my beloved potatoes!