Soaring raptors and an indie-music scene are equally at home along this state capital’s namesake river
Nature knows no borders in the Gem State, where huge swaths remain untamed–even near its most urban of cities. Here in Boise, where the sagebrush prairie meets the pine-scattered foothills of the Rockies, the occasional mountain lion can be spotted along the river that runs through town. But if the wildlife has you imagining quiet, dusty saloons with lots of mounted antlers, you’d be mistaken. The downtown district (BoDo, naturally) has boomed in the past decade, transforming into an art- and music-fueled hub with a hot brewery scene and shops bursting with artisanal wares. You may even see a moose, though it’s probably on a hipster-approved T-shirt.
10 A.M. Start off with a pour-over coffee and a croissant at downtown’s cheery District Coffee House (district coffeehouse.com).
11 A.M. Treefort Music Fest, held in March, is to Boise what SXSW is to Austin, Texas. Dive into the homegrown indie-rock scene that makes it tick at The Record Exchange (therecordexchange.com) on West Idaho Street, and let the encyclopedic clerks guide you toward local vinyl releases and upcoming in-store concerts.
12 P.M. Find the nearest bikeshare dock for Boise GreenBike (boise.greenbike.com), then cycle down 13th Street to Idaho Fallen Firefighters Memorial Park and join the Boise River Greenbelt (cityofboise.org). As you cruise through the trees, look for egrets and bald eagles, and watch anglers stalk trout before doubling back.
1:30 P.M. Drop your wheels off downtown and pay a visit to Saint Lawrence Gridiron (saintlawrencegridiron.com), a brick-and-mortar smokehouse that grew out of a humble food truck. The digs may be trendy–big windows and lots of reclaimed wood–but the pulled pork sandwich is primal, slow-smoked goodness.
2:30P.M. On the next block, wander among the vibrant walls of Freak Alley Gallery (freakalleygallery.org), an ever-changing outdoor mural project surrounded by a tangle of shops like Banana Ink General Store (banana-ink.com), home to playful Idaho-themed tees and trucker caps. Then head to Swell Artist Collective (swellboise.com) on 8th Street to scope out collages, prints, paintings, and sculptures by dozens of the town’s best and brightest.
4:30 P.M. Cross West Broad Street and combat the afternoon heat with a cone at The Stil (ilovethestil.com), a gorgeous ice cream and beer shop that opened last summer. Try a vivid scoop of local Red Chair lavender and berries appropriately called Idaho Wilderness.
5:30 P.M. Stroll back down toward the riverfront for a pint in the spacious beer garden at Payette Brewing Company (payettebrewing.com). Grab dinner from the rotating line-up of food trucks and enjoy the long summer evening until the sun dips below the horizon.
Perfect Night Formerly a simple Travelodge motel, The Modern Hotel and Bar now oozes midcentury style. Sip a cocktail by the patio to wind down. From $126; themodernhotel.com.