What’s the Fuss about Boise?

[Boise, ID, Sep 2, 2021]

Labor Day was looming and a free Alaska companion pass was about to expire, so we scrambled to find something exciting. Our last trip was to Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in Aug 2020, so we were itching to get out of town but wanted to avoid too long of a flight and crowds. We’d been considering Idaho for a while: many Californians have relocated there during the pandemic, and Boise and Sun Valley had been coming up on my Instagram a lot. A PBS documentary about Ernest Hemingway we watched spotlighted Sun Valley as the place he died after spending the last years of his life there. Finally, Alaska had nonstop flights there; 90 minutes in the air and only an hour time difference with LA cinched the deal.

Happy to be traveling for fun for the first time since August 2020

We arrived the Thursday before Labor Day and were met with a trail of smoke on the horizon as the sun set. Idaho had struggled with air quality due to numerous summer wildfires out west, most notably the Bootleg Fire in Oregon and the Dixie fire in California.

Smoky skies greeting us in Boise

Our downtown hotel was just 10 minutes from the airport. Sunset was about an hour later than Los Angeles, which gave us some extra daylight as we went exploring.

For the biggest city in a whole state, Boise is modest by most standards: its population is only about 250,000 people. This makes downtown Boise really manageable on foot, which I loved! Without even trying, we stumbled upon the Freak Alley outdoor gallery and couldn’t resist taking some photos there. We agreed to come back the next morning in hopes of fewer people.

Downtown Boise has an event called First Thursdays: each first Thursday per month, shops stay open “late” with free tastings and live performances. We ducked into a chocolate shop hosting free tastings of wine and chocolate pairings.

Like so many other urban centers, Boise adapted to the pandemic by converting a major thoroughfare into a pedestrian zone, increasing outdoor dining space for restaurants. We enjoyed strolling down 8th street and checking out all the restaurant patios. We felt like having Italian that night, so we strolled into Alavita for dinner. Boise is a stroller’s paradise.

To top off our first night in Boise we grabbed some drinks at a funky tiki bar called Devil’s Den. Next door, we partied like it was 1989 and played arcade games at Space Bar before calling it a night. A promising first night in Boise! We looked forward to seeing downtown in daylight.

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