Where we’re at: I’m jumping ahead to share my trip in late August 2020 with Visit Idaho. I’ll jump back into chronological time eventually!
After clocking in about five hundred miles in a road trip that brought us to Twin Falls, Sun Valley, Stanley, and of course, a giant potato in the middle of nowhere, because Idaho, we pulled back into Boise. I loved ending my trip to on this note — getting a personal tour around my girl Katie’s home city, which I’d been eager tto visit for years since she moved back and became an unofficial ambassador, constantly posting photos and stories that had me searching flights to BOI.
After a pretty busy and active road trip around the state we kept it fairly low-key, checking out coffee shops to work in by day and local cideries and distilleries to sip in by night. Still, the charm of Boise seeped in.
We arrived back in Boise late on a Friday night, and so woke up on Saturday eager to both explore and catch up on our neglected online lives. Thus, we headed to Form & Function Coffee, one of Boise’s many achingly hip cafes. I could not have been more thrilled — I blame this trip on my newfound chai latte addiction, as a matter of fact.
While Katie noted the collective restaurant vibe hadn’t really caught up, the laptop-and-sip scene in Idaho’s capitol could compete with any major city she’d lived in.
Later, after a few more hours of work at Katie and her boyfriend’s cute house — which I so regret I didn’t take any photos of! — we decided to treat ourselves to a Saturday night of flights.
But first, touristing. Knowing I’m a big street art fan, Katie took me to Freak Alley, a maze of alleyways in the heart of Boise set aside for murals, graffiti, and other public art. Started ini 2002, it is now allegedly the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest.
While I have to admit the majority of the work wasn’t to my taste, art is subjective, and I applaud any effort to develop a creative community within a destination — and of course a few pieces caught my eye.
Our night of flights kicked off at Meriwether Cider Co. Boise is definitely primarily a beer city, which has been covered well in the blogosphere, but cider drinkers, fear not, there’s plenty out there for you, too!
They have sets of pre-selected flights you can choose from, which I was a little bummed about at first — I’m kind of picky (shocker, no?) and I like to choose my ciders myself. But I was quickly appeased when the flight was delivered in this cute little wooden tasting tray, which doubled as a spill-free carrier.
Next, we tried to hit up the chic-looking Coiled Wine Bar, but sadly found that due to COVID, tasting flights are no longer lucrative for them — they simply cannot serve enough people to make opening the bottles worth it. However, they are still serving limited glass offerings and all bottles, as well as freaking wine slushies. You know ya girl is very, very down with some wine slushies.
We had a one-track mind that night though, and that was flights — hence, our next stop at The STIL, which offers artisan ice creams, some of which are booze-infused, and all of which can be paired with local and regional beers and wines.
We did a half beer, half wine flight (you can guess which half I sipped on!) and got a first hand taste of why STIL stands for The Sweetest Things in Life. I swooned when I learned each of their flavors is named after one, with monikers like “Summer Hike” and “Inside Joke.”
Sugar, booze, a nod to the good life — I couldn’t love this concept more.
After our booze and sugar binge we strolled around town for a bit and we were delighted to find a park with live music and physically-distanced picnic dinners catered by KIN, a gourmet local restaurant. Spots had been sold out for ages, or we totally would have hopped on it. I will always admire the creativity of businesses in the face of COVID-19!
At this point we’d worked up quite an appetite, and I knew exactly where I wanted to go: Tupelo Honey. But it’s a chain, Katie confessed. Girl, I’ve do not care, I promised. I saw their fried chicken on your Instagram. And I want Southern food.
It’s a buzzy spot — we had to wait for a table. But dang, was it worth it. If you’re not offended by restaurants with locations that span multiple states, it’s a delicious stop in Boise.
The next morning we were back to hyper-local at Push and Pour. We were starting our Sunday in Garden City, a trendy, up-and-coming part of Boise that I immediately registered as where I’d live if I were to ever become an Idahoan. Full of winery tasting rooms, craft breweries, industrial music venues, and opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors along the Boise River Greenbelt trail.
Plus, more painfully hip coffee houses.
We were headed out with Idaho SUP Yoga on Quinn’s Pond. I’m a SUP yoga enthusiast who hops on a board whenever the opportunity presents itself — though I especially love this option to ground myself and bliss out when I’m in a big city (okay, at a population of about a quarter million, I guess Boise is not quite a “big” city — but it is one of the fastest growing in America!)
The class consisted mostly of SUP yoga newbies with a few class regulars, and a blend of locals and out-of-towners. The obviously experienced teacher had us drop anchor mid-pond, then paddled around us as she cued a fantastic class of board-based asanas. It was Katie’s first time, and I loved getting to do something fresh for her in her own city!
It was a great way to start the day. Idaho SUP Yoga also offer SUP Fitness and even indoor SUP yoga classes at a local fitness center in the winter — I’m definitely keeping an eye out for SUP Fitness next time I’m back in town!
After class, I was eager to join the joggers, bikers, kayakers, cute couples and young families wandering the Greenbelt. I pointed out my future condo to Katie, who told me I’d have to compete with the Californians flocking into Boise for a more affordable cost of living.
By far my favorite sight of the day, and perhaps of Boise full-stop, was The Wave. Here, in this land-locked state, surfers suit up and line up to spend the day jumping into a man-made wave in Whitewater Park on the Boise River. They’d even gathered spectators — there was a little crowd hanging out with lawn chairs and beers, it was such a fun scene!
And of course, where there is surfing, there are surf bars, even in the middle of Northwest America. The Yardarm is a container wine and beer bar with an onsite surf shop (I almost took home a new women’s wetsuit from here!) and onsite food trucks.
Grabbing a wooden stool and tucking into street corn and a fresh daiquiri, I could have sworn I smelled the sea.
While Idaho doesn’t have a state-wide mask mandate, Boise does — and I loved the Yardarm’s sign outside reminding patrons about it, ha.
It’s 2020 baby — you no longer do a “serious and silly” photo. You do masks on, masks off!
Next up on our funky Garden City tour was Western Collective. It was more than just a brewery, Katie swore — they had seasonal wine slushies. Um, sold!
No surprise, because Katie has excellent taste, but I loved this place. It was super modern and young and fun, and while it felt immensely lively to me while adhering to all safety regulations and recommendations, the locals informed me that it gets seriously bumpin’ in non-pandemic times.
So I’ll be back!
The next day it was back to reality — well, sort of! I feel like I have to give a shoutout to Boise Co-Op, which made grocery shopping so much fun and where we had lots of goodies from to make meals at Katie’s house. If you’re heading to Boise and staying somewhere with a kitchen or just want some locally sourced snacks and wine on-hand, I can’t recommend this place enough.
I’ve basically always worked from home but now when I visit friends, they do too, which meant Katie, her boyfriend Jack and I were all co-working together while I was there. I loved it! Built-in co-friends!
Because self-employment, we were able to break for lunch to check out another one of Katie’s Boise favorites, The Wylder. This is so my kind of place — yummy cocktails (I mean, if Don Draper can do it…), delicious flatbreads, and fancy salads in a sleek setting.
Put in on your list for a date night dinner if you visit Boise.
By the time we clocked off our laptops that night, we were zonked. It had been a crazy trip! We just wanted to chill, so we decided to give ourselves the ultimate 2020 treat — a night at the movies. They’d been closed in New York since March, and after reviewing their safety procedures, I couldn’t have been more excited to go to The Flix.
With new air filtration systems, reduced capacity, assigned spread out seating, a mask requirement, and all patrons facing and breathing in one direction, I felt totally at ease — giddy, one might say! — to see I Used to Go Here on the big screen. They also have an onsite eatery with a full menu of meals and drinks to bring into the theater with you, which was seriously delicious.
The movie itself was so much better than the previews made it look, and I loved supporting a small local theater — one of my favorite things to do on my travels, which today I appreciate more than ever.
On our way home, we stopped by the capitol building to see it all lit up at night, one last look at Boise.
And the next morning I was off back to Albany, the state capitol that I grew up in. Boise reminded me of Albany in many ways — a small city that most might overlook at first, but which holds so many hidden gems and unexpected charms for those willing to look for them.
I know I’ll be back — and not just to stalk Katie’s life because I love her. Idaho stole my heart!
From kayaking eight miles up a canyon to hiking through gorgeous hills to sipping cider in hip cities to soaking in hot springs to sound baths in a botanical garden and beyond, this truly was the most amazing ten day trip — and I’m already daydreaming about the next one.