Nestled on a high desert plain with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, visitors will be hard pressed to forget the city of Boise. Its location makes it a convenient gateway to Idaho's great outdoors. The Boise River flows directly through the centre of town, enhancing the 25-mile (40km) Greenbelt path system, which connects five major parks throughout Boise, providing runners, walkers, bikers and skaters with endless space for exercise. Towering mountains lie to the north, including the Bogus Basin Mountain Resort, just a few minutes' drive from the city. Also easily accessible are natural sand dunes, hot springs, and crystal clear mountain lakes.
When not exploring the area's natural wonders, travellers can enjoy Downtown Boise with its shops, galleries, restaurants and clubs. Central Grove Plaza host free concerts staged throughout the summer and festive celebrations, including the lighting of an enormous Christmas tree in winter. Renovated historic buildings like the 8th Street Marketplace and Union Block offer unique shopping and dining experiences. Boise has an active downtown association, which promotes initiatives like First Thursdays, when city businesses stay open late and offer various promotions.
Be sure to sample Boise's Basque cuisine. In the 1930s, a group of Basques left Europe and settled in Boise, leaving their unique mark on the city's unique flavour. Today, Boise has one of the largest concentrations of Basques in the world outside the Pyrenees. In Boise's Basque neighbourhood, visitors can enjoy the Basque market, traditional restaurants, and various cultural events.
In the 1830s a flood of immigrants from the Basque Country (Spain and France) arrived in the United States, Idaho being one of the five US states with notable Basque heritage. The mission of the Basque Museum and Cultural Center is to preserve the Basque history and culture through education, research, collections, and activities. The museum provides a look into traditional Basque heritage as well as the lives of Basque-Americans since settlement in the US through their collections of books, manuscripts, photographs, and unique oral history archives. The museum's calendar is filled with many interesting events, and visitors may get the chance to see colourful dancing, taste delicious food, and shop at the market.
Bogus Basin has grown from a small ski hill with a rope tow into a large holiday ski destination with three lodges, numerous chairlifts, night skiing, and Nordic trails. Rental, repair, and retail shops are available on site, as are a ski and snowboarding school and tubing hill. During the summer, a frisbee golf course is set up on the thawed-out trails, and nature hikes and children's camps are offered. Only 40-minutes' drive from downtown Boise, Bogus Basin is a popular day or weekend excursion from the city and one of the most popular snow playgrounds in Idaho.
The Craters of the Moon in Idaho was formed by volcanic eruptions about 15,000 years ago. The National Monument and Preserve offers a fascinating glimpse into the state's dramatic geological past with a vast landscape of hardened lava. The landscape may seem barren, but there is a large population of creatures and birds here. Calvin Coolidge described the park as 'a weird and scenic landscape peculiar to itself'. While it may not look exactly like the moon, the similarities were enough to encourage Apollo 14 astronauts to use it to prepare for their lunar expedition in 1969.
Today visitors can take the Loop Road to most of the interesting sites, including the North Crater Flow, Devil's Orchard, Inferno Cone, the Tree Molds, and even lava tube caves. Craters of the Moon is located about 178 miles (286km) west of Boise.
Summers are hot and dry in this semi-arid continental climate, while winters are generally cold with snow on the surrounding mountains. There is very little annual precipitation in the city. Summer temperatures average 90°F (32°C), but hotter spells are common in July and August. Winter temperatures are typically between 24°F (-4°C) and 37°F (3°C).
Boise's Green Belt path system makes walking, jogging, and biking highly enjoyable. ValleyRide bus service is available, through all the major tourist areas and the airport. There are always taxi companies available for a relatively reasonable price. For those with rental cars, Boise offers many convenient and inexpensive parking options.
Boise is the capital of Idaho, and its largest city and cultural heart. While not known for world-famous landmarks and attractions, the city offers a number of interesting sights and activities for visitors.
Boise has a few excellent museums including the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Black History Museum, and the popular Basque Museum and Cultural Center. Also worth a visit is the World Center for Birds of Prey, which hosts live presentations and educational tours for the whole family.
There are some lovely parks in Boise. Julia Davis Park is home to a small zoo and rose garden, as well as a scenic railroad. Barber Park is known for its wildlife, and visitors can spot deer, elk, bald eagles, and other animals. Barber Park is also the starting point for a summer tradition in Boise: floating down the Boise River. The Greenbelt path system connects five major parks throughout Boise, providing wonderfully extensive space for exercise and recreation.
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