Top Things to do in Boise, Idaho With Teens

I visited Boise, Idaho for the first time a few years ago on a college visit with my daughter. My teens seem to be on the cusp of all things cool and move to the best cities just as they are exploding {see also when my oldest son moved to Waco as the Fixer Upper rage swept the nation!}. That son has since relocated to Boise, Idaho and now 3/4 of my favorite young people live in this {not so} hidden gem. Boise, Idaho is the fastest growing city in the US and it's been ranked as the best city to live for Millenials, which means, your teens will love visiting Boise just as much as you do. I'm sharing my top things to do in Boise, Idaho with teens. And of course, you can always leave those kids at home and enjoy the city on your own too!

visit boise on family vacation

Best Things to do in Boise, Idaho for Teens

visiting Boise, Idaho with teens

Boise, Idaho is a nature lovers dream. The Boise River runs through the heart of the city and mountains surround you on either side. Boise is an active city and most of the locals spend a lot of time outside. The city of Boise is also the capital of Idaho and you'll find the domed Capital building in the heart of downtown. Boise, Idaho is home to Boise State University, and because it's a college town, you'll find plenty of fun activities geared for your whole family, especially those teenagers.

downtown Boise, Idaho capital building

How to Get to Boise, Idaho

Boise, Idaho has a quaint airport that is just minutes from the heart of the city. The airport is small, and you can usually find inexpensive direct flights {especially for those of us in the Pacific Northwest} to the city. 

You will find several car rental agencies located on the lower level of the airport and parking is just outside the doors. It's seriously the easy airport to navigate. 

It will cost you around $10-$20 to Uber into the city, though I'd suggest renting a car for your family to explore. 

Check out the best hotel reviews and hotel deals at TripAdvisor

Where to Stay in Boise, Idaho

We've stayed in a few places in Boise. When traveling with teens, the most successful thing you can do is make sure you book a place with good wi-fi and lots of space. {Pro Tip you guys!}

These tips for traveling with teens internationally {and keeping your sanity!} also apply to domestic trips.

This often means making sure you have a suite or multiple rooms available to you. Teens need their own beds, and everyone does better if they have a door to close at the end of a long day of togetherness. It's why I recommend the Residence Inn. We've stayed at both the Downtown/City Center location and the Downtown Boise location. Both locations have full kitchens in every room and the option of a studio bedroom, 1 or 2 bedroom suites. 

downtown boise, Idaho view from the residence inn
The view from our room at The Residence Inn Downtown/City Center

The Residence Inn Downtown/City Center

This is a prime location in the heart of downtown. You can walk to many popular downtown attractions including the Capital. There are an indoor pool and hot tub and continental breakfast. They have also recently opened up their rooftop lounge which is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. 

The downside for me on this one is how expensive parking is. There is covered secured parking, but it comes at an additional expense. One of my major pet peeves in life is having to pay for parking, so this may be my own ax to grind.

The Residence Inn Downtown/University

This location is on the edge of the Boise State campus. If you are here for a campus tour, or you just like college towns, this location is perfect. It has an outdoor pool and hot tub {great for the summer months, not so great for winter}, and parking is included.

This hotel is a bit older and more apartment-style than the downtown/city center location, but it is also generally less expensive.

Both locations are great. And both will have plenty of room for your whole family to spread out. 

Of course, the other option would be to rent a home to stay in. There are plenty of VRBO options in Boise as well. 

When to Visit Boise

Remember, Boise is a college town. There will be times when the town is busier than others because of various university happenings. Anytime I recommend visiting a college town, I also recommend locating the college calendar so make sure you aren't booking your trip during important events like move-in days, parents weekend, homecoming, graduation, etc...Not only will the area be less crowded, but the hotels and restaurants will also be too. Not to mention, hotels and VRBO properties, usually increase the price during those high-priority visiting days.

Where to Eat in Boise, Idaho

Listen, I have teenagers. Food is the most important thing on their mind most of the day. Thankfully, Boise has lots of it and it's all really pretty darn good. You could spend a week in Boise and not ever eat at a chain restaurant. 

tin roof tacos

Breakfast and Brunch Options in Boise

  • Big City Cafe: big portions, but beware, this can get crowded!
  • Goldys: a small hole in the wall restaurant {get the bubbles and berries}
  • Bacon: brunch all day with 5 different kinds of bacon {get the bacon flight if you dare!}
  • Blue Sky Bagels
  • Hyde House at Hyde Park has a rotating brunch with bottomless $10 mimosas
  • The Griddle
  • Waffle Me Up

where to eat in boise idaho

Snack, Coffee, and Dessert Options in Boise

  • Goody's Soda Fountain in Hyde Park for ice cream 
  • The STIL also a great ice cream shop in the heart of downtown {great vegan and dairy-free options too!}
  • Hyde Perk Coffee House
  • Dutch Bros Coffee {a chain but popular with the teens}
  • Chip Cookies {delivered warm with milk to your door, or you can stop in for fresh cookies}
  • Boise Juice Company
  • Neckar Coffee
  • Guru Donuts
  • Java Coffee
  • Big City Coffee and Cafe

Lunch and Dinner Options in Boise

  • Pie Hole
  • Tin Roof Tacos
  • Boise Fry Co.
  • 13th Pub and grill
  • Bittercreek
  • Fork
  • Flatbread
  • Reef
  • Asiago's
  • Barbacoa

And bear with me on this one...Albertson's. Yes, it's a grocery store, but with the corporate headquarters in Boise, the grocery stores are delightful. The Albertson's on Broadway has an upstairs bar with sandwiches and salads. 

visiting Boise, Idaho as a family

What to do in Boise, Idaho with Teens

Bike or Scooter the Greenbelt

Boise is incredibly bike-friendly, with lots of paved bike trails as well as bike lanes throughout downtown. If your hotel or VRBO has bikes available, score! If not, you can rent regular bikes or electric bikes.

Rent bikes using Boise Green Bike or download the Lime app and locate scooters and bikes all around the city. Beware, the scooters are quick {a teenagers dream!}! Get comfortable on the scooter before zooming too fast! If you planned ahead, it's not a bad idea to bring a bike helmet to keep that bean safe.

You can bike off of the greenbelt and take a little side detour through the Boise State Campus or head downtown and explore the city. 

Discover the Hyde Park Neighborhood

Several of the restaurants, ice cream, and coffee shops I recommended above are located in the Hyde Park neighborhood. This historic neighborhood has some delightful local shops hidden in between the beautiful tree-lined streets sprinkled with sweet treats, coffee, and good food. I really like the shop Hyde and Seek. It's worth a peek inside. And of course, it's a lovely neighborhood to take a little stroll around {perhaps on a bike???}.

hike table rock

Hike Table Rock

You can hike Table Rock any time of the day, but I'd recommend a sunrise or sunset hike for this 3.7-mile loop. It can get quite busy during the day. A little hint, you can drive relatively close to the top of Table Rock making your roundtrip hike more like a mile or so. This will let you appreciate the views if you have teens that are not into hiking. The views of the city and the foothills are worth it from the top and your kids will thank you when they get there. 

Play Disc Golf at Ann Morrison Park

Disc Golf is a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy your time as a family together. If you already have the discs, you can play for free. Check out this disc golf course map.

Ann Morrison park also has an outdoor gym, horseshoe pits, and bocce ball courts so it's worth taking some time to explore.

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visiting boise idaho with teenagers

Check out Bogus Basin for Year-Round Fun

What to do in summer at Bogus Basin

In the summer you'll find mountain biking trails for all skill levels. You can rent mountain bikes and explore over 20 miles of trails. You can also find The Glade Runner, Idaho's only mountain coaster with 4,330 feet of high-speed twists and turns. No snow? No problem! You can still tube down the mountain down one of two 300 foot lanes. You can also hop on a scenic chair lift for a ride to the top. You can also find a hiking trail or two. 

While mining for gems, gold, fossils, and arrowheads may not seem like something your teens would be into, trust me, I've taken my reluctant teens to mines before and also been surprised at how much fun they had sifting through to find treasure. You can find this at Shafer Butte Mining Company for $10. 

What to do in winter at Bogus Basin

Skiing and snowboarding of course! Bogus Basin even has night skiing which is often quite fun and popular with the older teens. Don't ski? No problem! You can take lessons privately or in a small group. 

Think the Glade Runner mountain coaster is fun in the summer? It's quite the ride in the winter! You'll also find winter tubing, Nordic skiing, and snowshoeing. 

float the Boise River

Float the Boise River

Floating the river is a popular summer pastime, especially as temperatures can reach well into the triple digits! A few things to know before you float.

Make sure it's float season

Don't plan a float before the season starts because the water levels can be too high and unsafe or too low and you could injure yourself on a rock or log. The Boise Fire Department sends out a dive team to prepare the river for float season and makes sure all hazards are removed. This usually happens mid-June to early July, so wait for the all-clear.

Floating the Boise River is a six-mile stretch from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park. It's generally about a two-hour float and can be done with your own inner tube, kayak, or paddleboard or you can rent equipment. State law requires you to have a life jacket for you and everyone in your party so come prepared. 

Want to spice it up? Jumping from one of the many bridges you pass under on your float is allowed. Want to know the best bridges to jump from? Just watch where the people are! Those are generally pretty safe. 

You can find low-cost shuttle services {around $3 per person} to help make floating a breeze!

5 Places to Travel with Kids Before They Turn 18

freak alley visit boise, idaho

Visit Freak Alley

You got to do it for the 'gram. At least that's what all the cool kids are saying. Freak Alley is the largest outdoor gallery in the Northwest. It features murals, graffiti, and public art that all started with the single painting of a back alley door in 2002. Murals are painted over and the art changes every few years. You can stop here often and never take in all of the details. 

The gallery is free and open to the public 24/7. You can't miss it if you wander down around 9th street downtown. 

Boise, Idaho visit with teens

Hike Around Camel's Back Park

Camel's Back Park is an 11-acre park found in the North End of Boise. There is plenty of open space but the fun part is the giant hill that is now a stairway offering some of the best views of the city. Once you are at the top, there are miles of trails you can explore.

Boise University visit with family

Explore Boise State University

My daughter is a Boise State Bronco, but I must confess, she didn't love the university after her first visit. As a mom of college-bound kids though, I always felt it was important to explore college campuses whenever we were close. That way, your teens will start getting an idea of what they are looking for in a university and what they aren't looking for. 

You can walk from end to end of the campus in about 10 minutes. Stop by the Student Union and grab a bite to eat {seriously, if you haven't had dorm food since you were in college, it's worth trying again!}, play a game of bowling and find the big B to take a picture in front of. 

Need more tips? How to make family travel with teens fun!

hike Boise, ID with teenagers

Boise, Idaho has plenty to see and do, and your whole family will love it! It won't matter what time of the year you visit, you'll find plenty to see and do. I've been a handful of times and I still haven't eaten at all the places, hiked all the hills or checked out all the nooks and crannies. It's worth taking the time to explore and it's the perfect location for your next family vacation with teens.

Find more top vacation spots with teens!

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