A Boise art and music enthusiast shares why a stop in the Western city is a must
By Sophie Sestero
For Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau
If you’re fueling your wanderlust and dreaming up your next arts vacation, add Boise to your wish list. Not only does the vibrant city offer picturesque outdoor recreation opportunities, decadent dining and delicious vino — it also has a thriving arts and culture scene.
Potatoes. I said it — now we can move on.
Yes, Boise has a thriving agricultural industry. But more than providing us with killer fries, easy access to quality, local farms means the city has emerged as a culinary destination. James Beard Nominated chefs, award winning wine, a robust ale trail and abundant spots for craft cocktails confirm it.
And yes, Boise is also a beautiful place surrounded by natural features like rolling foothills and a river running right through town. All of which make it an easy place to visit for hiking, biking, surfing and skiing.
But do you think about Boise, Idaho, as an arts and culture hotspot? You should.
During the past few years the community has established a vibrant arts and culture scene. While the city grew as a destination to watch, creatives were landing in Boise — meeting, collaborating and sparking all kinds of new artistic momentum. Regardless of whether arts enthusiasts are looking for something more traditional, contemporary or totally original, chances are there will be something in the City of Trees.
Visit Boise: Museums and Galleries
Galleries and museums are smattered around the city. The Boise Art Museum is the city’s anchor arts establishment. It features rotating exhibits all year long, while also facilitating community experiences, arts fund raisers and educational events. The James Castle House — recently featured by Artistic Fuel — celebrates the life of a historic Idaho artist in his original residence. But of course, Downtown Boise galleries like MING Studios, Boise Art Glass, and Capitol Contemporary Gallery provide chances to discover art from local artists, and even watch them work.
Watch it Live on Stage
Boise art is not limited to canvas. Depending on the time of year, visitors can enjoy a classic performance — as well as a picnic and glass of wine — at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. The outdoor amphitheater under the stars makes for a wonderful summer night.
Of course, alternating schedules is its modern counterpart, Boise Contemporary Theater, in the heart of Downtown Boise’s arts district. If movement is what you’re looking for, Ballet Idaho, LED or the Visual Arts Collective will have something to discover. The Cabin and Campfire Stories create chances to see local authors and poets read their work.
Get Ready to Jam
For years, staples like Opera Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic have created opportunities to connect with musicians. Concert culture started to swell about a decade ago as a group of local arts enthusiasts created Treefort Music Festival. The humble festival roots steadily spread until it not only included hundreds of bands descending upon the city for a week, but also featured art, film, writing, food, comedy, yoga and more.
Treefort drew attention on Boise that opened the door for hot concerts all year long. Venues like the Idaho Botanical Garden and Old Idaho Penitentiary’s Outlaw Field make for an unmissable summer concert lineup.
Try it Yourself
Part of the fun of art is kinetic — getting to touch and taste. Many institutions offer the chance to experience art in action. Indulge Boise allows travelers to do just that through guided culinary tours. Participants get to sample their way through local restaurants while learning about Idaho’s agriculture, visiting with chefs and filling their bellies.
Visit the Basque Block — an entire downtown area dedicated to Boise’s Basque heritage — where you can explore the Basque Museum, taste Basque food and wine, and even learn a Basque dance if the season is right. Or try an artful meal at KIN, the newest concept from James Beard-nominated chef, Kris Komori.
If plans, agendas and buying tickets aren’t your thing, that’s ok. All you need to do to experience art in Boise is amble through the city. The Boise City Department of Arts and History works diligently to make sure local artists are featured throughout the community — from casual power box wraps to larger-than-life sculpture installations.
Visitors coming off the Boise River Greenbelt can get inspired at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. Or, roam downtown to see (and take some pics for the gram) the ever-changing elements of Freak Alley Gallery—the largest outdoor mural space in the West.