Boise Bucket List: My Favorite (Dog-Friendly) Spots

BOISE – Ahhh, Boise, Idaho, my first temporary home after selling my house and leaving Arizona on September 4, 2020.

I spent my first four weeks of the nomad life in the “Bench” neighborhood, just a few miles from downtown and Hyde Park, a super cute neighborhood in Boise’s “North End.”

Some fun facts about Boise: 

  • Idahoans pronounce Boise with a “s” not a “z” (a surprise to me!)
  • It’s sunny about 200 days a year (love those sunshiny days)
  • It has four seasons, but the winters are not extreme (you can take it from me, former Minnesotan here!)
  • There are a lot of outdoor activities, parks, and water sources (nature ❤️)
  • It’s fast growing, so affordable real estate is hard to come by
  • It’s very dog-friendly! (an absolute MUST!)

Why did I choose to start in Boise? It was as simple as — I’d never been. I was dying to escape the Arizona heat for something more temperate, and I wanted to see green trees and blue water, and to cross Idaho off my list. And I’m so glad I did. It has this active, suburban, Midwest feel — but a little bit of a hippie, youthful vibe.

Check out some of my fave spots below! All activities in Boise listed below are dog-friendly unless noted otherwise.

Things to do in Boise

Places to stroll:

Hyde Park – quaint neighborhood just North of downtown with dining spots and shops

Freak Alley – alley full of painted murals in downtown Boise

8th Street Downtown Boise (between Main and Bannock St) – pedestrian street with outdoor dining and night life that intersects with Freak Alley

Greenbelt – 25 miles of walking and biking along the banks of the Boise River (with a few spots to bring your pup down to the shore and throw some sticks!)

34th Street Farmer’s Market – produce, art, crafts and other homemade products, located off the Greenbelt

Hikes/Lookouts/Parks:

Table Rock – probably the steepest hike in town around with ~900 feet elevation gain — it’s a steady climb with awesome views

Camel’s Back Park – not to be confused with Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, this is a park with a network of trails, grassy spots, volleyball courts, and playgrounds

Ann Morrison Park – massive park with a “dog island.” Lay down a blanket or set up a game of “sloshball” — I had the best time!

Julia Davis Park – Reflect in the Rose Garden and take a peek at the zoo animals through the gates (my mini aussie Penny liked the giraffe!)

Favorite dining:

Barbacoa – dining lounge that doubles as a nightlife spot with an impressive menu. I ordered the BBQ Duck quesadilla and the spinach salad (dog-friendly status unclear, please call)

Red Bench Pizza – try the awesome $10 lunch pizza and salad special. The margherita is divine (dog-friendly patio but space is extremely limited)

The Funky Taco – awesome happy hour and late night happy hour deals, right in the thick of downtown.  Korean Pastor nachos are AMAZING and a hearty serving (dog-friendly patio)

Sakana Sushi – $1 sushi on Mondays and Tuesdays… high-quality, super tasty AND a bargain! (dog-friendly status unclear, please call)

Drinking & lounging:

Barbacoa – as mentioned earlier, a trendy spot to grab an alcoholic beverage on the rooftop lounge (open seasonally) or down in the bar

10 Barrel Brewing – a pretty popular spot in the thick of downtown with beer, sours and pub food

Western Collective – an indoor/outdoor beer garden in Garden City, on Boise’s fringe. Sit at the picnic tables outside and enjoy a frozen cocktail and a wide variety of tasty beer. Plenty of photo opps for those Instagrammers like me! (no food served, dog-friendly everywhere)

The Yardarm – got a hankering for the beach? Check out this shipyard themed outdoor beer spot also in Garden City, open seasonally (no food served, dog-friendly everywhere — when I was there, there was a food truck)

Lost Grove Brewing – south of downtown, a small brewery where dogs can abound indoor and out

Farther away/Hidden gems

Lucky Peak Lake – soak up those sunny summer days at Lucky Peak Lake, a massive reservoir 15-20 minutes from Boise

Idaho wine country – head west 40 minutes from Boise for some delicious (and affordable!) dry whites and reds. Ste. Chapelle Winery and Fujishin Cellars are dog-friendly, indoor and out

Bruneau Sand Dunes – 1 hour southwest from Boise lies Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. A day pass is $5 (bring exact change) and the dunes are largely dog-friendly (and verifiably gorgeous at sunset… check out my Instagram Reel below)

Blue Lake – a scenic, twisty-turvy drive and a short hike 2 hours north of Boise will bring you to this stunning alpine Blue Lake near Cascade, ID. It’s so beautiful it’s otherworldly (check out my Instagram Reel below)

Redfish Lake – another beautiful drive 3 hours northeast of Boise takes you to Redfish Lake in Sawtooth National Forest. Tons of trails, boat rentals and water activities — plus a dog-beach for swimming and fetch in the clear water. Nearby Stanley is adorable and kitschy

Honorable mention: Alas, I missed visiting the hot springs (there are a few of them, actually!) but I’ve heard good things about Kirkham Hot Springs (on the way to Stanley. Next time!

It’s bittersweet leaving Boise — it’s been really good to me. In just four short weeks I’ve met some of the most welcoming and kind people and seen some of the most incredibly breathtaking sights. While the nomad life must go on… Boise, I’ll be back!!

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