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Things to Do in Boise with Kids

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When deciding where to go on your next family vacation, Boise, Idaho may not be the first place that comes to mind…but maybe it should be! Boise is home to recreational and outdoor activities that meet the needs of any adventure-seeking family. This incredibly friendly city is filled with many family attractions to explore. Here are eight fun things to do in Boise with kids.

Family bike ride on the Boise River Greenbelt

Family bike ride on the Boise River Greenbelt (Photo credit: knowlesgallery, Depositphotos.com)

1. Bike the Boise River Greenbelt.

This flat pedestrian and bike-friendly path runs 30 miles along the Boise River, just five minutes from downtown. The Boise River Greenbelt is a gorgeous, gentle ride that is rightly beloved by Boise residents and downtown commuters, who call out politely when passing on the left.

The route passes many parks, green spaces, and golf courses, as well as Boise State University. The school is home to the incredibly popular Boise Broncos football team, and you can stop to catch a game at the NFL-worthy stadium with its unique blue turf field.

MK Nature Center in Boise with kids

MK Nature Center (Photo from MK Nature Center’s Facebook page)

2. Explore the MK Nature Center.

Located along the Greenbelt, the Morrison-Knudson Nature Center provides a perfect stopping point to learn about beavers, birds, and other wildlife in the Boise area. Kids will love to spy on trout and huge sturgeon in the MK Nature Center’s pond.

Paddle boarders on the Boise River

Paddle boarders on the Boise River (Photo credit: knowlesgallery, Depositphotos.com)

3. Play at Boise Whitewater Park.

If you’re feeling really brave, kayak the river rapids at Boise Whitewater Park. Located along the western portion of the  Boise River Greenbelt, Quinn’s Pond is very popular with locals for outdoor recreation throughout the year. Active families can rent paddle boards for a fabulous core workout. If you’re not up for getting wet, sit back and watch the kayakers and even the surfers, who give the rapids a go.

Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, Idaho near Boise

Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa (Photo credit: Warhawk Air Museum)

4. Discover the Warhawk Air Museum.

The Warhawk Air Museum is worth the 30-minute drive to Nampa, west from Boise. From World War I to the Space Age, the history of aviation and warfare is recorded and memorialized here.

The volunteer-run museum would not exist without the efforts of volunteers and donors, who put together collections of memorabilia like POW and ration cards, condolence letters, and medals. These items, along with binders filled with photographs, interviews, and stories from veterans and their families, make the Warhawk Air Museum come alive with history. You can wander the Museum on your own but ask for a guided tour to make the most of your visit.

Baby raptors at World Center for Birds of Prey in Idaho

Baby raptors at World Center for Birds of Prey (Photo credit: World Center for Birds of Prey)

5. Go Birding at the World Center for Birds of Prey.

A winding road into the Nampa hills, not far from the Warhawk Air Museum, takes you to the hilltop location of the World Center for Birds of Prey. Guided tours teach visitors all about the lives and habits of eagles, hawks, condors, and other birds native to the West. The center features interactive displays, multi-media shows, and live demonstrations with raptors.

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Old Idaho Penitentiary (Photo credit: Old Idaho Penitentiary Facebook)

6. Tour the Old Idaho Penitentiary.

Visiting a decommissioned jail in a National Historic Site is one of the cooler things you can do in Boise with kids and teens. The first building in the Old Pen complex dates back to 1894. You can easily imagine the misery of prison life by looking into these old, tiny 3×8-foot cells. A guided tour brings the buildings to life. The fascinating Marked Men Tattoo Exhibit teaches the meaning and history of prison tattoos. A walk through the History of Arms and Armament building is included in the admission price.

Idaho Botanical Garden

Idaho Botanical Garden (Photo credit: Idaho Botanical Garden)

7. Revel at the Idaho Botanical Garden.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is an oasis in the high desert. Situated next to the Old Penitentiary, the garden has grown and transformed over its 36+ years. In fact, the site served as the Old Idaho State Penitentiary’s farm and nursery until 1973. The Idaho Botanical Garden is made up of 12 themed gardens. The Meditation Garden is a peaceful place to wander and includes a flowing water pond. Meanwhile the Conservation Landscape displays water-conserving plants and the Fire Wise Garden showcases plants that are fire resistant. The unique and informative Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden opened in 2006 to commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis-Clark Expedition. Best of all for kids is the Children’s Adventure Garden complete with carnivorous plants and tree houses. Come to the Idaho Botanical Garden to revel in your freedom after visiting the Old Pen site.

Discovery Center of Idaho

Discovery Center of Idaho (Photo credit: Discovery Center of Idaho)

8. Learn by Doing at the Discovery Center of Idaho.

The Discovery Center of Idaho promotes hands-on scientific exploration and education. This science center hosts popular, kid-friendly earth science and learn-by-doing exhibits. Dinosaur lovers will appreciate Tinker the T-Rex exhibit, complete with a cast of the most complete juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton found to date and opportunities to explore natural history, prehistoric fossils, and the wonder of this fascinating and fearsome creature.

Treetop Adventure Course in Whistler

Treetop Adventure Course in Whistler, British Columbia (Photo credit: The Adventure Group)

Explore More of the Pacific Northwest

Idaho is a great destination for a ski vacation. Learn tips for new skiers considering an Idaho winter trip.

Take the family to Oregon with these tips for visiting Portland with kids or choose a farm stay vacation at Leaping Lamb Farm.

This guide to Seattle with kids will please all ages.

British Columbia in Canada bursts with kid-friendly fun, like these things to do in Vancouver with kids and these summer activities in Whistler.

Fun Things to Do in Boise, Idaho with Kids

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Which fun things would you like to do in Boise with kids? Want to share more family activities? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Curious Travel Mama: Visit Idaho hosted my Idaho explorations. As always, my opinions are honest and my own.

About Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama

Claudia Laroye lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons. She started traveling at a very young age, and has never stopped. She’s had the fortune of visiting more than 20 countries on four continents, and has also lived abroad in Sweden. Claudia is passionate about family travel and about educating children through the travel experience. She is the author of the thetravellingmom.ca, and contributes to many online and print media publications. Connect with Claudia on Twitter as @travelling_mom.

Comments
  1. I have been to Boise but no one told me there was so many interesting things to do there. I need to write some of these things down so I don’t forget. We were there prior to going to Yellowstone Park and that’s a good way to start a vacation.

  2. Sure, Boise is a lovely place for kids. But I guess it’s a great destination in totality. Looks like you can spend a carefree day, soaking the sun and just doing nothing. 🙂

  3. That river park looks awesome. It looks like they have a good mix of activities to satisfy all ages.

    • Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama says

      Boise is such a great destination. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself Jody!

  4. Michelle howard says

    I’m moving up there soon I have a 13,5 2 year I will start following Boise Idaho looks nice

  5. Parker Sheehan says

    Claudia, I am a 66 yr. old retired firefighter, and the luckiest grandpa on Earth. I have lived in Boise all but three years of my entire life. I should know all of the special spots to take my little 3 1/2 year grandson. I have written a list of local points I know of, but what I would love to hear from you are “ideas” which may not occur to someone of my vintage. He loves trains, and fire engines, and anything “trucks”. I am a baseball fanatic, so we go to a lot of, what he calls “basement ball” games. We go to a lot of parks and playgrounds, but it is January 9th, 2018, and the elements are working against us. I thought it well worth my while to consult the “Curious Travel Momma”. Thank you very much for what you do.

    • Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama says

      Hi Parker, It sounds your grandson is pretty lucky to have such a great grandpa! Yes, January ensures time may be better spent indoors than outside on some days for sure. If you haven’t yet been to the Warhawk Air Museum or the Science Centre, do visit with your grandson. Both are great spots to spend hours of time learning and discovering history and science together. Hope that helps!

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