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Cultural Offerings as Diverse as Boise Itself

From museums and art exhibits to one-of-a-kind historical and culture-rich sites, Boise has no shortage of things to do. You’ll find something to inspire every member of your family, whether they enjoy learning about history, exploring exhibits, or creating their own artistic masterpieces. Here are some of our top picks for Boise’s cultural attractions.

Boise Art Glass

1124 W. Front St. (Downtown)
Owned by a professional artist, Boise Art Glass offers classes in which the public can hand-make glass items of their own. The classes are small, intimate, and led by a professional in a glassblowing studio. For those who’d rather buy a glass piece than make it, Boise Art Glass sells fine glass products like sculptures, jewelry, and chandeliers. They also do custom orders and live demonstrations. Torch and furnace rentals are available throughout the year.

Things to do nearby
Stop by Matlack’s next door for a bite to eat — the Frito Pie is a must-have. If you’re a fan of smoked meat, try the Boss Hog.

Also, be sure to pop across the street to the Boise Chamber Gift Shop & Visit Boise Information Center for city guides, resources, and curated souvenirs from local artisans and shops around the city.

Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

770 S. 8th St. (Downtown)
This memorial is designed to get visitors talking about human rights issues in the community, country, and world. It features a life-size bronze statue of Anne Frank, bold quotes on walls, and even a classroom for human rights. This is the only Anne Frank Memorial in the U.S. and one of the only places in the world where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is on permanent public display.

Things to do nearby
This memorial is conveniently located along the Boise River Greenbelt, so you can easily walk to Julia Davis Park. Here you can visit Boise Art Museum, Idaho State Museum, Idaho Black History Museum, Discovery Center of Idaho and Zoo Boise.

Wylder, Smoke and Thyme, the Warehouse Food Hall or White Dog Brewing Co. are great options for lunch within walking distance.

Basque Museum and Cultural Center

611 W. Grove St. (Downtown)
The Basque Museum & Cultural Center honors the heritage and culture of Idaho’s thriving Basque community. It’s housed next to the historic Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House on Grove Street, one of Boise’s oldest residential dwellings. This Boise landmark provided living quarters for many Basque immigrants seeking a home in the Treasure Valley over the years.

Things to do nearby
After visiting the museum, check out the Basque Market across the street or Bar Gernika at the end of the block. Both options boast some of the best pintxos (Basque small plates) in the city — be sure to add some croquettes to your order. Just a couple of blocks away, you’ll regret missing out on Ansots for traditional Basque chorizos and bocadillos (Basque sandwiches) made by James Beard Award-nominated chef Dan Ansotegui.

James Castle House

5015 Eugene St. (Northwest Boise)
This historic site and museum preserves the legacy of James Castle, one of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic artists. It houses Castle’s art and artifact collections, as well as his historic living and working spaces. Today the museum is a center for contemporary and historical exhibits and offers a variety of talks and performances.

Things to do nearby
While you’re on this side of the city, don’t miss Merritt’s Family Restaurant for famous scones or Huck House Brunchette for a huckleberry-filled breakfast. The James Castle House is also close to trailhead access to Polecat Gulch, a local favorite for foothill trails.

For a one of a kind dining experience, you won’t want to miss out on trying Kibrom’s Ethiopian Restaurant on State Street as you head back toward downtown. The chef, Kibrom Milash, is another James Beard nominated semifinalist. Kibrom’s offers authentic East African cuisine and flavors, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Erma Hayman House

617 Ash St. (Downtown)
This historic site and cultural center honors the heritage of Boise’s River Street Neighborhood, one of the city’s earliest African American neighborhoods. Built in 1907, this home is the last single-family dwelling in the neighborhood. The home belonged to Erma Hayman, a longtime Boise resident and community advocate. She and her husband bought the home in 1948 after racial discrimination prevented them from buying elsewhere. This area was home to many immigrants and most of the city’s Black residents for decades. The home tells the stories of historically underrepresented communities, both past and present, through programs and exhibits.

Things to do nearby
Stop by Push & Pour at the end of the block for a coffee or matcha, or walk west on the Pioneer Pathway a couple of blocks to enjoy a beer and yard games at Payette Brewing Company.

On Saturday mornings from April to November, you can walk a few blocks up River Street to the Boise Farmers Market for fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, handmade goods, and more.

Boise Art Museum

670 S. Julia Davis Dr. (Downtown)
Wow your senses at the Boise Art Museum (BAM), which features 12 to 16 different exhibitions every year from various artistic styles, media and periods. The museum offers monthly education programs, art workshops and events for children. Be sure to stop by the museum store while you’re there, which has a variety of unique offerings, including jewelry, toys, books, art pieces and more. Children under age six are always free.

Things to do nearby
Take a walk down the Greenbelt and, during the summer months, swing by Green Acres food truck park for tasty cuisine, drinks, yard games, and live music.

If animals are more your thing, head across the parking lot from BAM to see sloth bears, giraffes, tamarins, capybaras, and more at Zoo Boise.

Old Idaho Penitentiary

2445 Old Penitentiary Rd. (East Boise)
The Old Idaho Penitentiary (colloquially known as Old Pen) was a working prison until 1973. It’s held some of the West’s meanest and most daring criminals since its doors opened in 1872. While exploring cell blocks, solitary confinement areas, and the gallows, visitors can learn about 100 years of Idaho prison history, including executions, escapes, and even scandals. The penitentiary also offers special events, guided tours, and educational programs throughout the year.

Things to do nearby
While you’re here, don’t miss the Idaho Botanical Garden, where you can explore and learn about unique native and exotic plants. The trailhead for Table Rock, Boise’s most popular hiking trail, is also within walking distance of Old Pen.