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Idaho Botanical Garden winter garden aglow

Best Winter Family Activities

In winter, the temperature drops in Boise, but our colder months are generally mild and dry, and the sun still shines on and off throughout the season. That means families visiting Boise don’t have to slow down during the cooler months. During winter, Boise is hopping with holiday markets and sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing and more. If you can’t find snow in the valley, you can almost always get your fix in the nearby mountains.

The following are some of our favorite winter activities for families. Grab your scarves and gloves, and get ready to have some fun.

See holiday lights

From late November through early January, the Idaho Botanical Garden Winter Garden aGlow event features more than 600,000 twinkling lights, a holiday garden cottage, snacks and warm drinks from local vendors. Seeing the gardens blooming with flowers in spring or summer is one thing, but seeing it aglow in winter is a completely different experience.

Visit a holiday market

Boise’s winter markets are full of gift ideas and holiday cheer. Try Merry Maker’s Market, Wintry Market or 34th Street Holiday Market. All are fabulous, festive events where you can shop for holiday crafts, souvenirs and presents, soak up festive music and sip on a cup of hot chocolate.

Watch a hockey game

Grab the kids and cheer on the Idaho Steelheads at the Idaho Central Arena in downtown Boise. Grab a hot dog and enjoy a game in an atmosphere that’s loud, fun and full of adrenaline. The Steelheads are an affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. Their season goes from October to April.

Ride the slopes at Bogus Basin

If your family likes to ski or snowboard, Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is only 16 miles north of Boise and has 10 ski lifts and 80 runs across 2,600 acres of terrain — so there’s something for all ages and experience levels. In all, the resort offers 1,800 true vertical feet for skiing and snowboarding, as well as other various snow sports. Gear can be rented at the Bogus Basin Rental Shop and the season lasts from December to April (weather dependent).

Go sledding at Camel’s Back Park

When there’s snow on the ground in Boise, this spot, which is not far from downtown, is a favorite for locals who like sledding. Camel’s Back Park has a large, steep hill that’s perfect for your adrenaline-seeking crew.

Ice skate with friends and family

Strap on some skates at Idaho Ice World or The Village at Meridian. Ice skating is a great workout and fun for the whole family. Ice World is generally open through April (check their activity calendar for open skating times) and The Village rink is open November through January.

Snow tube at Eagle Island

Eagle Island State Park covers 545 acres and is bordered by channels of the Boise River on the north and south. In the winter, you can tube, ski and snowboard. A magic carpet transports you back up the hill, and the park makes its own snow well into spring. Many consider this the state’s best tubing park.

Take a Polar Bear Plunge

Polar Bear Plunge is an annual event full of chilly challenges that raise funds for Idaho children with critical illnesses. If you don’t want to get wet, you can bring your family to enjoy the spectacle of hundreds plunging into ice-cold water. This event usually happens on January 1 at Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Watch the potato drop on New Year’s Eve

Join party-goers, families and on-lookers at the annual New Year’s Eve Idaho Potato Drop in Boise. It’s a free event that gives back to the arts, local businesses, and charities. Enjoy live music, sporting events and art performances. Learn more at the Idaho Potato Drop page.