Ahh, Summertime in Boise. With great weather comes so many places to be, so many things to see, it can be hard to decide what exactly to do. In these hotter months, I find myself running into this “problem” quite a bit. The best solution? In my humble opinion, it’s hopping on a bike and exploring the city that we call home. So, here’s my unofficial (and hopefully fun!) guide to Boise via bike. You may even learn some new fun facts along the way!
Let’s start smack-dab in the center of campus at the “B” right in front of the Administration Building. While many of us pass by the Administration Building on our way to class or take photos in front of the “B” for the ‘Gram, most don’t know that when it opened in 1940 (yes, our school has been around that long) it originally housed classrooms, the library, and a large room that once served as the Student Union.
After kicking off this adventure at the “B”, I’d recommend cruising through the Quad — although be sure to walk your bike through here — past Albertsons Library to Friendship Bridge, which was built back in 1980 to symbolize the, well, friendship, between the city of Boise and Boise State University. This is a great photo location before cruising down into Julia Davis Park. Julia Davis Park is also home to Zoo Boise and if you bike near the green fencing on a sunny day, you may even make some new, very tall friends hanging out in the giraffe enclosure.
If you take a hard left back onto the Boise River Greenbelt, you’ll pass the park’s rose gardens, Boise Art Museum, and may even be able to hear some live music at the Gene Harris Bandshell, named after the famed jazz musician who spent the later part of his life in Boise.
From there, you can take a right onto Capital Boulevard, where the designated bike lane can take you all the way through downtown to the Idaho State Capitol Building. If you look all the way to the top, you’ll see an eagle. And while it may look small from the bottom, in reality, it’s five feet and seven inches tall! And if you look a little below the eagle, you can see the Idaho state flag, the only American state flag designed by a woman, flying proudly.
At this point, I’m usually in need of some refueling. Luckily, 8th and Front Street is only two blocks away from the capitol building. This booming restaurant district is a great pit stop for coffee, a good meal, or ice cream as you continue on your biking adventure.
If you keep biking down 8th Street back to the Boise River Greenbelt, you’ll reach the Anne Frank Memorial. Recognized as a “world-class” achievement by the New York Times at it’s opening in 2002, the memorial is home to a life-sized bronze statue of Anne Frank as well as the site of one of only eleven places in the United States to receive a sapling from the actual Anne Frank Chestnut Tree in Amsterdam.
The Greenbelt offers 26 miles of paved pathway for running, biking, and walking along the Boise River and if you take another right onto the path from the Anne Frank Memorial, after a mile or two, you’ll eventually reach Quinn’s Pond. This is the stretch where I usually put my headphones in for a bit. You can check out our Spotify page and recently updated “Walking Along the Greenbelt” playlist for some tune recommendations by your fellow Broncos.
Quinn’s Pond is a great spot to cool off and go swimming, paddle-boarding, hammocking, or sun-bathing. By midsummer, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards on-site and can usually run into a food truck or two parked in the lot nearby. Quinn’s Pond was the spot that single-handedly made me invest in my own paddle-board last summer, and let me tell you, being so close to so much water in Boise, I have definitely not been disappointed!
After you’ve got your swim on, you can bike over the bridge to the other side of the Boise River and watch some surfing — yes, I said surfing in Idaho — at the Boise Whitewater Park. With a series of cafes and stores nearby, this can be another great, chill spot before jumping back on the Greenbelt and heading back toward downtown.
Biking back on the opposite side of the river offers some great views of the river itself. Expect to see some fellow Boiseans floating, wading, or fishing as you bike into Ann Morrison Park. This park is a great spot for sand volleyball and disc golf if you have the equipment and the time!
Continuing on the Greenbelt, you’re probably going to be exhausted by the time you end up back on Capital Boulevard near campus. But, if you have the energy, you could wrap up your adventure by going up for a final stop at the Boise Depot. This former train station, part of the discontinued Amtrak Pioneer line that ran from Salt Lake City to Seattle, has some of the best views of the Boise skyline and Foothills. Perhaps that’s why it’s proven to be the premier photo spot for fraternity and sorority formals, Prom and homecoming dances, and anyone who needs a new profile picture that screams “BOISE!”
I find myself biking up to the depot at sunset a few times a month. And looking over our city, pink lighting up the sky and the lights of the buildings flickering on, it reminds me how much there is to love about the place we live. You can quite literally bike around and see giraffes, live music, the state Capitol, a bustling downtown, surfing, and even go for a swim in just a couple of hours.
So, what are you waiting for? Lace up your shoes, strap on your helmet, and go explore all there is to see and do in Boise!