Boise, Idaho is the state’s capital city and it’s a terrific destiny for taking in culture and nature. It is the site of the Boise River Green Belt, the Boise Art Museum and the State Capitol Building. The Old Idaho Penitentiary is another Boise site worth checking out.
During the Christmas season, you can bet that Boise will be decked out in its seasonal finest. Here are some things you can do to ring in the season.
Downtown Boise Christmas Tree
Downtown Boise goes big for the holidays. They welcome the season with a holiday tree at Grove Plaza. The tree is placed there on Black Friday for a tree lighting event. This is typically celebrated by a large gathering, live entertainment and treats are on hand for guests. The tree stays up through December making it a sight to see through the rest of the year.
Small Business Weekend
Boise has several shops in the downtown area that are great for doing some holiday shopping. If you are in town for Black Friday weekend, you can take advantage of Small Business Weekend. To participate, keep track of a Small Business Weekend Shopping Passport that can be printed at home or picked up at Rediscovered Book Shop. Store merchants will stamp or sign the passport when you enter their shops. Completed passports are entered to win one of three $100 Downtown Boise Gift Cards.
While shopping downtown Boise, you can expect to see shop windows dressed up the nines. In fact, the city sees to it that shop owners go all out by hosting a Winter Windows event. It kicks off on Black Friday, the day when all windows are officially lit. The mayor does a live social media event which opens voting to the public to select the winner of the best window competition. Look for a QR code placed on the front of the store to vote.
Visits with Santa
Boise hosts visits with Santa that take place at D.L. Evans Bank in the downtown area. Santa will be there the first three Saturdays in December. It all kicks off with a community sing along on the first Saturday. Visits are free but families are encouraged to make a suggested donation to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance. Visitors must also register in advance.
Carriage rides are also available in the downtown area. You can check out the city in all its holiday glory while sipping hot chocolate tucked under a comfy blanket provided by the driver of an old-fashioned horse drawn carriage. It’s a great way to see the city.
Christmas in Color Drive Through Animated Live Show
You can enjoy the lights of Boise from the comfort of your own car with this Christmas in Color event. Taking place at Expo Idaho Fairgrounds, guests can drive through millions of lights that are perfectly synchronized to the music on their radios. Displays including giant candy canes, snowmen, arched pathways and more.
Winter Garden A Glow
The Idaho Botanical Garden is a nonprofit garden that served as the Old Idaho State Penitentiary farm and nursery until 1973. Now open to the public, it’s a great place to visit year-round. At Christmastime, it’s lit up with over 400,000 lights and paid admission provides funding for the garden’s operational costs. If you time your visit right, you may see Santa coming in on a special G-scale model train. Local choirs will be on hand to sing holiday favorites and the Garden store will be turning twinkling lights into Christmas symbols and characters.
See a Christmas Movie at the Egyptian Theater
The Egyptian theater is a theater and concert venue and the oldest theater in the city. Inaugurated in 1927, it’s a great place to see a classic Christmas movie or other holiday themed performances.
Hike on the Star Riverwalk
Star Riverwalk is a corridor of nature that trails along the Boise River. It is 1.4 miles from end to end and it’s a great spot for fishing, hiking or swimming. During the holiday season, you can expect it to be covered with snow. You may consider taking your snowshoes along!
Shop and Skate at the Village at Meridian
The Village at Meridian is a shopping center located just about 20 minutes from Boise. It has a movie theater, upscale apparel, specialty retail and terrific eateries. During the holiday season, they also set up an ice rink. It’s a great place to get holiday shopping done and enjoy a fun day.
Visit the Boise Art Museum
The Boise Art Museum is Idaho’s only public art museum. It features over 15 exhibitions annually representing various cultures, periods, styles and movements. There are also several events going on throughout the year. At Christmastime, the museum hosts the Beaux Arts Society Annual Holiday Sale. Check out the website to find out about Christmas exhibitions that may be taking place when you visit.
Idaho State Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Every year, in late November or early December, guests and residents are welcome to join the Idaho governor and first lady for the Idaho State Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting that takes place on the steps of the Capital Building. Past events have included emcees from 101.9 The Bull, food for purchase from local food trucks and entertainment from local school choirs and Idaho’s Army Band.
Visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary
A visit to the penitentiary may not be the most festive event, but it will definitely be fascinating. The penitentiary opened its doors to some of the west’s most desperate criminals in 1872. Today guests can visit to check out Solitary Confinement, cell blocks and the Gallows. You can also venture through the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit to check out the collection of historic weaponry. Events and programs provide insight into the penitentiary’s scandalous events, daring escapes and executions.
What activities will you be partaking in during a Boise Christmas?
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