The City of Boise provides plenty of opportunities for entertainment, shopping and nature visits, such as Zoo Boise at Julia Davis Park, the Old Idaho State Penitentiary and Boise Town Square. (Ada County photo)
Now is the time to start thinking about that weekend away to look for signs of spring and a bit of R&R. In about three hours you could be in Boise, Idaho, where the arrival of spring is usually a few weeks ahead of La Grande and where there is a good selection of activities to meet the needs of the whole family. Of course restaurants providing dishes that are new, unusual or just plain delicious are always tempting.
Something that draws my attention eastward this time of year is the Mini Les Bois Dollhouse Miniature Show and Sale. This year it is being held at the Best Western Vista Inn Conference Center on Airport Way April 12-13. I am charmed by miniatures and can spend hours wandering through the displays getting enthused for new projects or just appreciating the craftsmanship of the club members. Our talented friends Adrienne and Don Hagey, from Cove, are usually there and always have something amazing they have created. There are tiny treasures for sale and I have no trouble in finding something that I just can’t live without. For the record, this is not just enjoyment for the fairer sex or for children. There are men, such as Don, who have created fine furniture or pottery in an inch to the foot scale or who have produced fantastic miniature dioramas.
If that doesn’t strike your fancy, those of you who enjoy birds might like the World Center for Birds of Prey. Here you can enjoy interactive displays and live demonstrations with hawks, falcons, eagles and owls. Since one of the primary missions of the center is the propagation of critically endangered species, it is not a rehab facility for injured birds as this could compromise the health of the resident raptors.
Surprisingly, one of my favorite places to visit in Boise is the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. I find history fascinating and to wander through this barbaric old facility, now turned museum, and realize how long it was permitted to house inmates was a real eye opener. I do recommend the guided tour since the guides add many stories and facts enhancing the experience. This would not be appropriate for younger children, but would be excellent for teens, especially if followed by some meaningful dialogue.
For families with younger children there is the Zoo Boise at Julia Davis Park. This is home to 201 animals representing 83 various species. Also nearby in the park is the Discovery Center of Idaho, much like our OMSI, where there are live science demonstrations and lots of hands-on experiences. Each month the Center focuses on different topics. For example, Electricity and Magnetism is planned for March.
There are many venues such as Idaho Center, Century Link Arena, Taco Bell Arena and Egyptian Theatre that provide a wide variety of programs, movies, plays and concerts. One of my favorites is a small theater called Flicks that features independent, foreign and art films. It has four screens with the smallest room having only 45 seats.
There is always shopping and Boise Town Square provides some of the best. It seems that every time we go the number of stores has increased. Don’t overlook the smaller malls, however, since some of them have specialty stores that might have just what you are looking for.
Now, for some practical, or not so practical, suggestions of places to stay. We have always enjoyed the hotels clustered around the Boise Spectrum Edwards Cinemas. They are away from downtown, close to Boise Town Square and near a variety of restaurants. The hotels I can recommend are the Hampton Inn and Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton. We discovered Homewood Suites on our last trip to Boise and were pleasantly surprised to find that on Monday through Thursday dinner is included as part of the service as well as the hot breakfast provided every morning. Dinner was much like a home-cooked meal accompanied by a very nice salad bar plus a glass of wine. This is reasonably priced for families, as well as business persons, who appreciate the feeling of “Welcome Home” that is extended. Each suite includes a small but adequate kitchen for preparing meals or snacks such as popcorn and hot chocolate. Now, if you are looking for something for just the two of you, I understand that Anniversary Inn may be what you are seeking. I have not stayed here, but I have heard good recommendations.
Before your trip, do your homework regarding any of the places I have suggested to know times, dates, location and happenings so that you don’t have any unpleasant surprises. These can occur.
I suggested to you in my last column regarding the film festival to check out the trailers so you could wisely choose films with which you would be comfortable. In the past, I have been quite pleased with what I selected to see. This time, although I thought I’d done my homework, and while I was extremely excited about several of the films, I found I was disappointed by one of them. But that was only one out of seven feature-length films. We cannot all like the same thing, nor do we all have the same life experiences to shape our comfort zones, but we can try to make wise choices. I do hope that you were able to see some of this year’s films and enjoyed them. Eastern Oregon Film Festival is something I hope continues to grow as one of the events that La Grande is known for. Enjoy.
Other Boise attractions
Unique Boise Attractions: Basque Museum and Cultural Center: Boise is home to the largest concentration of Basques per capita in the U.S. Boise also has North America’s only Basque museum, the internationally renowned Oinkari Basque Dancers and authentic Basque eateries.
M.K. Nature Center: A living museum, this unique river observatory allows visitors to witness the activity in an Idaho river through underwater viewing windows.
Kathryn Albertson Park: The 40-acre walking park in the heart of the city features ponds with fountains, interpretive signs, island gazebos, thousands of trees and plants and a wetlands area.
Greenbelt: The 25-mile riverfront Greenbelt, ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling, skating and just plain relaxing, meanders through Boise. The envied pathway connects several parks throughout the city.