It’s not your lame spud jokes the locals are smiling about. It’s the huge trail network that’s as accessible to this downtown as any in the country. Not to mention an idyllic river meandering through a necklace of parks in center city. In other words, Idaho’s capital offers more than enough good times to justify a plateful of post-adventure taters—fried, baked, or mashed.
With nearly 100 miles of nearby trail (most of them winding through the sprawling, 4,000-foot Boise Foothills), this city of 200,000 is a mecca for hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. For a quiet creekside stroll with wildflowers, mule deer, and cherry-picker skyline views, head for the 7-mile Upper Hulls Gulch Trail. Get the Ridge to Rivers trail map in any local gear shop or bookstore. ridgetorivers.org
The 6-mile stretch of the Boise River from Barber Park to Ann Morrison Park is the choicest easy float trip in town. Hear that? In town. This tree-lined stretch flows swiftly—but has no whitewater—past greenspace and Boise State University. Rent inflatable kayaks from Idaho River Sports (idahoriversports.com). Paddling is a religion in these parts; the mayor recently announced plans for a $1.5 million whitewater kayaking park in town.
Few cities this big can claim upwards of 400 rock-climbing routes within 10 minutes. The Black Cliffs, basalt crags framing the Boise River east of town, are a magnet for local rock jocks and beginners, too—along with the golden eagles that hunt along the water. The area known as Populace Wall offers three plums in a row: Sweet Adene (5.8), White Wash (5.9), and Perception vs. Reality (5.10a). The semiarid climate stretches the climbing season into late autumn. boiseclimbs.com