We finally did it! We went out and explored downtown Boise in our first Exploration Day for this blog. There were so. many. choices. on where we should go and what we should do. (Which is good because that’s kind of a main thing we’re blogging about.) Ultimately, we chose the Basque Museum, Waffle Me Up for lunch, and Winter Garden aGlow.
With big plans and an adventurous toddler in tow, we were set for a full exploration day! Of course, it didn’t pan out the way I imagined, but that’s part of the beauty of adventuring with a family. Spontaneity and flexibility.
We had been working so hard on setting up Exploring As We Go, getting things running and looking nice and dreaming big dreams. Finally (well, it felt like “finally.” It was more like “that weekend.”) off we went to experience downtown Boise in a way we hadn’t yet done.
Getting out of the house and “exploring as we go” not only gave us a great family day, but also the very real sensation that, oh my goodness, we’re legit bloggers! [Insert happy dance]
*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase through our links then we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We appreciate your support!*
I laid out big plans for the day. That’s one thing both Caleb and I struggle with: proper assessment of what we can actually accomplish in a given amount of time. When both a husband and wife have this quality, it results in interesting proposed schedules.
Our basic decision on what attractions and restaurants we’d visit rested on two factors: 1) we had never been to any of those places before and 2) I really wanted waffles. Pregnancy cravings are a real thing. Don’t judge. And really, looking at these waffles, who can blame me??
Within my extravagant plan, I wanted to take a bunch of pictures of basically everywhere, thoroughly explore the museum, get coffee and lunch out, video the entire thing, all before getting back home in time for naptime. Like I said, too much in too little time.
We ended up leaving almost two hours later than I scheduled and only managed to visit the Basque Museum and Waffle Me Up before needing to get home – and we were still late.
But, as I’m sure you know, conforming to a preset itinerary with a family is just not realistic. Sometimes things don’t go as we planned.
And that is 100% okay.
Caleb got to sleep in and catch up on some much needed rest, I got to plan (better) what we’d do that day, and William, our son, got a lot more playtime in. Despite it not being my original plan, it became a win-win-win situation.
First Stop: the Basque Museum
Getting downtown Boise on a Saturday a little later in the morning meant parking was a bit sparse. Thankfully we found a spot not too far from the Basque Block, located on Grove St between 6th and Capitol, where you can find the Basque Museum and Cultural Center happily situated.
I’ve gotta’ say, Caleb is fantastic at parallel parking. Maybe my judgement is skewed because 1) I’m married to him and 2) I suck at parallel parking. Either way, way to go Caleb!
Side note: double check the parking meters if you park on the streets. Saturdays used to be free but they aren’t anymore. At least not where we parked.
We parked, we unloaded, we bundled up, and we started strolling. Because William was in a stroller. Bah-dum-tss! Oh man, I crack myself up….
A Touring We Will Go…
Leaving a little later in the day, though, provided us with an unexpected bonus. We arrived at the museum just in time to go on one of the complementary guided tours of the historic brick house next door, an 1800’s Basque home-turned-boarding house.
You need to go on this tour!
Okay, maybe not need to go. But if you’re going to spend part of your own exploration day on visiting the museum, going on a tour to see the house will add so much to your experience there. We loved getting such a vivid sneak peek into history.
William did amazingly well on the tour, too, especially considering we couldn’t take his handy dandy stroller with us. The little ham helped entertain the other visitors and managed not to touch anything that could be broken. #parentingwin
If you want to read more about visiting the museum, here is our Basque Museum spotlight.
One thing I have to say is that pictures and video are not allowed on the tour or in the museum. We have some pictures because the museum staff gave us permission for these particular areas. If you want to take photos while in the museum (just the museum since the house is an automatic “No”), you’ll need to ask the staff.
Second Stop: Waffle Me Up
All that toddler wrangling and history absorbing we did left us quite hungry. Thank goodness a short three block walk led us to Waffle Me Up. A friend put us onto this little café, but what really drew my attention was this little sign: Gluten-Free Vegan Waffles.
While we’re not vegan (we love us a good hamburger!!), neither William nor I can have gluten, dairy, or eggs. For now that is. But basically anything marked as “gluten-free and vegan” is safe for us to eat. So far we’ve only had the frozen waffles from Van’s (which are actually really yummy). The allure of fresh-made waffles was too much for my pregnant self to handle.
As we waited for our orders to get filled, William became quite thirsty. I thought I had forgot his water bottle, but no. It was buried in the back of the stroller. Heaven help me.
There was water available from the soda fountain, though, so that would satisfy his thirst. Little did I realize that the only water they had was carbonated. It shocked me when I first took a sip, and I love carbonated water, especially La Croix! William, on the other hand, doesn’t share my taste for it. Imagine how he reacted when he sipped the stuff.
Yeah. It was hilarious.
Now I’m not sure if he was just super thirsty or maybe a glutton for punishment, but he kept coming back for sip after sip despite physically revolting against the bursting bubbles in his mouth. Either way, he entertained us until our orders were ready.
‘Dem Waffles, Tho
Don’t these look delicious?! Oh goodness gracious, were they ever! This picture was taken before William devoured all his blackberries and raspberries and all of mine. But the joke’s on him. I got the blueberries.
Caleb ordered the Bob Deluxe, a regular waffle topped with melted Havarti cheese, a market fried egg, fresh-fried bacon, syrup and basil. This guy thoroughly enjoyed himself. Waffle Me Up did a great job.
William and I got the gluten-free vegan waffles topped with fresh berries and sprinkled with powdered sugar. These meaty waffles were almost too thick for William to get his mouth around.
But I don’t think he minded.
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig
Nap time is a very important, very glorified time in our house for both William’s sake and ours. Getting back late for nap time often means no nap leaving every one of us wishing for the evening to come. Thankfully our little buddy went to sleep just fine. Probably had something to do with the excitement of our family exploration day.
And so did Caleb. He’s been working hard both at work and helping me as well as staying up late, so he fully deserved it.
Me, I binged the afternoon away on the new-to-me show House on Prime Video (click here for a free 30-day trial). I remember my parents watching it years ago and wanting to feel like a big girl and watch it, too. I’m not sure if that makes me feel young or old…. What do you think?
Last Stop: Winter Garden aGlow
After naps were taken, dinner made, and many episodes watched, off we went on part 2 of our exploration day to find all the grand, little adventures we can. This stop actually was a last-minute surprise to us. Normally the light fest at the Idaho Botanical Gardens ends on New Year’s, but this year they extended it to the first Saturday of January.
Decked out with over 400,000+ lights, the expansive Botanical Gardens is a sight to behold. William was so excited to see Christmas lights again and even walked the entire time in his fancy new boots. (Seriously, he loves these boots. They’re the only footwear he’ll let us put on his feet.)
We spent a good 45 minutes exploring the garden displays and we still didn’t touch every pathway. The surprisingly warm wind from a southwesterly storm made for a very pleasant walk. Note that warm winds are not a common Treasure Valley weather phenomenon. Normally winds are icy, especially at night. So if you decide to go, too, make sure to dress accordingly!
Looking Back at our First Exploration Day
We really had a wonderful first family exploration day. Despite not going exactly to plan, our day was still filled with new experiences and great food. We can’t help but be excited for our next day trip!
I most enjoyed the Basque Museum, especially the tour (I think I’ve got a thing for old houses…). Caleb’s favorite part was eating at Waffle Me Up because, hello, delicious!! And while we can’t ask William what he loved the best, I think it’s tied between say munching on that waffle and independently exploring as many garden paths as he could.
Have you ever planned a family exploration day before? (If not, I’ve got a great post about planning a no-spend family day!) What are your favorite things to do on these fun days? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments below!