Winter is cold. Too cold for me. Unless there’s snow involved. Then it’s worth being cold. BUT! There are other fun winter things to do in Boise and Meridian that don’t involve snow or Bogus Basin. Some indoors, some outside. So I figured why not write up 10 things to do in Boise during the winter.
This list helps us, too, as we get out and explore our local cities. We’ve even gone to a couple of these so far specifically to explore for both ourselves and our blog.
When I first started writing this I thought it would be easy. There’s so much to do in the Boise metropolitan area during the spring, summer, and fall that there must be tons of great things to do in the winter, too, right?
Sorta. I mean, of course there’s a ton of great stuff to do. But it took a little brainstorming to come up with a list of our top 10 things to do during the winter in Boise and Meridian, Idaho that you might not have considered at first.
And none involve snow or Bogus Basin.
Some items on our list you’ve might have already thought of if you’ve lived here for a while. Some things we hope will surprise you a bit and get you excited to go do all the things.
And of course we always suggest coffee before doing anything in the cold. There’s so many locally owned and operated coffee shops in the Treasure Valley that we’re in the process of exploring! You can see our entire bucket list here.
So without further ago, here is our top 10 things to do in Boise during the winter.
1. Idaho Ice World
Yes, it’s still cold in Idaho Ice World because, ice. But, there’s no wind so bonus! Plus all that skating around in circles, or loop-de-loops with little spins if you’re one of those amazing people who can, will warm you up. We also start off a tad bit cold, but a few laps and off come those jackets.
Kids have trouble skating? No problem! Idaho Ice World has got a bunch of buckets that are the perfect height to help your kiddos stay upright.
Adults have trouble skating? While there are no adult-sized 50-gallon buckets available, the wall is always there to provide support when you need it. Just keep at it and soon you’ll be gliding along even if the wall is always within reach.
If you’d prefer to watch from a distance, there are tables with views into the rink so you can still keep an eye on the kids.
Just be sure to check out their calendar here to find out when public skate hours are. They vary per day.
2. The Village
The Village at Meridian will probably always and forever be one of my favorite places to go as you can probably tell based on how long this section is. The boutiques and shops are oh so fun whether you are window shopping or in need of some serious shopping TLC. While not technically in Boise, the Village is a great place to hang out in the winter. Summer, too.
There’s a bunch of restaurants ranging from up-scale sit-down to modern tacos to yummy froyo. And if you’re up for a bit of a walk (or short drive), the Village technically extends north to the strip mall where there are even more restaurants (and shopping!) of a bit faster nature.
There’s also coffee (yay!), outdoor seating next to glorious heat lamps and fireplaces, and a beautifully large fountain (pond?) with water spout shows synchronized to music playing in the background.
Non-Food and Non-Shopping Activities
Not into shopping or eating or sitting beneath the gift to mankind which are heat lamps? Okay, I assume you’re into eating mainly because you’re reading this so…. yeah. But if you’re not into eating at that moment, there are other things to do. Well, like two things. (Three if you count Axiom gym.)
There’s an ice rink right in the center of the Village where you can skate to your heart’s content. Since the rink is small compared to Idaho Ice World, there’s not much room for Olympic-style moves (which honestly I’m okay with because then I don’t look as bad of a skater). This rink seriously reminds me of those romantic ice skating scenes in movies.
Then there’s the Village Cinema. It has a fantastic take on the theater experience, in our opinion, because you purchase your seats beforehand meaning you can roll in during the trailers and STILL HAVE A GREAT SEAT. Say wha’?? Yeah. It’s our fave. There’s a lot of other cool stuff about it that we wrapped up nicely in our post on the Village Cinema [coming soon].
3. Zoo Boise
Seriously? Seriously. Did you know that the Zoo Boise exhibits have special heated areas for the animals to help keep them warm when the ambient temperature is cooler than their natural habitat, particularly in the winter? For basically every animal other than the penguins, they congregate around these areas.
This means you can see them really well.
Some of the animals (and crowds) aren’t available during these cold months because it’s just too dang cold for them. Poor things. But the majority of the animals are still there just waiting to be seen.
Zoo Boise also has special events in the winter. In one neat event during each cooler month you can paint with penguins. How unique is that! Slots are limited and kinda pricey. But you get to paint a background, the penguins add their own special touches, leaving you with a memorable work of art. Don’t worry, bragging about your penguin art is totally allowed.
4. Bronco Nation
There’s more to Bronco sports than football. Basketball for both men and women along with various other sporting events are in full swing during the Boise winter. Women’s basketball is the most popular of them all and for good reason. They have consistently ranked high every season leading to exciting games for spectators.
5. Discovery Center of Idaho
This place can keep your kids entertained for hours. It can keep your adults entertained for hours, too. With a mix of a permanent, travelling, and rotating display, there’s always something to do at the Discovery Center of Idaho. Not to mention they’re open 7 days a week for whenever you need to go out and do something.
Through March 2018, the travelling display is Human Bodies: Anatomy in Motion. They legit have cadavers so you can see first hand the real anatomy of humans. It isn’t something everyone will enjoy so they keep it in a separate, clearly marker room. There’s no worries about accidentally wandering in.
The rotating display is pretty cool, too. It celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Discovery Center of Idaho and shows of a new take on some of their most popular STEM exhibits over the years.
If you have the blessing of having 2-5 year old’s following you around, the Discovery Center has a special story time most mornings to help expose little ones to the sciences. It’s a great way to mix up your morning routines!
6. Basque Block
Long ago a large group of Basque men and women traveled from their home and settled in the Boise area. Today, they continue a strong tradition of their culture in the largest concentration of Basque people anywhere in the world outside of their traditional homeland. These traditions they gladly share with anyone willing to learn.
Located on Grove Street between Capitol and 6th, the Basque block will open your horizons to a new culture you’ve probably never heard about. I hadn’t before we moved here.
The Basque Museum and Cultural Center will take you through one of the most adorable brick houses chocked full of neat stuff. Here is our review of the museum. (Hint: it’s super positive!) Next door is the Basque Center that serves as a hub for gatherings and traditional dancing. They also put on a couple really neat events during the summer for anyone to enjoy.
And never fear, food is there! Three restaurants serving a wide variety of traditional cuisine are sure to sate your appetite. What better way to learn and enjoy a new culture than to experience their foods!
7. Idaho State Museum
This photo of Idaho State Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Recently renovated, the Idaho State Museum has a huge display of everything Idaho. Plus there are tons of stuff for kids to do. Most of the exhibits have hands-on facets to help kids (and adults, too!) experience and not just learn about Idaho history.
Artwork and photographs created throughout Idaho’s past will take you back to a time long gone. Expansive exhibits highlighting everything from Lewis and Clark’s travels through Idaho to first-hand accounts of how things went down to showcasing the beautiful landscapes that make this state a mountainous paradise.
They’re open 7 days a week. Generally you can expect to take a minimum of 45 minutes to see everything and even longer if you like to really get into the displays. (Not physically get into the displays. We do not recommend that.)
8. Idaho Steelheads
Catch a minor league hockey game at the CenturyLink Arena. It’s loud. It’s exciting. There’s food and beer. There’s a lot to enjoy. The atmosphere inside the arena will get anyone on the fence about hockey to become solid fans. Plus the Idaho Steelheads have a pretty great win-loss ratio meaning you’re bound to always catch a great game.
Make sure you arrive a little early to grab prime parking spots since they fill up fast and dress in layers so as you get more and more excited you’ll never be too hot or too cold. Plus, their season is only in the winter so it’s the perfect time to head over to downtown Boise to catch a game!
9. Watch a Performance
Downtown Boise has several awesome venues to catch a show yearround. Whether you’re into ballet, theater, or concerts, there’s always something for you.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the Morrison Center. Part of Boise State University, the Morrison Center is the place to go for pretty much any genre of performing arts. Ballet, comedy, Broadway, orchestra, there’s even performances geared for kids!
The Knitting Factory is has one-of-a-kind concerts, most of which are for all ages unless otherwise noted. With a full restaurant attached, you can make an evening of it by dining before (or even during) the show.
The theater unfortunately is not as big of a thing as it used to be. But these local spots bring it back to life! Boise Little Theater, Stage Coach Theatre, and Boise Contemporary Theater are sure to have something to suit your fancy.
And if comedy is your thing, ComedySportz has clean impromptu comedy shows every Friday and Saturday nights that will tickle your funny bone.
There are always things to do in Boise during the winter if you know where to look.
10. Aquarium of Boise
Open 7 days a week, the Aquarium of Boise is small but packed full of great things to see. Boasting hands-on exhibits and touch pools, this is a perfect way to forget about the cold of winter and revisit the warm rays of the sun on the beach. Not only do they have sharks and ocean fish but also reptiles, freshwater fish from the Amazon, and colorful parrots.
Fun fact: Friday afternoons there is a real life mermaid (okay, maybe not a real mermaid, but there’s definitely someone who looks an awful lot like a mermaid) available to come to birthday parties at the aquarium!
Bonus! Winter Garden aGlow
This beautiful, wintry display of 400,000 lights strewn artfully across the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise runs from late November through early January. Hot drinks, visits from Santa, and caroling choirs are available most nights to enhance your experience. Plus there’s fire pits because, hello, it’s cold. Make sure you dress appropriately!
We got to go this year for our first time (read about our adventure here) and were blown away. The blanket of lights brings life in the darkness and warmth in the cold night air. It is certainly a sight to behold.
What Will You Do?
That concludes our top 10 things to do in Boise during the winter. We hope you like it and are inspired to get out and explore! What are you favorite Boise things to do during the winter? Comment below to let us know!