On a windy, rainy November night, we rolled into Boise, Idaho. Something about the place, even veiled in darkness, felt right to us right away. It was the biggest city we'd been to past Salt Lake City, but it felt manageable, and the homes—each different from the one next to it—made the moments sitting at stop lights interesting. We had 24 hours to explore before heading on to Seattle, and we wanted to do exactly that, despite the rain.
Boise didn't let us down. Here are a few things we learned about this city of 200,000, located at 43 degrees N, 116 degrees W:
1). Better donuts than Portland?
I specifically call out Portland because every single person we met in Portland a few weeks later asked us if we'd visited a certain donut shop there. We did stop by that shop, but we weren't as impressed as we were with donut happy hour at Guru Donuts in downtown Boise.
There, we ordered an apple cider donut, covered in cream cheese frosting, caramel drizzle, and sprinkled with pie crust crumbles. I think of that donut every time anyone mentions donuts. To call it a life changer would be dramatic, but I won't be visiting a Dunkin' Donuts again.
2). Lovely living spaces
Homes where we're from in Chicago all tend to follow a trend—especially as construction workers tear down classic old homes only to replace them with three-unit brick condo clones. We loved that every house in Boise had its own unique vibe and color. Many of these homes had enough land to include a backyard workshop space, which we dream about for Dan's music or my writing studio.
3). Eating well made easy
Our first stop in Boise was the Boise Co-op, near where we were parking for the night. We stopped to pick up fish, veggies, and a bottle of wine for dinner. Prices were better than the big-box stores, and the shelves were overflowing with organic options. I think we stopped back in two more times in our short 24 hours in Boise, and found lots of local goodies to put together a gift basket for our Thanksgiving hosts in Seattle.
The next afternoon, we ventured out for lunch at the Boise Fry Company, based on a friend's recommendation. This place had juicy burgers, dry ciders, and crispy fries—made from Idaho potatoes, hand-cut and fried to perfection. A line of a dozen dipping sauces, such as garlic aioli and blueberry ketchup, propelled the fries even further into favor, as you can see in Dan's eyes.
4). Beauty in the bar scene
We met our first Trump supporters over whiskey-sodas in Boise, and convinced them that the Donald is in fact my uncle. It all happened within the magical setting of Neurolux Lounge, which felt as welcoming as one of our local, dive-y favorites back in Chicago, (though we've yet to encounter Trump supporters there). Neurolux hosts live shows, but the night we popped in no one was playing. However, we did meet a Metallica cover band, passing through on their way from Spokane to Reno.
5). A National Geographic fave
There's so much outdoor adventuring along the Snake River and other rivers in Boise that National Geographic rates the city as one of the great places in the U.S. to live and play. Boise lays claim to the best mountain biking spots in the country, with Rocky Mountain skiing, peaceful canoeing, and gorgeous hikes nearby, too. We ran out of time to experience all of that, but the promise of adventures unseen left us wanting to come back sooner rather than later.