16 Adventurous (and Cool!) Things to Do in Boise in Winter

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Are you planning a trip to Boise in winter and are unsure of what there is to do? This guide is here to help!

Are you planning your trip to Boise last minute?

If you’re traveling to Boise last minute, you want to ensure you have lodging ahead of time! Below are some of our top picks in town!

🛌  Best Hotels and Accommodation in Boise:

  1. Modern Hotel (cooler than its name – in the Linen District)
  2. Boise White Water Guest House (a little ‘zen’ in Boise!)
  3. The Grove Hotel (additional downtown option!)

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around Boise (and nearby)? Click here to check rental car rates for Idaho!

Idaho isn’t typically the first place you think of when you go to plan a vacation, but now’s the time for you to really think twice about that!

Boise, the state’s capital, has proven to be a lively destination for tourists at any time of the year, but especially in the winter.

Downtown Boise in winter
Downtown Boise in winter

You’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, wineries, ski resorts, hiking trails, and so much more during your trip to Boise during winter.

If you want a comprehensive guide to the city, look no further. We have compiled a list of all the best things to do in Boise in winter. Let us know your winter in Boise tips in the comments. Thanks!

Average Winter Temperatures in Boise 

Winters in Boise are moderately cold. During the wintertime, the average daily high temperature is below 47°F.

Cross Country Skiing near Boise
Cross Country Skiing near Boise

The coldest day of the year tends to be around January 1, with an average low of 24°F and a high of 36°F.

  • Boise in December: Highs around 40F, lows around 23F
  • Boise in January: Highs around 39F, lows around 22F
  • Boise in February: Highs around 46F, lows around 27F

Does it Snow in Boise in winter?

Winters in Boise are known to be cold and snowy, although Boise is not necessarily as snowy as you may expect (depending on where you come from in the US).

The average annual snowfall in Boise is 18 inches, which is less than the national average of 28 inches. Between the end of November and the beginning of February in Boise, the average rainfall is 18 inches.

Frontier Point Lodge & Nordic Center - Bill Roque - Shutterstock.com
Frontier Point Lodge & Nordic Center – Bill Roque – Shutterstock.com

A foot and a half of snow may seem excessive to those unfamiliar with the area, but in reality, it is not that much.

Still, you should plan to pack warm and be sure to check the weather for where you’re going to see if you’ll be enjoying a snowy vacation.

Best Things to Do in Boise in Winter 

1. See the Boise Garden aGlow at the Idaho Botanical Garden

Seeing gardens blooming with flowers in spring or summer is one thing, but seeing it aglow in winter is another.

You can check out the stunning display of over 400,000 shimmering lights beautifully displayed throughout the holiday season at the Idaho Botanical Garden’s annual Winter Garden aGlow.

It is not only one of the Garden’s largest and most successful annual fundraisers, but from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, Santa will visit from the North Pole, and the Holiday Express, a G-scale model train, will make its way through the luminous winter wonderland. 

Address: 2355 N Old Penitentiary Rd, Boise, ID 83712

2. Go Cross Country Skiing in Boise and Nearby

For cross country skiing, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation operates five backcountry yurts northeast of Idaho City.

They’re roughly an hour’s drive from Boise and sit on a vast system of cross-country ski trails. 

Cascade Ranger District and Office is one of the well-known cross skiing areas. It is located 75 miles north of Boise and offers year-round outdoor sports and recreation opportunities. It really is the ideal Boise day trip!

Cross Country Skiing in Idaho
Cross Country Skiing in Idaho

Other good ski resorts are The Emmett Ranger District, Idaho City Ranger District and Office, Lowman Ranger District and Office, Mountain Home Ranger District and Office.

All of these have an abundance of ski and snowmobile trails, which are suitable for cross-country skiers. 

3. Go Snowmobiling Near Boise 

Trails at Garden Valley, Smith’s Ferry, Anderson Ranch, Idaho City, and Cascade are popular snowmobile destinations in the Boise National Forest.

A famous spot for snowmobiling in Boise is Smith’s Ferry, which is just 60 miles north of Boise. Alternatively, you can try a great ride on the Winter Wonderland Trail.

Winter snowmobile tracks in Idaho
Winter snowmobile tracks in Idaho

Both of these are located in the Cascade Ranger District and Office.

Whoop Um Up Equestrian Campground (in Idaho City Ranger District and Office) is about 56 miles northeast of Boise and is another favorite among backcountry skiers and snowmobilers. 

4. Enjoy Snowshoeing in Idaho

Snowshoeing near Boise with friends and family can be a very fun way to spend your winter vacation days (and experience some of Idaho’s cutest small towns and natural spaces! 

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is one of the favorite local spots for not only snowshoeing but also skiing and tubing. It’s located in the lovely highlands above Boise and is easily accessible from the city.

From here, you can explore more than 20 miles of groomed trails through the forest.

Snowshoeing near Boise
Snowshoeing near Boise

A very good alternative is Gold Fork Hot Springs Service Road, which, like many, is a service road and not a trail. Here the road is relatively flat.

It follows along the river, making the whole area peaceful. The uniqueness of this particular journey is the payoff at the end: you can take a bath in Gold Fork’s calming hot springs. 

5. Take a Polar Bear Plunge 

Polar Bear Plunge is a special type of annual event full of challenges that raise funds for Idaho’s children with critical illnesses.

During each of the challenges, the top ten fundraisers get the chance to go out to Lucky Peak Reservoir and plunge into the chilly water with a guest of their choosing. 

Other activities include ice-cold water challenges, a contest for capturing the most epic moments of the event, etc. Companies and business leaders are also welcome to visit and their donations. 

The date of the event this coming year is January 1, 2025. 

6. Try a Scavenger Hunt Around Boise 

Starting at the State Capitol, this scavenger hunt tour around Boise takes visitors to explore the rich history of downtown Boise, art, historic sites, and more. 

Using smartphones as a guide, visitors participate in challenges or solve puzzles while also getting their way through the city. The tour overall takes about 3 hours.

Basque Block in Boise
Basque Block in Boise

The main sites to see include Freak Alley, Anne Frank Memorial, Boise Art Museum, and the Basque Block.

So, in case you’re not a fan of active and extreme types of winter sports and prefer something more informative and located in the city itself, keep this option in mind. 

>> Click here to book your Boise Scavenger Hunt

7. Visit Some Hot Springs Near Boise 

For those looking for hot springs near Boise, get excited as you have tons of options.

One of the best natural spas is The Springs in Idaho City. It features a large communal soaking pool, a hot tub, sauna, private pools (available for hourly rental), and more.

Idaho is brimming with hot springs!
Idaho is brimming with hot springs!

Especially during the winter season, the feeling of freezing air combined with a luxury hot pool promises a true one-of-a-kind experience. 

Another famous option is the Gold Fork Hot Springs. It’s located about 2 hours away from Boise, but has 6 pools and is suitable for young children, making this area family-friendly.

8. Go Tubing and Sledding at Camel’s Back Park 

In the wintertime, this spot is a favorable location for locals who enjoy tubing and sledding. Camel’s Back Park specifically features one major tall and steep hill.

Visitors claim that the journey until reaching the flat area at the bottom is thrilling.

Besides sledding, the park has areas to have a picnic while enjoying the amazing nature, several playgrounds, an outdoor gym, tennis courts, and a volleyball pit. 

On a final note, take into account that this location gets crowded very easily, and remember to bring your own sled and some water.

Address: 1200 Heron St, Boise, ID 83702

9. Take a Day trip to Bogus Basin for Winter Activities 

For lovers of alpine skiing and snowboarding, Bogus Basin features 10 lifts serving 80 runs. The mountain features around 2,600 acres of land and 1,800 vertical feet for skiing.

Tubing Hill, an 800 ft. downhill thrill ride, is a more “safer” and fun alternative. There are a few other amazing winter activities like Nordic skiing, which requires no uphill transportation, and snowshoeing, which is accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

Skiing near Boise in Bogus Basin
Skiing near Boise in Bogus Basin

Last but not least, Bogus Basin also boasts Idaho’s only mountain coaster – The Glade Runner. The mountain coaster offers 4,330 feet of fun and thrills. You will get into the coaster cart and be released, similar to a rollercoaster.

The best part is that you can control the speed yourself, making the ride more comfortable for everyone.

Winter Mountain Coaster in Bogus Basin near Boise
Winter Mountain Coaster in Bogus Basin near Boise

Bogus Basin is located ​​16.5 miles north of Boise and usually, from December to March, there is a public bus service available from Boise to Bogus Basin on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

In addition to that, the mountain offers night skiing in December if the weather conditions allow for it. Tickets are available for full-day, half-day, and night trips. 

10. Visit the Boise Art Museum

With the mission of creating visual arts experiences that engage people and inspire learning through exceptional exhibitions, collections, and educational opportunities, the Boise Art Museum is all about showing how the world can be a better place with visual arts. 

This is the place to find joy while connecting to the art pieces and for spending some time while quietly contemplating.

Boise Art Museum in winter via cifraser1 (CC BY 2.0 Flickr)
Boise Art Museum in winter via cifraser1 (CC BY 2.0 Flickr)

Each year, this museum hosts from 12 to 16 fascinating new exhibitions that include a wide range of artistic forms, media, cultures, etc.

In case you’re looking for souvenirs, get yourself to the store of the museum and purchase gifts, jewelry, accessories, books, décor, and more.

Address: 670 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702

11. Go Winter Hiking in Boise 

The northeastern portion of Camel’s Back Park area has a few trails like Red Fox, Gold Finch, Owl’s Roost, Hull’s Pond Loop, and Grove and Red-Winged Blackbird that are convenient for winter hiking.

If the weather is not on your side, you can make it to the Lower Hulls Gulch and Camel’s Back trails to keep you close to the downtown area of the city.

Winter hiking near Boise
Winter hiking near Boise

For those looking for a bit of a challenge, check out Dry Creek Trail, which begins near Bogus Basin Road and is 7.6 miles long. Dry Creek can be utilized as an out-and-back or as part of a loop with Shingle Creek. 

12. Check Out the Boise Little Theater 

Boise Little Theater is Idaho’s volunteer-oriented community theater. Over the course of 70 years, this theater has produced plays in genres ranging from contemporary and classical to comedy, drama, and musicals.

BLT is all about using theater arts to enrich the lives of our community members.

The number of attendees during a regular session is about 12,000 and the theater always welcomes volunteers in acting, directing, working backstage, or ushering. 

Address: 100 E Fort St, Boise, ID 83712

13. Take a Day Trip to the McCall Winter Carnival 

The McCall Winter Carnival began in the 1960s, and it has since developed into an iconic Idaho event, attracting more than 60,000 tourists each year.

This event is all about celebrating everything associated with the season of winter.

McCall Winter Festival in Idaho
McCall Winter Carnival in Idaho

The food vendors, amazing snow sculptures, and parades combined with opening and closing fireworks all contribute to making this one of the best festivals in the US.

This winter, the carnival will be held the February 23-25, 2024. Be sure to check the website periodically to find out more details about the upcoming festivals!

14. Stay in a Backcountry Yurt near Boise 

Winter camping in a yurt near Boise is a type of recreation that should not be missed.

There are a few backcountry yurts located in the Boise Mountains that come with all the comforts of home. You don’t need any extra skiing or snowshoeing skills to enjoy your time spent here. 

One of them is the Stargaze Yurt. It’s situated in an open space where the view of the night sky is amazingly beautiful. Snowshoers will have a chance to explore miles of off-trail areas. 

Yurt near Boise during winter
Yurt near Boise during winter

Another good choice is Skyline Yurt. It’s immediately off the groomed Skyline Trail, which is a popular loop for Nordic skiers and snowshoers.

Moreover, the yurt is also close to almost 20 miles of trails and defined Nordic tracks, where the nicest views of the Boise National Forest can be seen. 

15. Visit the Basque Museum and Cultural Center

The Basque Museum and Cultural Center began as a modest museum on Grove Street in 1985, housed in the old Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga House. 

Its mission is to maintain and promote Basque history and culture. Here, visitors will explore the rich and colorful history of the Basques, their origins, and their existence in America.

Basque Center in Boise via Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0 Flickr)
Basque Center in Boise via Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0 Flickr)

Currently, the center has several exhibitions, offers Euskara language classes, a gift store with unique souvenirs, and more. There are also many research studies and projects initiated by this institute. 

The museum is on the Basque Block in downtown Boise. Note that when in the area, you can also try some traditional Basque food nearby.

Address: 611 W Grove St, Boise, ID 83702 

16. Drink Up at a Popular Boise Winery

Being in Boise in the wintertime and not visiting a single winery is not a good idea as this small city has delicious wine to offer.

Let’s mention just a few of them. If you’re looking for a winery that has good wine and opens early (at 11am), then Cinder is the place to go.

If you’re looking for something that’s one-of-a-kind, visit Split Rail Winery.

Their primary focus is on innovation and the idea of not producing the same wine more than once.

Telaya Wine Company can also be found on the list of the best wineries in Boise. One of its advantages is the beautiful facility adjacent to the Boise River and the relaxing terrace that makes the perfect atmosphere for tasting.

Where to Stay in Boise

You will find several options of places to stay in Boise during the winter season. Below are some of our top picks to add to that itinerary!

Winter in Boise at the State Capitol
Winter in Boise at the State Capitol

What are your favorite things to do in Boise in winter? Let us know your Boise winter tips below!

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Heading to Boise in winter this year and looking for activities and things to do? We have you covered! These are the best things to do during winter in Boise! | Boise winter trip | Skiing near Boise | Snowboarding near Boise | Idaho winter travel | Winter in Idaho | Boise itinerary in winter | Winter hiking Boise | Hot springs near Boise | Craft beer in Boise | Snowshoeing near Boise | Idaho skiing | Idaho winter hiking | Idaho trails in winter | Things to do in Boise in winter | Visit Boise

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