Downtown Boise is the cultural center of the city and home to many small businesses as well as a few mid-rises. A variety of local restaurants abound featuring locally grown products, craft beverages, and seasonal menus. Community events such as the Saturday Farmer’s Market, First Thursday,
and Alive-After-Five outdoor concert series on the Grove bring large crowds to the area. The 8th Street Marketplace provides a quaint pedestrian zone lined with boutiques, local restaurants, and bars. Downtown Boise’s popular attractions include Julia Davis, Ann Morrison & Catherine Albertson parks, the Idaho State Capitol, the classic Egyptian Theatre, the Boise Art Museum, and the Basque Block.
BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY
To the south of downtown is Boise State University, surrounded by residential neighborhoods & businesses catering to the student population. The area is dominated by residential neighborhoods and businesses catering to the student population. The unique blue playing field at the 37,000-seat Albertsons Stadium on the BSU campus, home to the Boise State Broncos football team, is a major city landmark. The university campus is home to the Taco Bell Arena, which hosts a variety of concert and sporting events, as well as the Morrison Center, which hosts the Idaho Ballet, Broadway shows and many other cultural performances.
THE NORTH END The North End, generally defined as the part of Boise north of State Street, contains many of the city’s older homes. It is known for its tree-lined drives such as Harrison Boulevard, and for its quiet neighborhoods near the downtown area. Bicyclists and pedestrians populate the shaded streets of the North End. Boutiques and popular eateries draw many to 13th Streets’ Historic Hyde Park, situated below the outdoor enthusiast’s much loved Camel’s Back Park.
Southwest Boise contains sparsely populated neighborhoods built from the 1960s to the early 1980s. Many include acre sized plots and the occasional farmhouse and pasture. In the 1980s, growth in the area was stunted to prevent urban sprawl. Since this has been lifted, there has been widespread growth of new homes and neighborhoods. The area lies near Interstate 84, theaters, shopping, the airport, golf and the Boise Bench area.
Northwest Boise lies against the Boise Foothills to the north, State Street to the south, the city of Eagle to the west, and downtown Boise to the east. It contains a mix of old and new neighborhoods, including Lakeharbor, which features the private Silver Lake, a reclaimed quarry. Northwest Boise has some pockets of older homes with a similar aesthetic to the North End. Downtown is minutes away, as is Veteran’s Memorial Park and easy access to the Boise Greenbelt. Across the river sits the Boise Bench and to the west are the bedroom communities of Eagle, Star, and Middleton.
WARM SPRINGS AND EAST END
Warm Springs is centered on the tree-lined Warm Springs Avenue and contains some of Boise’s largest and most expensive homes (many of which were erected by wealthy miners and businessmen around the turn of the 20th century; Victorian styles feature prominently). The area gets its name from the natural hot springs that flow from Boise’s fault line and warm many of the homes in the area. The Natotorium public swim center is located here.
EAST BOISE AND HARRIS RANCH
The far-east end of Warm Springs was once known as Barber Town, featuring a hotel with hot springs nestled into the foothills. It now has some new residential developments, with easy access to Highway 21, which leads to the southcentral Idaho mountains, the Boise River, the Boise Foothills, and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Southeast Boise spans from Boise State University to Micron Technology – all areas between Federal Way and the Boise River. The older area just south of the University can be described as a cross between the North End and the Boise Bench. The rest of Southeast Boise was developed in the last thirty years with suburban-style homes. Columbia Village subdivision and the older Oregon Trail Heights were the first major planned communities in Southeast Boise with an elementary and middle school all within walking distance from all homes. The subdivision is located at the intersections of Interstate 84, Idaho 21, and Federal Way (former U.S. Highway), which are all major arteries to get anywhere in Boise. The subdivision, a baseball complex, and swimming pools were developed around the Simplot Sports complex. The fields are built over an old landfill and dump, and the fields and gravel parking lot allow radon gases to escape through the ground.
The Bench, generally bounded by Federal Way to the east, Cole Road to the west and Garden City to the north, sits on an elevation approximately 60 feet higher than downtown Boise to its northeast. Orchard Street is a major northsouth thoroughfare in the neighborhood. The Bench is so named because this sudden rise, giving the appearance of a step, or bench. The Bench (or Benches, there are three actual benches in the Boise Valley) was created as an ancient shoreline to the old river channel. The Bench is home to the Boise Union Pacific Depot and older residential neighborhoods similar to those in the North End. Due south of the Bench is the Boise Airport.
West Boise is home to Boise Towne Square Mall, the largest in the state, as well as numerous restaurants, strip malls, and residential developments ranging from new subdivisions to apartment complexes. The Ada County jail and Hewlett Packard’s printing division are also located here. It is relatively the flattest section of Boise, with sweeping views of the Boise Front. West Boise also borders the city of Meridian, Idaho.