With glorious weather and summer break upon us, it’s time for long days, trips to the pool, water fights, and watermelon. But if you’re looking for ways to keep the little ones busy while keeping their minds occupied, Boise is full of summer fun and learning!
Our family had the opportunity to spend a week exploring all that Boise has to offer, not just in outdoor adventure, but also in educational fun for the whole family.
These are our favorite summertime educational stops in Boise
MK Nature Center
With the perfect blend of education and outdoor adventure, the MK Nature center provides excellent children’s programs and a beautiful, well-shaded nature trail called the StreamWalk where kids will get a fish-eye view through the underwater viewing windows and learn about the lifecycle of fish and other river animals. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the mink that live in the stream catching fish!
Escape the heat and visit one of the five Boise Public “Library!” locations and join the summer reading program. There are plenty of educational books, games, toys, and electronics at the Library to keep children occupied for an entire day.
World Center for Birds of Prey
Explore the amazing world of the king of the skies by visiting the World Center for Birds of Prey. The center focuses on restoring rare species through captive breeding and release while offering amazing programs for all ages. Live raptor presentations can be seen daily along with special programs with falcons, condors, eagles, owls, and more. Be sure to enjoy the great view from the top of the hill.
Warhawk Air Museum
For any airplane, military or history enthusiasts, the Warhawk Air Museum holds a treasure trove or artifacts and memorabilia from the entire 20th century. The mission of the museum is to teach and educate about the cost of freedom and honor those who paid its price. The 40,000 square foot museum holds rare planes from WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam wars as well as binders full of stories from hundreds of veterans.
We were lucky enough to meet a man named Lou who was a child during WWII. He told us stories of his past and recounted the war from a child’s perspective, which was truly fascinating.
Deerflat National Wildlife Refuge
This beautiful piece of land surrounding Lake Lowell just outside of Boise is an important protected area for birds and animals. There are many educational areas inside the visitor center where kids can participate in active learning by feeling different local animal pelts and bones, participating in art activities, and even going on a scavenger hunt for birds, animals, and plants outdoors.
Ann Frank Human Rights Memorial
This touching educational memorial in the heart of Boise is a tribute to Holocaust victim Ann Frank and her faith in humanity. Stroll along the walls, engraved with inspiring words from Ann and other great leaders of peace, presidents, and slaves, in the shade of trees planted by people who knew Ann Frank.
With a wide array of animals, programs for kids, a playground, a butterfly exhibit and boat rides, Zoo Boise is the perfect place to take your own wild animals. It’s fun, educational and conservation-driven. Be sure to register for their educational programs in advance.
Old Idaho Penitentiary
The Old Idaho Penitentiary was a working prison for over 100 years from 1872-1973 and is one of only three remaining territorial prisons left standing in the US today. It is on the register of US Historical Places and therefore has hardly been touched since its closing.
A truly memorable mix of abandoned prison meets museum will leave an impression on even the youngest guests. I highly recommend taking the guided tour, where you will hear fascinating stories from the prison’s past. The tour is recommended for ages 10 and up due to the nature of some stories.
When you visit here, make sure you pass by to Idaho Botanical Garden so that you can take a stroll through the beautiful gardens and learn about Idaho’s native plants.
Discovery Center of Idaho
This interactive science center in downtown Boise whose mission is to inspire lifelong interest and learning in science, technology, engineering, and math, will also inspire FUN for kids of all ages and even their chaperones. Full of hands-on exhibits, hours can be spent at the Discovery Center of Idaho.
There are so many great learning experiences for kids in Boise. I hope you get to take advantage of one of these.
Read here if you’re looking for more fun kid adventures in Boise Idaho?
Boise Art Museum
If you want to take your children into a world of art and culture, then Boise Art Museum (BAM) offers something for everyone. The museum has a wide collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as an outdoor sculpture garden. BAM also hosts special exhibitions so you can explore the work of international artists throughout the year.
The best part of visiting here is that it’s close to the Idaho State Museum and the Idaho Black History Museum which give you an opportunity to learn more about the rich Idaho culture.
Boise River Greenbelt
The Boise River Greenbelt is a 25-mile long, paved trail that stretches along the Boise River and connects downtown Boise with Eagle, Star, Kuna, and Meridian. This greenbelt offers stunning views of nature and wildlife, perfect for a family picnic as well as educational opportunities to learn about birds, flowers, and trees.
You can even take a boat tour on the river, which stops at different sites along the way, allowing you to explore the area’s wildlife and historical buildings. Make sure to bring your binoculars for a closer look!
Julia Davis Park
Julia Davis Park is the heart of Boise and a great place to take your family for an educational day out. The park offers a number of activities including the Discovery Center, the Idaho Historical Museum, Zoo Boise, and other Boise attractions.
Boise Whitewater Park
Boise Whitewater Park is the perfect place for family fun, with a variety of activities that will keep everyone entertained. From rafting and kayaking to swimming or just enjoying the scenery, there is something for everyone at Boise Whitewater Park. Visitors have the option of taking classes with professional instructors to learn more about whitewater sports and safety.
Spanning over eighty miles long, the Boise Foothills offer a variety of outdoor activities. Hikers and bikers can explore trails that wind through valleys, forests, and meadows. Visitors can also take horseback riding tours to experience the beauty of the foothills from an animal’s perspective.
For educational experiences, visitors can look for wildlife, learn about the history of the area, and take part in activities such as birdwatching. These are all great ways to learn more about Idaho’s unique environment.
Boise Farmers Market
Boise Farmers Market is the perfect place to learn about Idaho’s agriculture and get a taste of locally made goods. The market features over 100 vendors selling farm-fresh produce, local artisan foods, handmade crafts, and more. It’s a great way to connect with Boise locals and find out what makes this region so unique.
Idaho State Capitol Building
The Idaho State Capitol Building is a must-see for anyone visiting Boise. The building has beautiful architecture and is full of history. Guided tours are available to teach visitors about the history of the state and how it shaped Idaho into what it is today.
Over 100 years old, the building has been well preserved and its murals, sculptures, and artwork are a great way to explore Idaho’s cultural heritage.
Where to Stay in Boise Idaho
There are a number of good hotels in downtown Boise. I’ll list a few that we like. If you’re traveling with kids, it might be easier to book a rental home to have several bedrooms and the use of a kitchen. We like to book houses on this site.