In June of 2019, work brought Aaron to Boise for the first time ever. Pronounced “boy-see” and a true Idahoan (or my husband) will correct you. He texted me immediately singing the city’s praises and sending me Zillow listings to move there. I told him I’d have to visit first before uprooting our little family. The pre-COVID plan was to visit for a long weekend over the 4th of July because they have a big celebration downtown at the Ann Morrison Park. When that trip was cancelled we kept our eyes open for the perfect time to rebook, which ended up being last weekend (November 12-15th, 2020). If you’ve never been and are curious about the weather, these photos make Idaho look really cold (12-32 degree range depending on where we were). I was told that getting snow that early in the season was very unusual and typically it’s in the 30-50 degrees temperature range this time of year. Other than my ankles being cold, I was pretty prepared for the cold weather and enjoyed the change from Arizona.
TRAVEL ITINERARY - PREP WORK & PLANNING
Prior to our trip Aaron connected his laptop to our TV and we planned our itinerary. Some of the resources we used were Yelp for restaurants (I always call ahead and confirm whether or not they have gluten free accommodations), Google maps to understand the proximity of everything and visitidaho.org. The The Visit Idaho website is packed with incredible information that made planning our trip super simple and prepared us for what to expect. We actually ended up changing our trip from being in Boise all three-days to traveling to Ketchum and Sun Valley based on this itinerary that is published on their site. (This can be found by going to Things To Do > State Parks & Byways – Scenic/Backcountry Byways > Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway > Weekend Trips – Sip, Savor & Shop) The main reason we did that was because the activities that we wanted to do in Boise, like surf the river, go on nature walks, hang out in the parks, walk around downtown, is better for warmer weather. Since we knew it was supposed to snow we figured traveling to a ski town would make more sense, but we definitely still wanted to explore downtown Boise as much as possible.
Rental Car – for this travel itinerary we knew we needed to rent a car to get around, however if you’re flying in and only want to stay in Boise I’m sure you can get away without renting a car. Even if we didn’t go on our road trip, we probably still would have renting a car because the park and hikes are at a distance that would be too far for us to walk.
TRAVEL ITINERARY - DAY 2 - Saturday, November 14th, 2020
BOISE, ID – Downtown
Technically Thursday was our first day in Boise, but we landed at 10pm so I’m counting Friday as our first day for our three-day travel itinerary. On this day we were surprised that it ended up raining and snowing for a little bit, so we got to enjoy a complete departure from the sunny Arizona climate that we’re used to. The main items on the agenda for today were to eat delicious food, explore Boise a little bit and go on a nature walk, which turned into a nature drive once the weather picked up.
- Hotel stay at the Residence Inn Boise Downtown/City Center at 400 S Capitol Blvd, Boise, ID 83702.
- Breakfast at Goldy’s, which was a quick 7-minute walk. I was very excited by all of the breakfast potato offerings. I got Goldy’s Special Potatoes and they were delicious!
- Picked up umbrellas from Target at the Shops on Emerald near the mall and half way to Meridian / Eagle.
- Watched the snow some down at Ann Morrison Park.
- Nature drive up Table Rock Overlook that took us up a mountain through a gorgeous neighborhood. The parking lot at the top was closed, but there were hiking paths at the top that was open to pedestrians only.
- Afternoon snack at the coffee shop called Form & Function, less than 5-minutes from our hotel. They make their own hot cocoa and had gluten free muffins.
- Dinner at Fork, which is off of 8th Street and Idaho Street. It’s in an area where they close down 8th Street to pedestrians only and have a variety of restaurants, bars, shops. At Fork we shared a bottle of L’Ecole No 41 Cabernet Sauvignon and tomato basil fondue with grilled cheese bites on a gluten free bun. I had the northwest filet with brown butter mashed Idaho potatoes and am still kicking myself that I was too full for the gluten free brownie bowl.
- After dinner we got drinks at Press & Pony, which is known for their innovative cocktails. It was temporarily moved to a different location that also connected to Spacebar, which has several arcade games.
- Before heading home, we stopped into Humpin’ Hannah’s for a couple more drinks and ended up catching the tail end of a piano bar set and live music. Then it turned to regular DJ/club music and we safely stood at our own table 6″ away from everyone else until we left.
TRAVEL ITINERARY - DAY 2 - Saturday, November 14th, 2020
KETCHUM & SUN VALLEY, ID – 2.5 hour road trip from Boise
Saturday morning I nursed a hangover for a couple hours while Aaron figured out a new route to our next hotel room. Unfortunately we did not feel comfortable taking the scenic loop that is outlined in Visit Idaho’s road trip itinerary. The directions take you up to Ketchum / Sun Valley area and back around to Boise so that you don’t have to see the same scenery driving to and from. With the snowfall that Idaho got on Friday it shut down some of the back roads that we were hoping to take along the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, the Craters of the Moon National Monument and the Kirkham Hot Springs (1 hour and 45 minutes from Boise on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway). Instead we took the quickest route that GPS offered and Aaron Googled the highway cameras to make sure that the roads we were taking had been plowed and cleared to drive on.
- Hotel stay at Hotel Ketchum, which was a super cute boutique hotel with a pool and hot tub right in the middle of downtown Ketchum.
- Lunch at Sawtooth Brewery, which is across the street from our hotel and have gluten free offerings. I had a delicious elk burger, side salad and gluten free apple crisp. (I love that three out of the six restaurants we went to already had a gluten free dessert or pastry offering on their menu!)
- We took a quick drive to the Sun Valley Lodge Resort and walked around the town center, which is very cute and small. The mountains and scenery is gorgeous too!
- Dinner at Warfield Distillery was a 7-minutes walk from our hotel. I had called ahead and they were super accommodating to my allergy. I ate the trout special, which no joke was the best trout/fish I’ve ever had. It was so crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. They made gluten free accommodations with special potatoes and how they cooked their brussel sprouts. Aaron got wagyu beef steak with potatoes and brussel sprouts so that I could try it too. The portions were enormous.
- After dinner we went back to the hotel, but if it was a little warmer out we would have walked around the downtown area which had an ice cream parlor, Starbucks, Lululemon, etc.
TRAVEL ITINERARY - DAY 3 - Sunday, November 15th, 2020
BOISE, ID – 3 hour road trip back
Sunday morning we woke up to even more snow! We figured that with current conditions we need to leave sooner than initially planned especially since more snow was forecasted for early afternoon. I love Ketchum / Sun Valley so much that it was sad to leave, but in snowy current climate and neither of us skiing there wasn’t a ton for us to do.
- I woke up and enjoyed the hot tub at Hotel Ketchum before packing up and leaving.
- We grabbed breakfast at the Village Market on our way out.
- The drive home was so white through the mountains and farm land. We saw a lot of cows and a couple deer.
- Right before getting into Boise at 1pm we filled up on gas near the main high way.
- We spent the rest of the afternoon at Bodovino in the Historical area of downtown Boise and enjoyed Sunday Funday with all day happy hour. Bodovino has the automated wine pours, so I purchased a card and paid for each ounce of wine electronically. We enjoyed some 1/2 off apps too.
- Sadly, we headed to the airport around 3pm and were back in Arizona by 10pm.
MORE RECOMMENDATIONS - BOISE, KETCHUM & SUN VALLEY
I received a few recommendations that we weren’t able to vet, but I wanted to share here just in case you’re planning a trip. Most of these recs are for Boise or right outside of Boise, otherwise I’ve indicated the city in Idaho they’re for.
- Alavita (Italian food; same owners as Fork, which is the restaurant we went to on Friday.)
- Bar Gernika (Pub and eatery.)
- Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery (Northwest fair and craft cocktails.)
- Goodwood BBQ (I called ahead and it sounds like they have decent gluten free accommodations.)
- Juniper (Currently closed due to COVID.)
- Trillium (Upscale modern American cuisine serving all meals.)
- Tupelo Honey (I called this restaurant and it’s not very accommodating for gluten allergies as they feature typical southern food.)
- Wild Root Cafe (Casual modern healthy meals.)
- Vintage Restaurant (Ketchum, ID – I found this on Yelp and I could not find a menu online, plus it had three dollar signs, but it looks so cute and quaint.)
- Enoteca (Ketchum, ID – locally sourced fair in a stylish setting.)
THINGS TO DO