Walk the Boise State University
Students at Boise State University are fortunate to have a nice school located both adjacent to the south fork of the Boise River and across from Julia Davis Park. The campus is the largest school of higher education in Idaho with over 23,000 students attending.
The school was originally an Episcopalian school but was transferred to a public university two years after its founding in 1934. There must be over 100 buildings on campus. The most spectacular for me was the huge Bronco Stadium home of the school's highy rated football team.
It appears that many students commute and get around campus via bicycle. A great bike path runs along the Boise River. There are several bridges that cross the Boise River and lead over to the campus.
Walk Through Pioneer Village
Located right next door to the Idaho State Museum, Pioneer Village is a tribute to the early settlers of Idaho displaying both their initial views of the area as well as some housing types.
Pioneer Village's history goes back to 1933 when a local group moved two log cabins to Julia Davis Park. However over the years the area deteriorated unitl the mid 1970's when a local group named the Idaho Historical Auxiliary (now named the Friends of the Idaho Museum) took over preservation of the village. Today the Mayor Tom Logan house, a log cabin, another home and the more recently constructed Lewis and Clark Discovery Pavillon make up the park. The three homes all represent places that prominent Idahoans lived. The historic homes are not only interestingly visually but inside there is a focus on how the homes were originally constructed and how they were maintained.
Admission to Pioneer Village was included as part of the admission to the Idaho Historical Museum.
The trail in the Lewis and Clark Discovery area, just added to the park in 2010, is particularly well done consisting of several hands on exhibits including animal paw identification. plant groupings, and Idaho rock formations. It is nicely done and from what I could see the little kids love running around the Pavillion area especially after being in the museum for any length of time.
Check Out the Idaho State Historical Museum
Nearly every state has a central museum celebrating its history. Idaho is no exception. However what sets Idaho's apart is the quality of its exhibits both inside and outside the main building. The museum is located on the edge of Julia Davis Park in downtown Boise. Parking was a bit of a headache to find even on a mid week morning. However search around the park and you will likely find a place to park for free for an hour or two.
The Idaho State Museum focuses on all aspects of everyday life in Idaho over the last 150 years of being a territory. This includes in part the vehicles traveled in, the tools and equipment used in everyday life, what home life is like, agriculture, recreation, focus on special groups including Native Americans and the Chinese, and countless other areas. Among the most interesting artifacts was a "Gospel Coach," used by a traveling Idaho minister and an iron lung used by a early Boise hospital.
Given that 2013 represents the 150th year of Idaho becoming a territory there was a special exhibit entitled, "150 Things That Make Idaho Unique." The exhibit not included artifacts but included many hands on learning stations focusing on developing all Idahoans understanding of the diversity and richness of the state.
So is it worth the time? I would advise that if you have 60 to 90 minutes on a cold or rainy day or are very interested in Idaho history the time and money is well spent.
Hours of Operation are;
May through September:
Tuesday through Friday
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10 am - 5 pm
October through April:
Tuesday through Friday
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Admission is $ 5 for adults and $ 4 for seniors over 60 and children.
The museum also is open at no charge the first Thursday of every month.
Walk the Rose Garden in Julia Davis Park
The Rose Garden is situated smack in the middle of Julia Davis Park. The city's oldest park,it was created in 1907 by Thomas Davis in memoriam of the death of his wife Julia. While the park contains man other features including several museums and a zoo the Rose Garden is the soul of the park. A place of refuge and beauty we enjoyed walking around the park and observing the different varieties of roses. The Rose Garden is also just a few steps away from the Boise River and Boise State University.
There is no entry fee. The park is open around the clock.
Worth a Look Inside the State Capitol Building-WIP
Visiting the state capitols in all the fifty states is something that I always wanted to do. So coming to Boise for the first time seeing the building was high on my list. While more impressive than most capitol buildings the real charm of the Idaho State Capitol is within its walls.
Before visiting the State Capitol Building I downloaded a brochure from the Idaho State Capitol Commission web site. I was surprised to find that the building that is there today is not the first state capitol building. A smaller and less functional captiol building was built in the late 1800's on the same site.
Recognizing the limitations of the first building the Idaho State Capitol Commission held a design competition for a new building. The firm they selected was headed by John Tourtellotte, a Boise architect. His design was a building that utilized natural light.
The evidence of that early design is apparent 100 plus years later as I walked the interior of the building. Light shafts, large window, skilights and reflective surfaces all are redirected into the interior space including the rotunda which in my opinion is the most striking element of the entire building. There are striking views of the rotunda from each of the four floors of the building. My favorite was the second floor area of the rotunda which shows off the massive support structure as well as eight large Corninthian columns.
Walking the interior of the building there are many striking marble columns. This is most evident in the striking rotunda.They are not solid marble but have a finished surface composed of scagliola which is a composite of gypsum, glue, marble dust, and granite. It looks like marble but is far lighter, less expensive and shinier than marble. The scagliola is dyed to look like marble.
However there is marble used throughout the building including the floors. Some of the columns have a white marble with green veining. The floors of the building are constructed from four different marbles from various parts of the world. Very impressively done.
There are several ways to tour the State Capitol Building. For groups of five and under you can download the State Capitol Tour Guide and walk the building using the handy reference. For groups of from 5 to 50 their are guided tours that are conducted during normal weekday hours. Reservations must be made two weeks in advance of attending.
There is no cost to visit the interior of the Capitol Building.
Take a Prison Break at the Old State Penitentiary
When I thought about Boise before coming I certainly had no idea that part of the trip was going to involve walking the grounds of the Old State Penitentiary. However the grounds of this old prison opened in 1872 are interesting to walk and even offer some good views of downtown if you are willing to climb up the hills outside of the main grounds.
The Old Penitentiary was actually known as the Idaho Territorial Prison and opened its doors in 1872. It operated for 101 years and over that period housed over 13,000 inmates. This included about 600 women. After riots in 1971 and 1973 over living conditions the prison was closed down and prisoners were moved to a facility south of Boise.
Lady Bluebeard: Perhaps the Idaho Pen's Most Famous Prisoner
Writing a story about a person associated with a site always seems to make the place come alive and be more personal. Since the Women's Prison was the only cell block open the day of our visit I focused on one person, Lady Bluebeard. Born as Lyda Trueblood she moved to Twin Falls, Idaho at a young age. She married a man named Robert Dooley in 1912 and lived in a house that included his brother Ed. In 1915 Ed died of was determined to be ptomaine poisoning. Her husband died two months later of what was believed to be typhoid fever.
Just two year later she married William G. McHaffle in 1917 Shortly afterward, Lyda's three year old daughter fell ill and died, prompting the McHaffles to get up and take residence tn nearby Montana. A year later, McHaffle suddenly fell ill of what was thought to be the flu and died in Montana on October 1918,
Amazingly just a short five moths later 1919, she married Harlen C. Lewis and settled in Billings, Montana. Old Harlen didn't last long at all and died of what again was thought to be flu just four months later. On a roll Lyda married for a again less than two years later in Pocatello, Idaho, to Edward F. Meyer, Just under a month later he died too of what was believe to be typhoid ferver Amazing the luck o Lyda.
By now word had gotten around that these deaths were more than coincidence. A relative of her first husband began to investigate the deaths of these four men. As a chemist he teamed up with a physician and found that the deaths of the first two men were by arsenic poisoning. The prTwin Falls County Prosecutor Frank Stephan began investigation and began exhuming the bodies of three of Lyda’s husbands, Lyda’s 3-year-old daughter, and Lyda’s brother-in-law. A local prosecutor found that after exhuming the bodies of the other three husbands traces of arsenic poisoning. Records also showed that she recovered life insurance policies from all four men.
She was found in Hawaii and extradited back to Idaho married to a fifth husband. After a lengthy trial, she was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to ten years to life imprisonment in the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. She was released on probation in October 1941, and received a final pardon in 1942.
The cell where she spent about 10 years told her story. I am sure the guards made sure that they never got too close to charming Lyda.
The day we arrived at the Old Penitentiary the grounds to men's prison and main museum were closed. So we walked the entire outside of the grounds. This included the administrative office, the rose garden (where hangings took place), and the women's cell block. The facility backs up to the Idaho Botanical Gardens and some of the gardens were built on demolished prison facilities. Walking the grounds provides an eerie feeling. The women's cell block was a tiny building but was made interesting by the stories of individual prisoners on walls of the halls in the cell block.
Visit the Idaho Botanical Garden
Located next door to the Old State Penitentiary, the Idaho Botanical Gardens is worth a quick look if you are in the area and have an interest in native and exotic plants. The gardens were formed in 1984 by a local botanist who wanted to develop gardens that taught folks about native and exotic plants in a relaxed setting.
The gardens occupy approximately 33 acres of land that is leased from the State of Idaho. Currently just about half of that land is developed with gardens and exhibits. There are at least fourteen separate gardens. Many of them have either a geographical emphasis or theme. Some of the gardens show the native plants of the foothills or wooded forest. A particularly interesting garden shows only the native plants that were found by Merriweather Clark in his groundbreaking journey through the area. Other gardens focus on specific flowers such as peonies and roses. The carnivorous plant garden was interesting in that I was surprised to find the range of plants included in this garden.
The Botanical Garden has gone out of its way to educate families and children on plants. Families can rent for no charge a pack back at the front gate than includes several nature books, a pair of binoculars, a magnifying glass and other materials. Interpretive carts are also located throughout the park that explain certain of the gardens in more detail and offer hands on exhibits. Very cool ideas I thought.
The Idaho Botanical Garden is open year round from 9 a.m. to when it turns dark. Admission is
$5.00 for adults, and $ 3 for seniors and youths 5-12. Additional discounts are available with a AAA card. Children under 5 are free.
One thing I always like to do in visiting a state capital is actually going inside and visiting the state capitol building. A few reasons for this: it's always free, the history is always interesting and there's usually a guided tour available, the architecture is great, they're air-conditioned and there are lots of public water fountains and bathrooms around.
Idaho's state capitol features everything listed above, plus a few nice extras. In what could be considered the basement, there's a small gift shop selling Idaho-related trinkets. There's also a fairly extensive photography gallery in the hall detailing Idaho history.
- Budget Travel
Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Boise has had its share of intolerance to chinese, blacks, and gays, and so it is refreshing to see a local effort to educate the next generation about the importance of human rights and tolerance. The Ann Frank Human Rights Memorial is an outdoor exhibit of photographs, audio narration, and famous quotes all on the subject of tolerance and human rights. The exhibit is free and funded by the Idaho Human Rights Education Center. The location at the foot of 8th street near the Boise River, between the two capitol bridges, is ideal. The combination of the hands-on exhibit with the naturalistic style pools and fountain falls is really great.
- Family Travel
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Snake River Canyon and Swan Falls Dam
This takes a bit of driving to get to but is a rewarding trip. Most of the drive South from Boise is along Western Heritage Scenic Byway and through the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation area.
The total one-way trip from Boise to the Swan Falls Dam is about 30 miles.
The first place to stop is Dedication Point where there is parking, some informational signs, and after a short walk, your first view of the Snake River Canyon. This was very impressive to me especially since the drive up to that point was across a very flat, desert-like landscape.
After spending some time looking at the Canyon and at the birds, continue driving to the Swan Falls Dam area. Here there is a road down to the river level, parking, bathrooms, and picnic areas. There is also the Dam itself with a powerhouse that is open at limited times for visitor access. Even when the powerhouse is closed, it is a beautiful and impressive area to visit.
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
Visit the state capitol building! This is something I do in every state capitol city -- the buildings are beautiful and give you a great sense of history. There is a self-guided brochure which explains the history of the state and the building. There is also permanent and roving art exhibits. Best of all this tour is free!
The Idaho Capitol Building is open 7:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays and 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekends and holidays.
Idaho State Capitol
Most of you that have travelled to state capitals have seen one of the United States' State Capitols. Idaho has a few unique facts surrounding its Capitol Building:
In 1885, the territory allocated 80,000 USD for its Capitol building. The original building did not have indoor plumbing.
In 1905, the Capitol building structure that you see today was implemented. Its final cost was well over $2M dollars.
To date, this is the only Capitol heated by a geo-thermal heating device.
Four types of marble were used for the Capitol’s interior: Red marble from Georgia, gray from Alaska, green from Vermont, and the black marble is from Italy. Chandeliers were purchased in Chicago that would accommodate both gas and electric lighting.
The World Center for Birds of Prey
The World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho was dedicated in 1984. It is The Peregrine Fund's world headquarters. From there they operate our national and international conservation programs.
The Peregrine Fund's original breeding facilities at Cornell University, New York and Ft. Collins, Colorado were consolidated there. They also operated a facility on the Big Island of Hawaii for breeding of endangered Hawaiian birds which we transferred to the Zoological Society of San Diego. They have field stations in Madagascar, Panama, and Greenland.
My husband and I went there once. It is pretty interesting and cute to see. There isn't A LOT of stuff, but to see it once it is pretty cool. I am sure the Kids would like to see the birds!!!
Jaialdi - Basque Festival (downtown portion)
I have already posted one tip about the Jaialdi Basque Festival, which takes place every 5 years and draws Basques from around the world, but this is specifically about the part downtown.
Before the big events at the fairgrounds (see the other tip), there are various events downtown, culminating in a big festival on the Basque Block, with street food, music, dancing, and more. It lasts late into the night.
The website below is for the Basque Center, which is on the Basque Block, and is the best place for information on this.
- Food and Dining
Jaialdi - Basque Festival
Every 5 years, Boise hosts Jaialdi, the international Basque Festival. This includes music, food, etc., on the Basque Block downtown, plus cultural displays, dancing, and more. It lasts for several days, building to the main centrepiece which is the big festival of dances, music, competitions, and food, etc., at the Boise fairgrounds to the NW of downtown.
It is very large and Basques from all over the world come to the event. There were many from Spain and France, as well as the UK, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, etc., in addition to Basques from all over Idaho, California, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon.
This is in part because Idaho, especially Boise and the Boise area, has one of the largest Basque communities in the US (although California has the largest, with the greatest concentration being in Bakersfield).
The website I give below is for the Boise Basque association, probably the best place to get info on it, as well as other Basque-related things. However, as I said, this festival is only once every 5 years. It just took place thus summer, 2010, so the next I suppose will be in 2015.
- Family Travel
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