Ultimate Guide to Boise, Idaho Winter Bucket List Activities

Ultimate Guide to Boise, Idaho Winter Bucket List Activities

by Aaron McFarland

As the chill sets in and Boise is draped in a blanket of snow, the Boise, Idaho area buzzes with a special kind of energy, transforming into a winter playground, offering a mix of thrilling and cozy experiences. This Is Boise’s Ultimate Guide to Winter Activities is an insider’s look into making the most of these chilly months. Whether you’re a Boise local or a visitor eager to dive into the city’s winter charms, we’ve got you covered with a range of activities that promise both excitement and relaxation. So, bundle up and let’s discover the best of Boise’s winter!

Always verify for accurate information, dates, and details.

Go Skiing at Bogus Basin

Experience the thrill of winter at Bogus Basin, Boise’s local mountain, offering a wide range of activities. Enjoy alpine skiing and snowboarding across 2,600 acres of terrain with 88 runs served by 10 lifts. If you’re into Nordic skiing, the trails provide a serene connection with nature. For those not ready to ski or snowboard, the tubing hill offers a fun alternative. Fat tire biking on the Nordic Trails is another exciting way to enjoy the snowy landscape.

2600 N Bogus Basin Rd, Boise, ID 83702

Cost: Varies

Website: bogusbasin.org

Walk through the Winter Garden Aglow

Immerse yourself in the magical Winter Garden aGlow at the Idaho Botanical Garden. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, this enchanting display features twinkling lights, delightful displays, and the aroma of cookies and hot chocolate. Children can explore a winter wonderland, while adults enjoy cozy moments by the fire pits and holiday drinks at the Snow Globe Bar. Don’t miss the Gingerbread Village and the opportunity to write letters to Santa.

2355 Old Penitentiary Road Boise, Idaho 83712

Dates: : November – December, Wednesday – Sunday, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Cost: Members – $14, Youth (4-12) – $14, Nonmembers – $18, Kids under 4 – Free

Ice Skate at Numerous Winter Locations in the Boise Area

Experience the joy of ice skating at various locations in the Boise area this winter. Each venue offers a unique skating experience:

  • Indian Creek Plaza in Caldwell: Open Sunday-Thursday from 12 pm to 9 pm, and Friday-Saturday from 12 pm to 10:30 pm. Admission ranges from $7 to $14, with seasonal passes available.
  • The Village in Meridian: Offers outdoor skating from November 12th to January 16th.
  • Idaho Ice World in Boise: Provides indoor skating with various admission options and season passes.
  • Glide on Grove at The Grove Plaza, Downtown Boise: A completely free outdoor rink open from Thanksgiving weekend through January.

Whether you prefer an indoor rink or an outdoor winter wonderland, these locations provide a perfect setting for family fun and making memories on the ice.

Catch a Classic Holiday Flick at the Egyptian Theatre

Boise’s historic Egyptian Theatre, with its detailed Egyptian architectural styling, serves as a unique venue for classic holiday movies. Embrace the nostalgia and charm of this Boise landmark while enjoying a special selection of seasonal films. For schedules and more information, visit Egyptian Theatre’s official website.

700 W Main St, Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Winter Wonderland in Caldwell, Idaho

Join the festive celebrations at Winter Wonderland in Caldwell, where over a million lights illuminate Indian Creek. Enjoy a variety of activities like ice skating, visiting Santa, and shopping from vendors. The festival is spread over three days to ensure a comfortable experience. The lights display normally runs from mid-November through early January, turning on automatically at dusk each night.

411 Blaine St, P.O. Box 1179, Caldwell, ID 83605

Dates: November through early January

Shop at the Holiday Markets

Boise transforms into a festive shopping destination with various holiday markets. Notable ones include The Boise Christmas Show, the El Korah Handmade Idaho Holiday Show, and the popular annual Wintry Market. These markets offer a unique opportunity to find handcrafted gifts, local art, and seasonal delicacies, making them perfect for holiday shopping and experiencing the local culture. Most markets are pre-Christmas. Check local listing for dates and times.

See the Downtown Boise Christmas Tree Lighting

The Downtown Boise Christmas Tree Lighting is a beloved tradition, marking the start of the holiday season. The event features a 35-foot tree adorned with over 5,000 lights and custom decorations. The tree lighting ceremony includes performances, remarks from community leaders, and interactive activities, making it a heartwarming event for the whole family.

Downtown Boise

Dates: Late November

Go Tubing and Sledding at Camel’s Back Park

Camel’s Back Park in Boise is a popular spot for sledding during the winter months. The park features open play areas and a hilly terrain ideal for sledding enthusiasts of all ages. It’s a fun and free way to enjoy the snow and experience one of Boise’s beautiful parks. Its proximity to the city makes it a convenient location for a quick winter outing.

1200 W. Heron St., Boise

Enjoy Winter Activities at Gateway Park

Gateway Parks in Eagle Island State Park, just 12 miles from Boise, offers the ultimate snow tubing experience. It’s a budget and family-friendly winter activity with day and twilight passes available. Besides snow tubing, you can enjoy hot chocolate, hot dogs, and waffles by the fireplaces. During the holidays, take photos with Santa Claus for a memorable family experience.

165 Eagle Island Pkwy, Eagle, ID 83616

Dates: Open in winter

Soak in a Nearby Hot Springs

Boise is close to several hot springs, offering a relaxing escape during the winter. The Springs, a luxurious retreat 51 miles from Boise, requires reservations for private tubs and overnight stays. Givens Hot Springs is historic and easily accessible, with no reservations required. Rocky Canyon Hot Springs, free and secluded, provides a more natural soaking experience. Pine Flats Hot Springs lies beneath a waterfall, offering a unique setting. Each has its own charm and is perfect for de-stressing in nature.

Check out this article for nearby hot springs: visitboise.com/hot-springs-near-boise

Spend New Year’s Eve with the Idaho Potato Drop

The Idaho Potato Drop is a spectacular New Year’s Eve event held in Boise, Idaho in front of the Idaho Capital Building. The Potato Drop has become a nationally-recognized New Year’s Eve event, with nationwide coverage annually. This festive celebration is renowned for its unique “GlowTato” drop at midnight, accompanied by a stunning fireworks display. It features a main stage with live music, the Urban Air Ski and Snowboard Exhibition, and a variety of local food and drinks. The event also includes VIP options with craft cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and prime views of the stage. The Idaho Potato Drop is a charitable event that supports local arts, businesses, and charities.

Downtown Boise, across from the Idaho Capitol Building

Date: December 31st, yearly

Stroll through The Village in Meridian

The Village in Meridian transforms into a winter wonderland with various events throughout the season. Notable activities include tree lighting, Santa’s arrival, and an ice skating rink available from November 11th to January 15th, weather permitting. The Village offers a charming and festive atmosphere, perfect for leisurely strolls to enjoy the holiday decorations, shopping, and dining experiences.

3597 E. Monarch Sky Lane, Meridian, ID 83646

Dates: November through January

Get Chilly at the Polar Bear Plunge

The Great Polar Bear Challenge, hosted at Lucky Peak Reservoir, is a thrilling and chilly event where participants take a dip in cold water to support Make-A-Wish Idaho. The event, which aims to raise funds for critically ill children, is a unique and meaningful way to start the New Year. It includes prizes for top fundraisers and offers an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of local children.

Spring Shores Marina, Lucky Peak Reservoir

Date: January 1st, annually

Take a Day Trip to the McCall Winter Carnival

Just a two-hour drive from Boise, the McCall Winter Carnival in Idaho is a vibrant and enchanting celebration that transforms the small town of McCall into a winter wonderland. Held at the end of January to the beginning of February, this festival attracts over 60,000 attendees annually and  has been a cherished tradition for over half a century. The event is most famous for its remarkable snow sculptures, where teams of artists carve intricate designs into large blocks of snow, creating an outdoor gallery of winter artl. Beyond the sculptures, the carnival is packed with activities for all ages, including fireworks, parades, live music, and a variety of winter sports competitions. The stunning backdrop of the snow-covered Payette Lake and the surrounding mountains adds to the magical atmosphere, making the McCall Winter Carnival a must-visit destination for those looking to celebrate the beauty and fun of winter in a small-town setting.

610 Bunker Avenue, Kellogg, Idaho 83837

Dates: February, annually

Website: visitmccall.org


Road Trip to the Ice Castle at LaBelle Lake

The Ice Castle at LaBelle Lake offers a magical winter experience, opening again in December 2023. Visitors are recommended to dress warmly, akin to skiing attire, to comfortably explore the ice palace. The attraction, located between Rigby and Rexburg, features a fire show every 30 minutes on weekends, winter princesses, and the option of a horse-drawn sleigh ride. It’s an enchanting winter destination for both adults and children.

688 North 4200 East Rigby, ID 83442

Dates: December through January, annually

Go Snowshoeing/Winter Hiking

Enjoy the serene beauty of Boise’s snow-covered foothills by going snowshoeing or winter hiking. The Boise Foothills offer picturesque trails perfect for these activities. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or new to snowshoeing, the beauty of the snow-laden landscapes is not to be missed. Trails like those at Bogus Basin are ideal for a winter adventure, offering a peaceful retreat into nature.

Boise Foothills, Bogus Basin

Dates: Winter months

Attend the St. Als Festival of Trees

The St. Als Festival of Trees is a beloved Boise tradition, celebrating the holiday spirit with beautifully decorated trees. This event not only showcases stunning tree designs but also supports a great cause. It’s a perfect family-friendly event to get into the holiday mood.

Boise Centre, Downtown Boise

Dates: Typically held in late November

Plan a Night at Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho offers enchanting performances that are a must-see during the winter season. Their repertoire often includes seasonal classics that charm audiences of all ages. It’s a cultural experience that adds elegance and artistry to Boise’s winter nights.

Morrison Center – 2201 W Cesar Chavez Ln, Boise, ID 83725

Dates: Varies (check website for schedule)

Website: balletidaho.com

Watch the Idaho Dog Sled Challenge

The Idaho Dog Sled Challenge is an exhilarating event where skilled mushers and their dog teams race through snowy terrains. It’s a unique and thrilling spectacle that showcases the spirit of winter sports and the incredible bond between mushers and their canine companions.

Dates: Typically held in the winter months

Hopefully you found something in this diverse array of activities to keep everyone from thrill-seekers to those seeking a quiet coffee corner engaged. Whether you’re carving down ski slopes or sipping a brew by a cozy fire, remember: Boise’s winter wonderland is waiting for you to explore!


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