Commercial development in the suburbs during the late 1990s threatened to pull people away from Downtown Boise, Idaho, but boy has this capital city’s urban center recovered. Today, Downtown Boise bustles with activity, as thousands of people come to dine in unique restaurants, enjoy a range of cultural venues and let loose in nightclubs. Boise’s vacancy rate (6 percent) is the second-lowest of the cities on our list of the Best Downtowns, illustrating how quickly available homes and office space gets snatched up here.
Boise’s high-tech employers don’t have to do much coaxing to attract talented workers. Young professionals and families find a perfect mix of small-town charm and hip urban playground in Downtown Boise. Boise River winds through the southern side of the downtown area, separating Boise State University from the rest of town. The Idaho State Capitol building, which draws tourists from across the region, is considered a jewel among Boise’s architecture. Residents find many things to do in Boise. The cultural district extends from the Idaho State House to the Boise Art Museum, and encompasses a collection of public art, galleries and performance venues, including the legendary Egyptian Theatre. One of the last remaining relics of the movie palace era, the theater hosts live performances, such as concerts, comedy shows and dances, and movie screenings. A long lineup of bars, pubs and saloons offers more live performance experiences, opportunities to dance and, of course, explore the libations Boise bartenders mix up.
Two downtown farmers markets, the Capital City Public Market and the Boise Farmers Market, give residents broad choice for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, baked goods and crafts. Zoo Boise anchors a large area of riverside green space, which includes the Discovery Center of Idaho and the Idaho Black History Museum. Downtown Boise is also located next to Ann Morrison Park, a 153-acre green space with tennis courts, athletic fields, and gardens. The nearby Military Reserve, Hillside to Hollow reserves and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains provide even more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.