“It is all about access for us," says David McCauley.  The 48-year-old IT professional is originally from the East coast.  He and his family moved to Boise 13 years ago.  "Skiing is only 45 minutes away.  I can fly fish or kayak in the Boise River.  Mountain biking literally is right out the door, even though we live downtown.  The kids ride their bikes everywhere.  We allow them to do things on their own, but they aren't ever really “alone.”

The Living:

To put things mildly, Boise has really been on a roll lately.  The core industries are still health care, education and government.  However, high-tech start up companies by the dozens have been moving into town, joining giant companies like Micron Technology and Hewlett-Packard.  Over the last 30 years the population of Boise has more than doubled.  Locals complain about the sprawl.  However, despite all of this, Boise has been able to impressively manage its growth.  The city boasts a 25-mile greenbelt and almost 2,000 acres in parks.  The outlying areas might have a bit of a bland feeling to them.  However, there is a Boulder vibe to the older neighborhoods with their prayer flags, farmers' markets and cruiser bikes.  The main difference is the homes are reasonably priced.

The Playground:

There is exceptional paddling, and it is only getting better, with runs on the Salmon and Payette with two hours driving distance, a couple of play waves within the city limits, and a white water park costing $6.7 million in the works.  The city has a vibrant road biking scene and robust triathlon community.  In the winter time, it's easy to get in some quick alpine or in-nordic skiing at the Bogus Baskin Ski Area, which is only 16 miles from Boise. (The climb also doubles as a classic road ride.)  Also, the brown hills that overlook the city are dotted with over 135 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails.  You will definitely need to get a larger Rocket Box.

The Neighborhood:

Idaho's finest is represented by the North end neighborhood.  Local coffee shops are within walking distance, there are bike baths to use to bike downtown, go to the end of the block and get on the single track, or perhaps plant some vegetables at their local community garden.

Boise Playground:

Boise is definitely all about their Greenbelt.  The parkway spans for 26 miles, bisecting downtown and lining the Boise River.  It is the lifeblood of the city, providing access to over 20 parks, an outdoor amphitheater, pedestrian bridges and multiple hiking and biking trails.

Simply put, everything in life here revolves around this river," Jeff Reynolds said.  Jeff is a co-owner of Rizen Creative, an Ad Agency.  This was a common sentiment.

Sarah Mello noted, "there is a whitewater park just minutes away from where we live.”  A local named Greg Sims said, "I rode my bike from home and in one hour was able to catch three salmon that were 30-plus inches.  Reynolds offered a dare to us: "I challenge you to try and find someone who lives in Boise that didn't kayak, SUP, play in, ride or walk along, fish or float in a river in the Boise area last year."In terms of off water activities, people discuss everything from the Rivers trail system to the nearby Ridge's 130 miles worth of single track, to the farmers' market to the free series of summer concerts called “Alive After Five.”

The mainly conservative climate will not be appealing to the left-leaning liberals.  Rob Love says, "I don't like Idaho politics, but oh how I love the city of Boise and the people here."

Boise State University is also here, adding a collegiate vibe to the city, as well as the trademark blue turf of the Boise State Broncos.

Best Saturday Itinerary:

According to Sky Theener, who owns landscape care business (Boise Best Lawns) says, "Tubing is great fun to enjoy after work on the Boise River.  You start at Barber Park and end at Ann Morrison Park."  Then afterwards you can enjoy many brew pubs, like Bardenays, TableRock or Highlands Hollow.

On The Town:

The Idaho Shakespeare Festival, since 1977 during the summer, has staged plays.  A 770-seat amphitheater was constructed in 1998 right next to Boise River.

Gina Gridley, a work at home mom says, "One of the best ways you can enjoy Boise is to go to the Shakespeare Festival during the summer and have a picnic before the play while you enjoy your river view.  Feeling the cool air of the river as the sun is setting is truly magnificent."

What $199 Gets You:

What it buys you is a season pass for the Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, which is only 16 miles out of town.  You also get a deep discount on the passes that are offered one week every February from the non-profit ski area of 2,600 acres.  It provides a nod to the recreation area's mission to provide affordable, accessible and fun mountain recreation.

Urban cool meets small town charm in downtown Boise.  It also earns bonus accessibility points for bikers and walkers, thanks to its 30-miles of path alongside the Boise River and well-maintained sidewalks.

Basics:

Although over 3,900 individuals live in the downtown Boise area currently, the city projects that this will increase by 2025 to 13,686.  One group such as the Downtown Boise Association enhance the area and actively market their businesses.  Retail and office vacancy rates are some of the region's lowest.  There is a wide selection of entertainment options, including the zoo, three movie theaters, event center, museums and art galleries.

Details:

There are around 30,000 individuals working in the downtown Boise area.  There are over 300 service and retail businesses, including over 90 restaurants that are mainly locally owned.  There are six districts in the area, with the largest one being Central Downtown.  There are five covered garages with 2,000 total parking spaces available that offer free parking for one hour.  All downtown meters give 20 minutes worth of free parking.  During Boise State's home football games, there is a free shuttle taking riders to the stadium from downtown and back.

Don't Miss:

Zoo Boise, Roaring Springs, Knitting Factory or taking in concerts and Bittercreek Ale House for beverages.