Capital of Idaho, the Boise City-Nampa metropolitan area is the third largest city in the American Pacific Northwest region. Fort Boise was established by the US Army in 1863 near the intersection of the Oregon Trail and the major road connecting Idaho City with the Owyhee (Silver City) mining areas; boom towns of that time. Growing rapidly, Boise was incorporated as a city in 1864. Today this is a liberal enclave within an otherwise socially conservative state, increasingly welcoming to alternative lifestyles, and situated amidst some beautiful countryside. Sun Valley Ski Resort, one of America's best, is just a two and a half hour drive away.
A regional center for the arts, jazz and theater, Boise hosts the Gene Harris Jazz Festival each spring. Museums include the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, the Idaho Black History Museum, and the Boise WaterShed. Theater groups include the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Little Theatre, Boise Contemporary Theater, and Prairie Dog Productions.
The Ballet Idaho, the Opera Idaho, and the Boise Philarmonic are also based here, each with a full season of performances each year. The Egyptian Theatre is a local landmark building with concerts, guest speakers, film festivals, opera and other performances. The Morrison Center for Performing Arts, at Boise State University, is another venue for ballet, opera, concerts, musicals and comedy.
Gallery strolls take place in the business district each first Thursday of each month, sponsored by the Downtown Boise Association. Boise State University and satellite campuses of the University of Idaho and Idaho State University lend an academic ambience and youthful exuberance to their neighborhoods.
A large Basque festival known as Jaialdi is held once every five years (next in 2020) along with smaller annual festivities here, such as the San Inazio Festival in July, Mortzillak Dinner in November and Sheepherders Ball in December. The Oinkari Basque Dancers and the Txantxangorriak music group perform, and the Basque Center maintains the heritage of approximately 15,000 euskal herritarrak who settled here.
The lives of gay people mix quite easily with those of most other people hereabouts, particularly in the more liberal downtown area.
Getting here, getting around
Boise Airport has five major scheduled airlines with direct flights to Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, Denver, and nine more major cities west of the Rocky Mountains; then connections to most everywhere.
Valleyride has service between downtown (Capital at Idaho) and the Boise Airport on bus route 3, every 20 minutes during peak, and every 40 minutes during midday hours (roughly 6am to 6pm - see schedule for exact times). The trip takes about 15 minutes. They operate 14 additional weekday, and 7 additional Saturday bus routes around Boise - with no Sunday or holiday services. Fares are between $1-3 per for single rides. They also have services in Nampa and Caldwell, and between Canyon and Ada counties.
Sun Valley Express has bus/coach service from Boise to Sun Valley ski resort, and operates tour and charters too.
Media & Resources
Boise Weekly is the local alternative paper with news, features, food, music, film and arts reviews and listings.
The Community Center in Garden City (305 E 37th St) offers LGBT community educational and developmental programs, and community resources.
Boise Pridefest takes place in the downtown BoDo district at 8th & Broad Street with a rally, parade and festival on the third Saturday in June. Pride Live is a first Friday of each month fundraiser party at the Balcony Club.
The Imperial Sovereign Gem Court of Idaho does community fundraiser shows and events around town including Idaho Cares in April and the Pride Show in June, plus Sunday brunch get-togethers.
For some listings of Boise bars, restaurants and hotels, with locations and website links, see our map & listings tab.
Hotels and Guesthouses
Bed 'N' Buns (10325 W Victory Rd; 208-362-1802), all-male gay B&B with three guestrooms, billiards room, garden patio and hot tub, library with cozy fireplace, TV lounge with DVD movies; convenient to the airport, local skiing and nightlife.
Boise Guest House (614 North 5th St; 208-761-6798), six suites with full kitchens and private baths near the Capitol Building; lounge, art.
Balcony Club (150 N 8th St, #226), nightly gay video and dance club with karaoke, and special events; men/women and straight-friendly.
Lucky Dog Tavern (2223 W Fairview Ave), gay bar, open daily, beers on tap, patio, pool, darts, games, WiFi, Sunday brunch.
Neurolux (111 N 11th St), live music club, poetry slams, college crowd, karaoke, Hip Hop; open noon to 2am, 365 days a year.
CLOSED: Pitchers & Pints Brewhouse (Downtown), cheap wine & beer, jukebox, mixed gay-friendly crowd.