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Get Outdoors In Boise: Idaho’s River City

Three rivers — the Boise, the Payette and the Snake — all converge in Idaho’s capital city. An abundance of cottonwoods dot their banks, giving it the nickname City of Trees. Those rivers and trees lend a nod to Boise’s — and Idaho’s— close connections to nature.

Hunkered in the foothills of the Rockies, Boise is all about the great outdoors and sustainability. Along with many homes, the Idaho Capitol is heated by geothermal water pumped from 3,000 feet underground. The farm-to-table food scene is vibrant, as is the wine industry, with numerous vineyards in the Snake River Valley. Fresh-air seekers flock there for world-class white-water adventure, superb rock climbing, deep-powder ski trails and some of the nation’s best mountain biking trails. Teambuilding options abound.

Boise’s agricultural heritage runs deep. Lured to America by the California Gold Rush, shepherds from northern Spain eventually found their way to Idaho, and Boise claims the world’s second-largest Basque population.

Adding balance to outdoor sports and rich culture, a mix of small technology startups and Fortune 500 headquarters and divisions call Boise home. Little wonder that in 2014, the city topped the list of Time magazine’s “Cities Getting It Right.”

In the middle of downtown, the city’s convention center, Boise Centre on the Grove, offers 50,000 square feet of meeting space 10 minutes from the airport. Within three blocks are 700 hotel rooms, 100 restaurants, 150 shops and boutiques and a number of brew pubs, microbreweries and wine-tasting shops. The center fronts on Grove Plaza, a wide public space with a huge fountain, and plays host to numerous festivals and outdoor concerts.

A few steps east of the center is a AAA Four Diamond property, the 250-room Grove Hotel, the largest full-service hotel downtown; across the street, the trendy, boutique 43 Hotel offers 100 rooms and nearly 2,000 square feet of meeting space.

A mile away, the Riverside Hotel adds 21,000 more in addition to 303 rooms, including 34 suites, all adjacent to the Greenbelt, a 25-mile paved trail along the Boise River.

Downtown Boise’s arts and cultural scene thrives, with the Basque Block, the Boise Art Museum, the Idaho Historical Museum, public art, and architectural and historic district walking tours.


Boise Centre Expansion

In July, Boise Centre on the Grove broke ground for a 40,000-squarefoot, $38 million expansion expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2016. A skywalk will pass by CenturyLink Arena and connect the center with the Grove Hotel. Part of a multiuse development, the expansion will include 40,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space.

“At our current square footage and space, Boise can compete with 20 percent of conventions across the U.S.,” said Mary-Michael Rodgers, the center’s communications director. “By expanding to nearly 100,000 square feet, we’ll be able to compete with 65 to 70 percent.”


Interesting Off-Site Venues

Groups can meet where some of the West’s most desperate criminals once resided. One of Boise’s most unusual off-site venues, the Old Idaho Penitentiary, was built in 1870 and eventually added 30 historic buildings. Tours include visits to solitary confinement and the gallows.

The Stueckle Sky Center is an option with a go-team flavor, as it sits atop Boise State University’s Bronco Stadium. With three separate private banquet facilities, the center overlooks the stadium’s famous Blue Turf and dazzles with 240-degree views of downtown.

A short drive out of town, Coolwater Creek Event Center can seat up to 200 indoors and 1,500-plus outside, and offers lakeside fishing.