Ready to unveil Boise’s hidden treasures, unearth incredible facts, and learn more about this rising capital city dubbed the City of the Trees?
In this article we’ll uncover 40 fun facts about Boise, Idaho that even a born and raised “Boisean” might not know. Read on to learn more about Boise and ace your next Idaho trivia night.
BASIC FACTS ABOUT BOISE
Before we dive into the obscure facts about Boise, lets unpack some of the basic things like it’s history, population, and demographics.
1. Boise: The Wooded City
Legend has it that French Canadian fur trappers in the early 19th century were walking across southern Idaho’s hot and dry plains. When they saw the Boise River and the surrounding valley, they rejoiced and shouted, Les bois! Les bois! (the woods, the woods). Eventually, this gave the city its name, with “bois” evolving into Boise.
This legend also gave way to a nickname. Today, Boise is known as the City of the Trees, a nod to its history and the natural beauty found in and around the city.
2. Are You Saying Boise Right?
Most people pronounce Boise like Boy-zee, but that’s incorrect. If you want to say the name correctly, say Boy-see. Hear the difference? You will out yourself as an out of towner if you say Boy-zee!
3. Boise Has Capital City Status
Boise proudly holds the status of being the capital city of Idaho. As of 2023, it boasts a population of around 240,000 people, serving as the political and cultural heart of the state.
The metropolitan area of Boise, also known as the Treasure Valley, includes five counties with an overall population of around 740,000 people.
4. Idaho is the 2nd Fastest Growing State in the Country
Boise’s home state, Idaho, is one of the fastest-growing states in the United States, second only to Florida. In 2022, Idaho’s population surged by an estimated 1.8% from July 2021 to July 2022, rapidly approaching the 2 million mark.
Boise, in particular, earned recognition as the 5th fastest-growing city in the U.S. from 2022 to 2023. The city’s growth reflects its appeal as a vibrant and thriving community.
5. Income and Cost of Housing in Boise
The median household income in Boise is approximately $76402. While Boise was a more affordable city a few years ago, its rapid growth has caused a rapid increase in the cost of living. Still, when it comes to housing costs, Boise offers relative affordability in comparison to other major cities in the west. The average home in Boise is valued at around $468,086.
Boise’s economy is experiencing a robust boom, translating to increased employment opportunities. USA Today recognized Boise as one of the top cities in the country for job growth. The city also maintains a relatively low unemployment rate, around 3%.
Thinking about living in Boise? Check out our article on Moving to Boise and if it was the right choice for us.
6. Boise Elevation
The downtown area of Boise stands at an elevation of 2,704 feet (824 meters) above sea level. This metropolitan area primarily rests upon a broad, flat plain that slopes gently to the west. To the northeast, majestic mountains rise, extending from the southeastern tip of Boise’s city limits to the nearby town of Eagle.
7. Boise Climate
Boise enjoys a diverse climate year-round. Summers bring warmth and sunshine, with temperatures in the high 80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (30-35 degrees Celsius) with more than a few days sitting in the 100’s. In contrast, winters offer a snowy wonderland, with temperatures ranging from the 20s to 40s Fahrenheit (-6 to 4 degrees Celsius).
For anyone itching for a location that has four distinct seasons, from hot, beautiful summer days to snowy winters, Boise is the perfect option.
8. Boise is Located at the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains
Boise finds its picturesque home nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains. This stunning natural setting provides the city with breathtaking mountain vistas and easy access to outdoor adventures, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and explorers.
9. Boise’s Early City Settlers & Founders
Native American tribes, including the Shoshone-Bannock and Northern Paiute, inhabited the region for thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers. In 1830, French-Canadian fur trappers explored the area and named it “Les Bois” for its lush woods along the Boise River. In the 1840s, emigrants on the Oregon Trail began passing through the Boise Valley.
Then, in 1982, gold struck. A gold rush in the spring of 1863 attracted many miners and settlers to the area. To safeguard the interests of these newcomers, the United States established a military post, Fort Boise, on July 3, 1863.
Shortly after that, on July 7, 1863, Boise City was formally organized during a town meeting. The city founders include Cy Jacobs, a merchant whose brick home built in 1864 remains on Grove Street.
10. Boise’s Demographics
According to the 2022 census, this the demographic breakdown of Boise:
- White (only) 85%
- Latino (only) 9.1 %
- Asian (only) 3.4%
- Black (only) 1.5%
- Native American .6%
- Pacific Islander .3
- Two or more races 6.8%
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BOISE
11. Boise Welcomes Refugees
Boise is a leading destinations for refugees nationwide, welcoming one of the highest annual intake numbers. For years, Boise has consistently ranked as one of the top ten per capita refugee resettlement sites. Since 1975, the city has embraced over 30,000 refugees, who have since become an essential and enriching component of Idaho’s cultural fabric, economic landscape, and global standing.
12. Boise River Greenbelt is Incredible for Nature Lovers
Stretching 25 miles alongside the Boise River, the Greenbelt is a nature lover’s haven. Perfect for biking, walking, or running, it provides stunning river views and a peaceful escape from city life. Lush parks, wildlife, and serene pathways make it a cherished recreational space, fostering a deep connection between Boise and its natural surroundings.
13. Boise has one of the Largest Geothermal Heating Systems in the World
Boise’s state capitol building is geothermally heated using underground hot springs sourced from depths up to 3,000 feet below the surface. But it doesn’t stop there. Over 20 miles of underground pipelines distribute this geothermal heat to warm around 6 million square feet of buildings throughout Boise.
All that geothermal activity makes for some pretty stellar hot springs. Check out two of our favorite hot springs near Boise.
14. Boise has the Second-Largest Basque Population
Second only to Spain, Boise boasts the second-largest Basque population globally. Dive into this compelling heritage at the Basque Museum or explore the vibrant Basque Block, a cultural hub offering shops, festivals, and a taste of unique Basque cuisine. Don’t miss Jaialdi, Boise’s grand Basque festival, which happens only once every five years.
15. Boise State University Was the First to Have a Blue Football Field
Boise State University is renowned for its iconic blue football field, known as the “Smurf Turf.” It was the first non-green turf in the country, with Boise State even trademarking the term. Visitors can visit the famous blue field if you want to check it out for yourself.
16. Home of Aaron Paul
Although not born in Boise, Aaron Paul graduated from Centennial High School in Boise in 1998 and left afterward to pursue his acting dreams in Los Angeles. Aaron went with his mom with just $6,000 in savings and a 1982 Toyota Corolla.
Aaron Paul and his wife at one time owned a home in Boise and McCall, Idaho. However, they put their incredibly mid-century modern home in Boise on sale in 2022. The house is a stunning piece of modern architecture and was featured in Architectural Digest.
17. One of the First Adjustable River Waves Is At Boise River Park
The Boise River Park is famous for having one of the world’s first adjustable river waves. Spanning half a mile along the Boise River, it features two surfable waves. Waveshapers expertly adjust these waves to accommodate both surfers and kayakers.
18. Boise Has One of the Largest Outdoor Galleries in the Northwest
Boise proudly hosts the largest outdoor art gallery in the Northwestern United States – the ever-evolving Freak Alley Gallery. This captivating space showcases impressive street art from local Boise artists. Visitors can explore the ever-changing murals and graffiti that grace these alley walls, making it a must-visit for art enthusiasts and curious wanderers alike.
READ NEXT: Discover more amazing spots in Boise in our article on 17 Instagram-worthy Photo Spots In Boise.
19. Boise is an Incredibly Bike-Friendly City
Boise holds the distinction of being one of the nation’s most bicycle-friendly cities. The city offers a safe and convenient cycling environment with over 180 miles of dedicated bike lanes and trails.
20. Boise is Home to The World Center of Birds of Prey
The World Center of Birds of Prey is the headquarters for The Peregrine Fund, an international non-profit organization dedicated to conserving endangered raptors worldwide. Established 37 years ago in 1984, this center spans 580 acres on a hilltop, offering panoramic views of Boise. It is a hub for studying and protecting these magnificent birds, contributing to their global preservation.
21. Boise Is Known For its Beer
Boise is experiencing a liquid gold rush with its booming craft beer culture. Despite not being the first craft beer destination that comes to mind, Boise’s breweries have catapulted the city and the state into the spotlight as a top beer destination.
Thanks to an abundance of quality ingredients, including hops and barley, sourced from Idaho’s fertile lands, Boise offers a unique and flavorful beer experience. Don’t miss trying local brews from breweries like Sockeye, Payette Brewing, or Barbarian Brewing.
22. Boise Has Over 190 miles of Trails
Boise has an extensive network of over 190 miles of well-maintained trails in its scenic hills. The trails are so extensive that you could spend days biking or hiking the Ridge to River Trail Systems and never see the same trail once.
🐾 Many trails are controlled off-leash, perfect for your furry friends.
23. The Arts Scene in Boise is Thriving
Boise punches above its weight in the vibrant world of the arts. The city features art museums, concert halls, street art, playhouses, and even an outdoor Shakespearean theater. Music festivals, traveling art shows, and concerts featuring famous mainstream artists are commonplace in and around Boise, making it a cultural hub that caters to art lovers and performers alike.
24. Boise has it’s own Hip Indie Music Festival
Treefort, the vibrant indie music festival is a testament to the city’s burgeoning cultural scene. This annual event is a pulsating celebration of eclectic and hip independent music, drawing in a diverse crowd of music enthusiasts. Spread across multiple venues in downtown Boise, Treefort showcases a kaleidoscope of genres, from indie rock and folk to electronic and experimental sounds. Treefort has firmly established itself as a must-attend gathering for those seeking a cutting-edge and immersive indie music experience in the heart of Idaho.
25. Boise Was Named One of the Best Mountain Biking Towns by National Geographic
Boise has earned a reputation as a premier mountain biking town, achieving a gold-level ride center status thanks to its diverse trail offerings, progressive bike parks, and thriving gravity scene. National Geographic recognized Boise as one of the top 20 places for mountain biking in 2017.
Read more about the best things to do in Boise in our article about different ways to spend a weekend in Boise.
26. Boise Is Home to the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic
Ann Morrison Park in Boise comes alive yearly with the enchanting Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic. This annual event spans five days, drawing both locals and tourists who revel in the sight of countless colorful balloons accompanied by uplifting music and their favorite local radio stations
27. Boise’s Egyptian Theater Is Iconic
Boise’s iconic Egyptian Theatre, also known as the Ada Theater, has captivated audiences for 96 years since its inauguration in 1927. As the city’s oldest theater, it continues to serve as a cherished venue for concerts and performances in the western United States.
BOISE HISTORY FACTS
28. Boise is Home to Heavy Abe
Boise has a monumental statue of Abraham Lincoln, seated in Julia Davis Park. Standing at an impressive nine feet tall and perched on an eleven-foot-long bench, this colossal Abe weighs 6,500 pounds. It ranks as the third-largest seated statue of the former president worldwide.
The statue is a magnified reproduction of a sculpture crafted by the renowned artist and Idahoan, Gutzon Borglum.
29. The Tree Sapling From Anne Frank’s Home Can be Found In Boise
The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, along with the White House and the 9/11 memorial in New York City, is one of only 11 sites in the U.S. to be granted a chestnut tree sapling originating from the tree that once stood outside the secret annex in Amsterdam. This annex served as a refuge for Anne Frank and her family during World War II.
30. Boise has an Oregon Trail Connection
Boise played a pivotal role as a crucial stopover for pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. The city served as a respite and resupply point, offering weary travelers a chance to rest, replenish their supplies, and continue their arduous journey westward.
31. You Can Find the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site in Boise
The Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site served as a functional prison from 1872 to 1973 in the western United States, situated east of Boise, Idaho. Its first building, also known as the Territorial Prison, was constructed in the Territory of Idaho in 1870. Remarkably, this prison predates Idaho’s statehood by two decades.
32. Boise Became the State’s Capital in 1864
In late 1864, Idaho’s lawmakers relocated the state’s capital to Boise. This move wasn’t without its controversies. Some argued its legality, and Lewiston lawyers even attempted to challenge the decision. However, subsequent legal rulings solidified Boise as the official capital of Idaho.
FUN FACTS ABOUT BOISE
33. Idaho Is Home to A New Year’s Eve Potato Drop
Boise boasts a distinctive New Year’s Eve tradition: the Idaho Potato Drop. This annual event involves lowering a giant, illuminated Idaho potato from a crane in downtown Boise, creating a memorable and quirky celebration to ring in the new year.
34. A Boise Resident Holds A Guinness World Record
David Rush holds the record for the longest time balancing a hula hoop on the head while swimming. He balanced a hula hoop on his head while swimming for 16 minutes and 13 seconds. He set the record on August 5th, 2017, at the Boise State University’s recreation center.
35. The Albertson’s Grocery Chain Was Founded in Boise
Boise is the proud birthplace of the Albertsons grocery store chain. Founded in 1939, this supermarket chain has grown nationwide, yet its roots remain firmly planted in the city where it all began.
36. October 1st is Official Aaron Paul Day
October 1st holds a special place in Boise as it’s officially recognized as Aaron Paul Day. The “Breaking Bad” star, who attended Centennial High School in Boise, is celebrated on this day, commemorating his contributions to the entertainment industry and his roots in the city.
37. It’s Illegal to Go On a Merry-Go-Round in Boise on a Sunday
Boise has a peculiar law dating back to 1907 that makes it illegal to ride a merry-go-round on a Sunday. This unusual regulation, a nod to Sunday observance, remains on the books today, even if it’s not strictly enforced.
38. There’s a Boise Potato Trail for Potato Enthusiasts
With Idaho being a major potato producer, it’s fitting that the city boasts a Boise Potato Trail that features 19 stops where you can savor inventive potato dishes and drinks. A fun way to tour the city (and eat!), you can use an interactive digital pass to earn points and win prizes while enjoying this starchy culinary adventure. From potato donuts to peanut butter mashed potatoes, Boise’s potato-themed delicacies are a must-try for food enthusiasts.
39. Legend Status is Given to those who Bike the 41 mile Big Potato Trail
Not to be confused with the Boise Potato Trail, the Big Potato Trail is a 41 mile mountain biking trail that takes you around the Boise foothills. With a 6500 feet elevation gain, it’s not for those looking for a casual day of taking in the scenery. For those who have the desire and technical skill, you’ll be treated with some of the best views of the Foothills.
40. You Can Stay in a Potato Themed Hotel Room
Drawing inspiration from the iconic Idaho potato, the Inn at 500 Capital, in downtown Boise has an entire suite adorned with unique potato decor, including artwork of Marilyn Monroe adorned in a burlap Idaho potato sack. While the idea is kitschy, the hotel is anything but and is considered one of the best places to stay when visiting Boise.
Final Thoughts On Fun Facts About Boise
With its rich tapestry of quirks and charms, Boise proves there’s always more beneath the surface. The city has unexpected treasures, from mountain biking adventures to potato-themed culinary delights. Hopefully, these Boise facts have kindled your curiosity and inspired you to check out this burgeoning city. See you in Boise!