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City Guide: Boise, Idaho with Treefort Music Fest

Take a tour of Boise, Idaho before Treefort with the best food, drink, music and more the city has to offer.
Treefort Music Fest Downtown Boise Corgi

Downtown Boise & A Corgi

Next week, I will be in Boise, Idaho for Treefort Music Fest, a celebration of music, beer, yoga, film, comedy and much more. The festival takes over the city with dozens of venues, indoor and outdoor, partaking and over 400 musicians, comedians and others all performing over five days. Now in its ninth edition, it is a place to discover music across the board. It is also a place to explore Boise as you spend time in the Treefort area, but also walk around the city, bouncing from one venue to the next. However, while you are in Boise and if you aren’t a resident or live nearby, there will be so much for you to explore from food, nature, gifts, drinks and more that can set you up for a great week in Boise.

Treefort Music Fest will take place from September 22 to 26. Get all of the details here and I will be doing a breakdown of bands to see in the coming days.

See past City Guides here.

Introduction:

Boise is a beautiful city in the southwest region of Idaho surrounded by breathtaking foothills with the Boise River running through it. The city itself is clean and quiet, each season is more stunning than the next and the people are as friendly as those over in the Midwest. While downtown Boise feels like a big city as you walk from shop to shop, you will have walked the whole city center before you know it. Somehow Boise is able to balance the big city feel with small town charm to make the perfect feeling of home. Almost sounds too good to be true… but it is.

Every March, downtown Boise transforms into a discovery lover's dream during Treefort Music Fest (with one post-pandemic September edition). Unlike most festivals, Treefort has an incredibly diverse lineup, bringing over 400 bands spanning every genre there is to a variety of venues scattered across downtown. In addition to music, there are 11 forts of Treefort that cover food and drink, film, comedy, yoga, art, drag, and more! The festival focuses on emerging and independent artists, which creates a sea of discovery when exploring.

No matter who you are, there is something for you to discover in Boise.

We all like a good drink, so where are the top spots to head to before a night out?

The Mode, a classy, modern cocktail lounge, is the perfect place to go before a night out. Located in the heart of downtown, they have a happy hour every day from 4-7pm and host a DJ on Thursday and Saturday night to spice things up. Not to mention they are connected to one of Boise’s iconic pizza joints, Pie Hole, and serve up some tasty ‘za!

Water Bear Bar is on the North side of downtown. The environment is a whimsical mountain tiki vibe that will surely transport you to a new era with the sounds of their spinning vinyl in the background. Their unique decorations and curated cocktails create an insanely comfortable, fun and exciting place to hang out with friends before a night out.

Brunches are a weekend staple, where can you find the best Boise brunch?

BACON. This is the spot for brunch because their food, full bar, and coffee are served all day. Hands down the best Bloody Mary’s in town, and what better way to drink a Bloody than with a flight of bacon by its side. That’s right, 5 different flavors of bacon from sweet to savory. The food here is just as scrumptious as the drinks so when you go, make sure you are hungry.

Where can we shop for records and music memorabilia in Boise?

There is only one place to find these gems and that is at the Record Exchange. This store has it all from coffee and snacks to tchotchkes, and every record, album, and even cassette that you could possibly want. You will undeniably need a couple of hours to really explore all the wonderful aspects that the Record Exchange has to offer.

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Your Sunday escape plan when you need to get away from it all?

One of the best aspects about Boise is how close a nature getaway is. Table Rock is about 10 minutes from the city center. The hike itself is an hour and a half round trip with panoramic views of the Treasure Valley as your prize for reaching the top. After your hike, take a stroll through Hyde Park to shop and grab a bite. My favorite order of events is to grab a coffee and a small bite at Certified. Then I always poke my head into all the shops, especially Hyde and Seek. Finally, finish off with tasty treats from Goodies Candy Shop, the smells alone will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Something everyone should do when visiting Boise, but probably hasn’t?

The Basque Block is a must see for anyone visiting. The Basque Market transports you to the Basque Country in Southern France and Northern Spain. The Basque Market is filled with spices, meats, Spanish wines, and all the tapas that you would be enjoying in that part of the world. I recommend getting a bocadillo and some croquettes. The block has more to offer with an array of restaurants and delis, a hotel, bar, and museums that show why Boise is a hub for the Basque culture and history.

Where can you find the best clubs / late night venues in town?

You will have to look up to find the best clubs in Boise.

The Balcony is located on the second floor of the Main + Marketplace in downtown Boise on 8th Street. This incredible LGBTQ dance club draws crowds for its come-as-you-are atmosphere, DJs, drag shows, and dancing. The drinks are priced well, everyone is welcome and all patrons share the same purpose of being there: to dance the night away and have a great time with no drama.

If you find yourself in town on Sunday night in the summer, go to a WOH Club (We Out Here) series at The Reef rooftop bar. The tiki bar vibe will have you feeling like you are on vacation (within a vacation) and the local DJs music will keep you entertained, no doubt!

A track that reminds you of Boise or Idaho?

“Life in the City” by The Lumineers always makes me think of Boise because it talks about the crossroads Myrtle and Broadway that we have here in town. But I believe the song is actually referring to The Big Apple.

A gift you can’t leave Boise without taking home for friends?

One of the best gifts that Boise leaves you with is a love of music and taste for adventure. Some may say that is the best gift you can bring home to your friends. However, if you are looking for more tangible gifts, Mixed Greens Modern Gifts is the place to go. They have fun artsy items that make for perfect gifts, plus there are a lot that are Boise themed.

Obviously, you have to grab some Treefort merch and something with a potato on it, both of which can be found at the Record Exchange.

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