Running through the heart of downtown Boise is Capitol Boulevard, a main street fit for a state capital. In fact, the designers of downtown were inspired by the wide promenades of Europe, like the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Capitol Boulevard was laid out so that pedestrians could view the grand State Capitol building at one end and the Spanish-style Boise Depot, built in 1925, at the other. In the background loom Boise’s spectacular foothills.
There’s a lingering challenge, though, that faces the downtowns of many western cities. Space — there’s so much of it. This being the West, there’s an abundance of land, so streets can be made long and wide. This makes it difficult to achieve the density that invites people to live, work and play in the same downtown. In other words, there needs to be a there there.
And now there is. The magic ingredient for bringing people to Capitol Boulevard and its adjacent neighborhoods has not just been good food, of which there is plenty here; it has also been providing a variety of fun for people of all ages. Boise planners and citizens have worked hard to create a vibrant downtown, where residents and visitors can explore the attractions on foot while keeping the area’s dramatic natural endowments in full view.
The arts are everywhere. Every spring there’s the Treefort Music Fest, a five-day downtown extravaganza where live music happens on outdoor stages, in clubs and in popup venues, along with comedy and indie film showings. Also sponsored by Treefort is Onebeat, where 25 young musicians from 17 countries descend on downtown for two ear-opening days in October.
Near Capitol Boulevard is Julia Davis Park, which hosts Art in the Park each September. The Children’s Art Tent is a big attraction, as kids create colorful paper collages and paint abstract art pieces. And every First Thursday of the month, the downtown comes alive with special events, tastings, in-store events, art and often live music, organized by the Downtown Boise Association.
For many years, the unique Fettuccine Forum has been a monthly gathering hosted by the city Department of Arts and History, “where a wide range of political, cultural and local issues are given a public parsing by politicians, artists, historians, activists, advocates and professionals,” notes Boise Weekly. Boise values an engaged citizenry — and with Capitol Boulevard as the centerpiece of its lively downtown, there really is a vibrant there here.
All photos provided by Rizen Creative and Fahlgren Mortine
Primary photo taken by St. Luke’s FitOne.
Capitol Table and Capitol Boulevard night photos taken by Josh Roper Photography