#hosted by Southwest Idaho Travel Association; hotel accommodations and activities mentioned below were sponsored by SWITA; all opinions are my own
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! (But no really, what a magical time to visit Boise, Idaho)! We landed in the Boise airport watching snow flurries fall and we were immediately expectant of our upcoming snowy adventure. The bros were smitten walking around downtown Boise, making snowballs from fresh snow that had fallen earlier in the day. They brought along one of their favorite winter toys, snowball makers, and spent hours engaging in snowfall fights. December was truly a magical time to visit both Boise and McCall, Idaho.
It wouldn’t be a trip without choosing a Good Hotel®, so we were thrilled to partner with The Grove Hotel, a downtown Boise gem in a fantastic location walkable to restaurants, bars and entertainment. The Grove Hotel shares doors with the Idaho Steelheads ice hockey team arena, a fact that had our sports-loving bros thrilled. In addition, The Grove Hotel offers wonderfully spacious Suite rooms, perfectly accommodating a family, as well as a full gym, boasting views of snowy downtown Boise.
We chose a meal at their on-site restaurant, Trillium, and were not disappointed. The contemporary restaurant was gorgeous and delicious and the staff was wonderful with our jet-lagged children. I had a to-die-for dessert there, the gingerbread creme brûlée and our whole family knew on night one in Idaho that we would absolutely love the area.
Located just around the corner from The Grove Hotel is The Basque Block, a block of stores, restaurants, bars and a visitors museum, all of which share about the unique culture of the Basque population. This immigrant group from the 1800s from Spain now has 16,000 first- and second- generation families residing in Boise. We were fascinated by the beautiful infrastructures, the delicious smells from the market and the array of speciality wines offered. It was the most unique street of a downtown that we’ve encountered and if time had allowed, we would have spent several more days exploring this area.
All of downtown Boise is clean, safe, walkable and kid-friendly. The short walk to restaurants and breweries from The Grove Hotel made it one of the most walkable downtowns we have ever experienced. Some of our favorite restaurants downtown were Trillium, Fork and Goldy’s, a delicious local breakfast joint.
Our bros love ice hockey and if the Idaho Steelheads were in town, we would have loved to catch a game. Attached to The Grove Hotel is the Steelheads’ arena and the hotel even offers rooms that overlook the ice hockey stadium. So cool!
Downtown Boise and The Grove Hotel are located only a ten-minute drive from the Boise airport, making it super easy to use ridesharing to get to this gorgeous downtown city. One of our favorite aspects of the city was how friendly everyone was, stopping to chat with us or to comment on our bros’ excitement over snow. While there, you can enjoy views of their beautiful capitol building as well as check out the buildings and stadium of local Boise State University. It was a wonderfully cheerful city in winter!
The Skiing & Snowboarding
We love skiing and snowboarding so we were thrilled to try it out on some Idaho powder at Bogus Basin, a non-profit ski area located just forty-five minutes from downtown Boise. Fresh snowflakes fell as we arrived to the ski area and we experienced a true winter wonderland. Bogus Basin offered a variety of slope difficulty levels which were perfect for our family, from advanced slopes to magic carpets, the perfect balance for our crew.
Bogus Basin is one of only a handful of non-profit ski areas in the U.S., giving all of its profits back to its local community. It felt so good knowing that we were giving back while skiing and snowboarding! The ski area offers several dining options and areas to hang out in between snow sessions, the perfect resting spot to warm ourselves up.
The drive to and from Bogus Basin was stunningly gorgeous, boasting tall, snow-capped trees and windy roads that felt like we were in a scene of a movie. While Logan wasn’t super comfortable driving in snow, he was prepared by ordering a 4×4 car from Turo, allowing us to feel safe while driving out of our comfort zone. Once we arrived, the rental process was smooth and easy and the equipment was high quality.
If you love to ski and snowboard, Bogus Basin is a great choice so close to downtown Boise. On a very busy snow day, the lines and wait times were doable and our young bros spent hours in the snow.
One snowy adventure our family has never experienced is snowmobiling, so were thrilled to partner with CM Backcountry for the opportunity. Located two-and-a-half hours from Boise in McCall, ID, CM Backcountry offers winter snowmobile guided tours and ATV tours in the warmer months. McCall was a quaint snow town, looking like something from a Hallmark movie.
Once our gear checks and safety checks were complete, we arrived at the departure location for the snowmobile tour incredibly excited to experience this adventure. With snowflakes falling and temperatures nice and frigid, we bundled up with hand and feet warmers, prepared for an adventure. We had the best afternoon with our tour guide, Ian, as he took the four of us on a magical ridge through snow-capped trees and fluffy snow. The path was gorgeous and the snowmobiles provided quite a thrill!
After about an hour from beginning our ride, we made it to the Secesh Stage Stop, an adorable cabin restaurant located in what felt like the middle of nowhere. This remote cabin offered home-cooked food and big smiles as the locals invited us in for warm meal and a hot cup of hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was the best we have ever had, dolloped with whipped cream and sprinkles, putting big smiles on our bros’ faces.
The cabin stop was decorated in dollar bills, written on with unique sayings and names from all around the world, and our bros were thrilled to fill out some dollars themselves. They wrote their names and expressions like “Boo Broncos, Go Clemson” and they would probably still be there if we didn’t make them leave. The cabin stop on the guided snowmobile tour with CM Backcountry was a big highlight for us and something we will never forget.
Our Top Three
While it’s hard to choose our favorite things about our trip to Southwest Idaho, we narrowed down our three favorite parts of the trip:
3. We loved how walkable downtown Boise was!
It was incredible to experience things like The Basque Block, delicious restaurants and Boise Brewing without having to get into an Uber. If you love to walk downtown and try new foods and drinks, this city would be for you.
2. Idaho wines are delicious.
While I didn’t know much about this until visiting personally, Caldwell and other areas in Idaho make delicious wines. We had some of the best wines that we have ever tasted in local Southwest Idaho restaurants and it became very clear that Idaho doesn’t get enough credit for their local wine production.
Your first stop in the morning when in Boise has to be Goldy’s. We have eaten around the world and yet without doubt our favorite breakfast place is this local gem, located just down the street from The Grove Hotel. Homemade biscuits, malted waffles, and sweet potato hash browns were just a few of the items that we savored there. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, with a fabulous location, and while dining there you feel like a real local. We couldn’t recommend Goldy’s enough.
Thank you for a wonderful, snow-filled, memorable family winter trip, Southwest Idaho. We left with full hearts, full bellies and a new-found love of the state of Idaho.