Boise: Visiting the City of Trees

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

Photo Credit: Visit Idaho

Do you have a list of favorite destinations that you love but don’t want them to get too popular, so they can be your favorite secret escape locations forever? That’s how I feel about Idaho. Now maybe I am a little biased since I grew up in Northern Idaho and lived there on and off until my mid twenties, but there is so much to share about the Gem state that I just can’t keep it a secret anymore.

When planning getaways to the Pacific Northwest, most people tend to skip over Idaho in favor of more popular places like Washington and Oregon. Yet, If you’re someone who loves nature and the great outdoors, an Idaho adventure should be on the top of your destination bucket list.

In this two part travel series, Boise: Visiting the City of Trees and the upcoming Boise Day Trips: Off the Beaten Path, I highlight some of Boise’s many offerings and share two day trips that will take you out of the city and into some of the most picturesque drives in the nation.

The City of Trees

Boise, the capital of Idaho, is known as the City of Trees. This nickname started when the city’s earliest settlers climbed upon one of the surrounding hills, and looked down into the valley and gazed upon a vast forest that stretched out before them.

Boise is one of those places that’s off the radar for many people. During my most recent visit I was thrilled with how enjoyable it was to stay in the downtown area of Boise. The city center around the Capital building is filled with a fantastic selection of hotels, innovative restaurants and bars, and plenty of small businesses and shops that cater to visitors seeking a laid-back family-friendly vibe.

Photo Credit: Visit Idaho

Boise is a fun city to explore, as you meander through the streets you’ll find unexpected things like art murals and a part of Boise called “The Basque Block“, where you can learn about this area’s strong connection to Europe’s Basque country.

Photo Credit: The Basque Block Website

Boise is home to numerous outdoor activities including water sports and skiing, there are parklands, interesting museums, and a whole list of other activities that offer entertainment year round. In addition to exploring the downtown area you can;

The area surrounding Boise is also home to a number of award winning Idaho wineries, which is a great way to get in some out of the city sight seeing and taste some unique wines from the Snake River Valley AVA. More about the area wineries is added below.

You can find a complete list of current activities on the Boise Visitors Bureau Website.

Places to Stay…..

There is no shortage of great places to stay in Boise, whether you are looking for budget or luxury accommodations, there is a wide selection of hotels and rentals all across the city. If you plans are for a weekend stay in Boise, consider situating yourself in the Downtown area so you can be in the center of everything. For a more extensive list visit the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Grove Hotel

Our long weekend stay in Boise was at The Grove Hotel, located downtown, it is one of the more popular hotels in the city. Conveniently located and only a few blocks from the state capitol building, this location allows for easy walking throughout the whole downtown area.

Situated on the corner of Capital Blvd. and W Front Street, The Grove Hotel has 250 rooms & suites and is attached to the CenturyLink Arena in downtown Boise. At The Grove Hotel you can enjoy access to the Grove Fitness Club & Spa which features an indoor lap pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, workout equipment and personal training fitness rooms, as well as an on-site spa. 

The guest rooms and suites at The Grove Hotel are perfectly suited for a weekend of relaxing or a week long work trip. During our stay we enjoyed our suite and the hotels amenities, yet what really stood out was the exemplary service we received from the hotel staff. We were given a warm welcome at the reception desk when we checked in and that five star service continued throughout our stay.

The King Grand Suite with Terrace Access was our home away from home while in Boise. This one bedroom suite has a step out which leads to the 4th floor terrace that includes seating areas, access to the fire pits and incredible views of the Boise skyline and surrounding foothills.

Early mornings sitting outside on the terrace at The Grove Hotel were a perfect place to watch the sunrise and plan our daily activities and adventures.

The Grove Hotel’s Trillium Restaurant and The Bar

While in Boise our daily excursions made it difficult to have set dinner reservations in the city so we took advantage of The Grove’s on site Restaurant Trillium and The Bar located just off the lobby.

Happy Hour in The Bar or in Trillium includes $4 draft beers and well cocktails, plus a wonderful selection of appetizers at 50% off. Available Sunday – Thursday from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm (Excluding Arena event nights), We enjoyed Happy Hour at The Bar with sips of local beers, a craft cocktail and a delicious charcuterie board.

Trillium Restaurant

Trillium is conveniently open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offering a New American menu served in an elegant space by friendly and attentive staff. Many of the menu items are also available for room service which is perfect for those times when you want to dine in the comfort and privacy of your own room.

The atmosphere at Trillium is both comfortable and classy.

Fresh local ingredients and an impressive wine list are just a few of the charms of Trillium Restaurant.

Trillium’s Tablerock Cobb Salad, Oregon’s Montinore Estate Borealis, and Smoke + Fire Pizza.

Other Dining Options in Boise….

As you make your way around Boise you’ll soon discover there’s a plethora of great dining and drinking spots. This Big Little City is a great place for foodies to visit who are looking for something unique.

Photo Credit: Visit Idaho

The culinary contributions of Idaho may frequently be associated with potatoes, but Boise is known as a hub for Basque culture and cuisine. Not familiar with the Basque region and it’s culture, don’t worry, wikipedia can help with that.

The majority of the Basque region is located in Spain, but a small chunk of the territory is located across the French border. Reflecting the unique culture and heritage of the Basque Country, Basque cuisine is wide-ranging and varied; it is based on ingredients sourced from the sea as well as from the local gardens and farms. When traveling to Boise a meal at an authentic Basque restaurant should not be missed, we discovered Epi’s during our search for Basque food to celebrate our anniversary and it was the most memorable meal of our trip.

Epi’s Basque restaurant is in Meridian, just west of Boise.

An Anniversary toast with Eguren Tempranillo and Lan Reserva Rioja.

Many Basque meals in Boise restaurants start with croquette appetizers, Epi’s Ham Croquettes are a golden brown and have a decadently thick, creamy texture. You’d swear there were potatoes or cheese in the middle but it is a mixture of chopped ham in a solid chilled béchamel. These delicious bites were just the introduction of the scrumptious food still to come.

Basque cuisine is a delicious way to warm your soul, this flavorful yet simple food is unique, hearty, and wonderfully satisfying.

Arkumea Txuletak. grilled lamb loin chops charbroiled and topped with a roasted garlic marinade and Gambak, sizzling garlic shrimp sautéed in butter, garlic, parsley, and lemon. Each entrée was served with soup, salad, bread, and two pre-selected side dishes. A must visit when in the Boise area.

Drink In Idaho Wine Country

A day trip that doesn’t take you far away from the heart of Boise, is to a part of Idaho’s Wine Country, just 20 minutes way from the city. Idaho wines have been up and coming for a while now, and it’s easy to explore the variety of wines produced outside of Boise in towns like Meridian, Garden City, Kuna, Caldwell and Eagle.

Located in the scenic Snake River Valley AVA one wine area to explore is the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, just outside of Caldwell, which is home to 17 wineries and vineyards. The wineries found on the wine trail are the ideal spots for taking in the panoramic views while sipping on award-winning Idaho wines. While many of our getaways are centered around wine this long weekend was more about a chance to explore the areas outside of Boise, so this time wine tasting was kept to just one stop.

You can read more about the Sunnyslope Wine Trail and the Snake River AVA on the Idaho Wines Website.

Sawtooth Winery

For a wine tasting around lunch time Sawtooth winery, which was founded in the Snake River Valley in 1987, was the perfect spot to take in some incredible views and enjoy a couple of wine flights along with a delicious charcuterie board. Sawtooth offers an impressive selection of white and red wines including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot and Tempranillo. A sister winery to Ste Chapelle Winery, right next door, both wineries are owned by Precept Wine and winemaker Meredith Smith produces the wines for both wineries.

When planning a visit to the Boise area wineries, check their websites to see if tasting reservations are needed.

With such a fantastic selection of interesting venues and exciting outdoor adventures available, Boise has a lot to offer. We absolutely loved all the activities offered in Boise and we hope to return to explore the city in more depth someday soon. As I mentioned earlier this trip was also about exploring some out of the city destinations, which can lead you to popular Idaho towns and long scenic drives through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Pacific Northwest.

Stay tuned for part two of this Idaho adventure, Boise Day Trips: Off the Beaten Path were I’ll be sharing a picturesque loop through the Sawtooth National Forest and Sun Valley Idaho, as well as a leisurely drive to Payette Lake, in McCall Idaho.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite Idaho destinations.

Images and Content © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

Barbox Cocktails

Enjoying the “Pop and Pour” drinkability of BarBox Cocktails along the Snoqualmie River. Just open the box and go!

In today’s drinking landscape, convenience is key and pre-mixed cocktails have become increasingly popular in recent years and for good reason. Ready to Drink (RTD) cocktails are extremely convenient when you’re traveling, camping, picnicking, or even hosting an outdoor Soirée at home. Even pre-pandemic consumers were increasingly reaching for RTD alcoholic beverages, a category that in 2019 grew 80% and finished the year with a total value of more than $100 million, according to consumer analytics firm Nielsen. In addition Grand View Research shared in their Ready To Drink Cocktails Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report that “The global ready to drink cocktails market size was valued at USD 714.8 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.0% from 2021 to 2028.

Hearing the demand for higher-quality, pre-mixed beverages in a convenient format, Barbox Cocktails owners Mattias and Jacob Kozuba answered that call with an enticing selection of premium craft cocktails that have take into account people’s busy lifestyles and the need to have a quality cocktail ready to go wherever they are.

Meet The Kozuba Brothers….

Jacob and Matthias Kozuba (Photo Credit: BarBox Cocktails)

Brothers and Co-Founders of BarBox Cocktails, Mattias and Jacob Kozuba, grew up in Poland in a distilling family. Their family business was the first established distillery in Poland after the Second World War and it Initially created cordials before transitioning into vodka and single malt whisky production. Under the mentorship of their master distiller father, Zbigniew “Papa” Kozuba, the brothers assisted in operating Kozuba & Sons Distillery.

When the brothers decided that it was time to move their operation to the United States, they settled down in Florida and started working on a game plan that would set them apart from other distillers. Working with the knowledge that most people are tired after a long days work, they put together plans for an easy ready to drink cocktail that was made with quality artisan spirits and meticulously selected all-natural ingredients.

Seeking a simple yet functional design careful selection was made in finding the right bag to hold the pre-made cocktails. The BarBox bags are similar to those you would find used for wine in the box, the difference is the film used inside. This special bag prevents the natural chemical reaction that occurs between plastic bags and spirits and keeps the higher-proof cocktail mix fresher. The specially designed spout also doesn’t release any unwanted flavors into the cocktail. BarBox’s bag-in-box design is eco-friendly and 100 percent recyclable. Even better, the boxes are lightweight and shatterproof which is perfect for poolside get togethers, a day at the beach, or taking on your next camping trip.

Wherever your outdoor adventures take you, BarBox Cocktails are never out of reach. No shaker, nor bar tools needed, just pop that pour spout, grab a glass, some ice and enjoy. It’s never been easier to bring cocktails to your next outdoor gathering.

“Cocktails are society’s most enduring invention!” -Elsa Maxwell

What’s In The Box……….

BarBox’s vivid flavored cocktails offer easy portability for those with an adventurous spirit, crisp and refreshing each of these pre-mixed boxes have their own sense of style and taste.

Blueberry Vodka Sour

Made from vodka, lemon juice and blueberry simple syrup, on the nose this impressive cocktail has an inviting fruity blend of blueberries and lemons, following through on the palate the sour pleasantly kicks in. You can also serve this ready to drink cocktail on the rocks with fresh blueberries and a slice of lemon.

BarBox’s Ready-to-Drink Craft Cocktails are a new kind of cocktail experience.

Although I enjoyed the flavors of each of the BarBox cocktails, the Blueberry Vodka Sour was my favorite. Just three simple ingredients but the added twist on this classic of infused blueberry simple syrup gave this delightful sip just the right amount of ‘Wow’ factor.

“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Then find someone who’s life is givin’ them vodka and have a party!”

Ron White

Fun Fact from BarBox: The British Navy is credited for popularizing, if not inventing the Sour. The first record of the Sour is in 1856 with the written recipe for a Sour appearing six years later.

Wherever your adventures take you, BarBox Cocktails are never out of reach.

Cosmopolitan

BarBox Cosmopolitan combines a blend of lemon-infused vodka, triple sec, cranberry and lime juice for a balanced spot-on sweet and sour Cosmo combo.

This drink is perfect for warmer summer days by the lake and nights spent at home relaxing with friends and family.

Fun Fact from BarBox: In 1975, bartender Neal Murray created the Cosmopolitan by adding a splash of cranberry juice to a Kamikaze. Legend has it that the first taster took a sip and said, “How cosmopolitan.” And thus, the Cosmo was born.

BarBox Negroni

BarBox’s Negroni pre-made cocktail is a mix of gin, bitter, liqueur, white wine and Cochineal extract with natural flavors. This cocktail really captures all of the distinct flavors of a Negroni with its warm spices, tea notes and zing of ginger. Perfect for a day spent by the river or grilling in the backyard

Fun Fact from BarBox: Legend has it that in Florence, Italy in 1919, Count Camillo Negroni asked bartender Forsco Scarsello to replace the soda in his Americano with gin. An orange garnish was added and this was the creation of the first known Negroni.

Happy Hour is where you make it when you take BarBox along for the ride. Simply push to break the seal on the box, pull to extend the spout and pour the cocktail over ice.

“Not to get too deep before the cocktail hour, but do I need to remind you of the finite nature of life?”

Roger Sterling, Mad Men

BarBox Cocktails has recently added a Gin Lemonade and Margarita to their BarBox Mix. Their boxed cocktails are available in select states, in stores and online. All boxes are 1.75 liters and contain 14 4oz servings, at a recommended price of $25, that’s under $2 a cocktail. Visit BarBox’s Website to find some near you.

This post is sponsored by BarBox Cocktails and all products were provided. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.

Images and Content © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.