Go By: Plane
Direct-from-PDX destinations worth your frequent-flier miles
Pedal-pushing and leaf-peeping in a rugged western town
“LES BOIS! LES BOIS—voyez les bois (The woods, the woods—see the woods!)” French explorers reportedly exclaimed in 1833 when they first spied the site of present-day Boise, where the Boise River gently weaves through thick stands of cottonwoods. That’s still sound advice today. Each fall this arbor-rich outpost in the foothills of the Rockies is awash in a breeze-blown blaze lit with yellowing aspens, orange-leafed maples, and crimson-tinged sweetgums, all swaying amid a backdrop of rippling, golden hills.
The best way to take in the leafy scenery? By bike. Nicknamed the “The City of Trees,” Boise could also lay claim to the title of “Singletrack, USA.” Fat-tire riders fan out along the high-climbing Boise Foothills on a vast, 130-mile-plus network known as the Ridge to Rivers Trails, to enjoy sweeping valley vistas and snowy peaks, while the cruiser-bike set plies more than 200 miles of in-town paths, the most popular of which is the Boise River Greenbelt. Stretching more than 20 miles, this mellow, mostly paved trail syncs up a dozen spacious parks, including attraction-packed Julia Davis Park, home to the decidedly modern Boise Art Museum, the kid-friendly Idaho State Historical Museum, Zoo Boise, and sun-dappled rose gardens.
At the hub of Boise’s two-wheel culture is the hip Hyde Park neighborhood. Nestled at the north end of town, at the base of the foothills trails, this inviting enclave buzzes with funky antique stores, coffee shops, and restaurants such as SunRay Cafe, where you can fuel up for your ride with hand-tossed wheat crust pizzas.
And don’t worry if you didn’t check your ride at PDX. Idaho Mountain Touring rents carbon-framed road cycles, full-suspension mountain bikes ($35), and city cruisers ($15). Pedaling among locals, with the sunbeams filtered by a kaleidoscope of leaves, you’ll find it hard not to sing this town’s praises, too. Perhaps even in French. Your first verse: “Vive les bois.” —Brian Barker
Sidle up to 39 regional beers and über-local eats like smoked Idaho trout and grass-fed beef at Bittercreek Alehouse. At Boise Fry Company, get a gourmet spud fix with peanut-oil-fried purple, russet, sweet, yam, and Yukon gold taters laced with alder-smoked sea salt and house-made blueberry ketchup.
Boise’s new boutique Hotel 43 (from $139) is a finely appointed charmer with a hoppin’ steak house. Once a 1960s Travelodge, the Modern Hotel and Bar (from $99) now sports swanky walk-in showers and midcentury mod furniture.
Take the 16-mile spin up a sagebrush-scented mountain road to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area, where the views are anything but.