From 19th Century Glamour to Classic Shakespeare: 9 of Boise’s Unique Event Venues
By Barry Eitel
Boise has consistently landed on top 10 lists as one of the best cities in the country: It is one of the healthiest and greenest cities, as well as one of the best places to be a doctor, yoga practitioner or retiree. Between the surrounding Idaho foothills and a terrific downtown area, there is plenty of reason to pick Boise to host your next conference, event or meeting.
The sprawling Boise Centre, Idaho’s premier convention center, is currently undergoing a 36,000-square-foot expansion. Even as work continues, the existing 50,000 square-foot space is available for use. But if you’re looking for something a bit different, consider some of these other creative venues for your next off-site event in Boise.
1. Boise Depot
Elegant and richly designed, the Boise Depot will add a dash of late 1800s glamour to your next meeting. When first opened, this Spanish-style building was the toast of Idaho, and its charm continues today. Not only does the multistory atrium provide panoramic views of the Boise Front, a koi pond and several gardens are just outside for your enjoyment.
2. Rose Room *
Bright with natural light and nestled in Boise’s thriving downtown, the Rose Room will add a delicate touch to your next event. Featuring a terrific birch wood bar, the Rose Room can provide bartenders who serve up some delicious craft cocktails. With several spacious halls, the Rose Room is also perfect for more buttoned-up events.
The historic Owyhee building was originally a hotel when it opened over 100 years ago in 1910. A recent revitalization transformed it into a lively space featuring a rooftop terrace with 270-degree views of mountains and the booming Boise skyline. With a full-service bar, indoor and outdoor space and catering available from Kindness, the first-floor café, this location has it all.
When not in use by one of the two dancing groups that call it home, the Basque Center is a venue that’s sure to have your attendees talking long after your event ends. The Center has two halls available for rental and a fully-equipped commercial kitchen. But what really makes this venue shine is the surrounding area, known as The Basque Block. The Boise Basque community assembled here in the 1800s, and their heritage makes this a rich and vibrant neighborhood. Incorporate one of the many festivals or performances into your gathering or build downtime into your agenda for exploration of the market and eateries.
The Discovery Center of Idaho (DCI to locals) is a STEM-lover’s dream. Their mission is “to inspire lifelong interest and learning in science, technology, engineering and math.” The facility offers 10,000 square feet of space on the museum floor and over 50 hands-on exhibits. The entire museum can be rented for private functions, allowing endless team-building opportunities with giant bubbles and construction sets!
Take advantage of the fresh air at Idaho Shakespeare Festival Amphitheater and Reserve. Availability of this mesmerizing outdoor amphitheater and habitat reserve varies depending on scheduled stage shows and time of year. The local flora and fauna complement the 770-seat amphitheater, creating an experience that reflects Boise’s unique combination of urban cultural amenities and a picture-perfect natural setting.
Dating back almost as far as Idaho itself, the Old Idaho Penitentiary is about as offbeat of an off-site event location as you’ll find anywhere. “Old Pen” officially closed to prisoners in 1973 but they’re happy to open their doors wide to your group for an after-hours event. And that’s when the real ambience sets in at a location such as this, whether you rent the entire facility or a specific building.
If the sprawling view of the Boise Foothills and downtown don’t give people enough to talk about, perhaps talk of college sports rivalries will spark a conversation. This space perches atop Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University. The 1986 decision to go with blue turf could be used to segue discussions back on-track with some key pointers on innovation, leadership and standing out in the crowd.
9. Zoo Boise
Everyone knows the zoo is home to wild animals, big and small. But did you know it can also be home to your next off-site event? Imagine partying with the primates or hanging with the striped hyenas! The entire zoo is available for evening rentals. Zoo Boise is a particularly great all-ages option if your event includes invitations for the entire family.
Whether you’re looking for an intimate, picturesque setting or tens of thousands of square feet to give your group room to roam, Boise’s unique and memorable venues can accommodate groups of any size and are sure to have attendees gushing.
This article is brought to you by the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau. Boise — it’s time to see for yourself.
*Updated by the BCVB 11/13/17: The Rose Room closed Spring of 2017. For another unique venue, see the Idaho Botanical Garden. Located at the base of the Boise Foothills and in the Old Idaho Penitentiary Historic District, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a refreshing and beautiful setting for your event.