Although Idaho is barely 100 years old, there is still plenty of history in Idaho’s capital city. There are a number of museums in Boise for you to visit, which include both past and present history. Here are our favorite museums in Boise, Idaho:

Click the links below to skip to any of the following sections:

Idaho State History Museum
Boise Art Museum
Basque Museum & Culture Center
Idaho Black History Museum
World Center for Birds of Prey
Old Idaho Penitentiary
Idaho State Capitol Building
Discovery Center of Idaho
Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial
Boise WaterShed
Zoo Boise
Idaho Botanical Garden
Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology
Idaho Military History Museum
Idaho State Archives
Children’s Museum of Idaho
Boise Aquarium

Idaho State History Museum

Visiting the Idaho State Historical Society Museum: Boise, Idaho

If you want to learn more about the history of Boise and Idaho, the best place to start is the Idaho State Museum. The museum is run by the Idaho State Historical Society, and will give you a great overview of the history of the state for the past thousands of years, including Native American history, geological history, and everything up until today.

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The Idaho State Museum closed for a number of years to completely remodel their building and create all new exhibits. In the Idaho State Museum, you will find a floor specifically for kids, but all floors are great for all ages.

Address:

610 Julia Davis Drive
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Idaho State Museum website

Boise Art Museum

If you are visiting the Idaho State Museum, you should plan to see the Boise Art Museum in the same day. Both museums are located off Capitol Blvd. in Julia Davis Park.

The Boise Art Museum has collections of art throughout the ages, and includes local, national, and international artists. They also have programs specifically for kids, so if you are looking for something for them to do in summer, check out their website for day camps at the Boise Art Museum.

Address:

670 Julia Davis Drive
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Boise Art Museum website

Basque Museum & Culture Center

Downtown Boise, Idaho's Basque Block.

Boise is full of Basque history, and the Boise Basque Block is where you can see a lot of that history. The Basque Block in Boise includes a Basque market, multiple Basque restaurants, the Basque house (a former boarding house), and the Basque Museum.

The museum will take you through the history of the Basque emigration to Idaho, how it changed the way of life in Idaho, and what it looks like today.

Address:

611 W Grove Street
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Basque Museum & Culture Center website

Idaho Black History Museum

The Idaho Black History Museum is located in Julia Davis Park in Boise in the St. Paul Baptist Church building.

According to the museum, they present “exhibits and provides educational and community outreach programs including lectures, films, workshops, literacy programs, and musical performances.”

The Idaho Black History Museum holds multiple events throughout the year to represent past and present history, in both Idaho and the country.

Address:

508 Julia Davis Drive
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Idaho Black History Museum website

World Center for Birds of Prey

Best Boise museums - World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho.

The World Center for the Birds of Prey is an amazing location in Boise that you will not find almost anywhere else. The center is run by the Peregrine Fund, a group whose mission is “to conserve birds of prey worldwide.”

The World Center for the Birds of Prey Interpretive Center is located on a large piece of land outside Boise, which allows them to create an indoor/outdoor education center, where you will see live and stuffed birds like eagles, owls, vultures, hawks, and falcons.

Address:

5668 W Flying Hawk Lane
Boise, ID 83709

Visit the World Center for Birds of Prey website

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Visiting the Old Idaho State Penitentiary in Boise, Idaho - our favorite Boise museums.

The Old Idaho Penitentiary is one of the coolest places you can visit in Boise. The prison was open for more than 100 years, with thousands of inmates in that time.

Most of the buildings of the Idaho Penitentiary are still standing, and you can walk through the outdoor and indoor facilities. The Idaho Penitentiary is considered one of the most haunted places in Boise, and there are many ghost tours that take place throughout the year.

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While you’re at the Old Idaho Penitentiary, think about also driving or hiking up Table Rock. The trailhead begins on the penitentiary grounds.

Address:

2445 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID 83712

Visit the Old Idaho Penitentiary website

Idaho State Capitol Building

Visiting the Idaho State Capitol Building in downtown Boise, Idaho.

The Idaho State Capitol Building is an amazing piece of history in Boise that is nearly the same as it was when it was built. Construction of the capitol building began in 1905 and it was expanded beginning in 1919.

The interior of the Idaho State Capitol is decorated with marble columns, walls, and stairs. The exterior is made of local sandstone.

Visiting the Idaho State Capitol Building is a must if you want to learn more about Idaho history. While the legislature is in session, you can watch their sessions in either chambers, or you can just take a walk through.

Address:

700 W Jefferson Street
Boise, ID 83720

Visit the Idaho State Capitol Building website

You can also take an online tour here

Discovery Center of Idaho

The Discover Center of Idaho is slightly different than everyone else on this list, because it is more of an hands-on science experience. The mission of the Discovery Center is to provide STEM-learning for all ages, although it does seem targeted more to children.

The Discovery Center was opened in downtown Boise in 1988, and has existed in the same location ever since. They are located adjacent to Julia Davis Park, which means you could easily walk to and from the Discovery Center, Boise Art Museum, and Idaho State Museum in one day.

Address:

131 W Myrtle Street
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Discovery Center of Idaho website

Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial

Visiting the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise

The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial dedicated to ” the universality of the struggle against injustice and oppression,” according to the exhibit.

The memorial is located in downtown Boise, just off the Boise Greenbelt, and features stones throughout, with quoted from many eras of history. One of the most inspiring features of the memorial is one of the only locations in the world to receive a sapling from the actual Anne Frank Chestnut Tree in Amsterdam, which has since grown into its own tree within the memorial.

The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial was built by the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights and dedicated to the public in 2002.

Address:

777 S 8th Street
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial website

Boise WaterShed

Although water may not seem like the most interesting topic to all visitors, it’s an incredibly crucial part of life in Idaho. At the Boise WaterShed, you can learn about water protection through hands-on exhibits at the West Boise Water Renewal Facility.

The Boise WaterShed has an education center for children and adults and a two-acre outdoor river campus so you can see what waters, like the Snake River and Boise River, deal with on a daily basis. The center uses public art to express these challenges and outcomes.

The Boise WaterShed is a great place to learn more about the science of water and to give your kids a day to play outside, while also learning.

Address:

11818 Joplin Road
Boise, ID 83714

Visit the Boise WaterShed website

Zoo Boise

Okay, so zoos aren’t exactly museums, but Zoo Boise made the list because it’s a great place to learn. Zoo Boise includes all kinds of animals, including giraffes, lions and tigers, penguins, monkeys, gila monsters, and plenty more.

Zoo Boise also offers dozens of events during the year, including Boo at the Zoo, a Valentine’s Day-themed day, and even Paint with Penguins (I am signed up for the February Paint with Penguins, I will report back on that event)!

Zoo Boise is a great day out with your kids, or just for yourself. It is also located in Julia Davis Park and so is an easy stroll from the other museums, or from downtown Boise.

Address:

355 Julia Davis Drive
Boise, ID 83702

Visit the Zoo Boise website

Idaho Botanical Garden

The Idaho Botanical Garden is also not technically a museum but they hold enough events to include it on this list. For instance, they recently held a yoga class for kids where they learn about fossils during class.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is located near the Idaho Penitentiary, so you can easily do both in a day. It is a multi-acre garden that you can stroll through almost any day of the year. There is also a large event space for weddings or concerts.

Address:

2355 N Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID 83712

Visit the Idaho Botanical Garden website

Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology

Idaho was built on mining, and the Idaho Museum of Mining & Geology showcases that history, while also featuring the rich geological landscape of the state.

The museum is located on the grounds of the Idaho Penitentiary, and while visiting, you can see a working seismograph, geological history of Idaho, and how mining and geology has shaped the state of Idaho.

While visiting the Idaho Museum of Mining & Geology, make sure you stop by their gift shop — there are a number of pieces of art and jewelry made of Idaho-related stones.

Address:

2455 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID 83712

Visit the Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology website

Idaho Military History Museum

The Idaho Military History Museum was founded for the “preservation, display and interpretation of military history and artifacts that have a geographical tie to the history of the people and state of Idaho,” according to the museum.

The Idaho Military Museum features photos and artifacts through many eras of military history, and includes the history of both Idaho and the world. You can see photos of Idahoans in conflict and guns used in different wars, as well as exhibits from  the Idaho Air and Army National Guard as well as Mountain Home Air Force Base.

The Idaho Military History Museum is run by the by the Idaho Military Historical Society, and was opened in 1995.

Address:

4692 W Harvard Street
Boise, ID 83705

Visit the Idaho Military History Museum website

Idaho State Archives

The Idaho State Archives is one of the coolest places to visit in Boise, but it’s not somewhere you want to visit just as a tourist. This is because the Archives is what it sounds like — a research library for past events in Idaho.

When visiting the Idaho State Archives, you will want to do some research in advance and know what you are looking for before your visit. The Idaho State Archives staff will help you conduct your research and provide you access to the historic materials.

You can also begin your research at their online archives collections.

Address:

2205 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID 83712

Visit the Idaho State Archives website

The Children’s Museum of Idaho

The Children’s Museum of Idaho is not technically in Boise, it’s in a suburb of Meridian, but it’s a great place to bring your kids for a day out. There are interactive exhibits and hands-on experiences to help young children learn.

There are special events at the Children’s Museum of Idaho, almost daily, and they also host field trips, birthdays, and other parties.

The Children’s Museum of Idaho is open six days a week (every day except Mondays) and is a great place to entertain your children, while also encouraging them to learn.

Address:

790 S Progress Avenue
Meridian, ID 83642

Visit the Children’s Museum of Idaho website.

Boise Aquarium

The Boise Aquarium has had some ups and downs since opening, but has turned into a great place to spend the day, whether you have kids or not. Although the aquarium doesn’t have the same animals as many big city aquariums, they do offer a day of fun and learning through their many sea animals.

Some of the exhibits at the Boise Aquarium include a shark and puffer exhibit, a ray pool, an Amazon exhibit, and a tortoise habitat.

Address:

64 N. Cole Rd.
Boise, ID 83704

Visit the Boise Aquarium website.