When groups visit Boise, Idaho, their typical response is “who knew?” according to Terry Kopp, director of sales for the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau.
With a population just over 220,000, Boise has the immersive, small-town vibe that groups want. The Boise Airport is located just 10 minutes from downtown, and conventions of a notable size (1,000-plus) essentially run the town and are viewed as key to the city’s economy, says Kopp.
“We stand out because we are a city smaller in population, but one that offers many of the same amenities you find in larger cities such as the ballet and symphony,” says Kopp.
That said, Boise’s downtown is seeing major growth. This year alone brought three new hotels within walking distance of the convention center to the downtown core. Opened in January, the 109-suite Inn at 500 Capitol’s features 57 themed suites—think Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and even potato-themed digs—and 700 pieces of local art throughout, not to mention red flower boxes on its exterior that make it recognizable from several vantage points in town. The 150-room Hyatt Place Boise/Downtown opened in May, while the 185-room Residence Inn Boise Downtown City Center just opened in mid-October. And, as of July, the Boise Centre debuted an expansion that brings its total meeting space up to 80,000 sf.
Boise is a city that has long supported social causes, whether being one of the first states to permit women’s suffrage; being home to one of the largest Basque communities in the US; or being a voice to voiceless endangered species.
“We stand out because we are a city smaller in population, but one that offers many of the same amenities you find in larger cities such as the ballet and symphony.”
Standing as a representation of the community and its efforts to speak out against injustice is what Boise is all about, says Dan Prinzing, executive director of the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights. A traveling Anne Frank exhibit arrived here more than a decade ago and inspired an educational park that honors Frank and human rights across the globe. The memorial features a sapling taken from the chestnut tree that stood outside Frank’s window, a life-sized bronze statue or Frank and outdoor space to meet in.
Saving endangered birds is the mission at the World Center for Birds of Prey, and groups can take an educational tour of the facility and meet some of the birds, or even host an event in exhibit space at the center.
Lastly, the year-round activities such as hiking, biking, skiing and fishing are available for groups, all within minutes of downtown. Bogus Basin offers night skiing until 10 p.m.—a perfect ending to a day of meetings. Rafting the mighty Main Payette River with family-owned Cascade Raft & Kayak also ensures a memorable Idaho experience that groups can top off with a river-side barbecue on the company’s lawn, located at the end of the route.