5 Things to Do in: Boise, Idaho

Okay so let me preface this post by acknowledging how weird it is to post a “travel” type blog post in the midst of a pandemic. I understand that unless you are living around Boise, Idaho you are probably not rushing to get there anytime soon HOWEVER I cannot tell you how many people have asked for Idaho related posts and how dear to my heart it is. SO if you do live in Idaho maybe I give you an idea of something to do and if you don’t maybe this is inspiration for your future non-COVID related travels.

I spend a lot of time in Idaho because my fella’s parents live there. For the longest time while A and I have been long distance it was a mid-station for us (though from South Carolina to Northern California I’m not sure how much “mid” there was). To be honest it was basically it was a place to stay, explore and fall in love with in every season.

There is so much I love about Boise and Idaho in general that I’m going to need to break this shit up so take this as a first post but most definitely not the last centered around this hidden Gem (of a) State.

Processed with VSCO with ss1 preset

 

With incredible hiking, golfing, and floating down the river on a hot summer day to snow tubing in the winter. Throw in it’s amazing restuartants, tons of shopping, and just generally interacting with the super nice Idahumans, my Boise suggestions list is a mile long but let’s just start with these 5 things.

1. Explore the Oregon Trial

While the Oregon Trail computer game (circa 1999 for me) was beyond brutal this walk is actually amazing. It’s a 2.8 mile trail set along the ridge to the east of the Boise Airport and provides amazing views of the foothills. It includes multiple overlooks and is very flat for anyone trying to get a little exercise while also learning about the history of the Oregon Trail and how it fits into Boise history. Visit the Oregon Trail Reserve here.

IMG_6689 (1)

Processed with VSCO with c7 preset

Processed with VSCO with ss1 preset

2. Eat Boozy Ice Cream at The STIL.

Wait you have to card me? For ice cream? Where do I sign up? If you feel me on this let me lead you right to The STIL! With fun flavors like Licking the Spoon which lays heavy on brownie batter to Idaho Wilderness with lavender and berries (Idaho is known for it’s huckleberry flavored things) this place has a little bit of everything and let me just tell you, everything is delicious! We bought the Ed & Carl Take Reno which is a boozy honey bourbon option for the 21+ crew and it was amazing! Rich, creamy and yet not too strong that a non-bourbon lover like myself is still very happy with it. They also have ice cream flights with beer/wine pairings which I did not know when we went so I must return immediately to experience. The STIL has two open locations (one quite conveniently located not too far from the Oregon Trail Reserve mentioned above) and one downtown which both make for an excellent stop on your Boise adventure.

IMG_6777

3. Bike The Boise River Greenbelt

The Boise River Greenbelt is 25 miles long and covers SO MUCH OF THE CITY! It starts a little beyond the Oregon Trail Reserve, winding right through downtown and Boise State University’s campus (including the famous blue field) and all the way over to Garden City. This trail includes what’s called the “Ribbon of Jewels” which are parks named for various incredible women and their impact on the community. On a hot summer day you will find so many people wading in the water, floating the river and otherwise just enjoying the casual toe dip. Should you start over by the Oregon Trail Reserve you can take the trail for about 8-10 miles and bike right in front of the Capital building and into the vibrant downtown of Boise.

Processed with VSCO with s3 preset

4. Brewery Hop

Downtown Boise is filled with shops, restaurants and my some of the most beautiful murals by local artists. It’s also a little brewery haven and if you’ve just biked all this way you are probably ready for a cold brew or two. Disclaimer: there will never be a time where I don’t admit to the fact that I am a beer snob so let me be the first to say that Boise, Idaho CAN HANG. It’s actually hard to put this in one little paragraph because I have so many suggestions for breweries so I’m making this just a downtown specific post about 3 breweries. What a problem to have, narrowing it down to just 3 fun breweries within a mile and a half to spend a day at… I’m truly not sorry for us.

Boise Brewing is a community owned brewery which is pretty cool to learn about and how the brewery came to be so check that out on their website. If you go you have to taste their Jillijuice & Broad Street Blonde! Jillijuice is so delicious on draft, I get it pretty much anytime I see it.

Payette Brewing has probably my favorite tap room on this list, the space is big with both outdoor and indoor seating. They have an awesome partnership with local food trucks and of course the beers are amazing. Their Rustler IPA has the perfect amount of citrus that makes it perfect for a hot day!

IMG_5021_Original

Cloud 9 Brewery is a bit further than the other two and located in a strip mall but don’t let that fool you, these beers are legit. I love the Double IPA which is so crisp and hoppy but maybe a bit too easy to drink. The Lemon Ginger Wheat is a fun summer drink to enjoy on their patio. Cloud 9 also has an awesome food menu if you need to fuel up after all this brewery hopping.

5. Shop at Mixed Greens

Did you even go to Boise if you didn’t bring back a souvenir?

I found this adorable little boutique on my first visit to Boise about 3 years ago and I go back every. single. time. I’m in town. It’s an awesome blend of local Idaho creatives and constantly rotating inventory that is in my opinion one of the best collections of curated pieces out there. From prints to jewelry, postcards to candles, home goods and lotions this boutique has a little bit of everything. Whenever I travel I look for these kinds of shops and honestly they are rarely as wonderful as Mixed Greens, it’s just the best.

s595634577526554501_p975_i1_w1280
Shop This Card Here

 

s595634577526554501_p512_i1_w531
Shop this ‘Ho Mug Here
s595634577526554501_p845_i1_w800
Shop This Adorable Boise Print Here.

 

So there you have it, the first 5 things you absolutely must do in Boise, Idaho. If you still aren’t convinced that it must be part of your future travels wait til I post my restaurant and hiking guides.

Have you been to Boise?

Love, Kari

Travel Guide: Tulum, Mexico

I‘m going to start out by saying like all good stand-by travel trips this one began with an entirely different plan.

I had never been to Mexico. I had plenty of friends who had vacationed in Cancun and at all-inclusive resorts all over the country but for whatever reason it was never a big destination goal for me. Luckily a friend of mine had just gone to Tulum and shared photos of beautiful beaches, fresh, creative food and a kind of hippie-vibe that stuck with me. So when our plan for Germany fell apart, Tulum became the focus and off we went.

……………………………………………………………

Lodging: The hotel zone in Tulum is widely considered the beach area that goes for a couple of miles. Here you’ll find beachfront cabanas, private pools, balconies overlooking the ocean and some of the coolest architecture I have seen in this kind of area. Many of these hotels seemed to be more on the expensive side but from what I can tell are absolutely worth the price. I could honestly spend all day looking at photos from Azulik & Papaya Playa Project‘s Instagram accounts, seriously give them a look!

Another area of boutique style hotels has popped up between the Tulum Pueblo and the Beach which is where we ended up finding Naay Boutique Hotel. Naay was a small hotel with plenty of charm and a rooftop pool area that could not be beat. Free parking, bike rentals and a really clean, comfortable room. The real winner of this hotel was the breakfast included. Every morning the nicest staff ever served freshly squeezed juice, assorted muffins, a fruit plate and so many main course options. I still dream about this breakfast to quite frankly.

img_7313

Day 1: 

We arrived just before dinner so we headed over to Tulum Pueblo to check out the “downtown.” Lined with souvenir shops this was definitely the place to get your more inexpensive gifts. We stopped for food at a little taco shop but let me tell you the entire block of restaurants smelled incredible. We found ourselves on a little post-dinner pub crawl on Calle Centauro S. Between restaurant/bars like Pasito Tun Tun & La Malquerida we had the best time swinging life away- no really, there were swings instead of bar stools- and drinking a few too many tequila shots because Mexico, am I right??

img_7304

Day 2: 

After breakfast at our hotel we drove out to the Tulum ruins. Tulum is the only Mayan city that was built on the coast and these ancient ruins are only minutes from the center of town. The ruins are scattered over quite a large area and really well labeled if you’re a nerd like me wanting to learn what they once were. Like most tourist traps they are  visited by thousands of people every day (think tour bus central) so we were glad we went early before the tours really started to get going. The views overlooking the ocean are breathtaking and with these ruins being so easily bikeable from anywhere in town I’d highly recommend stopping by to see them.

img_7315img_7320img_5893

After trekking around the ruins we made our way down the hotel zone to find a spot to set up for a beach day. I had read that a lot of the hotels allowed you to sit by their cabanas for free so long as you were buying food/drink but the one in particular we had heard good reviews of was La Zebra Hotel. We found a bed, made friends with the bartender and ate some of the most incredible fish tacos I’ve ever had in my life!

img_7365

After La Zebra we headed over to Coco Tulum because I had been heavily influenced by all of the photos I’d seen on Instagram while doing research- we decided to stay for a drink but honestly it was pretty overrated. The music was unbearable and the vibe was just a little tacky while also being expensive.

img_7360

For dinner we went back to Tulum Pueblo and hit up an Argentinian restaurant called Estancia Jujena. The restaurant’s ambiance was rustic chic, with reclaimed wood being the focus and candles lit everywhere. The menu was large but if you go and don’t get as many empanadas as possible I’ll be disappointed in you. After dinner we headed over to Batey Mojito Bar which may have been my favorite part of the entire trip. The fresh sugar cane made for some of the most incredible mojitos. There was an awesome live band and the servers were all really nice and very on top of their game! It was cash only so keep that in mind when you go.

Day 3:

img_7394

After yet another excellent rooftop breakfast we hit the road for the ancient Mayan city of Coba to explore some more ruins.  Located about an hour from Tulum the ruins of Coba are home to one of the only Mayan pyramids that you can still climb to the top of. There is a fee to enter the ruins but once you arrive you can rent bikes for $2 and explore the miles of jungle roads around the site. It honestly felt like being in an Indiana Jones movie. We got there early and headed straight to the pyramid so we could climb it a little before the crowds started to arrive. While it is only 120 steps to the top, these steep and damp steps are no joke. All in all Coba was a must see, especially first thing in the morning before the crowds become overwhelming!

One of the most magical parts of Tulum are the countless cenotes scattered throughout the area. It seems like every mile you drive has another sign advertising these beautiful sinkholes. Newbies to the cenote hunt we opted for one of the more popular ones called the Gran Cenote. Being one of the more touristy ones comes with perks of having clean bathrooms, large changing rooms and plenty of lockers to keep your things in. I’d recommend buying one of those plastic cases for your phone to take underwater photos (we did not, regret that one). There were definitely crowds but you could find a lot of spots that had nobody around. I was fascinated by swimming with all the baby turtles but a whole lot less intrigued by all of the bats chilling when you swim under the cave… in any event visiting cenotes are a must when traveling Tulum! The ones I wish we had also visited were Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Nicte-Ha so when you do go make sure you add those to your list.

Whenever traveling I tend to keep to a budget for most food & beverage purchases with the exception of one special meal at a place I wouldn’t normally go to. On this trip the final meal was at Rosa Negra, a beachy yet upscale Latin American restaurant in the hotel zone. This place was magical! The open restaurant was dimly lit and intimate while also employing an in-house DJ that played everything from lounge music to dance beats. The service from the moment we sat down was world-class and the bartender crafted some of the most unique cocktails.  With a focus on fresh seafood the menu was filled with local produce and showcased their spin on the area’s cuisine perfectly. It was the best meal to finish off a great (yet unexpected) trip to Tulum!

Transportation Tips: Tulum can be found about 1.5 hours west of the Cancun airport. I have heard that there are plenty of buses as well as cars for hire out of Cancun. There are plenty of taxis once you get to Tulum but after talking with friends and figuring that we’d want the freedom to be able to explore the area more we decided to go the rental car route. I would definitely recommend doing your homework before renting a car because in Mexico you are required to buy insurance on top of your own coverage. It is recommended for a whole host of reasons including theft that you go with full-coverage. I’m glad I knew this because I rented a car through Thrifty and added the extra coverage but when I arrived at the airport there was definitely an attempt to strong arm me into purchasing even more coverage. When I showed receipts that I was already covered the gentleman quickly backed down.

I had also heard that people were pulled over for random reasons and “waived on” if they paid the fee of whatever was in their wallet so I made sure to be extra careful about my driving and also what was in my wallet. To be honest, I didn’t have any problems driving or stopping for gas but I was cautious so I would say just be smart about it.

……………………………………………………..

I know that Tulum has been criticized over the last few years for becoming more and more commercialized but I think they are doing a pretty good job of managing that influx of tourists while maintaining that laid-back beachy vibe it’s known for. Going in I thought I was going to be drawn to the hipster hotel-zone (#basic) and while I did love exploring the unique beach clubs and the restaurant scene- seriously you should see some of these restaurants! I was surprised to find that the Pueblo’s genuine mix of local, expat and tourist vibes was where I actually gravitated towards. Two things I wish we had done but didn’t have enough time for would be a day trip to Chichen Itza and a day trip snorkeling/paddle boarding around the Sian Ka’an. Next time!

I would highly recommend adding Tulum to any travel plans, especially if you’re looking for a relaxed vibe with plenty of added adventures easily available in the area.

Have you been to Tulum? Where did you stay? Would you have done anything differently?

Til next time, friends!

Kari