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Boise, Idaho, is not your average state capital

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Incorporated in the latter part of the 19th century, Boise lay at a strategic intersection of the Oregon Trail. Most state capitals were chosen for political reasons, frequently condemning them to regions of inconsequential and dubious economic value other than politics. In Boise’s case, a diverse economy has been fed by Idaho’s agriculture, industries and position within a northwest Pacific triangle with Seattle and Portland.

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As befitting Idaho’s number one agricultural crop, the giant J.R. Simplot Company produces copious amounts of frozen potato products. Yet Boise is more than a center of the potato industry. The Snake River Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area) is just outside the city, producing award-winning wines gaining international attention. Boise’s population has nearly doubled in the past 25 years to just over 212,000 and has frequently been chosen in top ten lists of best places to work, raise a family and retire. The city teems with millennials at the universities, in health care and high tech industries, as well as state government.

Downtown Boise is undergoing steady restoration and repurposing of 19th century historic structures into office and residential buildings. An entrepreneurial spirit is resulting in the proliferation of cafes and gastro pubs along with a growing number of diverse small shops. Unique pockets of cultural activity dot the city from Freak Alley to the Egyptian Theater and the venerable Basque Cultural Center.

Seemingly tying the city together is the beautiful Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile biking and hiking trail along the serene Boise River providing recreation and a pollution free transportation link from the University to downtown. During a recent stay in the capital, members of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association had the opportunity to explore this very walkable city. Click the photos and visit this journalist’s Boise top ten.

Top photo: The candy bra at The Chocolate Bar, 805 W. Bannock, Boise, ID

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