Boise’s Botanical Gardens ushers in fall with festive affair!


Nothing says fall like a Harvest Festival, and thanks to the Idaho Statesman‘s Do it today column on October 5th, I discovered something in Boise that would be fun to do after a morning of grazing my way through the downtown Farmers Market.  (Click here to read about my market adventures!)

The Idaho Botanical Gardens on N. Penitentiary Road opened its gates for young and old excited to pose for pictures in a pumpkin patch, take a wagon ride, listen to music, or admire the fall colors while dining on gourmet fare from lined-up food trucks.  It doesn’t get much better!

Nestled in an area known as the Idaho Penitentiary District, the Idaho Botanical Gardens offered families a place for pictures near the entrance where an archway of pumpkins and bales of hay served as a staging area.  Here’s a dad making sure his son is ready for the picture as I, too, snap a photo with the old penitentiary in the background. (Click here for touring info on the Old Idaho Penitentiary and Felon Fright on Halloween night!)


After that, I hit the vendor tents like the shopper I love to be.  First stop, Kelley’s Canyon Orchard where this basket of luscious red apples cried Pick me! Pick me!


I moved on to meet the guys from City Peanut Shop who offered me one of their best sellers: Brewer’s Nuts.  (Yes, husband Bert was the recipient of one of these bags of Virginia redskins flavored with beer from Payette Brewing Company! Is he lucky, or what?)


One booth sold tropical pitcher plants (Have never seen any so big!) and, judging from the crowd around them, neither had most of the guests.


Dangling from one tent were little ceramic works of art known as Ben’s Bells.  Amazingly, they weren’t for sale.  The story told to me was that Ben’s Bells encourage kindness, and the whole idea evolved after a child named Ben died just before his third birthday.  His family — and now a community of volunteers, too — make the beads, assemble the bells, and hang them in unexpected places.  Finders of Ben’s Bells receive a note encouraging them to take the bells home as a reminder to be kind. (Click here for more info on the Ben’s Bells Project.)


One of the happiest folks I met was this lady. She obviously enjoys spinning enough to give up a day to demonstrate her craft for others.  And there she was, pedaling barefoot and fashioning soft wool into yarn for folks to take home.


For lunch, there were several choices — like wood-fired pizza baked right on the spot!  (I’ve been to lots of festivals, but never have I known folks to bring their own oven! Whew!)


Local craft beers were available for washing down whatever you bought!


I stood in line at Bel Cibo waiting for a sizable grilled cheese sandwich (Yum!!!) . . .


while talking to a pumpkin-head lady who was a good sport and let me photograph her in the cutest costume on a grown-up!


Then I joined other folks seated on the first and only grass labyrinth I’ve ever seen to enjoy the food, sunshine, and local band performing under the tent.


After lunch, I grabbed my ballot for the Scarecrow Stroll.  With 26 fantastic full-size scarecrows scattered throughout the gardens, I had my work cut out for me:  Vote for your favorite, and then go online to check out the winners.  (Click here to see who won!) Here are my faves:



I took a leisurely stroll on a serene pathway . . .


and then watched this couple contemplating which nicely packaged bag of bulbs to take home.


Couldn’t resist ending my day photographing a family making memories at one of Boise’s premier fall celebrations.  With good food, great weather, interesting vendors, and an absolutely lovely garden outfitted for the season, it was a great day for a most enjoyable Fall Harvest Festival!


For more information:

Idaho Botanical Garden

2355 N. Penitentiary Road

Boise, ID 83712



Old Idaho Penitentiary

2445 N. Penitentiary Road

Boise, ID 83712


For more on our adventures in Idaho, Washington, and Montana, check out the page on Inland Northwest at the top of this post.



15 thoughts on “Boise’s Botanical Gardens ushers in fall with festive affair!

  1. Pingback: Discovering Boise: Old Idaho Penitentiary | Oh, the Places We See . . .

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