I do my best to follow a lot of local accounts on social media so that I can stay up to date on what’s happening around Boise and get ideas for things to do with our little fam as we get out and explore. The other day I saw a fun reel that the Idaho State Museum put out on their Instagram where people went around the museum and "channelled" (aka imitated) different exhibit pieces. It was so fun and creative that I shared it to my Boise With Kids Instagram story and said I thought it’d be a fun thing to do with kids! A friend reached out and said that her family loves the museum and that we should go check it out together sometime. Done and done!
I had NO idea what to expect. I did zero research and just assumed it would be so boring and not at all a fun place for kids. I personally really hate history (snooze fest) and we all know that some museums are very NOT kid-friendly.
I was SO wrong.
The building itself is just so cool. The big, open entry area and peek into the awesome gift shop alone made me super excited to see what else was in store. As I bought my ticket I told the woman helping me that I had just started this blog and that I was here to check it out to see if it was a fun place for kids. She lit up immediately and told me how much my kids would love this place. She emphasized the fun basement exhibits and how it’s a great place to let the kids explore and be loud. I’m sorry, what?!? You WANT my kids to be loud? SOLD.
After a brief walk through of the first floor we found the elevator because I had my 1 year old in the stroller and we wanted to get down to the basement (FYI I found the whole place to be very stroller friendly). The sign said “Welcome to Boomtown, Idaho. Come play in Idaho’s past” and it was obvious that this place was perfectly made with kids in mind.
There is a really fun section where you can use a bunch of cool wooden pieces to plan your own town and a big space to use giant foam building blocks to build up fun towers, forts, etc. I bet our boys could have played in these two little rooms for hours and we were just getting started.
Across from there was a room with a bunch of big touch screens where kids could explore Clark’s map and design a “new old house” - which was fun for all of us! In this area there was also a cool historical timeline activity with pictures in Idaho over the past several decades. Around the corner from there was a fun “Learn the Good Old Ways” farm tool activity and a gem stone matching activity.
Down the little hallway is a show-stopping train engine. Kids can throw “coal” into the “boiler” to fire up the engine as well as move gears and blow the train’s whistle. If you have a little train lover they will lose their minds over this!
Next to the big train was my favorite section - The “Prosperity Gem Mine.” There is a section of stone wall where kids can insert pretend sticks of dynamite into holes then push down the plunger to cause an “explosion” where there is a big BOOM and the dynamite pieces fall out. On the opposite side of this stone wall is a mock coal mine where you can put the “coal” into a cart and push it to the other side to put on a conveyor belt that carries the coal through the wall and drops it out on the opposite end. Kinda hard to explain but I promise your kids will love it. Our kids could have done this on repeat for hours.
There are a few other fun areas down there that I didn’t get pictures of but the place is packed with activities and exhibits for every age group. We had the whole space to ourselves and it felt great to spread out and get loud and annoying without getting in trouble or in anyone's way!
We could have left after Boomtown and I would have still raved about the museum and considered getting a membership. It’s that good. BUT turns out the rest of the museum is just as impressive and really sealed the deal for me.
We had to do a pretty quick run-through to get to preschool pickup on time but go find the reel I made and posted on my Instagram (@boisewithkids) to see some highlights.
I can’t wait to take all of our out of town visitors here and I don’t think it will ever get boring. There’s just so much to do and see and LEARN and it’s open, clean, and perfect for all ages and sizes. Highly, highly recommend!
Idaho State Museum Details:
Address: 610 Julia Davis Dr, Boise, ID 83702
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10:00AM-5:00PM and Sunday 12:00-5:00PM
Rates: Adults - $10, Youth - $5, Kids 5 and under - free. Membership information here
Special Events for Families:
Spring and Summer Camps
Camps are a great way to provide hands-on learning opportunities for your family! Have a blast with camps at the Idaho State Museum. Experience history like never before as you play, explore, and make new friends. Spring and Summer camps are offered annually at the Idaho State Museum near the heart of downtown Boise. Register for week-long camps or single-day camps online. Camp activities incorporate STEM learning and tie into K-5 learning curriculum. Learn more at https://history.idaho.gov/camps/
Family Second Saturday
Family Second Saturdays take place on the second Saturday of each month. Families are encouraged to drop in any time to create and learn together through these hands-on activities. All ages welcome! Free with Museum admission.
Upcoming topics include:
· March 12 –State Symbols
· April 9 –Facing the Inferno
· May 14 –Panning for Gold
· June 11 –Native Plants
· July 9 –Art of Deco