A leisurely stroll down Warm Springs Avenue brings you in close contact with wrought-iron fences, old-fashioned yard lamps with gargoyles clutching giant glass bulbs, an occasional horse hitching post leftover from the city's early years, and people out working in their yards and chatting with their neighbors over the fence. If you close your eyes and inhale deeply, the scents from an array of fragrant flowers fill your nostrils like the breath of God filled Adam's, and indeed, this street helped breathe life into the East Boise area of the city during its early days.
East Boise represents a mix of old and new. East Boise homes for sale range may include the houses arranged along Warm Springs Avenue as well the new developments out toward Harris Ranch and Lucky Peak Lake. However, despite being over a half a century apart in age, these neighborhoods do share some common features that make them attractive to buyers. They retain a strong sense of neighborhood, are close to schools, shopping, restaurants, and cultural hubs in the city.
It may not be a question then of finding the best East Boise homes for sale. Rather, the difficulty in shopping for a house here may be narrowing down the choices.
In the mid-1800s, people put wagon to horse and made their way down the now historic Warm Springs Avenue in North East Boise. The wheels of their buggies retraced the ruts made by the wagons that had trekked down the street in the months prior. These travelers made their way to one of Warm Springs most famous features, the hot springs on the far side of Boise's Table Rock.
Created by the fault line that runs through Boise, these steaming waters became a source of heating for about 200 buildings along its route, including one of Boise's swimming pools, the Natatorium--the Nat, as the locals call it--as well as for businesses and private homes.
For awhile it seemed that most things important to Boise's way of life centered around the avenue with the hot springs underneath, including the avenue's many side streets, many of which only lead to more East Boise homes, but at least one of them, South Walnut Street brings visitors to a destination that carries with it a long, sometimes sordid, but always interesting history, Municipal Park.
Founded in 1910 by the Boise School District, the original fate of this local park was to include a baseball stadium, but by 1918 the Municipal Park, then known as Boise Tourist Park, became a campground. Some 6,000 visitors flocked to this city park--perhaps in part to take advantage of the local hot springs--where they found tent sites, a laundry, and communal hot plates.
The number of visitors coming to the park bumped up to 20,000 by the end of World War I, and by the time Boise City bought the park in 1927, it became known as the "hobo jungle" because maintaining became a challenge of epic proportions, and by 1938, the park closed and re-emerged as a day park.
The park still exists today as a refuge for cyclists who stop to rest under its storied trees, their branches heavy with the remembrance of visitors past. It's also a stopping point for families having picnics and for the curious who seek out the fish and other wildlife inhabiting the Morrison Knudson Nature Center. The roads near the park lead out to to the Boise State area and of course, back to Warm Springs Avenue.
Back on the avenue, the road takes travelers past the Natatorium to two of the biggest attractions on Warm Springs, the Idaho Botanical Garden and the Old Penitentiary. Although the two are both residents of Old Penitentiary Road and share the Boise Foothills and Table Rock as their common backdrop, their histories could not be more different.
As with Warm Springs Avenue, the Old Idaho State Penitentiary came into being in the late 19th century, but whereas the hot springs attracted the wealthy and privileged, this piece of East Boise real estate drew in residents from the underbelly of society. Before closing down in the 70s, it existed as a prison for over a hundred years and housed thousands of inmates.
In 1973, the old penn ceased its function as a prison and became what it is today, a historical museum. In total, the museum at the old penn houses 30 historic buildings. Visitors to the site can also catch special exhibitions, learn about famous prisoners, escape attempts, and those who ultimately faced the executioner.
The Old Idaho State Penitentiary connects to the Idaho Botanical Gardens via Outlaw Field. In its heyday it was a place where the prison inmate team, "The Outlaws" played sports against local teams on this field just outside the prison's walls. These days, no inmates use this East Boise property. Rather it provides parking for the many concert-goers who flock to the Botanical Gardens to listen to the music at the IBG's summer concert series and a piece of common ground between the old penn and the gardens.
Once inside the walls of the gardens, visitors are introduced to the city's "living museum" as the Botanical Gardens calls itself. Kids visiting the Idaho Botanical Gardens watch the golden-orange koi fish play in the pond and climb upon a pencil-shaped play area. For the grown-ups, there's the aromatic herb garden, a 19-piece outdoor art gallery, and places to learn about native plants and conservation.
To be sure, this East Boise destination allows people to indulge in their deep love of nature. However, if ever the expansive grounds of this flower and herb filled museum isn't enough, there's always the foothills trails just behind the gardens, which give serious joggers, hikers, and cyclists the chance to do a real bit of exercise with a jaunt up to Table Rock.
Reaching the flat plateau of the mountain nets the hikers, joggers, and bikers an up-close look at the famous cross that sits like the night watchman at the top of Table Rock. Turning the eye away from the cross and toward the city reveals a near panoramic view of wild grasses blowing in the wind, shimmering city lights, and the lush green expanse of the Warm Springs Golf Course.
If the trails to Table Rock are conducive to silent, meditative walks in a competition of one, then the greens of the golf course encourage social revelry and spirited competition East Boise's golf set. Reflecting in the numerous pools that dot the greens groups of golfers at play cast colorful images onto the water. Laughter rings out, its echo wafting up through the branches of the evergreens that decorate the course. And in the on-site cafe, golfers as well as greenbelt cyclists stop at this piece of East Boise real estate for a Cappuccino or a fresh sandwich before heading back to the greens or onto the greenbelt.
Leaving Warm Springs Golf Course behind, cyclists sail past the casual walkers, the river-scented breeze running its fingers across their cheeks. Of the 22 miles of bike paths that exist in Boise, a good stretch of those miles are situated in East Boise. This particular stretch of the greenbelt affords cyclists, joggers, and walkers a protracted expanse of open pathways that extends past the confines of the city. It's the greenbelt equivalent of the open road, and it brings the Boiseans who ride this way to Harris Ranch and to the Lucky 13.
If the homes along Warm Springs Avenue are among the oldest in Boise, the homes for sale in Harris Ranch count as some of the newest. But in some ways its philosophy aligns more with times gone by than many other modern suburban areas around the country.
Developed by Dallas Harris, who followed the guidelines of New Urbanism to create this unique community, Harris Ranch avoids the urban sprawl that has become so prevalent in the U.S. since the post-war years. Instead, it sets its motto as the place that allows people to "live where they live," meaning that people who look for East Boise homes for sale in this area won't have to go far for work, for shopping, for living.
Pedestrian-friendly streets, little shops, local restaurants and cultural attractions allow these East Boise residents quick access to both the necessities of life as well as to the amenities that make life richer. A quick bike ride to the village square takes residents to the local postal center to drop off a letter and then on to one of East Boise's most well-known restaurants, Lucky 13 for a slice of city's most popular pizza and a glass of cold beer with neighborhood friends.
But this East Boise area affords more than just a trip to the local pizzeria. The savvy cyclist knows that a backpack filled with sandwiches, bottled water, and an afghan are the beginnings of an evening sojourn under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
For over 30 years, the Shakespeare Festival has enchanted theater lovers with nightly acts mirth and tragedy. On any given evening audiences might sit spell-bound as Hamlet avenges his father's death or as Falstaff does his dance once again with the merry wives of Windsor. Families snuggle together under blankets as the night grows cooler and friends offer each other toasts to each other and to the Bard with a glass of Ste. Chapelle wine, and all in attendance allow themselves to be transported to another time and into another life for a few hours.
At the close of each night's play, those who have driven to the festival reluctantly climb into their cars and head back towards home. For the locals lucky enough to have nabbed some of the East Boise real estate near the festival, the commute is short--maybe even just a quick bike ride back to Harris Ranch with stops along the way to chat with their neighbors like their counterparts on Warm Springs Avenue did over a century ago.