Places + Spaces

Boise Poised to Host its Largest Conference Ever

When the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists convenes in Boise in June, they'll find some brand-new developments to enhance their experience, inside and outside of the session rooms.

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Boise, Idaho: A cosmopolitan oasis where your meeting is the star.

When the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) gathers 1,400 epidemiologists in Boise this June 4–8 for its annual conference, it will mark the first time Idaho’s capital city has hosted a group of this size. CSTE met in Boise several years ago when it was a smaller conference, and decided last year to return to the city.

Those doctors who are coming back to Boise will find that it has completely remade itself since their last visit. The Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau’s seamless engineering has enabled the city to host larger conferences and events like CSTE — a shining example of which is the recent multimillion-dollar expansion of Boise Centre. The expansion adds the new Boise Centre East and an elevated concourse that connects the 86,000 square feet of total meeting space and breakout rooms to the city’s vibrant and walkable core, which now offers 1,700 hotel rooms — including the recently opened Inn at 500. Two additional hotels will open this summer.

Groups like CSTE will find they are in a standout destination in which they stand out. “There’s a lot going on all the time here that groups can benefit from,” said Carrie Westergard, executive director of the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Once we get a group here for a site visit, it’s really the area and the people that sell Boise. It’s a great option for groups that don’t want to be in the mix with thousands of other meeting participants  — when you are here, you are the business in town, and everyone knows it and is hospitable. It’s a very different feeling than being in a location where you might be one of 50 groups going on at any given time.”

Plenty to See and Do
Nestled in the lush Pacific Northwest in the heart of the Treasure Valley, Boise is a cosmopolitan oasis, home to 600,000 residents in the metro area. Just six minutes from Boise’s center, Boise Airport offers convenient nonstop flights to 19 major markets, including the tech hubs of San Jose, Houston, and San Francisco.

For culture lovers, outdoor activities include the Alive After Five free concert series, which takes place each Wednesday from June through August and is now in its 31st year of operation. For a taste of the area’s local bounty, delegates can stroll through the city’s popular farmers market, in full swing every Saturday from early April through late October, serving up not only a wide selection of locally produced food but local artists’ works as well. And on the first Thursday each month, Boise features food and beverage specials, entertainment, art-crawl itineraries, and more. Boise’s extensive art scene includes the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and its outdoor amphitheater, as well as a number of galleries, and the 2,037-seat Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts’ off-Broadway shows, ballet, jazz, and classical music.

BoiseBasques
Basque culture thrives in Boise.

Plus, Boise offers one can’t-find-in-any-other-American-city cultural component: It has the highest concentration of Basque descendants outside of Europe. The “Basque Block” — a collection of museums and restaurants — can be closed down for the exclusive use of convention groups as part of off-site activities for attendees.

For the curious, unique settings for groups include JUMP, a vintage tractor museum that doubles as a creative space, and the Old Idaho Penitentiary, a territorial prison built in 1872 that closed in 1973, where guests can explore 30 historic buildings and special exhibitions.

The Boise River in October
The Boise River in October

With more than 100 restaurants and bars — many with outdoor dining options — all within six blocks of downtown, there are plenty of opportunities for attendees to replenish and relax. But if they’re looking for more active pursuits, Boise has 25 miles of uninterrupted trails along the Boise River Greenbelt, connected to the city center by walking and cycling trails. For the serious nature enthusiast, there are 190 miles of foothill trails tied into Bogus Basin, a sprawling ski resort, and 45 minutes north along the Payette River, they can find world-class whitewater rafting opportunities.

And since the sun doesn’t set in Boise until 10 p.m. during the height of summer, delegates have the chance to experience much of what this destination has to offer before they turn in for the night.

For more info, visit boise.org.

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Kristin Luna