“When you are raised by sock puppets you can be socially awkward.” Not something I can actually visualize,
but that is part of the strategy used in breeding
endangered California condors to make a comeback,
according to my guide Tate Mason, director of the
World Center for Birds of Prey. The center, located in
Boise, Idaho, is the headquarters for the Peregrine
The nonprofit fund was founded in 1970 and
played a pivotal role in the recovery of peregrine falcons. Today the center is home to the world’s largest
captive flock of California condors, as it works to boost
that population back in the wild.
My tour there was part of a recent three-day fam to
Boise highlighting the unique and unexpected side of
Mason walked us past enclosures with ornate
hawk-eagles, bateleur eagles, turkey vultures and
more. The star of the show was Gus, a 16-year-old
peregrine falcon, which is the fastest species on the
planet—flying at about 240 mph!
“The birds we have were injured in the wild,”
Mason said. “We are not a hospital, but we give them
a home and are ambassadors for their species.”
Groups can use the outdoor and indoor areas at the
center for events.
Aside from the center, our fam toured some
of Boise’s most indelible attractions on foot
and by trolley, including a walk through
the compact downtown punctuated
by the stately Idaho State Capitol
Building, which can host events.
The Inn at 500, our host hotel,
afforded straight sightlines to
Our group strolled past art
galleries, cafes and toured
the recently expanded Boise
Centre. Despite a fall chill,
we tucked into STIL (Sweetest
Things In Life) in downtown’s trendy BoDo district.
The ice-cream shop showcases home-made flavors
using local ingredients. Beer and wine floats are also
We checked out several meetings-friendly hotels
during the stay, including Grove Hotel, Hyatt Place
Downtown and the new Residence Inn Downtown
Boise/City Center. Lunch our first afternoon was at the
Riverside Hotel, aka the music hotel, as it features live
local music every day.
The hotel is located along the Boise River Greenbelt, a stretch
of 25 miles
home to the
History Museum, Zoo Boise
and the Boise
which celebrated its 80th
Winery, also on the Greenbelt, greeted our group with
a tasting of Idaho and Washington whites and reds.
The boutique winery offers private space.
Though I had expected a green setting in the “City
of Trees,” I had not heard about the famed Boise
State Broncos blue turf at group-friendly Albertsons
Stadium, where we stopped for selfies.
I also had not read about the infamous Old Idaho
Penitentiary—its youngest inmate was just 10 years
old. We toured solitary confinement, cell blocks and
the gallows, and even saw the charred marks where
inmates attempted to burn the building down. Now
a museum, groups can host events at the
Women’s Ward and main yard,
among other spaces.
Another Boise surprise—it
is home to one of the larg-
est Basque populations
outside of Spain and
the only Basque mu-
seum in the country.
We started with olive
tapenade, cheese and
wine at the Basque
under a giant hanging
“Many came here from small family farms or fishing
villages,” said our guide, Dan Aizpitarte, his family
We toured the 1864-built Cyrus Jacobs-Uberuaga
House boardinghouse, now the Basque Museum and
Cultural Center. Groups can arrange a Basque Block
party, hire Basque dancers and rent the Center.
Another tidbit we learned is that Idaho elected the
first Jewish governor in the U.S., Moses Alexander
(1915-1919). Still, Boise seems an unlikely spot for a
prominent Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. The
sculptor cast a life-size statue of her as if she were looking out a window from the family’s attic hiding place.
Our guide Dan Prinzing explained that in 1995 a
traveling exhibit on Anne Frank drew in tens of thousands of visitors from around Idaho, sparking the idea
for a more permanent tribute.
The memorial was built by the Idaho Human Rights
Education Center (now the Wassmuth Center for
Human Rights, named after activist Bill Wassmuth)
and opened in 2002. More than 60 quotes from the
world’s humanitarian leaders are etched into the walls
around the statue.
Our final adventure was a white-water rafting trip
with Cascade Raft and Kayak down the Main Payette
River—the perfect ending to take in Boise’s vast
By Marlene Goldman
A ‘CITY OF TREES’ AND THE UNEXPECTED
DANCERS AT THE BASQUE MUSEUM AND CULTURAL CENTER
ANNE FRANK HUMAN RIGHTS MEMORIAL
OLD IDAHO PENITENTIARY
IDAHO STATE CAPITOL
BIRDS OF PREY
ON the SCENE