Discover the Allure of Garden City: Stay, Explore, Thrive

Discover the Allure of Garden City: Stay, Explore, Thrive


Discover the Allure of Garden City: Stay, Explore, Thrive

ABCs of Garden City

There is so much to love about Garden City. It’s an easy as reciting the ABCs.


There is so much to love about Garden City. It’s an easy as reciting the ABCs.

by Nick Jezierny, September 2023 Community Blog Contest Winner

A is for Arts.

Garden City is full of art, with so many galleries and creative spaces that there are too many to list but you can learn more here.

B is for Breweries.

And Garden City has a bunch of them. Check out Barbarian Brewing, Brown Beard Brewing, Clairvoyant Brewing, Idawild Brewing, Powderhaus Brewing, Twisted District, and Western Collective for craft beers and good times.

C is for the Corridor Surf Shop & Necessary Goods.

If you want to try the surf wave, SUP the river, or Quinn’s Pond, here is your place to get geared up and buy some cool merch.

D is for D&B Supply.

With everything from clothing, pet food, lawn and garden to sporting goods, D&B has just about everything.

E is for Expo Idaho.

Home of the Western Idaho Fair and other events throughout the year.

F is for Flipside Fest.

A three-day music and arts festival that includes local, regional, and national musical acts, amazing art, and other hip, cool activities.

G is for Greenbelt Market.

A great place for snacks, drinks, and people-watching along the Greenbelt.

H is for Heron Park.

One of the newer parks in Garden City features a grassy area, steps to the Boise River, and a covered picnic table.

I is for Idaho Pinball Museum.

Check out vintage and modern pinball games, tournaments, and other special events.

J is for J’s Ultimate Hand Wash.

Keep your ride looking clean at this car wash that offers a variety of washes and plans.

K is for Karuna Kava.

A zero-proof non-alcoholic beer and tea room for when you want socialization without the buzz.

L is for Luciano’s.

The Caffé along the greenbelt has a great patio, quality food, and an epic chocolate cake for dessert.

M is for Meriwether Cider.

You’ll be hard-pressed (that’s a pun) to find a better cider anywhere.

N is for North End Organic Nursery.

Gardening supplies, advice, and cool stuff.

O is for OMG Studios.

State-of-the-art facilities for audio, video, and meetings.

P is for Push & Pour.

Coffee, art, events, and the coolest staff await you at Push & Pour.

Q is for Quesadilla.

You can get some quality quesadillas at Barriga’s Mexican Restaurant, El Gallo Giro and Taqueria Las Brazas.

R is for Riverside Hotel.

There is always something happening at the hotel, whether it’s a show at Bar 365 or the Sapphire Room, a conference or live music on the Sandbar patio. It’s definitely the place to stay.

S is for The Stagecoach Inn.

A legendary spot with fantastic food, and a fun bar, and don’t forget to order a slice or two of the four cream pies offered.

T is for Telaya Wine Co.

With a patio right on the Greenbelt and award-winning wines and customer service, no trip to the GC is complete without a stop here. If you like wine, you also should visit Cinder Wines, Coiled Wines, Par Terre Winery, Potter Wines, Rolling Hills Vineyard Tasting Room, and  Split Rail Winery while out and about.

U is for U-Haul.

You’ll need to rent one when you decide it’s time to move to Garden City.

V is Visual Arts Collective.

A contemporary fine arts gallery, performance center, and cultural center committed to presenting exhibitions and events for artists working in visual and performance art, film, music, dance and theater.

W is for Wepa Cafe.

Authentic Puerto Rican cuisine with a fantastic roof-top patio make this a Garden City hotspot.

X is what you hope to roll at Westy’s Garden Lanes, a fine bowling alley and lounge.

For you, non-bowlers, X means a strike (knocking all 10 pins down in one roll).

Y is for Yardarm.

An outdoor surf bar constructed from a shipping container is open from April to mid-October. Don’t forget to order tacos from the boat to go with your ice-cold beverages.

Z is for Zero Waste.

Root’s Zero Waste Market is the first full-service zero-waste grocery store and café in the United States. Great organic produce, made-from-scratch food that is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and bulk food offerings.


Celebrate The History of Garden City!

Celebrate The History of Garden City!


Celebrate The History of Garden City!

Celebrating the arts in February with Garden City Visitors Bureau

Do you ever wonder where it all began? Immerse yourself in what used to be acres of riverside fields! Learn more about the history of what Garden City used to be and has become as we take a trip down memory lane to where it all began!


Chinese Gardens

Garden City was just one giant garden. In 1890, Thomas J. Davis and his wife Jeminma owned more than 600 acres of property that was leased to Chinese immigrants. The State of Idaho had legislation against persons of Chinese descent not born in America to own any real property. As Davis helped his Chinese friends, his river-front land was leased to them. These immigrants became the heart and soul of Garden City as laborers, shop owners, and gold miners. These 600 acres became fields of fruits and onions. After his death, his estate continued with the Chinese immigrants and the name Garden City was later created, and the main street Chinden Boulevard, a contraction of “Chinese” and “Garden” was named.

Bella Mosaica
Bella Mosaica

Memorial Stadium

This stadium has been home of the Boise Hawks since 1989 and is one of Garden City’s most notable landmarks. This is the spot to catch a game or maybe even a concert during the summer months. It’s the best spot to take your family to be a part of the culture and embrace what Garden City has to offer.

Boise Greenbelt, Garden City, Idaho
Boise Greenbelt, Garden City, Idaho

Pierce-Borah House

This Queen-Anne style house is one of the most unaltered and old-time historical homes you can find in the area. This gothic-style architecture presents a strongly irregular and asymmetrical aspect, and it’s marketed as one of the two earliest buildings in Garden City! This house dates back to 1897, and is historically significant for its occupation during most of its early history by Idaho’s internationally known United States Senator, William E. Borah. This house was built for $4000 and continues to show off the work of John Tourtellotte in his vision for gothic-like architecture. This building is still marked to be in excellent condition and a private estate that’s kept preserved for any history junkies to see.

Berserker Strength and Conditioning, Garden City, Idaho
Berserker Strength and Conditioning, Garden City, Idaho

City of Gardens and Gambling

Garden City caught the eye of the U.S. Army. In 1853, right around that time soldiers came to the Treasure Valley and built Fort Boise. Garden City was Government Island, the river we know and love that runs through Boise was diverted into a canal to irrigate the land! When these Chinese immigrants assembled for the gold mines created by Tom Davis, their luck too came with the Idaho Legislature law allowing “coin operated amusement devices “slot machines” to be allowed in Garden City. Boise voted against; opportunity was seen in the land just West of Boise.

8 Things Locals Love About Garden City

8 Things Locals Love About Garden City


8 Things Locals Love About Garden City

This must be the place

Want to tour Garden City, Idaho, like a local? Here’s a look at the town’s best-kept secrets and how to hit all the hotspots.


What's The Vibe in Garden City?

If you want to feel like a Garden City native, you need to know what the people are like, what they do, and what they’re looking for in their favorite little town. That way, you can blend right in and get to experience everything Idaho has to offer.

Here are a few of the top scenes you’ll notice in the Garden City area:

  • Art: From painters and sculptors to musicians and other performers, this is the place to be for local art. Creativity blooms in all corners of the city! Be on the look out for murals, art benches, and more.  
  • Food: Whether you’re looking for a snack, a nice meal, or a taste of your new favorite wine, you’ll find the best food and drinks in town. Everything about Garden City screams local because you won’t find a lot of chain resturaunts here. 
  • Family: Locals are nothing if not family-friendly. Kids and fur-babies alike will find plenty to do here. Speaking of fur-babies, if you’re looking for all the dog friendly joints– we have the guide to Garden City for pet parents.
  • Recreation: If you’re wondering why it’s called Garden City, look no further than the nature and recreation opportunities in town. Locals love to get outside and walk, jog, bike, and more.
  • Exploration: With Boise and the foothills well within reach, Garden City is a comfortable home base for all you explorers out there.

Garden City Attractions: Local Favorites

Ready to learn what makes Garden City feel like home to everyone who lives here? Check out a few of the town’s coolest attractions:

#1: The Boise River and the Greenbelt

Ask anyone what they love about living in the Garden City area, and they’re sure to wax poetic about the Boise River. From floating and fishing to swimming and wading, this winding blue gem is a perfect recreation opportunity for everyone. Locals especially love walking on the dog- and bike-friendly Greenbelt that twists through town.

#2: The Hawks Stadium

Want to catch a game? The Boise Hawks Stadium is the home for local baseball–and a great place to spend a warm summer night. There’s even a free Kids Club for the little sports fans in your life. When the Hawks aren’t playing, the stadium also hosts the occasional fireworks show.

#3: The River Club

The River Club was founded in 1917, making it one of Garden City’s gems and a historic country club. You can do a little bit of everything here, including tennis, swimming, golf, and more–and the club is proudly family-friendly, too. It’s positioned right on the Boise River for great views and great fun.

#4: Expo Idaho

Antique shopping. Car shows. The Western Idaho Fair. No matter what time of the year you choose to visit Garden City, you’re sure to find something going on at Expo Idaho, one of the area’s biggest and best event venues. Complete with grassy grounds, several expo buildings, and even barns and tracks, this is the perfect place to make Idaho memories.

#5: A Historic Hotel Remodel

Want to add a little history to your visit? Look no further than the historic Sunliner Motel–a 27-room motel built in the 1950s. With a new owner, a new name, and a new legacy on the way, the building is sure to become a new local hotspot.

#6: Pollinator Garden

Garden City is home to all kinds of wildlife–but thanks to the town’s special Pollinator Garden, locals and visitors alike can enjoy a little Bee City, U.S.A. Here, the whole family can learn about pollinators and how they help flowers, crops, and even humans.

#7: Surel’s Place

Artists rejoice: Garden City is the perfect home for creativity. Surel’s Place is a home and studio for creatives from across the country. Poets, painters, and other creators enjoy month-long residencies and host events for the community, sharing their experiences and finding new inspiration from the nearby river and Greenbelt. If you want a souvenir, you can also buy art to support these local artists.

#8: Boise Whitewater Park

Did you know you can surf in Garden City? It’s true–and it all starts at the Boise Whitewater Park. The area includes a man-made wave built into the Boise River, allowing adventurers to kayak, use stand-up paddleboards, and–yes–even surf.

Explore Like a Local

Whether this is your first journey to Garden City or you’re a long-time visitor, you’re sure to find a new favorite hangout when you explore the town like a local. From the Boise River to Expo Idaho and beyond, this town is proud of its community, its people, and its hotspots.

Request information today to plan your next big adventure!

Here’s How to Holiday (and Win) Like a Local

Here’s How to Holiday (and Win) Like a Local


Here’s How to Holiday (and Win) Like a Local

Barbarian Brewing

Reader, you know what the holidays have become. There’s the day-after-Thanksgiving dash to big box stores, the super-quick slide into Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus, and finally the frantic race to the New Year.

It’s all over so quickly. Where’s the joy? Where’s the time for fun, for creating little moments that add up to big memories? This year, slow your roll and allow the season to surprise you. Here in Garden City, we take the art of getting off the beaten path seriously. Here’s how we’re inviting you to set a new holiday pace that will fill your cup (in some instances, quite literally) and leave you feeling refreshed and ready once you head back to real life in January.


Shop Local

Big box holiday shopping might be second only to football when it comes to winter contact sports. If you skipped the crowds during 2020 by shopping online, take note: Experts — and businesses themselves — are predicting big backlogs and shipping delays. Instead of biting your nails and hoping your package will arrive on time, why not shop Small Business Saturday in Garden City? The annual Buy Idaho Holiday Market will feature handmade and unique gifts from more than 100 local makers, including specialty food items, glass art, handmade wooden gifts, one-of-a-kind illustrations, beautiful jewelry, and so much more!

Can’t make it to Small Business Saturday? No problem. Check out our guide to artists and makers in Garden City — many of them are ramping up production for the holidays and taking orders now.

Barbarian Brewing

Fill Your Cup

The breweries and wineries that line our famous Craft Beverage Corridor have plenty of ways to sip your way into the holiday spirit. Telaya Wine Co. is offering two Telaya Design events that will tap into your creative side: a Thanksgiving Centerpiece class on Nov. 22 and a Holiday Wreath Making class on Nov. 28 and Dec. 1. Cinder plans on hosting an Ugly Sweater Party in December, while Powderhaus Brewing Company is going all out with its European-style Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) Nov. 26-28. Craft Beverage Corridor businesses are offering more events every day, so be sure to check the website of your favorite maker. (Bonus tip: Wine and beer club memberships make fantastic gifts, too.)

Western Collective

Ski and Stay

Yes, it’s too cold to float or surf Garden City’s star attraction, the Boise River. But when the snow starts to fly, locals switch gears by heading up the hill to Bogus Basin Ski Resort. Savvy locals and out-of-towners know the best way to enjoy a day of hassle-free skiing or snowboarding is by making basecamp in Garden City at the Riverside Hotel. Not only does it offer easy access to Bogus Basin, but a treat awaits weary muscles after a long day on the slopes: The hotel’s outdoor pool is heated to a soothing 100 degrees in the winter. Want it even hotter? Try the nearby hot tub and soak any lingering aches away.

You can check out even more ideas to add stress-less fun back into your holiday schedule by visiting the Things to Do section of our website. And don’t forget to enter your chance to win a restful weekend with our Holiday Like a Local contest!

Barbarian Brewing

Let’s Get Spooky! Head to a Halloween Event in Garden City

Let’s Get Spooky! Head to a Halloween Event in Garden City


Let’s Get Spooky! Head to a Halloween Event in Garden City

Garden City loves a good fright! We’ve rounded up an entire week of events, from the cute to the creepy, so you can make the most of your spooky season. Here, you’ll find everything from kid-friendly gatherings to 21-and-over parties at stops along the Craft Beverage Corridor. Get ready to be entertained … if you dare.
October 23

Thriller Dance Class + Parking Lot Flash Mob

Time: 3-5 p.m.

Place: Potter Wines, 5286 W. Chinden Boulevard

Tickets: $10

It’s Thriller Night! Party like the undead by recreating the iconic choreography from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. You’ll receive instruction from Kelly Dennis before joining the flash mob in the parking lot.

October 26

Spooky Scary Story Hour

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Meriwether Cider Company, 5242 Chinden Boulevard

As the sun goes down, let the fun-loving folks at Meriwether Cider dim the lights and set the stage for a spooky story or two. Settle in with a cider as radio performances send chills down your spine. No tickets needed, but prepare to be scared!

October 29

Rocky Horror Movie Night

Time: 7 p.m.

Place: Twisted District Brew Co., 3840 W. Chinden Boulevard, Suite 110

Let’s do the Time Warp again! Everyone’s favorite campy classic, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” will air at Twisted District. Can you take the antici …. pation? No tickets needed.

October 29

Drive-Thru Trunk or Treat

Time: 5-7 p.m.

Place: The Riverside Hotel, 2900 W. Chinden Boulevard

Load up those costumed kids and decorate the car, because Trunk or Treat is on after a hiatus! Drive through to safely experience Halloween in a festive and fun environment. Sponsored by TDS Fiber and the Riverside Hotel. (Please note: The Garden City Police Department will not be hosting their Trunk or Treat event this year).

October 30

6th Annual Grateful Halloween Show

Time:Doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m.

Place: Visual Arts Collective

Tickets: $20 advance at $25 at the door

This (mostly) annual Grateful Dead tribute concert features local musicians, a costume contest, and a set featuring songs from one of America’s most legendary and longstanding bands. Don’t forget to dress up — there will be a costume contest, too. Ages 21 and older, standing room only. You can learn more about the band at

October 30

Potter Wines Presents: Murder at the Walgrave Astoria Hotel

Time: 7-9 p.m.

Place: Potter Wines, 5286 W. Chinden Boulevard

Tickets: $40

For just a few nights, Potter Wines is transforming into the world-famous Walgrave Astoria, a hotel with a storied past … and present-day murder. Tickets are very limited (in fact, two previous dates have already sold out) and you *must* purchase your ticket by at least seven days before. Once you’ve paid, you’ll receive an email with your character name, background, and other important info. Plan your costume and get ready to act the part! This is Potter Wines, of course, so expect adult beverages. You must be 21 to participate.

October 30

The Fabulous Chancellors 8th Annual Halloween Ball

Time:Doors at 7 p.m., music from 8-11 p.m.

Place: The Riverside Hotel, 2900 W. Chinden Boulevard

Tickets: $20

The Fabulous Chancellors have spent decades bringing classic rock to the Treasure Valley. This Halloween, they’re once again bringing all your favorites to The Riverside Hotel’s Grand Ballroom — just bring your costume and your dancing shoes! No-host bar service available. Want to make it a night? Ask about the room package for the event and receive a one-night stay, two tickets to the concert, and brunch in the Riverside Grill the next morning. To book the package, call 208-343-1871.

October 30

Cinder Wines Costume Contest

Time: Kids, 1-2 p.m.; Adults, 2-3 p.m.; Pets, 3-4 p.m.

Place: Cinder Wines, 107 E. 44th Street

Bring the kids, bring the pets, and bring yourself — winners of the adult costume categories will take home 1.5 liter magnums of Cinder’s 2018 Syrah (that’s better than candy, don’t you think?).

October 30

Halloween Costume Party

Time: All day

Place: Twisted District Brew Co., 3840 W. Chinden Boulevard, Suite 110

Why leave the costumes to the kids? Dress up in your favorite costume and enjoy Twisted’s innovative takes on brews and bites during this all-day Halloween dress-up fest.


The Gift Giver’s Guide to Garden City

The Gift Giver’s Guide to Garden City


The Gift Giver’s Guide to Garden City

Garden City is a haven for artists and makers — which makes it a one-stop shop for savvy holiday gift-givers! From beautifully made baubles to bottles of brews, we’ve rounded up the best places to score a one-of-a-kind gift for just about every person on your list.

With so much to see (and shop) this holiday season, why not make a weekend of it? The Riverside Hotel is offering a Warm Up to Winter Package that’s perfect for the occasion, including a Signature Breakfast, cozy robes and slippers, and a $50 food and beverage card. Plus, you’ll get access to the hotel’s spacious 98-degree pool — heated sustainably with off-grid excess power — and the socially-distanced deck. Be sure to ask for the package by name when making your reservation.

After a heady day of lounging and browsing, be sure to check out Christmas in Color at Expo Idaho, which will set the night sky ablaze with 1.5 million (yes, million!) lights. All you need to participate in this mile-long drive-through tour is your trusty vehicle. Tune in to the Christmas in Color radio station to enjoy a synchronized music-and-light show featuring a wonderland of giant candy canes, snowmen, and dazzling decorative arches. You need just one $30 ticket per vehicle to experience this sparkling show, which runs from Nov. 20-Jan. 3.

Now, are you ready to find the perfect gift? Let’s dive in!



Sustainably Stylish

Fluff Hardware

Fluff Hardware features of-the-moment designs crafted with hammered metal, chunky crystals, delicate chains, and stamped cuffs. Order online, catch them at one of their many holiday craft appearances, or book a stamped jewelry class and make your own gift!

Garden City Projects

Garden City Projects offers sculptural, modern takes on jewelry — exactly the sort of pieces your college-age niece or minimalist girlfriend would sport regularly. Pair a set of earrings with one of their glass trays for the ultimate cool-girl gift.

Foster Weld

For a gift that will last for decades to come, check out Fosterweld. The artisans at metalworking shop craft everything from bottle openers to belt buckles, keychains to custom vintage-style signs. Have an idea? Bring it to the shop (operating by appointment only) for a one-of-a-kind gift, or check out their online store.


Boutique Enthusiast

Suzanne Fluty Designs

Each Suzanne Fluty Designs ceramic piece is both down-to-earth and elegant, with washes of soft color and earth-inspired art. Choose a gorgeous mug as a lovely gift for the hard-working teacher who has been surviving Zoom classes on endless cups of coffee.

Lala's Fresh Pots

If you’ve never seen an agatewear design — one that mimics the fluid layers and swirls of its namesake rock — you’re in for a treat. Lala’s Fresh Pots specializes in this unique look (check out maker Kayla Morgan’s could-have-fooled-you agatewear earrings, too).


Art Collector

Zion Warne

For more than 20 years, Zion Warne has been at the vanguard of the Treasure Valley glass scene. He’s known for his swirling layers of colorful glass — but don’t overlook his special holiday-themed collection featuring sunglass-sporting snowmen, hand-blown ornaments, and blue-and-green pine trees.

Stover Glass

Museum-worthy vessels, delicate earrings, display-worthy glasses … they’re all available at the Stover Glass online shop. Artist Lisa Stover’s covetable creations are the result of 25 years’ worth of exploration into what glass can do (and at prices ranging from $25 to $300+, there’s something for every budget). 

Betsie Richardson

Artist Betsie Richardson’s oil paintings reflect big landscapes and little moments. You can pick up anything from stickers to holiday cards to gallery-worthy prints at her Etsy shop, or make a private studio appointment with the artist — Richardson takes commissions.

Madasci Studios

Artist and blacksmith Susan Madasci, founder of Madasci Studios, creates vessels that seem pieced together by invisible thread and colorful sculptures that appear to defy gravity. Whether you purchase from her online shop or choose something that’s made to order, you can be sure you’re gifting something that’s one of a kind.


Vintage Enthusiast

Studio 1212

Looking for something that’s truly unique? Go vintage — or vintage-inspired, like the handcrafted furniture at Studio 1212 that draws on the clean, futuristic lines of mid-century modern design.

Ricochet Home Consignment

Ricochet Home Consignment offers a doubletrack of goods, decor and clothing, including items from screen legend Maureen O’Hara’s estate.

Estate Sales Outlet

You’ll discover a wide range of treasures, from collectibles to antique silverware, at the Estate Sales Outlet Shop, which houses overflow from the business’s frequent events.

Assistance League Thrift Shop

Your gift will do double good at the Assistance League Thrift Shop, where proceeds from sales help to fund nine philanthropic programs.

Eclectic curio

The offerings at Eclectic Curio are as wide-ranging as the shop’s name implies — browse here for handmade ornaments and carefully curated vintage finds.


Beer & Cider Buddy

Garden City’s Craft Beverage Corridor offers a bonanza of gifts for the tipplers on your list. Tap into Powderhaus Brewing Company, County Line Brewing, Western Collective (which also sells a limited selection of house-made wine), Crooked Fence Brewing Co., Barbarian Brewing, and Meriwether Cider for bottles, cans, and growlers of the best brews in the state.

Powderhaus Brewing Company

County Line Brewing

Western Collective

Barbarian Brewing

Meriwether cider


Wine Sipper

Of course, the Craft Beverage Corridor isn’t limited to beer alone. Garden City’s fantastic wines are racking up honors — and you will, too, with the gift of a wine club subscription or a coveted bottle or four. Check out Cinder Wines, Split Rail Winery, Telaya Wine Co., Coiled Wines, Potter Wines, or Par Terre Winery.

Cinder Wines

split rail

Telaya Wine Co.

Coiled Wines

Potter Wines

Par Terre Winery


DIY Gifter

Quilt Expressions

What could be more meaningful — especially this year — than making your own gift? Quilters flock to Garden City’s Quilt Expressions, which has an astounding 7,000+ bolts of fabric to choose from at its store, online, or for curbside pickup.

the Twisted Ewe

Yarn arts enthusiasts will find everything they need at Twisted Ewe, which features skeins of gorgeous yarn from around the world, including Noro from Japan, Gedifra from Italy, and the shop’s own in-house brand.

Twisted Kitchen

If whipping up 500 cookies is more your style, head to the Twisted Kitchen next door and rent its fully-stocked commercial kitchen. It comes equipped with a convection oven, a spacious prep kitchen, massive fridges and freezers, and much more.

The Potter's Center

The Potter’s Center offers group and one-on-one classes for budding ceramicists and a range of beautiful supplies and tools for those who already know their way around a wheel.

Quality Art

Your artistic friend (or your elementary-age child) will appreciate a gift certificate or kit from Quality Art School & Art Supply, which stocks everything from Bob Ross kits to reams of colorful kraft paper and kid-friendly washable tempera paints.


To create a truly weird and wonderful gift, head to the Reuseum. This electronics supply and surplus store has a charmingly unpredictable stash of finds ranging from lab equipment to spare circuit boards that the tech-savvy and mechanically handy will find inspiring.

What’s your favorite place to shop in Garden City? Give us your recommendations in the comments below.

Garden City Has Links to Some of Idaho’s Spookiest History

Garden City Has Links to Some of Idaho’s Spookiest History


Garden City Has Links to Some of Idaho’s Spookiest History

Garden City’s location and history as a gambling town puts it at the crossroads of a number of colorful stories — a crossroads that leads to some of the spookiest stories in the state. So whether you’re gearing up for Halloween under a rare blue moon or getting ready to mark Día de los Muertos, get ready: We’re about to dive into tales of pioneers and one of the most notorious episodes in Treasure Valley history.
The Ghosts of Fort Boise

Major Pinkney Lugenbeel, a U.S. Army officer, led a cavalry company to what is now Boise in 1863 in search of the perfect site for a new fort. Lugenbeel and his men camped on Government Island in the Boise River, which eight decades later would become part of what is now Garden City. (The course of the river has changed since the 1860s, so the island is roughly where Joe’s Crab Shack is today.)

Once Lugenbeel decided on a location for Fort Boise — where the VA Hospital in Boise is now — Government Island remained a working part of the Army’s operations. Soldiers grew hay there to feed the fort’s many horses, inextricably linking the historical fort to modern-day Garden City.

And according to some people, Fort Boise’s long-dead 19th century soldiers have never fully moved on to the other side.

The Fort Boise Military Cemetery is home to 247 people, many of whom lived and worked at Fort Boise and Government Island between the mid-1860s and 1906. In 1906, the cemetery had to be moved because Cottonwood Creek flooded its banks and threatened the graves of the dead. The cemetery came to its final resting place, so to speak, on Mountain Cove Road in the Fort Boise Military Reserve. Burials continued until 1913.

Could some of Garden City’s earliest American residents still lurk in the cemetery? For decades, people have reported shadowy figures around the small cemetery (including this author, who was on an early-morning run when the figure of a man walked from the cemetery across the road and vanished among the sagebrush). The most well-known figures are that of a woman and small children, who can be heard playing.

Garden City’s Ties to ‘Idaho’s Jack the Ripper’

In the 1950s, Garden City was a riotous town full of bars and gambling establishments. It was a place to have a good time, forget your cares, and spend a bit of your hard-earned cash.

That’s exactly what Cora Dean, a recently widowed woman, was doing when Raymond Snowden approached her at the Hi-Ho Club (where 3933 Chinden Boulevard is now) in 1956. Unfortunately for her, it would be her last night on the town. When Dean turned down Snowden’s advances, he slashed her, stabbing her 29 times. The similarities between the viciousness of her murder and London’s infamous mass murderer prompted the nickname “Idaho’s Jack the Ripper.” She was found by a paper boy in the alley behind the club the next morning.

As a Garden City Police officer studied the killing, he remembered a man he had arrested who had threatened to kill his girlfriend in a similar way — Snowden. The police tracked Snowden down, discovered a bloody knife outside Hannifin’s Cigar Shop in Boise, and found witnesses who saw Snowden chatting up Dean.

Snowden was convicted, sentenced to death, and moved to Idaho’s Old Penitentiary in Boise. He spent the final year of his life 10 feet away from the indoor gallows where he would be hung in 1957.

You might guess that Dean is the ghost in this story, but Snowden is the spirit that is still said to be active at the Old Pen. In a bit of poetic justice, Snowden’s execution did not go according to plan — no one had been executed by the state since 1940, and you might say officials were a bit out of practice. Snowden hung from the gallows for many agonizing minutes before finally dying. He was the last man executed by hanging in Idaho, but he makes his presence at the Old Pen known by leaving visitors with an unnerving feeling, scratching them, or even speaking to them.

A Rare Event This Halloween

Halloween in Garden City usually features community events like Trunk or Treat, hosted by the Garden City Police Department, or themed events at the breweries and wineries that make up the Craft Beverage Corridor. This year, of course, is different — but the heavens will still make this Halloween extra special.

On Oct. 31, we’ll experience a full moon on Halloween, an event that happens approximately every 19 years. But 2020’s Halloween will be a blue moon, or the second full moon in a month. The last time a blue moon was visible worldwide on Halloween was an astonishing 76 years ago, during World War II! We won’t experience a Halloween full moon again until 2039, so be sure to take a few minutes to appreciate this rare celestial appearance.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos

The tradition of Día de los Muertos is not “Mexican Halloween,” as it’s sometimes called, but it is celebrated around the same time. This religious holiday has become increasingly popular in the United States, with themed costumes and events and even movies like Disney’s “Cora,” but its beautiful traditions and colorful iconography reflect a sacred practice that binds families with their ancestors. 

Starting on Oct. 31, families create altars to honor relatives and friends who have passed. Families clean and adorn graves, stand vigil, and leave offerings of favorite foods and drinks on final resting places or home altars called ofrendas. This celebration of life — a stark contrast to death-themed Halloween — continues through the Catholic holidays of All Souls Day on Nov. 1 and All Saints Day on Nov. 2.

In a typical year, Garden City businesses and organizations would celebrate Día de los Muertos with cultural events and parties. This year, however, we’d encourage you to honor your friends and relatives at home.

Do You Have a Halloween Story?

Have you had a ghostly experience in Garden City? We would love to hear about it! Please share your story in the comments section below.


History of Garden City

History of Garden City


History of Garden City

A Brief History of Garden City

Why is Garden City called Garden City? What’s with all of the Atomic Era business signs on Chinden Boulevard? And what the heck is a “chinden,” anyway?


To find the answers, we have to go back in time.

Oregon Trail Roots
Originally, the land that is now Garden City was part of the greater Boise area. When Major Pinckney Lugenbeel established a military post in Boise to provide protection for Oregon Trail immigrants and local settlers back in 1863, he commandeered land along the Boise River to grow hay for horses. (It was given the rather uninspiring name “Government Island.”)

Putting the Garden in Garden City

By 1884, the government had pulled much of its presence out of the valley, and the land went up for sale. By 1890, cattle rancher Thomas J. Davis had bought over 600 acres and began leasing it to Chinese immigrants.

In the latter half of the 19th century, Chinese immigrants were a huge part of the population in what would become the Treasure Valley. Many of these hard-working laborers arrived here in search of gold, but growing and selling produce was less back-breaking. They raised hogs and row crops like strawberries and onions. Their neat gardens gave Garden City its name — in fact, Chinden Boulevard is a portmanteau of “Chinese” and “gardens.”

A Village Is Born

By 1949, most of the gardens in Garden City, along with the Chinese immigrants, were gone. But there was a large enough population in the area for Ada County to grant village status to the land now known as Garden City.

The timing wasn’t a coincidence. Boise, the village’s next-door neighbor, had just banned gambling. The business owners of the new Garden City sensed an opportunity to build “amusement centers” — otherwise known as gambling houses — to fund the village and make a small fortune. The new village fathers promoted Garden City as a place where industry, home builders, and small businesses of many stripes were welcome. But it wasn’t a lawless community: a 1950 pamphlet boasts the “law-abiding community has the best of police protection.”

Gambling Is Good for Growth

Garden City boomed for a few years as gamblers flocked to the slot machines at establishments like the Hi Ho Club and the Circle M. And, of course, the village took a share of the profits. Gambling revenues paid for a new water system, a city hall, a park and playground, and much more.

But the party was over by the mid-’50s. The Legislature stepped in and banned gambling, including slot machines and more benign vices like lotteries, in an effort to improve morality.

Building Big Business

Garden City leaders folded on gambling but decided to double down on businesses. They began attracting the village as a great — and cheap — place to set up shop. Just about anyone was welcome in Garden City: nightclubs, over 18 shops. It was a cheap place to build a home, too, without many of the housing regulations required by other cities. In the 1970s, Garden City was a mashup of industry and free-for-all housing. 

Making Garden City Bloom Again

By the 1980s, the village — now an officially incorporated city — was in the throes of an identity crisis. City leaders worked hard to tighten regulations and make living and working in Garden City safer and cleaner while strengthening business ties.

An unexpected benefit of years of tumult, however, was that Garden City’s affordability attracted a community of artists looking for cheaper housing and studio space. By 1998, when artist Surel Mitchell built a home in Garden City, the town was primed to experience a renaissance. Thanks to her ceaseless efforts, Garden City began attracting a reputation as a haven for creative thinkers and doers.

Today, the city continues to evolve. Travel down Chinden Boulevard today and you’ll catch glimpses of 1950s nightclubs and 1960s office parks, but you’ll also see thriving businesses. The gardens that lined the river have been replaced with the Greenbelt and a series of parks. Garden City is reinventing itself yet again — this time, for the better.