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Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, Boise

4.6
#1 of 9 in Historic Sites in Idaho
Experience what prison life was like for the most notorious criminals of Idaho's "Wild West" and the guards that worked there at Old Idaho Penitentiary Site. The prison first received inmates in 1872 and remained a functioning prison for 101 years, housing a total of 13,000 inmates. Walk through buildings like the dining hall, women's ward, and the maximum security area--Cell House 5--which served as Death Row. If you are feeling brave, lock yourself into one of the solitary confinement cells to better understand the harsh conditions of the prison's past. You can also take a guided tour. The facility is home to multiple exhibits, notably the J. Curtis Earl Memorial Exhibit of Arms and Armaments, which features one of the nation's largest collections of military history from Medieval times, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Old Idaho Penitentiary Site is just one of the many highlights you can arrange to see using our international travel planner, Boise Edition.
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Old Idaho Penitentiary Site Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
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Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • We couldn’t get in to the penitentiary because of Halloween events so we disappointed but we did go to the gardens next door and enjoyed the scarecrow contest. Maybe next time!  more »
  • Very fascinating Museum-prison that really "comes alive" during the visit. You can walk by yourself, looking everywhere, ranging from cameras and ending with the laundry and you can wait for an excursion group. In addition, operates the Museum-exhibition of weapons. At the entrance there is a small gift shop.
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  • The grounds have some very pretty flowers and other landscaping that is best to view in the summer, but the rest of the tour can be enjoyed any time of the year. The tour can be quick (for those with ...  more »
Google
  • Great place to visit if you are into history. Lots of interesting things to see. Got there 2 hours before closing and saw most of it. Could of easily spent 3 hrs there.
  • Plan on a couple hours here...pretty cool stop over that's out of the way from Downtown. While Idaho specific (obviously), this does give good perspective on what prisons were like for the time periods. © TIFA 2003
  • Great place to visit and experience what the prisoners had to endure to survive. So much history displayed inside. Very pretty rose gardens.
  • Great way to spend a few hours with the kids. Enjoyed the history and learning about the prisoners. Beautiful flowers, to boot.
  • Well worth it. Lots of info and history. Take the guided tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable.

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Where to stay in Boise

Consider a stay in the city's historical Northend neighborhood, which offers a number of cultural activities, including a public art tour and festivals throughout the year. Lodgings in the downtown area offer convenient access to the central attractions.
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