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Old Idaho Penitentiary Site, Boise

4.6
#1 of 33 in Sightseeing in Idaho
Historic Site Tourist Spot
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. Our Boise vacation route planner makes visiting Old Idaho Penitentiary Site and other Boise attractions simple, and helps you make a travel plan personal to you.
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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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Google
4.6
  • Whether yo believe in spirits or not the history of the Old Idaho Penitentiary is enough of a draw. The property is large enough for big and little kids to explore. Make sure you stay in groups. The r...  more »
  • We had a great time learning about the history of the penitentiary. Great weapons museum of ww1 &ww2. A fun afternoon. Worth $6 fee.  more »
  • I recently attended the Old Idaho Penitentiary for an event. I had not been there for several years. It is being well maintained and restored by the Idaho Historical Society. The site tells the story ...  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.