In East Boise, the "E" could stand for "eclectic."
You have your sprawling historic mansions on tree-lined streets. And you have your planned housing communities on the sage-dotted rim above the Boise River catering to tech industry workers. It's hard to pin down the neighborhood in just a few words.
Warm Springs Avenue is one of the historic jewels of the city, and its mix of elegant mansions and period homes were some of the first in the city to have geothermal heat. Hitching posts and stone steps along the curb are lingering reminders that horse-drawn carriages and wagons once ruled the streets.
Further to the east, Old Idaho State Penitentiary (2445 Old Penitentiary Road) has gone from housing prisoners to housing history. The now shuttered prison is a draw for those who want to know what solitary confinement or the gallows are like without all the unfortunate incarceration. In the shadows of the prison walls, Idaho Botanical Garden (2355 Old Penitentiary Road) is a lush respite full of native plants and host to numerous concerts. The Old Pen is also the starting point for hikers heading up to another East Boise landmark: Tablerock.
Heading east down Warm Springs Avenue, visitors arrive at the city-owned golf course, Warm Springs Golf Course (2495 Warm Springs Ave.), which hugs Boise River and the Greenbelt as they continue east.
Bown Crossing across the river is the newest addition to the neighborhood. The urban village-like development is filled with shops and restaurants and thanks to the new Parkcenter bridge, it's tied in to the rest of the Warm Springs area.
The neighborhood is also home to the MK Nature Center (600 S. Walnut St.), where the curious can get back to nature near the heart of the city in a living museum focused on riparian life.
Throughout the summer, inner tubes and rafts are some of the most common cargo moving through the area as floaters head for the Barber Park launching site for floating the Boise River.
East Boise is also home to another favorite summer getaway: Idaho Shakespeare Festival (5657 Warm Springs Ave.). The amphitheater is located in a nature preserve, making the structure itself an attraction.
Continuing east, you'll reach Lucky Peak Reservoir, where water sports rule and where the Greenbelt trail ends.
When you're in East Boise, you can't miss the lighted cross on top of Tablerock. It was built by the Jaycees in 1956, and although there have been efforts to remove it over the years, supporters have always prevailed.