STAYCATION: Albertson Park + Ben's Crow Inn

While sometimes we have an entire day or weekend to devote to our staycations, often we only have a half day or so in between mowing the yard and doing laundry to relax and fool around. It's always nice to spend at least part of our weekend not tending to regular life duties and exploring what our local scene has to offer. I thought I'd share our little Sunday morning adventure as another alternative to a doable staycation on a budget. We also had my inlaws in town, so it is a nice way to share some local Boise haunts with visitors, too.

We started out getting iced coffees to go (a rare treat for Eric and I) and loaded the kids and the stroller in our Jeep. We headed to Kathryn Albertson Park near downtown Boise off of Americana Blvd. The weather was cool and perfect and there were very few people in the park. Albertson Park is known as a beautiful outdoor wedding venue (in fact, I married my father and his wife at the Eyrie shelter a few years back), but it is often overlooked as a lovely place to walk.

There are two miles of paved paths that weave you through a nature trail. The fresh smell and chirping birds are therapeutic, and truly make you feel like you are miles from the city. Wildlife abounds, as there are often deer in the park in early mornings or evenings and tons of geese. Just a few weeks ago there were baby ducks waddling all around. This time, we were thrilled to catch a family of turtles basking in the sun on rocks and got to see their tiny babies up close. Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures (the scenic shots I stole from here), but I did get this one of Alice taking in the gorgeous spread of pink water lilies.

Lucy really enjoyed collecting twigs, feathers, and pine cones for the fairy houses she builds in our backyard, and we enjoyed the leisurely walk with our family. Since there are no play structure and no bikes, rollerblades, or skateboards allowed in the park, the environment is more calm and natural than many of the other city parks.

After about 1.5 leisurely hours strolling the park, we were all hungry for some lunch. Since we'd never been there, we decided to make the journey out to Ben's Crow Inn.

Since it's WAY down Warm Springs Blvd. on your way to Lucky Peak, it makes for a great scenic drive for out of towners. You can either wind through downtown or around Boise State University and then lead them down the historic district of the biggest, loveliest homes in the city. You'll also pass the Old State Penitentiary, as well as the site of the Shakespeare Festival. Ben's Crow Inn is a great little dive bar to stop at after boating at Lucky Peak Reservoir, floating the Boise River at Barber Park, or biking along the Greenbelt (here's the entrance for bikers off the trail).

I'm sure the wood paneling, red retro Budweiser light fixtures, and jukebox may seem intimidating to parents, but rest assured this place is kid friendly, and they even have high chairs and a kids menu. The picnic tables out back and rolls of paper towels on the table also signified my kind of family dining. The place is known for their buckets of clams, so of course, we ordered the biggest one we could.

They served them in an old Jackpot, Nevada casino slot machine coin bucket (since I'm a fan, Barton's Club 93 to be exact), which made me even more excited. It was 3 1/2 lbs. of bliss. I've seriously never tasted clams so delicious before. $29.95 got us the clams, a side salad, and some french fries. In addition, we ordered some of their halibut fish and chips (also crispy and lovely) and, of course, a pitcher of beer. While the bill was a bit pricey for lunch, it was truly worth it. We're always up for exploring local hidden gems, so stay tuned for more mini staycation posts in the future.