Most traditional tourists keep to the “beaten path”, hitting the usual churches, museums and monuments that a billion other tourists have been to before them. But if you prefer something more off the beaten path, and are looking to travel to the Boise area in Idaho anytime soon, we’ve got something that might just be perfect for you.
The Freak Alley Gallery in downtown Boise is one of the most famous “unofficial” tourist attractions in the whole Northwest of the United States. Famed as the largest outdoor gallery for miles and miles, the Freak Alley Gallery is also a cultural experience. Here, you can see the best graffiti and wall paintings that the town’s artists have to offer. And no, we’re not talking about an alley where some 12-year-old kid spray-painted his name in curvy letters. Not at all.
The Freak Alley Gallery only houses the crème de la crème of street art, and is the role of artists in this world, pretty much every image is filled with interesting symbolism, and gives rise to one or two existential questions.
The Alley also sees its fair share of famous faces popping up on occasion. From Jesus Christ to Jimi Hendrix, it’s not unusual to spot a celebrity’s visage carefully (and more or less faithfully) depicted on the Gallery’s walls. And of course, the Alley also houses quite a bit of poetry and elusive, pensive writings that will really mark this as a delightful cultural experience in your trip to Boise.
A bit of history… how did the Freak Alley Gallery come to be?
It all started with an artist by the name of Colby Arkers, back in 2002, when he took to painting the back alley doorway of a local coffee shop, known as the Moon’s Cafe. Colby turned out to be such a gifted artist that many nearby businesses, when they saw his work, wanted him to paint their buildings as well. This is how the Freak Alley Gallery first began, as a bunch of small, local businesses wanting to jazz up their exterior.
Now, the Gallery spans the entire alley, of course, as well as an adjacent parking lot, and is in a constant state of change. Most pieces of art, with a few notable exceptions, only last for 1-2 years, before they are replaced with another offering. This makes the Freak Alley Gallery a beloved local landmark and a great spot to visit each time you’re in the area, because new art is bound to have popped up since your last visit.
Not a fan of graffiti? Not to worry, because the Freak Alley Gallery will change your mind. This is literally the closest you can get to an open-door, common people’s museum and you’re guaranteed to find at least one image that speaks to you. And besides, what have you got to lose? The Freak Alley Gallery is completely free to walk and open all day everyday, so why not take 20 minutes out of your busy trip and take a walk around?