IDAHO BOTANICAL GARDEN
2355 Old Penitentiary Road, Boise, 343-8649
There was a time when the Idaho Botanical Garden did not rock - unless flowers and herbs are your idea of a good thyme. But everything changed when the Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series began in 2008 with help from promoter Knitting Factory. Talk about a garden growing. It took voters a few years to push it to the top, but the 4,000-capacity outdoor venue finally has won Best Music Venue. (Knitting Factory's Downtown Boise concert house won this category the last several years.)
The garden's under-the-sky, bring-a-blanket atmosphere doesn't hurt. That view of the Foothills never gets old. Plus, patrons are welcome to haul in picnic baskets and low-back chairs. This summer, the garden has pumped up the volume with a diverse lineup ranging from shows for the young (Imagine Dragons, May 21; Fun, Aug. 28) to the young at heart (Steely Dan, Aug. 11; Willie Nelson, Aug. 25).
And, of course, let's not forget about the longstanding, intimate Great Garden Escape music series, which showcases local entertainers inside the garden on Thursdays. ("It's cooler in the garden," organizers like to say.)
Combined, these options are a one-two punch that made the choice easy for voters.
Morrison Center, 2201 Cesar Chavez Lane, Boise State University, Boise, 426-1110, mc.boisestate.edu
Knitting Factory Concert House, 416 S. 9th St., Boise, 367-1212, bo.knittingfactory.com
Visual Arts Collective, 3638 Osage St., Garden City, 424-8297, visualartscollective.com
Idaho Center/Idaho Center Amphitheater, 16200 N. Idaho Center Blvd., Nampa, 468-1000, idahocenter.com