Hoop Scenes: Big Sky Tournament in Boise, ID - Walk-On Apparel

Hoop Scenes: Big Sky Tournament in Boise, ID

It's conference tournament time around the country, but no tournament quite captures our founders' hearts like the Big Sky Conference Tournament, affectionately known now as #StarchMadness or #BigSkyInBoise. Our founders have attended the event multiple times since its move to Boise in 2019. So, we're here to give anyone making the trip for the first time a comprehensive guide to the tournament and the Boise area to help you up your experience.

Before the Game

Afternoon sessions

We recommend popping into Goldy's Breakfast Bistro for a great, traditional breakfast, only a block from the stadium. Since its opening in 1999, Goldy's has become a go-to spot for locals. If you ask any longtime local (or even recent transplants) for a breakfast recommendation downtown, they will likely point you to Goldy's. Although some may suggest Moons Cafe, which is also a more than acceptable option. Be warned, though, this local spot is notorious for having a line out the door, so don't dilly-dally if you want to eat here.

If you're looking for a boozy, Instagram-able breakfast, we suggest heading to Tupelo Honey. Although not a local spot, this southern comfort-inspired joint serves up great chicken and waffles. But, most people come here to enjoy the balcony on a nice, sunny day and sip some mimosas.

Though if trying to run into the Weber State Weekly crew, you will have to hit Merrits Country Cafe about 6 miles west of downtown for some famous scones.

Evening Sessions

We recommend grabbing dinner at Bittercreek Alehouse. Located about two blocks from the arena, Bittercreek boasts a fantastic beer selection. Founded in 1996, Bittercreek was created to showcase and grow the Northwest's craft beer scene, which has exploded over the last decade or so. It's a very cool, local spot for a faster, casual dining experience. We recommend starting with the Cheese Curds Buffalo Style for the table and then trying the Poutine or Holami burger for your meal.

Another spot to try before an evening game for a quick meal is Piehole Pizza. The original Pie Hole in downtown Boise is your go-to spot for late-night PBR and greasy pizza.

Then head to your team's Fan HQ; Montana and Eastern Washington fans are at White Dog Brewing. This fantastic brewery was born in Bozeman, MT, and is owned by a Griz alumnus, now relocated to Boise. It has an ice rail at the bar to keep your beer cold. Despite the name, the inside may not be dog-friendly, but the food truck there is INCREDIBLE!

Montana State and Idaho fans will head to Parrilla Grill, a Cantina-style sports bar. If you alma mater is lucky enough to be playing on Tuesday in the semifinals, then you will be able to enjoy all-day $1 tacos. Don't fret, however, as they have deals throughout the week, always including $2 Tecates. But don't dare try to order a Corona...

Everyone else will enjoy “The Warehouse Food Hall,” a fancy new food hall in Boise. It has two bars and over 10 different, themed restaurants. This place is across the street from the Arena, making it very convenient for fans. Although this is the first year the conference uses it, we're curious how it fares.

In The Arena

You enter the arena from the Grove Plaza, which the conference usually sets up for a block party-type atmosphere with basketball hoops and some food and drink vendors, creating a very fun atmosphere while you wait for the doors to open.

The Arena seats about 4-5k people, and for most games, will be around 1.5k, growing as the tournament advances. The arena offers generic, overpriced concessions and very expensive beer. So, if that's not your thing, we recommend loading up at Parrilla, White Dog, or the Warehouse before the game.

It appears to have a very cool bar area on the third level, but it always seems to be closed. It's too bad, because we believe it would be a hit for fans of other teams during sessions their team is not playing in.

That leads to our last point: Don’t be afraid to hit up games that your men's and women's teams are not in. Last year, the best game was 9-seed Northern Arizona, upsetting 1-seed Eastern Washington on a crazy buzzer-beater. Basketball fans of every stripe thoroughly enjoyed this game. The odds your game is the game of the tournament are 1 in 18. Tickets are so affordable to this tournament that I recommend going to as many games as possible. All-sessions courtside seats are $200. I mean, come on!



The Mode Lounge is a great place to sit at a way too small table in way too big chairs and pay way too much money for a drink. But we all do it because the atmosphere is so much fun. It is your quintessential late-night cocktail place that doesn't take itself too seriously, but still makes great drinks. They aren't trying to be a speakeasy; they are just a fun place to get a nice cocktail.

You can also just stay at the Grove Hotel, which is attached to the arena, and grab a drink in the lobby. You will often see a coach, administrator, or people from the conference office unwinding there in the evening.

Lively Atmosphere

The House of Western is the best place to start. Stop in there first, as they don't have great hours for the tournament and will close shortly after the evening games conclude. If they are open, however, it is an AWESOME time.

For LGBTQ+ fans, The Balcony is just a block from the arena and has been a staple in the community for over 25 years. While it is very much an LGBTQ+ bar, it is also just as popular a spot for everyone. Which, if you ask us, is an awesome thing. It is the place to dance in downtown Boise.

For the Coup de grace Humpin' Hannah's. This bar is a conglomerate of fun. It boasts a pool, two stories, knickknacks on the walls and ceiling, but it also has a stage and a dance floor where their house band, The Rocky Johnson Band (also the owner), plays almost every night. It is the perfect bar for a group. You can shoot pool, you can dance, or you can find a table toward the back and just hang out and talk. It is a landmark of the Boise bar scene, and Barstool Sports even did a feature video on it before the Barstool Arizona Bowl one year.

One bonus bar for you youngsters is Dirty Little Roddy's. The joke is this place doesn't even open until midnight (it does) and has a mechanical bull.

Off the Beaten Path

If you have an off-day or a lot of time to kill because you're going to the 8:30 PM game, here are some options for you that may require a car or bike ride to get to but are worth it, in our opinion.

Family-Friendly Activities

Table Rock: You can either drive 90% of the way there or park by the Botanical Gardens and Old Idaho State Penitentiary and do a very easy hike to the top. At the top, you get a great view of the city and the entire Treasure Valley.

The Discovery CenterThe Discovery Center is a very cool, hands-on science museum geared towards children. It is usually very interactive, though they change exhibits and themes every few months.

Walk on the Boise Greenbelt: The Boise Greenbelt is a 25-mile trail that goes all the way from Lucky Peak Dam in southeast Boise to Eagle.

Our Top 5 Boise Breweries

1. Payette Brewing: Seems to be the most popular place to go in the city, probably because it's right off the Greenbelt and is dog and kid-friendly.

2. Boise Brewing: Usually considered to have the best beer in town.

3. 10 Barrel: The first brewery in downtown, though it gets lots of flack from locals because it sold out back in the early 2010s to Anheuser-Busch. It's still a very cool place with a full menu and very top-notch beers.

4. Mother Earth Brew Co. : A very chill and relaxing atmosphere, with a large outdoor area if the weather is cooperating.

5. Lost Grove: Saving the best for last, Lost Grove is in a cool little spot next to Boise State University. They are known for their sustainability. But the bonus is they have two locations! Start at the original by Ann Morrison Park. Then head to Hyde Park to their second location where you will get the best Bahn Mi sandwich in the state—also, very good drunken noodles. But for you beer snobs, yes, the beer is outstanding as well.

Hyde Park

Nestled just north of downtown in a historical neighborhood district and the popular Camelback Park, Hyde Park will not disappoint. Many of the houses have been there as long as the city of Boise, itself. Basically acting as “Old Boise”, it's about a 3-block strip of local restaurants and shops. This place is a local hangout. Tourists usually don't visit it, but they should, as it is very cool. We already told you about Lost Grove's second location and why you should check it out, but also Parrilla Bar and Grill’s OG location is here. So everyone who isn't a Vandal or Bobcat can enjoy $2 Tecates. It also has an incredible dinner spot, Apericena, in an old house with very creative dishes. Just be careful when crossing the street in Hyde Park. Due to its proximity to the foothills, you will get a lot of bikes zooming around.

Garden City

Rule #1 of Garden City: Take an Uber. It's fast becoming the area's hidden gem. This city within the city is tucked away just west of downtown on the Boise River. This is a 30-something's dream location. The area is home to an artificial wave in the river for surfers, with the matching surfer bar “Yard Arm” steps away. It is also home to multiple wineries, such as TelayaRolling HillsCoiled, and Split Rail. There are about 10 breweries like Western CollectiveIdaWild, and Barbarian Brewing, to name a few. For you cider fans, they even have a place, Meriwether Cider. Heck, they even have Sturman's Wine & Cigar, a cigar bar. Like I said, a 30-something's daydream of a place like this. You can easily kill an off-day in Garden City, eating and drinking to your content. But like we said, please be responsible and have a DD.

Though for you savvy travelers. The Riverside Hotel in Garden City is very nice and much cheaper than the ones closer to the action in downtown. But to put it into reference The Riverside Hotel is exactly 2 miles from the arena. Not far at all.

Basque Block

Boise, Idaho, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of vibrant cultural districts, but tucked away in its downtown lies a gem: the Basque District. With a rich history dating back to the late 19th century, this neighborhood offers a fascinating glimpse into Basque culture and heritage. Take a stroll down Grove Street, one block from the Arena, and soak in the atmosphere of this bustling cultural hub. Admire the vibrant Basque architecture, adorned with colorful murals.

It is also home to Bardnenay Distillery, a fantastic place to grab food and drink between games. If it is too full, head east down the block to the Basque Center for some cheap, stiff drinks or Leku Ona for some traditional Basque food.

We recommend popping into the Basque Museum and Cultural Center and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Basque people. Explore artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays that tell the story of the Basque community's resilience and vibrant identity.

Ice Cream

Let us say there is no bad option for ice cream in and around Boise. Though the best option is The STIL which stands for the Sweetest Things In Life.


We hope all of your teams make deep runs in the tournament, and we were able to provide you with the perfect guide to Big Sky in Boise. Don't forget to head over to our store and gear up with some Walk-on Apparel. We're here for you diehards out there and would appreciate the support. Now bookmark this page for later, share with a friend, get off your phone and go enjoy #StarchMadness.

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