Once a bustling railroad town, Nampa has evolved into one of Idaho's growing commercial centers. The city's downtown and detached homes retain the original frontier feeling, creating a palpable sense of history. The state capitol lies just 20 miles west, allowing Nampa residents to enjoy the peace and safety of a rural town without sacrificing access to the amenities of a much larger city.
Residents of Nampa come for the low housing costs, the congenial atmosphere and the easy access to Idaho's plains and mountains. Families, in particular, love the city for its safe streets and child-friendly atmosphere. No matter your background you're sure find your niche in this diverse community.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Nampa houses a relatively standard mix of American, Italian, Mexican and Asian restaurants, but for more sophisticated international cuisines, residents make the short drive to Boise. Many restaurants in the city sit along Caldwell Boulevard and Garrity Boulevard, while another small group gathers in the downtown area.
Start your day with the lemon poppyseed pancakes or the Red Rooster crepe at The Egg Factory, a casual diner on Caldwell Boulevard. Bring a friend to enjoy the enormous portions, and take time to soak up the low-key diner atmosphere and converse with the ultra-friendly staff members. Locals can't get enough of the Thai food at Thailand Express, as evidenced by the constant crowd. The pad see-ew and the Panang curry get consistent high marks from diners. The restaurant also offers to-go meals, which can save you a wait on a busy weekend evening.
For a gourmet twist on pizza, visit Messenger Pizza & Brewery and order a Drunken Goat, which comes loaded with arugula, figs, bacon and goat cheese. Don't worry about finding options to suit dietary restrictions — in addition to its house specials, Messenger offers a gluten-free crust and a build-your-own pizza menu.
The strong religious culture in Nampa limits the nightlife options, but a few bars provide beer and cocktails. Join the locals at the Getaway Bar & Grill on 12th Ave Road for beer pong Wednesdays and poker tourneys on Mondays and Tuesdays. This beach-themed bar features a dance floor with a live DJ on Fridays and Saturdays. This bar stays open until 1 a.m. every night, including Sunday.
At the Dutch Goose, you can sip on a hearty Bloody Mary while you watch the latest Boise State game on television. For live music, check out the Nampa location of PreFunk Beer Bar on 1st Street South, a local hot spot that hosts bands on occasion.
History & Culture
Nampa got its start in 1885 as a 160-acre homestead next to the Oregon Short Line Railway. The Nampa Land and Improvement Company sold lots to businesses and individuals, and the town was incorporated in 1891. The arrival of another railroad in the early 1900s contributed to significant population growth. In the mid-1900s, the town became an important center of sugar-cane processing.
Today, Nampa's storied history comes to life at the Canyon County Historical Museum and the Warhawk Air Museum. The city hosts a small but growing cultural scene anchored by the Spotlight Theatre and Music Theatre of Idaho. Each year, locals come out to celebrate a variety of festivals, including the Nampa Festival of the Arts, the Rockstar Mayhem Festival and the Treasure Valley God and Country Festival.
Nampa is a car-dependent city, and many residents opt to drive to work and daily errands. With a walk score of just 26, Nampa doesn't provide much in the way of walkability. Some major streets feature bike lanes, but exercise caution if you plan to get around by bike as other drivers may not be accustomed to sharing the road with cyclists. When you need a cab, plan extra time to call ahead. Uber also provides convenient ride services in Boise and Nampa.
The ValleyRide bus system serves Nampa as well as the neighboring communities of Boise and Caldwell. Numerous bus lines run through the city, including 51, 52, 53 and 54. If you want to get to Boise, use lines 40, 42 or 43.
Vehicle owners in Nampa have no trouble finding free parking spots around businesses and in residential areas. If you need to get out of the city or into Boise, Interstate 84 lies an easy drive from most points in the city.
The cost of living in Nampa hovers lower than the averages for both Boise and Idaho as a whole. Low housing costs contribute significantly to the city's affordable lifestyle. The average rental rate for Nampa sits at $626, with options available for higher and lower budgets.
If you want to ride the ValleyRide bus from Nampa to Boise, expect to pay a flat fee of $3 for a one-way ticket. A pint of beer at a Nampa bar or restaurant usually costs less than $5, and local establishments frequently offer cheaper drink specials. Nampa gas prices tend to stay even with the national average.
Major national chains make up the majority of shopping in Nampa. Many stores gather in the Karcher Mall and the Nampa Gateway Center, while others line the "V" formed by Caldwell Boulevard and Garrity Boulevard. Most stores in the area sell mid-priced merchandise.
Artistically minded Nampa residents frequent Puffy Mondaes, a store that carries a variety of yarn and craft supplies. Be sure to check out Mondaes original yarns, which are hand-spun and hand-dyed on site. The store also hosts classes for children and adults. If you're looking for a bargain, stop by Idaho Pickers to find a deal on larger items, such as hot tubs, Jet Skis and golf carts. Alternatively, locate a one-of-a-kind piece for your living room at Rusty Retro Antiques & Oddities. Come prepared with time and a sense of curiosity as you'll need both to fully appreciate the store's fascinating stock of vintage pieces.
Nampa houses numerous grocery stores, including Albertson's, WalMart and WinCo. The locally owned Paul's Market on 12th Avenue features an expansive produce section and a friendly butcher who custom cuts meat. Pick up Asian cooking supplies at Asia Market 3 or select from a variety of Mexican foods at La Ranchera on Holly Street. From May through October, watch local performers and shop for Idaho-grown seasonal produce at the Nampa Farmers Market in Lloyd Square.
Nampa houses 25 different parks, each outfitted with a variety of amenities. The playgrounds at Wilson Creek Park, Liberty Park and East Side Park attract families, while active residents often take advantage of the fitness trails at Kings Road Park and West Park. Local dog owners can relax in the shade at the Nampa Dog Park while their pets play in the fenced off-leash area. The park features water stations and a sizable parking lot.
One of the most popular parks in town, Lakeview Park, provides something for everyone. Stroll through the elegant rose garden, or bring the family to a Little League game at the Les Goodman baseball field. In the summer, use the horseshoe pit, basketball court and sand volleyball court. Each year, the park hosts the Annual Pooch Party Stroll and Splash and the Nampa Festival of the Arts. Residents enjoy all Nampa parks free of charge.