Sun Valley is, in my opinion, a very underrated destination. We headed out to Idaho for a long weekend in March for some rest, relaxation, and snow. Here’s the lowdown on the history, food, and sights in the Sun Valley area, which includes the towns of Ketchum and Hailey.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON AND FUN FACTS:
Sun Valley was the first destination ski resort in the U.S., opening in 1936. Their opening coincided with the Winter Olympics in Bavaria, Germany. It was the first games to include alpine skiing.
Over 20 movies have been filmed in Sun Valley.
Sun Valley has the largest automated snow making equipment in the world.
The resort boasted the world’s first chair lift, modeled after a system in Panama used to load bananas onto a ship.
Any Serial fans out there? Bowe Bergdahl in season 2 is from Hailey, Idaho.
More fun facts here.
WHERE TO EAT:
The Kneadery: Loaded with taxidermy on the walls, this cozy restaurant has all the breakfast staples to fuel a day of outdoor exploring.
Rickshaw: This small restaurant features foods inspired by Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Indonesia. It’s really popular, so expect to wait for a table. Grab a glass of wine and sit by the outdoor fire pit until a spot opens up inside. They also offer to-go.
Java on Fourth: They have several locations in Idaho, including one in Ketchum. Great place to caffeinate or get a quick bite. They offer almond milk as an alternative, as well as some healthy food options.
Glow Live Food Cafe: Vegan, organic menu of soups, salads, and sandwiches with gluten free options, plus fresh juice and smoothies.
Big Wood Bread: With two locations in Ketchum, come by for breakfast or lunch. They indicate which menu items contain nuts, and what ones are gluten free.
Starbucks: There are plenty of better, local options, but check out the architecture!
Atkinson’s Market: Grocery store with locations in Hailey and Sun Valley. We went in for pizza making materials and wine.
WHERE TO STAY:
This takes the cake as best AirBnB to date. The house was right across the street from the airport in Hailey, about a 20 minute drive to Sun Valley. Amenities included a hot tub, outdoor pizza oven, and indoor wood burning stove .
WHERE TO SHOP:
The Farmer’s Daughter: Chock full of home decor, gift ideas, and items for the garden.
Gold Mine Thrift Store: Macklemore’s thrift shop song played in my head on repeat while inside. Lots of fur, barely worn brand name ski apparel, Sorrel boots, Nespresso machines, you name it! Normally not my scene, but someone forgot to bring gloves, so we had to make a quick stop for cheap ones.
Huck & Paddle: Upscale home goods store with hand poured candles made on site. The apres ski candle smells fantastic.
Elephant’s Perch: All the outdoor clothing and gear you’ll need. They rent skis, snowshoes, bikes, and camping equipment. The staff were very helpful with maps and suggestions on where to cross country ski. This is just one of many outdoor gear and apparel shops in town.
Country Cousin: Visit the log cabin store for all your Sun Valley souvenir needs.
WHAT TO DO:
The town is year-round. When the ski season ends, you can get out the kayaks, fly fish, hike, and swim.
Sun Valley Resort: You can do just about anything at the resort. There is an outdoor ice rink, two mountains, cross country ski trails, and golf courses on-site, just to name a few.
Hot springs: Soak your aching muscles in one of the local hot springs.
Sawtooth National Forest: This 2.1 million acre forest is home to many outdoor recreational activities, with everything from horseback riding to a beach.
Galena Lodge: Visit for a day of cross country skiing, then rest and refuel at the lodge. We had perfect, sunny weather with plenty of fresh snow. I was quickly reminded that cross country isn’t as easy as it looks, nor is the course flat. What an adventure! Luckily, no broken bones, just a bruised ego.
Check the Visit Sun Valley events page to see what activities are happening when you are in town. We had a chance to see the U.S. Alpine Championships during our quick trip.
Sun Valley is the name of the main resort, however the ski town is called Ketchum. About 20 minutes down the road is Hailey, where the airport is located. You will need a rental car to get from the airport to Ketchum. The airport is extremely small, as are the planes. You could also fly into Boise and take the shuttle or drive to Sun Valley, which takes about 3 hours.
The extent of the traffic we encountered was a herd of moose moseying along the side of the road.