Well, guys… I think it’s about time I write a travel guide to Sun Valley. I mean, I DO live here! 🙂 I get asked about Idaho on the daily and specifically SV as many people come here to vacation.
Let me first start out by saying it truly is a hidden gem! Ya, it’s magical AF so get ready to be blown away!
I’ve been coming to Idaho since I was 5 years old with my father and I’m SO grateful for that experience. This is the place I fell in love with nature and the outdoors. 🙂 Even though I have explored Sun Valley for almost 30 years, living here this past year, has opened up my eyes to even more it has to offer. Trust me, this place is special!!
To clarify most people call the entire valley area, SUN VALLEY even though that’s technically the city where the resort is located. Ketchum is the name of the actual town. For the sake of this guide, I’ll refer to it as Sun Valley. 😉
Sun Valley is quaint, beautiful and has some of the best skiing, hiking and restaurants around. Fun fact: Sun Valley was America’s first ski resort and had the first motorized chair lift in the WORLD! How cool is that?!
Unlike other ski resorts like Aspen and Park City, Sun Valley has stayed under the radar. If you know, you know. It is not commercialized, has no big resorts, other than the classic SV Lodge that started this town, and is fairly hard to get to. ALL good things!
Luke and I decided to leave to big city of LA and move to this little mountain town a little over a year ago. We were ready for wide open spaces, fresh air and to start a family. Bing. Bang. Boom! All three of those things are happening! It was the best decision we’ve made for this time in our life.
Bringing friends to Sun Valley for the first time has been one of my most favorite things to do over the years. A few weeks ago I had 4 of my babes up for a girls weekend, and they were blown away at the natural beauty, fresh water boating excursion and yummy eats in town (scroll down for pics). I’m happy to say many of my friends have been bitten by the Idaho bug, and I think y’all will be too! 🙂
Below I’m sharing ALL of the details on what to do when you are here: transportation, eat, drink, sleep, shop and of course, DO!! Enjoy! Please leave a comment with any questions you may have.
One of the many reasons why it has stayed a small and non-commercialized mountain town is, put simply, it’s hard to get to! There is a small airport in Hailey, ID to fly into and that’s about it. The two closest “larger” towns with airports are Twin Falls and Boise. In the winter many flights are diverted to these cities. If there is a storm, I always recommend flying into the bigger city and grabbing a rental car or hopping on the shuttle.
For getting around town and up into the mountains (especially in summer), a SUV rental car is always best. For in-town transportation many hotels have shuttles, you can walk, grab a taxi or there are one… maybe two Ubers. 😉
Rasperrys – Legit, the best food in town, made fresh every single day. It is my favorite place to grab lunch with Luke. They are only open during the week so make sure to go M-F. If it’s winter Rasperrys has a cute country setting in the basement of the building. I know it sounds weird, but go with it! 😉 During the summer you can sit out on their patio and enjoy the nice weather while you eat. Make sure to try the Power Bowl, it’s my fave! Oh and let’s not forget about the homemade baked goods… get a cookie!! 🙂
Cristina’s – This restaurant is a Sun Valley staple, set in a quaint cottage-like home. It is still run by Cristina, an Italian chef. The food is A-mazing with homemade soups and grilled cheese as a standout favorite. They serve breakfast, lunch and brunch on Sundays. OH, and did I mention their bread basket is OUT OF THIS WORLD?! Get ready to carb load – this is the place! When it’s homemade, calories don’t count. Right?!! 🙂 Cozy up in the winter next to the fireplace or relax in the sun on their outdoor deck in the summer. Either way, the ambiance is A+ and the food is delish.
Galena Lodge – After a hike or a snow shoe around Galena, sit back and enjoy a nom nom lunch at the lodge. It’s located about 30 minutes north of town off of Highway 75. It’s very mountainy, rustic and worth the jaunt. If you’re looking for a life changing moment they can serve it up with the best chocolate chip COOKIE you will ever have in your life. Like, NO joke! I have friends that get 5-10 to take home with them. 🙂 If you’re in the mood for a burger, get the beef or lamb. Both are incredible!
The Pioneer Saloon – Meat and potatoes, period. This is THE place to go if you’ve never been to Sun Valley. It is a western staple serving up the best local meat, trout and Idaho potatoes the size of your head! I also always tell people they have the best ranch in the country. I would legit, drink it! 😉 Go early, there is always a wait as they don’t take reservations. This would be the place to whip out your cowboy boots and hat! Have fun with your wester wear!
Enoteca – The best Italian spot and wine bar in town. If you’re looking for a nice restaurant with quality food and mountain modern interiors, this is for you! It is a solid choice and the food never disappoints! Try the meatballs, burrata, and any of their wood fire pizzas. I’m getting hungry writing this…
The Covey – New to town in the past year, The Covey has made quite an impression. The owners took an old A-frame home, gutted it and designed a hip, modern interior serving excellent food from it’s open kitchen concept. The menu changes with the seasons and the ingredients are always fresh. From the apps and pastas to the main dishes, everything is full of flavor!
Vintage – Being one of the nicer and smaller places in town, be sure to make a reservation. It’s typically where we go when we are celebrating something. The charm of this place is everything and the food even more incredible! Vintage changes it’s menu daily with new local meat and fish options. You will not be disappointed!
Cookbook – They just opened their doors this past year and I am SO happy to say, we having another excellent restaurant in town. It’s owned by a local couple, Burk and Vita, who will greet you when you arrive and if you’re lucky, take care of you! The space is small, quaint and the food is delicious, changing frequently. Note, they only take reservations.
Rickshaw – If you’re looking for an easy, neighborhood spot with delish food, Rickshaw is your place! It is a local favorite, serving up fresh dishes inspired by southeast Asia.
Maude’s Coffee & Clothes – Hands down the best avocado toast and coffee in town. I don’t know what they do, but it’s magical AF! Not only do I love their toasties but the coffee and staff are great. The cool thing about Maude’s is that it is also a vintage clothing store. While you wait for your coffee, definitely check our their fashions. Luke and I have found SO many gems their including his vintage Levi sherpa jacket!
Java – I have been going to Java with my Dad since I was a kiddo. Before Maude’s, this was the only place I’d go for coffee. It’s also is located in a small house like many restaurants in town, so you know it’s cute AF! 🙂 I’m a big fan of their muffins and their breakfast menu overall. Java is a great place to grab something before you hit the slopes!
Starbucks – Ok, I’m fully aware there are a million starbucks. But trust me, this one is different. It will probably be the coolest one you’ve ever been to because of it’s mountain design! I took my blogger friends here last week and they just about died. Of course, they all needed a picture and y’all probably will too! It’s that good.
5B Fruit – Looking for a juice, smoothie or aciá bowl? This is your spot!! Coming from healthy California, you know I was on the hunt for a place just like this! Thankfully, I found 5B!
Grumpy’s – My favorite bar in all of the land is located right here in Sun Valley, ID. It is a hole in the wall bar, serving schooners of beer or boozie! 😉 Typically this is more of a day drinking situation. Grab a drink after you hike in the summer or ski during the winter.
The Cellar Pub – Located downstairs of a building, hence “The Cellar”, is my favorite bar in town for an evening get together. It’s fairly small, serving up cocktails and great food – get the lamb sliders!
The Sun Valley Lodge – The lodge is THE most classic choice when it comes to a hotel in the valley. If you’re with a family, this resort is the perfect place to stay as it has SO many activities: ice skating, bowling, movie theater, horse back riding, golf, cross country skiing, tennis, pool and more. The lodge is not located on the base of Baldy, the ski mountain, but it has an excellent view. The hotel will shuttle you to and from the hill. Over the past 5 years they have renovated the property, updating rooms, the lobby and adding a large spa. I’ve heard the rooms are OK, but honestly, I’ve never stayed in the new ones.
Knob Hill Inn – This property has a special place in my heart as Luke and I got married here! We rented out the hotel with all of our friends and family as it only has 29 rooms. It was fun filled weekend in the cutest Euro-inspired boutique hotel. From the exterior, Knob Hill, looks like a cozy Chalet! Yes please! The staff is always amazing, the rooms are very clean and comfortable and it has a great location. Walk to town in less than 5 minutes. You can’t go wrong with Knob Hill Inn!
Hotel Ketchum – New to town, this budg-friendly hotel is SO cute. The owners took an older property and completely gutted it. The interior design is on point with furniture and decor inspired by Idaho, the mountains and cozy living. They also have a great bar called, “The Hang Out”. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink!
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding – Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain (beginner/kids)
Cross Country / Skate Skiing – Nordic Lodge, Galena Lodge
Snowshoeing – Galena Lodge
Snowmobiling – Smiley Creek
Hot Springs – Frenchman’s Bend
Ice Skating – Sun Valley Lodge
Sleigh Ride – Sun Valley Lodge
Spa – Zenergy & Sun Valley Lodge
Yoga – Gather
Hiking – The hikes are endless – here is a guide. A few of my favorite hikes are: Pioneer Cabin, Taylor Canyon Loop, Proctor Mountain (in-town), Titus Lake, Baker Lake, Kane Lake
Mountain Biking – Bald Mountain, Galena Lodge and trails surrounding Sun Valley
Sport Shooting – Sun Valley Gun Club
Horseback Riding – Red Fish Lake Corals, Galena Stage Stop Corals,
Boating – Red Fish Lake (boat rental)
Fly Fishing – Sun Valley Lodge, Silver Creek Outfitters
Golf – Sun Valley, Big Wood
Concerts – Sun Valley Music Festival, Sun Valley Center
Spa – Zenergy & Sun Valley Lodge
Yoga – Gather
Huck & Paddle – home boutique with great mountain goods and gifts.
The Farmer’s Daughter – home store carrying farmhouse decor and entertaining goods.
Consign Design – great consignment shop for women’s clothes, shoes and accessories. I always find gems here including a Celine bag and Chanel tweed blazer!!
Deja Vu – A high-end consignment store selling all luxury items: handbags, jewelry, cowboy boots, gowns and jackets.
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This was perfect Kacey! I’m actually an Idaho native, I live in Eagle outside of Boise. I too have been going to Sun Valley (3.5 hours away) since I was young. I have frequented many of your picks and and love them, there are a couple of restaurants I have not been to, but will make sure I try next time I’m there. Very excited for your bundle of joy to arrive! My best to you and Luke! @joietheidahogirl
Thank you, Joie!! SV is the best!! You most def need to try the new restaurants in tow – you’ll love! And thank you – excited for baby boy! 🙂