Sun Valley, Idaho. If the breathtaking scenery in the valley that houses America’s first winter resort were good enough for the likes of the great Ernest Hemingway, the magnetic Marilyn Monroe… and Arnold Schwarzenegger, they’re most certainly good enough for me. In 1936, Sun Valley Resort was built as a premier skiing destination in the west, and to this day, the Sun Valley area—which along with the resort, also includes the delightfully charming small towns of Hailey and Ketchum—is still one of the top places in the country for a relaxing and adventurous winter vacation. With its world-class skiing and delicious après cocktails and dining scene, be sure to add Sun Valley to your list of places to explore this winter.

EAT

It’s a good thing that Sun Valley is home to some epic outdoor adventures, because this town knows how to dine. Fuel up in the morning with a hearty meal at The Kneadery in downtown Ketchum.

Breakfast at the The Kneadery.

The interior of this breakfast and lunch joint looks like a cozy mountain lodge, and smells like foodie heaven—and with the tasty rustic dishes this place is serving up, it’ll be hard to leave. But don’t spend too much time savoring breakfast. The sooner you get outside and play in the gorgeous mountains around the Wood River Valley, the sooner you can post up at the Warfield Distillery and Brewery for handcrafted cocktails made with spirits distilled in house. Anything made with the smooth housemade gin will warm you straight to the bone—but pair that with the Warfield’s elevated cuisine made with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients, and the warmth from the fireplace, and you’ll be in ski town heaven. If craft beer is your après beverage of choice, check out the Sawtooth Brewery. This longtime Ketchum watering hole is making a variety of clean and crisp craft brews that pair nicely with the brewery’s pub fare.

Photo Courtesy of Traverse Image, LLC.

If a giant steak with all of the fixings is your only hope of refueling all of the calories you burned on the slopes, then head to the ultra quirky dining room of the legendary Pioneer Saloon. Originally opened in the 1940’s as a gambling casino, this popular steakhouse still retains its historical roots, right along with the mouthwatering chuckwagon-style dishes on the menu.

SLEEP

For a budget-friendly, comfortable place to lay your head that is located in the heart of downtown Ketchum, check out the Tamarack Lodge. This small, but homey lodge features rustic rooms, most of which include a fireplace and views of Bald Mountain—the area’s defining mountain. Rooms at the Tamarack average around $140 night during the busy season, making this one of the most budget-friendly options in town. For a more modern touch, check out the Limelight Hotel—which is set to officially open it’s doors near the base of Bald Mountain after the first of the year. The Limelight will feature a variety of rooms that come with all of the comforts of a modern hotel, along with killer après food and drink specials each day, and complimentary adventures like guided snowshoe tours, first tracks on the mountain, and a hefty discount on heli-skiing trips in the area. If you’re looking for some unique off-the-grid digs to post up in during your stay in Sun Valley, check out the Galena Lodge—a community-owned day lodge that offers a handful of yurt rentals for stays year-round. A short ski or snowshoe from the lodge will take you to your yurt accommodations which are nestled in the pine tree forests around the lodge. Pricing for winter rentals of one of the four lodges begins at $135 per night.

PLAY 

As the birthplace of destination skiing, you have to hit the local slopes when visiting Sun Valley. Ideal weather conditions of clear skies and minimal wind make the terrain in the area exceptional for enjoying deep, powdery snow—and the absence of lift lines are the cherry on top of the cake for an epic pow day. Sun Valley’s main mountains are comprised of Bald Mountain, which has 30 acres of glade ski and boarding terrain. Across the town of Ketchum, Dollar Mountain offers more mellow terrain, perfect for beginners and kids. Sun Valley is also a destination for nordic skiing, boasting more than 200 kilometers of groomed trails in the area. Trails are maintained daily in the winter and day passes can be purchased at the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center for $25 per person.

 

Can’t quite make it out to Sun Valley to enjoy the snow? This beautiful outdoor haven is also home to some epic warm weather activities—like fly fishing and mountain biking…