As we landed at Sun Valley airport, we emerged from our turboprop plane, immediately astounded by the pure beauty of the Smoky Mountains. We inhaled deeply and the crisp mountain air seemed to sooth our city lungs. While we were currently standing outside at an airport, we were amazed by the sound of silence echoing off of the mountains. While Sun Valley is action packed with adventures, there is a peaceful presence in this magical mountain town. Despite being known as a ski town, it’s the Sun Valley summers that truly shine the brightest.
Since we were children, we both spent many summers around the various mountain towns and National Parks in the United States, but we never had the chance to Visit Idaho. When visiting Sun Valley, we knew to expect lots of adventure, great eating, and cozy lodges, but we didn’t anticipate just how peaceful and unpretentious the area would be. This was the first time in a very long time that we could truly disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with one another. While many trips require a vacation from your vacation once you return home, our trip to Sun Valley left us feeling relaxed, revitalized, and ready to take on the world. We’re already planning our trip back to visit Idaho.
The History of Sun Valley
Sun Valley was developed as a ski town in 1936 when an Austrian count wanted to form the first European style resort in North America. To build buzz and attract Americans to the ski town, the resort hired a skilled public relations professional who brought in old Hollywood stars like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Gary Cooper. The buzz spread quickly and Sun Valley was quickly known as the coolest ski town in North America. This tradition continued to live on through the years with stars like Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, and Justin Timberlake all having visited “America’s First Destination Ski Resort.”
How to Get There
Sun Valley has a small airport just 15-20 minutes from town in Hailey, Idaho. There are seven U.S. cities that fly directly to Hailey including Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Portland, and Salt Lake City. Other cities offer directly flights to Boise, but at nearly 3 hours by car in good weather, it’s highly recommended to fly directly into Sun Valley. Luckily for us Angelenos, there is a direct flight on Alaska Air that only takes two hours. The ease of travel to Sun Valley from Los Angeles makes it the perfect long weekend getaway.
Where to Stay
The Sun Valley Lodge has been the epicenter of Sun Valley since 1936. It has since been renovated from its early days and it now boasts 108 rooms, warm furnishings, fantastic restaurants, a blissful spa, and elegant shopping. A stay at the Lodge is a visit through the history of Sun Valley where guests can see black and white photos of celebrities adorning the walls of the lovely lodge.
Where to Eat
- Konditorei: But first, coffee. This Austrian inspired restaurant is the perfect place to start your day. They have the best coffee in Sun Valley (yes, we are coffee snobs), enchanting pastries, and delicious healthy options.
- The Ram: The Ram is the upscale restaurant at the Sun Valley Lodge. Nosh on the choices from the “Heritage Menu” as well as the Ram fondue as you listen to the sweet sounds of a live pianist.
- Gretchen’s: Named after Gretchen Fraser, the first female to win an Alpine Olympic Gold Medal, Gretchen’s Restaurant is in the Lodge and it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Grumpy’s: Grumpy’s has been a staple in the region since 1978. This low-key burger joint serves the best burgers in town. Don’t forget to order yourself a 32 oz. schooner drink as well!
- Warfield: This downtown Ketchum brewery & distillery serves refined pub fare and boasts the best rooftop lounge in town.
- Village Station: This casual restaurant boasts delicious pizzas and pastas and a wide variety of local craft brews.
- Duchin Lounge: This is the ultimate après-everything. Visit the lounge for quick bites and delicious cocktails.
Where to Adventure
- Paragliding: There is no better way to admire the beauty of Sun Valley than by soaring through the air with Fly Sun Valley. Adventurers will head up over 9,000 feet to top of Bald Mountain aka “Baldy” where they will run and jump off of the mountain, floating through the air
- Healing Hot Springs: The region has been known as a hot spot for hot springs for nearly 200 years. These delightful springs are located throughout the valley. They’re the perfect place to soothe your muscles after a long day on the mountain.
- Horseback Riding: Head to Sun Valley Stables where you can take a ride on the beautiful, scenic trails around the mountains.
- Day Trip to Stanley: Stanley is a charming mountain town about an hour outside of Sun Valley. It’s located at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains along the Salmon River. Stanley is home to some of the best hiking and adventures in the region. Make sure to grab a coffee and cinnamon bun at Stanley Baking Company before heading out for your adventures around Redfish Lake.
- Hiking: Thee region is home to dozens of hiking trails. From beginner trails to extreme hikes, there are active options for all levels of hikers. We recommend the White Clouds Loop for beginners and the Proctor Mountain Loop for a more challenging trek.
- Mountain Biking: Sun Valley is known as one of the top places in the world for mountain biking. Even if you’re not a devout biker, try your hand at some of the calmer trails.
- Ice Skating: The Sun Valley Lodge is home to a year-round ice-skating rink. If you don’t feel like heading out on the mountains, you can enjoy some light adventure right at the resort!
- Spa: After an adventurous week in the Great Outdoors, treat yourself to a soothing massage at The Spa at Sun Valley Resort.
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