Averill Harriman established this famous ski resort in the late 30’s, and it has been a magnet for discreet luxury ever since. Surrounded by the Smoky Mountains of the Sawtooth Range and scattered with high mountain lakes, it has endless, hot, sunny days in summer, and blue bird, snow-filled days in the winter. The area was the first resort to build a chairlift in the United States, which can still be seen at the top of one of the Valley’s best-loved hikes, Proctor Ridge.
The main mountain, Baldy, can be accessed from two parking lots, River Run and Warm Springs. Dollar Mountain is the option for less-advanced skiers. Free buses run all over town to both mountains. The ski school is excellent. Be sure to book ahead during Christmas and President’s Day weekend for both private and group lessons.
Nordic skiing can be found in town at the Sun Valley Nordic Center, or further north at Galena Lodge. Galena boasts some of the best lunch in the Valley for post-workout replenishment.
Try snowshoeing in Adam’s Gulch, taking a dip in the Harriman hot springs in Warm Springs, or checking out the snow bike trend on the new Fat Bike Track just north of town. Sun Valley Trekking is your go-to for a backcountry adventure. For something less heart-pumping, take a horse drawn sleigh ride out to Trail Creek Restaurant for a classic Sun Valley evening.
The famed Sun Valley Lodge has just been revamped with bigger family suites and a new spa. The bowling alley, round pool and skating rink are great for kids after skiing. The Knob Hill Inn is a charming European, boutique hotel. Close to town, it has one of the best restaurants in town.
Breakfast at Java on 4th is a must. Stand in line and order the famous Bowl of Soul – their trademarked coffee and hot chocolate combination. Cristina’s is the choice for gourmet breakfast and lunch, as well as the best caterer in town. Grab a quick cup of joe at Velocio or the locally-owned Starbuck’s.
Lunch: Locals love the subs at Johnnie G’s, or try Raspberry’s for a more sophisticated scene.
Dinner: Enoteca has a wonderful atmosphere in a historic building and fantastic wood fire pizzas. Book ahead.
Rickshaw Charming and small, put your name on the chalkboard and sit outside by the fire pit with a beer while you wait. Also, great for take out.
Pioneer (The “Pio”) is a Sun Valley classic for huge steaks, baked potatoes and mud pie. The wait can be long, so go very early and try the bartender’s margarita while you wait.
For a Sun Valley fine dining experience, Michel’s Christiania is steeped in ski racing history and French cuisine. Known as a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and for its Olympic Bar, Michel’s has a sophisticated scene and tons of charm.
If you need a break on the ski hill or want a unique dinner adventure, take the Gondola up to Roundhouse Restaurant for Fondue and Raclette. Book ahead.
At the base of Warm Springs, Apple’s Bar and Grill represents the fun-loving, ski town, local vibe.If the sign out front reads, “Sorry, we’re open” head into Grumpy’s for a schooner - a fish bowl sized beer glass and a Grumpy’s staple. For a night on the town, Whiskey Jacques is the spot for live music and dancing.
For high-end women’s clothing and accessories, try Theodore, Panache, Elle Rose and the Brass Ranch. There is no shortage of great spots to hunt for outdoor gear, but Silver Creek Outfitters, Elephant’s Perch, Backwoods and Sturto’s are some of the best. For the younger set, the Board Bin is the place for board clothes, skate boards and great t-shirts.
What to know:
It can be tricky to get to the valley, which is one of its' charms. The local Friedman Memorial Airport is only 15 miles outside of Sun Valley, but flying into Twin Falls (1.5 hour drive), Boise (2.5), or Salt Lake City (4.5) can often be more reliable in the winter.