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Trying to put words to this place is no easy task, but I keep coming back to the phrase “the hidden gem.” Perhaps it’s because it’s one of the last untouched ski towns that is destined with authentic experiences, no run of the mill places, and a town filled with people who have a true love for their home. Sun Valley, Idaho is the place you will keep coming back for, time and time again.

When visiting this gem, there are a few things to keep in mind. Nothing is to be taken too serious, other than breathing in the exhilarating fresh air. Snow, sun, rain, or shine, the great outdoors is where you will want to find yourself. Making your way down the renown slopes of Bald Mountain or trailing the 40 km of groomed nordic skiing, Sun Valley is a place of adventure.

As you drive into Sun Valley it’s hard not to keep your eyes wide open. The town of Ketchum lies at the heart of the valley right below Baldy Mountain and is surrounded with 360 degree views of snow capped mountains. This old town brings you back in time with historic buildings made of brick, saloons, and tales of history like the famous local Ernest Hemingway.

Every time I come back, I find myself not wanting to leave. Walking the streets of Ketchum, exploring the boutique stores, having a hearty meal at local favorites, and then unwinding after a day of ski at the chalet, makes this destination an all around dynamic experience. The perfect balance of slow paced but action packed fun takes you out of your habits and into new rituals. These are the experiences to live for.

Spending time in Sun Valley was designed to show you guys the best places to go, best dining spots, and what not to miss on your next trip. So, here you go, try not to get too much wanderlust and beware you may find yourself booking a plane ticket shortly after….

Guide to Sun Valley

How to get there

I personally would always choose to fly direct into Sun Valley as it has been made quite easy with seasonal flights with Alaska, Delta, and United out of San Francisco, Seattle, LA, and Salt Lake City. For those looking for a roadtrip, it’s a quick 2 hour drive from Boise.

Where to stay

Knob Hill Inn: a quaint, boutique chalet stay near the downtown of Ketchum. Highlights include rooms with wood burning fire places, complimentary breakfast, and complimentary shuttle around the area.
Sun Valley Resort: a famous resort that has brought people for decades from the likes of Marilyn Monroe to current tech moguls. With many options for stay between their Inn, Lodge, condos and cottages – there is something for everyone. Highlights include village with shopping, spa (opening June 2015), ice skating (indoors and outdoors), and close proximity to everything in the Sun Valley area.

Where to eat

Incredible view: take a gondola ride up Bald Mountain to the Roundhouse where fine dining meets unparalleled views of Sun Valley.
Breakfast not to miss: the Kneadery, a local’s favorite for a hearty meal before or after hitting the slopes.
Authentic Thai: Rickshaw serves up authentic Asian street style dishes, great flavor and unique food.
Refined ItalianEnoteca in the downtown area of Ketchum serves a variety of classic Italian dishes with their own twist of flavors.
Sunday brunch: charm and color come together at Cristina’s Restaurant with a brunch you won’t want to miss.
Exclusive lodge: the Sun Valley Club is situated with a view over the slopes and golf course offering an exquisite dining experience for lunch.
One of a kind experience: take a sleigh ride from Sun Valley Resort to Trail Creek Cabin for a romantic Western dining experience set in a historical cabin.

Where to stay warm

Velocio: you’ll find the locals here sipping on a craft latte in a modern coffee shop.
Starbucks: yes, probably the only “corporate” business, but this Starbucks is one of the only privately owned shops in the country offering it’s own unique food and drinks along with the classics (not to mention the building is stunning.)
Lodge at Bald Mountain:  come enjoy a warm hot chocolate at this stunning lodge at the base of the mountain. perfect for a warm hot chocolate.
Pioneer Salon: take a walk on the wild side and step back in time into this old saloon in Ketchum.
Sawtooth Brewery: take a tasting or hangout at this local craft brewery.

Unique experiences

Ski Sun Valley: take to the slopes and be ready for a full day adventure.
Nordic Ski: so many paths with endless trails.
Heliski: forget chair lifts, take a helicopter up! Give heliski a shot and prep for the time of your life.
Natural hot springs: a local’s secret, one of the places you must go to Sun Valley to find!
World class golf: 3 courses to choose from, including the Trail Creek championship course by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Helicopter ride: take a tour of the area via helicopter to see the incredible views.
Iceskate:  indoor and outdoor ice skating all year round at the incredible Sun Valley Resort.
Learn to shoot: head to the range at Shaw Shooting where you will learn the ins and outs of shooting.

Thank you to Visit Sun Valley for an action packed time and a wonderful stay at the Knob Hill Inn.

Bon Travels, Xx!

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*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest by Visit Sun Valley. As always all opinions are own.

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

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Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

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Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

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Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

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Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

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