It’s school vacation time and you’re lucky enough to be in—or at least a short, scenic drive away from—Sun Valley. So what do you next? Pretty much whatever you want. This is America’s original ski resort, for crying out loud! Crying is just about the only thing that we don’t really allow around this fun-filled place, unless, of course, they’re tears of joy. To help make your family time in Sun Valley more joyful, here are a dozen ideas.
In our mountainous section of Idaho there are oodles of places to go sledding during the winter months. The popular “Sledding Hill” across from the Sun Valley Stables is usually a good spot, but Sun Valley is literally surrounded with the two main ingredients for great sledding action: hills and snow. There are places to sled from Hailey up to Galena Lodge and lots of local shops sell a variety of sleds. Sledding also gives you a great excuse to get some hot chocolate afterwards—add some peppermint schnapps and make into a “Ski Lift” for mom and dad.
Go Nordic Skiing
Nordic or cross-country skiing is a surprisingly enjoyable activity for active families. It’s easy to learn. It’s a great way to take in the stunning Idaho scenery around “Nordic Town USA,” as we’re officially known. Plus, it’s a great workout, meaning you’ll have the perfect excuse to reward yourselves afterwards with a treat—keep reading!
Life in a winter wonderland like Sun Valley means there’s a lot more to do than just ski or snowboard. We’re also pretty cuckoo for ice skating. Sun Valley Resort has one of the country’s only year-round outdoor rinks, while both Ketchum (Atkinson Park) and Hailey (Rodeo Grounds) offer FREE seasonal outdoor ponds that include skates, sticks and pucks. If you prefer watching, the annual Idaho Pond Hockey Classic January 13-14 and Sun Valley Suns games all winter long are a blast.
Go for a Sleigh Ride
There once was a time when horse-drawn sleighs were the best way to get around town during Ketchum’s mining heydays. That’s why taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride to dinner at the Trail Creek Cabin is one of the most memorable and truly Sun Valley things your family can do.
Go Alpine Skiing/Snowboarding
Home to the best snow making in the business, Sun Valley is famous for having good conditions no matter how much Mother Nature helps. Baldy is the best mountain for the big boys and girls, while the newer and park-loving skiers and snowboarders prefer Dollar Mountain.
Hit the Backcountry
Sun Valley sits smack dab in the heart of the Northern Rockies, surrounded by a handful of mountain ranges so there are always good turns to be had somewhere nearby. While locals love hitting shots around Galena Summit, Sun Valley Heli Ski covers the largest permit in the lower 48. You can also go over Galena Summit to Smiley Creek to rent snowmobiles for a different style of backcountry experience.
Enjoy some Terrain Park Time
The varied Terrain Parks at Dollar Mountain offer challenges for any ability. The biggest section can be easily seen from the deck or cafeteria of Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge. It’s an ideal spot to watch the big boys and girls send it!
Yes, most people come to play golf at one of Sun Valley’s three legendary courses during the warm weather months. But that doesn’t mean you can’t swing the sticks in the winter around here, too. The Clubhouse at Sun Valley serves as the Nordic Center during the winter, while still offering virtual golf. It’s a fun and popular way to spend a winter day, so always call ahead to book an indoor tee time.
Take a Walk
Mark Twain famously said that golf is “a good walk wasted.” While chasing adventure is a great way to spend family time, every adventure doesn’t have to include bombing down a mountain or trying to get a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Simply taking a walk in these wintry parts can be enjoyable. Thanks to great sidewalks and bike paths groomed for easy walking (or Nordic skiing or fat biking), we have a very walk-able community. You can walk for the fresh air and the exercise and even rent snowshoes for a more snowy walk. Or you can simply enjoy walking around town, stopping to take in the ample local art galleries, shops and places to eat, drink and be merry.
Go for a Bike Ride
Fat Tire Biking is the hottest winter sport in mountain towns like Sun Valley. A variety of local sports shops rent out the over-sized mountain bikes and there are trails all over town and tracks at the Sun Valley Resort and Bigwood Sports Park.
Get some Treats
The best part of burning so many calories chasing adventures around Sun Valley is that you get to reward yourself. There are all kinds of great places to grab a treat or a cup of coffee. The Konditorei in the Sun Valley Village offers authentic German baked goods. Cristina’s in the salmon-colored building in the edge of downtown Ketchum has European-style cookies that cause pure happiness. Of course, nothing beats the chocolate chip cookies at Perry’s.
One of the best parts about an active mountain community like Sun Valley is that the best gear can be found here. If it’s not going to do the job, or keep you warm and comfortable enough for any condition, the local shops won’t bother with it. Shops like The Elephant’s Perch, PK’s Ski and Sports and Silver Creek Outfitters are some of the best and most well respected in the business for good reason.
Have your own favorite activity? Tell us about it in the comments below.