If powdery slopes and mountain living is just what the doctor ordered, look no further than a trip to Sun Valley. With luxurious accommodations, perfect grooming, plentiful après activities, and unique off-mountain experiences, Sun Valley has everything you need to make it a weekend to remember.
Getting to Sun Valley is a breeze, with nonstop flights from Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago. The Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) is located 12 miles south of Ketchum and Sun Valley. Ask your hotel about their shuttle services to and from the airport, or hop in an Uber for the quick ride to Ketchum and Sun Valley.
For those driving, the routes in to Sun Valley are rather benign. Google Maps offers great real-time routing suggestions. For Idaho road conditions, check out the Idaho Transportation Department’s site.
Day 1: Arrive and Get Settled
After arriving in Ketchum, get settled into your hotel room. The Limelight Hotel Ketchum, located on Main Street, is a great choice if you’re looking for a luxurious and centrally located place to spend the weekend. The Limelight is pet-friendly and offers knowledgeable concierge service in addition to their continental breakfast, inviting lobby bar and restaurant, and year round heated outdoor pool.
If you’re in need of ski or snowboard rental equipment there are plenty of options to fit your needs. Here are a few quick recommendations:
- The Board Bin
- Door2Door Rentals & Ski Butlers – Delivery Services
- Four Mountain Sports – located in the Limelight Hotel
- Sure Foot & Ski Tek – awesome boot work
After getting situated, take a stroll around town. If it’s snowing, look for a flashing blue light on the top of the Warfield Distillery & Brewery. When the light is on it means there will be a powder day in the morning, and also that all of Warfield’s tasty brews are just $3 a glass in celebration.
Grab a bite to eat before walking back to your hotel under the stars: Ketchum and Sun Valley are part of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve — the first International Dark-Sky Reserve in the United States.
Day 2: Hit the Slopes
Get your fill of a hearty breakfast then head to the ski slopes before the lifts start turning at 9:00am. To save a few bucks on lift tickets, look in to pre-buying your day passes online from Sun Valley Resort. They offer up to 20% off for pre-purchased tickets. For those folks with Mountain Collective passes, Sun Valley has you covered. Enjoy two days of skiing for free on this pass with subsequent days offered at 50% off the regular priced ticket. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the Deals & Specials page for regularly updated offerings.
Hop on the Roundhouse Express gondola and then the Christmas lift to reach the summit of Bald Mountain. Admire the view—there are mountains as far as the eye can see in every direction—before taking your first turns down Upper and Lower College to get your bearings.
From there the mountain is your oyster. Are you in the mood for lift-serviced bowls, powdery glades, or ultra-smooth groomers? Choose your own adventure and then ski until your stomach grumbles with hunger.
Make your way to the Seattle Ridge Day Lodge, located on a mountain ridge at 8,800 feet elevation, for one of the most luxurious on-mountain dining experiences you can find anywhere. Sink into a leather chair by the fire and enjoy a plate of grilled fish or a cup of soup while warming your toes. Insider tip:If you’re looking for a couple of down-to-earth local favorites, check out Apple’s Bar & Grill for an order of tachos and a tall Tecate or warm up with a savory bowl of homemade ramen at the Hot Water Inn on the Warm Springs side of the ski hill.
In the afternoon take a few runs at the Seattle Ridge area before checking out the bowls, which soften in the afternoon sun. Stop by the River Run Lodge for an après ski cocktail before making your way back to the Limelight. Exchange your ski clothes for a bathing suit, and slip into the heated waters of the hotel’s outdoor pool. Watch the sun go down over the mountains before getting ready for a night on the town.
For an upscale meal make reservations at The Grill at Knob Hill, Trail Creek Cabin at Sun Valley Resort, or Vintage Restaurant. If reservations aren’t your style, there are dozens of more casual restaurants throughout Ketchum and Sun Valley serving up everything from sushi to tapas, and steak to bar food. Check out our dining guide for some more foodie insight.
If you have energy to spare, dance the night away at Whiskey Jacques’ (Ketchum’s live music venue) or check out the shot-ski at the Sawtooth Club, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite haunts.
For more details, check out: Late Night in Sun Valley on Searching for Sun Valley.
Day 3: Explore Off-Mountain
Before heading back to the airport, explore some of the unique off-mountain experiences at Sun Valley. If pampering is calling your name, book a treatment at Sun Valley’s newly renovated spa. Whether you enjoy a massage, a body ritual, or a wellness treatment, The Spa at Sun Valley offers an oasis of tranquility and decadent relaxation.
If you haven’t gotten your mountain fix, head to Galena Lodge. Located 22 miles north of Ketchum in the Boulder Mountains, Galena Lodge is a community-owned day lodge that serves as a launching-point for Nordic ski and snowshoe adventures. Hire a private instructor from the Lodge for a one-hour lesson in technique before gliding over some of the 50km of perfectly groomed Nordic trails.
As the weekend comes to an end, you may not be ready to leave. With sleigh ride dinners, the largest heli-ski serviced backcountry terrain in the lower 48 states, fat tire snow biking, backcountry snowmobile tours, and cultural offerings that exceed expectations, you might be tempted to stay another week (or two!).
Want to know more about winter in Sun Valley? Check out the 15 Things You Must Do in Sun Valley This Winter.