Published On: Tue, Nov 20th, 2018

A Sun Valley, Idaho Bucket List for Your Next Vacation

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Sun Valley is one of the top vacation destinations in Idaho. It has tons to offer all year round, which is why 2015 was a record year for visitors, with 80% of hotels seeing big increases in visitor numbers. Great weather saw a 14% increase in visitors compared to the same period in 2014, as visitors to the state sought to enjoy as many of the Sun Valley attractions as they could manage.

Regular visitors to Sun Valley already know how awesome this resort is. There are dozens of great value Sun Valley, Idaho lodging options, as well as numerous sporting activities and family-friendly restaurants. But if this is your first visit, we are going to give you a few useful pointers, so you can select the things you most want to see and do first.

If you have yet to discover the delights of Sun Valley, read on.

Summer or Winter?

Are you a cold weather person or do you prefer soaking up the sun? Actually, you can do both at Sun Valley. Because of the area’s unique geography, the main resort areas of Sun Valley are a real sun trap, all year round. Even in winter, when it’s several degrees below 0 degrees Celsius, the ski slopes are bathed in warm sunlight and you are sheltered from any cold winds that happen to be blowing. We don’t recommend you strip down to a bikini in December unless you are very brave, but it’s always sunny in Sun Valley!

Sun Valley is one of the most renowned ski resorts in the world, so a winter vacation is perfect for anyone keen to check out the trails on Bald Mountain. But there is plenty to do in the summer months, too, so don’t dismiss the notion of traveling to Sun Valley in the warmer months.

Here is a list of fun things to do in Sun Valley

Soak Up the Scenery

The first thing you should do when you first arrive in Sun Valley is spend some time soaking up the scenery. It might sound a bit boring, but until you have seen how lovely this part of Idaho is, don’t be in too much of a rush to hit the trails on foot, bike, or skis.

Sun Valley is located on one of Idaho’s most scenic drives – the Sawtooth Scenic Byway. You can drive all the way from Shoshone Falls to Sawtooth National Park, taking in Sun Valley along the way. If you have the time, this is a fantastic road trip. Aside from rest stops, the route takes around three hours from start to finish. So, set out in the morning, stop for a leisurely lunch at Ketchum, and be in Sawtooth mid-afternoon.

Go Paragliding

It’s all fine and dandy taking in the scenery from the ground, but if you want a whole new perspective on Sun Valley, go paragliding!

There are local operators who take visitors up on tandem paragliding flights. This isn’t an activity for anyone with a fear of heights, but if you really want to see this magnificent place from an eagle’s POV, it’s a lot of fun.

For those who don’t have the stomach for heights, catch the gondola up to the Roundhouse Restaurant halfway up Bald Mountain. Order some lunch, sit out on the patio, and enjoy the spectacular views from the terrace.

sun valley

Listen to Wonderful Music

Sun Valley is home to the largest free-admission symphony orchestra in the United States. The music festival was founded in 1985 and has grown from an orchestra of 22 musicians to more than 100 players. The orchestra presents free concerts all year round. Internationally acclaimed musicians have graced the stage in Sun Valley, including Eugene Brancoveanu, Chris Botti, and Itzhak Perlman. If classical music is your passion – and even if it’s not – don’t miss out on a chance to listen to wonderful music in a beautiful setting.

Test Your Body

Summer or winter, there are plenty of adrenaline-inducing sporting activities to test your mettle. From challenging ski runs on Bald Mountain to the Standhope Ultra Challenge, give your endorphins a jolt in Sun Valley.

Experienced skiers and snowboarders will love the 75 spectacular runs on Bald Mountain, 22% of them classed as very difficult. If you are a novice, head over to Dollar Mountain. The slopes on Dollar are gentler and more suited to beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders.

If you are more of a summer sports kind of person, have a go at mountain biking, trail running, or hiking. There are more than 400 miles of mountain biking singletrack in and around Sun Valley. Many keen cyclists regard fall as the best time to visit the area. It is relatively cool, you can soak up the lush fall colors, yet not get too bogged down in mid.

The Fox Creek Loop is a fun 5.6-mile trail with a 677ft descent. Less experienced mountain bikers will enjoy the White Clouds Loop starting from Carol’s Trailhead near the Sun Valley Lodge. If you would rather explore on two feet, download a trail map and head out with your backpack and a camera. You won’t be disappointed.

Unusual Things to Do

There is a whole lot more to do in Sun Valley than ski or hike. The area is home to numerous creative artists and there is a thriving arts scene. Spend a few hours wandering around some of the many art galleries, pick up some artwork as a souvenir, or get creative with paints or a camera.

If you want to get in touch with your inner Zen, call in at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden and learn more about the fauna and flora that thrives in the valley. The gardens are open all year round.

Lastly, Sun Valley has been popular with celebrities over the years. Visit Ernest Hemingway’s grave and go star spotting at the Sun Valley Lodge – the walls are covered in photos of famous guests, past and present.

SMT Newsroom



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