Ketchum is a quaint city situated at the doorstep of the famous Sun Valley in Idaho.
Many consider Ketchum the gateway to Sun Valley, famous for its stunningly beautiful mountain ranges, forests, valleys, and the Central Idaho River.
However, people forgot that Ketchum is something that should be recognized as a destination of its own.
This small city in Blaine County, Idaho, offers a confluence of history, the outdoors, and colorful culture.
This former ranching and mining town is now a vibrant resort city known as a jumping point for skiing adventures in Sun Valley.
Most travelers who visit Ketchum always rave about the outdoor activities the city offer, while its community is known for its passion for arts.
So, it would be ideal to discover Ketchum's hidden gems before you head to Sun Valley.
To help you out, here are the 15 best things to do in Ketchum, Idaho:
Have Another Skiing Adventure on Dollar Mountain
Dollar Mountain is another skiing hill situated east of Sun Valley’s skiing resorts.
It’s a lot nearer to Ketchum than Sun Valley’s skiing resort, which is roughly a five-minute drive.
Dollar Mountain has 6,638 feet of elevation and it’s the best alternative to Sun Valley’s ski resorts for having beginner-friendly slopes.
This skiing hill is highly recommended to bring kids and those with less experience in this sport.
It has gentle and meandering slopes, perfect for people who want to learn the basics of snowboarding and skiing.
During summer, Dollar Mountain becomes a hiking haven where you can discover more than 10 trails overlooking Ketchum and nearby areas.
Overall, Dollar Mountain is an excellent ski destination in Ketchum that is perfect for everyone regardless of their ski experience and skills.
Visit the Sun Valley Museum of Art (Formerly Sun Valley Center for the Arts)
The Sun Valley Museum of Art along Fifth Street East in Ketchum opened in 1971 as an arts and culture hub in the city.
It was created as an avenue for locals to express their artistic side and create their own identity aside from being the gateway to Sun Valley.
As a result, it ended up enriching the entire community with its transformative arts and became the hub for many aspiring artists in Ketchum.
If you just arrived in Ketchum, one of the first places you need to check out is the Sun Valley Museum of Art.
It has static and rotational exhibits featuring beautiful artworks from locals and aspiring artists around Blaine County.
In addition, this museum located along St. E Street has an educational program for everyone to join.
Browse through the Gail Severn Gallery
The Gail Severn Gallery is considered one of Sun Valley’s most prominent art galleries.
The gallery situated along 1st Avenue N. spans 8,000-square-foot, and it hosts exhibitions, art workshops, and other art-related events.
In addition, a separate two-acre portion of the gallery is dedicated to its outdoor sculpture court.
Like the Sun Valley Museum of Art, it regularly features local artists and those from other parts of Sun Valley.
It’s an excellent place to visit whether you’re an art enthusiast or curious about Ketchum’s artful side.
Learn Ketchum’s Backstory at the Regional History Museum
The Regional History Museum in E. First Street in Ketchum is a fascinating place to visit if you’re compelled to learn the history of this city and the Sun Valley.
The Ketchum/Sun Valley Historical Society, which currently manages this museum, offers visitors its exhibit that features the detailed history of the region’s cultural heritage.
This exhibit displays artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and documents with historical relevance to Central Idaho.
Stories from its skiing history, regional events, cultural change, and the famous Ernest Hemingway are found in this museum.
An hour or two browsing through this museum is definitely worthwhile, considering it has free admission.
Celebrate the Wagon Days
Ketchum celebrates a unique festival dubbed the “Wagon Days” during the annual Labor Day Weekend in September.
This unique celebration has been happening for the past 60 years.
It features the pioneer and mining history and the old wagons in Idaho back in the day.
Wagons were crucial in Idaho's transportation and other industries back in the day before the implementation of the national railroad lines.
The celebration is filled with thousands of people across Sun Valley who want to witness basque dancers jiving, along with the music from marching bands and cowboys that parade along Ketchum’s streets.
Overall, the Wagon Days celebration is a wholesome and fun-filled event that you should join with the locals in Ketchum.
Chug Down a Pint of Craft Beer at the Warfield Distillery and Brewery
The Warfield Distillery and Brewery along N. Main Street is a local craft beer brewery and pub founded by Alex Buck.
Buck, who had traveled through Europe’s classic breweries, decided to open up his own in Ketchum with his co-partners.
Their hard work and passion for crafting beer came into fruition when they established the Warfield Distillery and Brewery.
Today, this brewery/pub is one of the favorite watering holes in Ketchum.
It serves top-notch beer and liquors made from traditional brewing methods.
Some of the must-try signature brewed craft beers they serve are Thorny Thistle Scottish Ale, Still Thinking Blonde Ale, Witty Woodpecker Witbier, Lucky 7 IPA, and the Storehouse Saison.
In addition, they also produce signature gin and vodka and plan to add brandy and whiskey in the future.
Check Out the Ore Wagon Museum
The Ore Wagon Museum along East Avenue offers you a unique historical experience featuring its 1880s ore wagons utilized back in the day in Wood River Valley.
Today, these century-old wagons are stored in Ore Wagon Museum for the public to see closer and learn about their importance to everyone back in the day.
The ore wagons were donated by the Lewis Family to Ketchum to preserve their historical value.
Incredibly, these wagons are the only kind in existence.
Ore wagons back in the day were essential for the people in Ketchum, which is why they celebrate Wagon Days annually.
A visit to this museum allows you to see the Lewis Family’s wagons up close and learn about its unique and fascinating history.
Enjoy Skiing in Sun Valley’s Snow-Capped Mountains
Since Ketchum is the gateway to Sun Valley, it would be more awesome if you ski in the mountains of this famous skiing destination in Idaho.
Sun Valley is roughly three miles west of Ketchum, which is a few minutes' drive to reach the base area of the mountains.
Sun Valley is a skiing paradise encompassing more than 2,400 acres of snowy terrain covering Bald Mountain.
In addition, as one of the finest ski destinations in the world, you should not miss skiing down its snowy slopes either with your friends or your loved ones.
Getting to the top is fairly easy since there are numerous lifts to carry people up.
During summer, Sun Valley’s terrain is a perfect destination for climbing and hiking because of the stunning sceneries below.
Hike or Bike through Wood River Trails
Locals prefer to call the Wood River Trails the “Bike Path,” a popular trail for hiking and biking in Ketchum.
The trail offers an incredible opportunity for everyone to sweat out either through a hike or on a bike while you enjoy the sceneries you’ll be passing through along the way.
The trail is nestled along the Rocky Mountains, which means you’ll also have one of the best vantage points to see the beauty of Central Idaho.
In summer, this trail is a top destination for off-road biking and hiking, while during winter, it becomes a haven for skiers and snowshoers.
The entire trails span more than 20 miles that loop around the area, while several trails lead to Sun Valley.
If you want an outdoor adventure in Ketchum, head to Wood River Trails.
Cherish Amazing Artworks at the Gilman Contemporary
The Gilman Contemporary is an art gallery that mainly focuses on featuring contemporary art.
This gallery situated along Sun Valley Road has developed its reputation as one of the best places to find top-notch contemporary artworks in the North West.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast or an average tourist, this place boasts an incredible collection of artworks from renowned contemporary artists and aspiring artists in the region.
The visual arts on display at this gallery usually include painting, photography, and sculptures.
In addition, Gilman Contemporary regularly hosts art events and has rotating exhibitions featuring various artists throughout the year.
Overall, this vibrant art gallery is something you shouldn’t miss visiting while in Ketchum.
Have a Picnic at the Atkinson Park
The Atkinson Park along Third Avenue is one of the main outdoor spaces in Ketchum for picnic and sports activities.
The park has a covered picnic area where you can spend the entire day with your loved ones.
It also has a playground area for the kids to enjoy.
In addition, there are numerous sports facilities for football, tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball, and softball available for everyone.
During winter, the park turns into a vast outdoor ice-skating rink.
If you want to relax and spend quality time with your loved ones in Ketchum, have a wonderful picnic at Atkinson Park and enjoy its peaceful ambiance.
Tour Ketchum from the Skies
The Fly High Sun Valley offers visitors to Ketchum an exhilarating experience through its paragliding tours.
If you’re not afraid of heights, head to Fly High Sun Valley’s office along St. W. Street in Ketchum to book its paragliding tours.
A professional USHPF certified paragliding instructor will be your pair above the skies.
The instructor then navigates you through the most scenic locations in Sun Valley.
If paragliding is on your bucket list, then this is your chance to experience it while touring through Ketchum.
Ride a Boat on Sun Valley Lake
If you’re looking for a simple outdoor activity with your family, head to Sun Valley Lake, situated in the neighboring resort town of Sun Valley.
Getting there takes a few minutes to drive from Ketchum.
Slipping out onto the water on a boat is the best way to discover its beauty and enjoy the calmness of nature.
If you want to stay onshore, you can enjoy a game of horseshoes or perhaps a game of sand volleyball.
Sun Valley Lake is an excellent escape from the sun’s heat and a perfect spot to take a break from climbing the mountains nearby.
Tee Up at the White Clouds Golf Course
The 18-hole White Cloud golf course boasts one of the most stunning sceneries in Sun Valley.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the entire course spans 6,968 yards which have a gorgeous backdrop of rolling hills of Sun Valley and a 360-degree view of the Wood River Valley.
After playing golf, you can proceed to its restaurant and bar to treat yourself to a delicious meal.
You can also visit its pro shop and check out the latest golf gear available.
Even if you’re not planning to play golf, you can visit this beautiful golf course to witness its beauty.
The White Cloud gold course is situated along Sun Valley Trail and is open to the public.
Score Unique Finds at the Gold Mine Thrift Store
The Gold Mine along Walnut Avenue is a unique attraction in Ketchum.
This thrift store features pre-loved items ranging from apparel, household goods, sports equipment, books, electronics, artwork, and furniture at affordable prices.
If you’re looking for a unique souvenir from your Ketchum trip, this is one of the best places to check out.
Established in 1955, the Gold Mine still operates today and remains one of the favorite places for locals and visitors to score unique finds.
Incredibly, proceeds of this thrift shop are used to support Ketchum’s community library.
So, before you head back home, make sure to stop by at Gold Mine Thrift Store.
Now that you’re aware of Ketchum’s hidden gems, you might want to spend more time in this small city in Idaho before skiing in Sun Valley.
Of course, there are more hidden gems waiting for you to discover in Ketchum.
So, are you ready to explore Ketchum?
If you haven’t figured out which attractions to first, you can always refer to this post.