20 Best Things to Do in Sun Valley, ID

Sun Valley, ID
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Located in Idaho’s Blaine County, the resort city of Sun Valley remains popular with both local and international tourists.

Many love the city for the gorgeous slopes of its surrounding mountains - Bald and Dollar.

However, the term “Sun Valley” encompasses the small resort city.

More people know of the Sun Valley region, which includes the nearby city of Ketchum and the Wood River Valley Area.

Apart from the slopes during the winter months, the region offers other outdoor activities during the summer.

It also has a rich history that many tourists like to discover, such as a connection to the famous novelist Ernest Hemmingway.

If you plan on visiting the region, you would be surprised that Sun Valley has a lot to offer.

Here are some of the 20 best things you can do while in Sun Valley, Idaho:

Try Out Winter Sports at Dollar Mountain

Snow in Dollar Mountain
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You don’t have to be a hardcore winter sports aficionado to visit Sun Valley.

Apart from Bald Mountain, a popular alpine slope in Sun Valley is Dollar Mountain.

If you want to try out snow sports, but you don’t have any experience, check this place out.

A kid skiing in the snowy Mountains of Sun Valley
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

You will also find gorgeous views from this mountain that you can explore in various ways.

Its slopes are less steep than the neighboring Bald Mountain, so trying out skiing or snowboarding won’t be as daunting.

Snowy Mountains in Sun Valley
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

Apart from skiing and snowboarding, you can also go through the snow and witness awe-inspiring mountain views by riding a sleigh or a snowmobile.

Don’t hesitate to add this destination to your itinerary.

A skier doing tricks at Dollar Mountain
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Find Impressive Art Pieces at the Sun Valley Museum of Art

Art forms are an important part of the Sun Valley region’s heritage.

If you appreciate the beauty of visual arts, drop by the Sun Valley Museum of Art.

Founded in 1971, this museum showcases a number of rotating exhibits showcasing works by local Sun Valley artists and by international artists.

It also offers a series of annual lectures and performances that will definitely pique any art-lovers' interest.

As a respite from outdoor activities, do check out this museum while visiting the region.

Try Your Hand at Fly Fishing in Salmon River

A Man in Salmon River
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Many outdoors people consider fishing as an awesome, relaxing outdoor activity.

Here at Sun Valley, many locals and tourists alike partake in fly fishing at some amazing rivers and lakes within the region — arguably, the most popular of which is Salmon River.

The region houses many diverse fishing holes that many fly fishing enthusiasts enjoy.

Steelhead trout caught while fly fishing at Salmon River
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

Apart from the said river, other popular fishing destinations in the region include Warm Springs Creek and The Lost Tail Creek.

Find yourself short of fishing gear and tackle?

Do not fret, as several specialty shops in downtown Ketchum can provide you with everything you need – from waders to lures.

Winter fly fishing at Salmon River
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

Create Works of Art at Boulder Mountain Clayworks

You can tap into your inner artist while at Sun Valley by visiting the Bouler Mountain Clayworks workshop in the city of Ketchum.

Established in 1997, this workshop aims to promote the art of clay sculpting and pottery by offering classes that are tailor-fit for all ages.

The workshop also hopes to provide visitors a wonderful experience with clay art through educational programs and by serving as a good creative outlet for artists who visit.

The workshop spans 2,000 square feet, and it comes fully equipped with everything you may need to create a one-of-a-kind work of art.

It also hosts many events and event-based classes that tourists and locals of any age can take part in.

For a holiday in Sun Valley, creating amazing works of art at this workshop is a unique experience that you and your entire family can enjoy.

When you come to the city and have time to spare, pay a visit to this amazing workshop.

Go Horseback Riding at the Sun Valley Stables

Horseback riding serves as a great way to explore this gorgeous valley in Idaho.

While in the area, consider visiting the famous Sun Valley Stables and Western Horseman’s Center.

Apart from horseback rides, this place offers its visitors the opportunity to try out trail and wagon rides.

From beginners to experienced riders, you can find something to do here that will definitely let you have an amazing time.

A horseback riding session's slow and relaxing pace serves as a unique and wonderful way to take in and enjoy your surroundings at Sun Valley.

If you plan on visiting the Sun Valley region with your family, this place is perfect to add to your itinerary.

Go Trekking at Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain in Idaho
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Bald Mountain arguably serves as Sun Valley’s most popular attraction.

Tourists who come here will find themselves choosing from the many activities you can do at Bald Mountain all year round.

In the summer, this area is a popular hiking destination, where you get to experience the surrounding area's magnificent scenic views.

Ski lift chair at Bald Mountain
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

In winter, it becomes a winter sports haven, where you can try out skiing, snowboarding, and more.

You can also view it from an amazing vantage point by booking a paragliding session.

Pump up your adrenaline while witnessing this breathtaking mountain while up in the air.

Explore Downtown Ketchum

A trip won’t be complete without shopping.

For many great shopping and dining options, do visit Ketchum’s downtown area.

World-class stores and boutiques line up the streets of this area.

Apart from souvenirs and normal goods, the shops here mainly focus on providing outdoor-related things.

It also has charming cafes and even a Starbucks branch with a unique architectural design that reflects the region’s identity.

Oh, and you can also find the visitor center at the said Starbucks branch.

You definitely shouldn’t miss checking out this place.

Stay Active at Atkinson’s Park

Winter sports aren’t the only type of active recreational sports you can do in Sun Valley.

Head on over to Atkinson’s Park if you’re interested in playing some active sports outdoors.

This park houses several sports facilities, including a couple of soccer fields, a softball field, a batting cage, and an outdoor basketball court.

You can also play tennis here at the park’s backboard and four tennis courts.

For volleyball players, they can play ball at this attraction’s grass court.

In the winter, you can access the park’s magnificent outdoor skating rink to experience the best the region has to offer.

For those interested in just relaxing while at the park, it has facilities where you can have a barbecue and eat.

Additionally, it has a concession stand if ever you crave some snacks and drinks.

For your convenience, Atkinson’s park has an area where you can park your car during your visit.

But note that park administration does not allow pets in the park premises.

Spend Time Sailing at Sun Valley Lake

Sunrise at Sun Valley Lake
inkknife_2000 (7.5 million views +), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sailing serves as a great way to appreciate the Sun Valley's surrounding landscape.

You can do so on the breathtaking waters of Sun Valley lake, with magnificent trees and mountains lining up its shores.

However, you can do more water-based activities while visiting this destination.

Here, you can try out paddleboarding and kayaking.

Apart from that, if you simply want to spend a relaxing time with the family, you can go swimming in the lake’s clear waters.

You can also partake in many fun recreational activities near the lake, such as volleyball and other sports.

This destination is nothing short of fun.

Stay at the Sun Valley Lodge

Arguably one of Sun Valley’s most popular accommodations, consider staying at the Sun Valley Lodge if you find yourself visiting the region.

It offers close access to the slopes of Bald Mountain, so getting there to try out outdoor activities won’t be much of a hassle.

The lodge itself offers many interesting and fun recreational activities in-house, so you won’t be short of things to do while you stay here.

Apart from that, the lodge helps you plan out many recreational activities in the area, thanks to its friendly staff members.

If you plan on visiting the region, consider booking a fun stay at the Sun Valley Lodge.

Watch the Night Sky at Central Idaho’s Dark Sky Reserve

With light pollution prevalent across the nation, you may find it hard to appreciate the beauty of the night sky.

However, in this tranquil setting, you can find the beauty the night sky offers, which you don’t normally see in the city.

Serving as the first gold-tier night sky preserve, this area allows tourists to see what the night sky looks like without the light pollution.

It also lets you observe wildlife conditions in their most natural state.

The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve stretches over 1,400 square miles.

It runs across four Idaho counties, including Boise, Elmore, Custer, and Blaine.

Consider going here to check out the magical views of the night sky.

Do Some Golfing at White Clouds

White Clouds Near Sun Valley
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Playing golf serves as a relaxing pastime for many.

It also serves as an opportunity to appreciate the local landscape.

If you plan on spending a day relaxing but don’t know what to do, try out this sport at White Clouds in Sun Valley.

While here, you’ll spend time playing in a course surrounded by breathtaking landscapes that will definitely make your game more enjoyable.

Get Lunch at Roundhouse Restaurant

Looking for a wonderful place to spend a meal while exploring Sun Valley?

Many locals and tourists would likely point you to the Roundhouse Restaurant.

What makes this place unique is its location.

Nestled mid-way up the Bald Mountain, specifically at the end of the gondola ride, this place provides its patrons with great mountain views.

Appreciate the scenic views from this spot while eating sumptuous sandwiches, burgers, and more.

To experience an even better view, try to stay at one of the outdoor tables.

This restaurant is definitely worth checking out just for the magnificent views that you can find here.

Explore Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum

Resort towns also have interesting histories of how they came to be.

The Sun Valley region is no exception.

If you want to learn more about how Sun Valley became a resort city, you can do so by visiting the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum.

First opening its doors in 1995, this museum aims to preserve the area's local history in the Upper Wood River Valley.

It showcases exhibits detailing the area’s indigenous peoples and pioneers.

It also has exhibits about the region’s deep connection with the famous author, Ernest Hemmingway.

You can learn about how tourism started to flourish here, ultimately leading to its designation as a resort city.

The museum also houses photographs and documents significant to the area’s history.

It’s definitely an interesting place to visit while you’re in Sun Valley.

Pay Homage to Ernest Hemmingway at His Memorial

Hemingway memorial in Sun Valley
Sca at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The famous author Ernest Hemmingway had a deep connection to Sun Valley.

The author first came to the region in 1939, accompanied by his friends.

It started his love affair with the region.

Here, Hemmingway would spend his time fishing, hunting, and writing.

Hemingway memorial in Sun Valley
altiemae, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He loved the region that, in the end, he was laid to rest here.

If you’re interested in how this author lived, try paying homage to him by visiting his memorial and burial site.

The local museums also provide information about his legacy in connection to Sun Valley.

Don’t forget to check these places out.

Skate or Catch an Ice Show at Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink

Visit Sun Valley's most popular hangout spot and the best place for the family to enjoy the night.

Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink hosts various ice shows and skating classes yearly.

Learn the ropes, score an autograph, or spectate from the sidelines.

Don't miss this incredible chance to meet Olympic and World-class skaters!

The Sun Valley Ice Shows occur at the outdoor ice rink, one of the few that remain open all year.

It offers skate rentals, lessons, and a full-service pro shop.

Explore the Area on Bikes from Pete Lane's Mountain Sports

Biking is the best way to see more of the Sun Valley, Idaho region.

You may choose from various bike rental services if you don't want to bring your own bike.

The rental options at Pete Lane's Mountain Sports are extensive.

Mountain bikes, tandem cycles, and even trailers for the kids are all available.

Bald Mountain is the place to go if you're looking to get some mountain riding done.

Sportswear, swimwear, and skiwear, as well as accessories, are all available at Pete Lane's Mountain Sports.

Among its many offerings are slack and ninja lines, lawn games, seats, tables, sleds, and much more, all perfect for enjoying the outdoors.

Practice Shooting at Sun Valley Gun Club

Nobody does it better than Sun Valley Gun Club regarding target shooting in the Rocky Mountain West.

The range of services its skilled shooters and licensed instructors offers covers everyone from beginners to seasoned veterans.

All levels of shooters will find a new challenge in the trap, five-stand, and sports clays.

Its personnel will help you with every aspect of target shooting, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned shooter.

There is the option of both group and private lessons, as well as special shooting parties.

Release Your Stress at The Spa at Sun Valley

It's impossible to find a better place to unwind in the area than the Sun Valley Spa.

It's a state-of-the-art complex with a gym, luxurious locker rooms you'll want to take home with you, a pool, comfortable waiting spaces, and private treatment suites.

Its trademark treatments give guests a wide range of high-end options for doing just that.

There are just no words to adequately convey what you will feel and see here.

If you're using the locker room facilities, don't forget to try out the unique experience shower.

A shower with an absurd number of showerheads. What you learn and feel from this event will stay with you forever.

Pay Homage to Jazz Music at Sun Valley Jazz & Music Festival

The Sun Valley Jazz Festival takes place in this region every October.

It draws in over a million happy people over five days, forty bands, and close to two hundred players.

You'll be tapping your foot, clapping your hands, and nodding your head to the music of jazz legends.

It's been more than a 30-year tradition, running since 1989.

Events take place at several locations in Sun Valley and Ketchum.

All-access passes and single-event tickets are available to those interested in attending the Jazz Fest.

Sun Valley Jazz Festival hits a high note and goes down in history regardless of how you listen to or enjoy jazz.

Final Thoughts

The charm of Sun Valley, Idaho, goes beyond its beautiful slopes.

It also boasts a rich heritage that its visitors can discover.

So, while on your trip here, don’t forget to learn more about this beautiful region.

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