Every winter, skiers and snowboarders flock to Idaho’s Sun Valley resort for epic powder, heart-pumping downhill runs and some of the best skiing around. SKI Magazine named Sun Valley the top North American ski resort for 2021/2022, the second year in a row it got top honors. But if flying down the slopes isn’t for you, or you just want to try out some new activities, check out these 12 things to do during your next winter vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho.
1. Enjoy a spa day
If you’re tired and sore from days spent skiing Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain — or you simply need a little pampering — a spa day might be just what the doctor ordered. The Spa at Sun Valley Lodge offers an incredible array of spa services, right in the heart of the resort. Choose from facials, eye treatments, massages, body treatments and more. In nearby Ketchum, the award-winning Zenergy Health Club & Spa has a bit of everything. In addition to world-class spa treatments and acupuncture, Zenergy offers nearly 100 fitness classes and small group training sessions each week. They also boast indoor and outdoor saltwater pools and an indoor tennis court.
2. Curl up with a good book and a coffee
Pop into Ketchum’s Chapter One Bookstore and pick up the latest bestseller or a well-loved used book. The bookstore has been a local favorite since 1970. Once you’ve found the perfect book, you need a cozy place to curl up. Now, if only you had a nice warm cup of coffee or tea ... Believe it or not, Ketchum’s Starbucks is a must-see — it has a cabin-like feel and floor-to-ceiling log walls. Grab a seat on the leather couch and crack open that new book!
3. Snowshoe or cross-country ski
Surround yourself with Idaho’s natural beauty as you get some exercise. The Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center grooms almost 25 miles of trails daily, making it an ideal destination for a day of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing adventures and other outdoor activities. Grab a map, pay the trail fee and pick up any rental gear you need. First-timers can even schedule a lesson with a local pro. Galena Lodge also has affordable rentals and guided snowshoe tours. Drop by the lodge on Thursday mornings during the winter months for a ranger-led snowshoe tour and learn about winter ecology and animal tracking in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
4. Sample local beers and spirits
Whether you’re enjoying an apres-ski or just treating yourself to an afternoon happy hour, the area surrounding Sun Valley offers a variety of places to relax with a tasty drink. Just 15 miles from Sun Valley, the town of Hailey, Idaho, is home to the Sawtooth Brewery. Stop by to sample flagship beers and check out the brewing process. They also run the Ketchum Public House, which has 25 beers, wines, ciders and kombucha on tap. Also in Ketchum is the Warfield Distillery & Brewery, which crafts spirits including gin, whiskey and vodka, plus cask ales. Cheers!
5. Listen to live music
While the nightlife in and around Sun Valley is admittedly low-key, there are plenty of opportunities to take in some live music. River Run Lodge and Warm Springs Lodge offer live music in the late afternoon on weekends. As night falls, Whiskey Jacques features great music and a lively scene. The Lounge at the Limelight Hotel in nearby Ketchum also has live music Thursday through Monday nights from 6-9 p.m.
6. Indulge in the Ketchum food scene
The food culture in this small town is astonishing, with a wide range of culinary options. In the heart of Ketchum is Enoteca, serving Neapolitan-style pizzas fresh from a wood-fired oven. For a mix of Asian-fusion cuisine — Thai Chiang Mai curry or Korean fried chicken, anyone? — be sure to visit Rickshaw. And The Pioneer Saloon is known for authentic Western-themed dining and its famous prime rib. Bon appetit!
7. Hit the ice skating rink
Sun Valley Village’s outdoor rink is spacious and beautiful, offering spectacular views of the mountains and valley — you can even schedule lessons for your whole crew. The year-round, full-size indoor rink has a figure skating school and open hockey. Christina Potters Outdoor Ice Rink is another great place to lace up your skates in the winter — it’s the largest non-refrigerated man-made rink in the Northwest, spanning almost two acres.
8. Bowl in your spare time
Looking for classic family fun when visiting Sun Valley? Head to the basement of the Sun Valley Lodge for a game at Sun Valley Bowling Alley, a 1950s-style bowling alley (and one of the oldest in the Northwest). Enjoy a fun afternoon or hit the lanes for an evening of bowling and grub.
9. Go horseback riding or sleigh riding
Sun Valley offers horseback riding for both seasoned equestrians and novices. Head to Sun Valley Stables for a guided scenic tour or a full day riding experience. You can also book a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride or sleigh into dinner at Trail Creek Cabin, a highlight during the holiday season.
10. Take a gondola for mountain views
Skiing is not the only way to enjoy natural scenery in Central Idaho: Take the gondola up to Bald Mountain for breathtaking mountain views and scenic hiking trails. Be sure to stop by The Roundhouse restaurant at the top, where you’ll delight in delicious fondue and more gorgeous views.
Looking for a thrilling activity that doesn’t require too much physical exertion? Try snowmobiling, an exhilarating way to access scenic areas in winter. Take a guided snowmobile tour or rent a snowmobile and equipment at Smiley Creek Lodge.
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