Sun Valley is a mountain resort city and a liberal, artsy haven in the middle of conservative Idaho. Visitors migrate here and to the neighboring Ketchum in winter to ski, heli-ski, tele-ski and snowshoe the powdery Rocky Mountains. When ice skating rinks give way to cool, clear waters and wildflowers begin to bloom, a different crowd emerges: whitewater rafters, climbers, fly fishers, hikers, golfers, mountain bikers and paragliding couples. Less active vacationers are drawn to natural hot springs or raspberry picking at Sawtooth Botanical Garden.
Listed 18th in The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, Sun Valley offers an attractive mix of visual arts, theater and music. Musical events attract big names and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony is the largest privately-funded free-admission symphony in the nation. Theatrical performances range from opera to poetry readings, and local movie theaters pride themselves on airing the most recent flicks and indie films. The art galleries are unlikely for a resort town, avoiding commercial works and starring unique, quality exhibits. If it’s local history you’re more interested in, the Ketchum/Sun Valley Historical Society Heritage & Ski Museum is just the spot.
Sun Valley shopping is eclectic with shops named Bavarian Soul, Backwoods Mountain Sports, Picket Fence, Gold Mine Thrift Store and The Elephant Perch. The spirited nightlife and culinary scene is no less diverse. Taste soulful Italian Idahoan food at Della Mano, organic pastries at Bigwood Bread, Neapolitan style wood-fired pizza at the theater kitchen CavaCava Restaurant and Wine Bar, and local beer at Grumpy’s. Rickshaw serves ethnic street foods from Indonesia to Thailand, and a number of vegan cafés delight health-conscious foodies. Get your timing right and you can meet local food artisans at The Sun Valley Harvest Festival or square dance between horse-drawn buggies at Wagon Days. Yet regardless of when you visit, you’re senses are guaranteed to remain in overload!