5 Things: A Local’s Guide to Sun Valley, Idaho

5 things, Sun Valley, Travel Guide

In “5 Things,” we ask some of our favorite insiders in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). Some of you may know about today’s breathtaking getaway location—Sun Valley, Idaho. It is truly the perfect all-season travel destination (though it has received a whopping 108″ of snow this month). I have family who live in Hailey, and I wish we could visit more often. So I’m excited that today, Rio Grange of Work + Wonder (who also lives in Hailey) is sharing her favorite spots—I’m taking notes. 

5 Things: Sun Valley, ID
by Rio Grange

Though it has only been a year and a half since we’ve officially called Hailey, ID our home, this valley has had a home in our hearts for yearsgenerations even!

We knew we’d return to live in this valley someday, but feel so blessed to have been able to call it home so soonallowing the adventures to continue with our two young kids! With each passing season, we continue to be in awe of the area, no matter the weather!

Before I dive in to some of my Sun Valley favorites, let me offer context in regards to proximity, as it can be a little confusing: Sun Valley and Ketchum are in fact separate towns, though they often blend because Ketchum, in a sense, “splits” Sun Valley right up the middle with main street shops and restaurants! On one side (northeast of Ketchum) the stunning and famous Sun Valley Lodge overlooks the valley. Then, on the other side of Ketchum (southwest) you’ll find the Sun Valley Ski Resort, where the base lodge is equally beautiful. Then finally, my home, Hailey, is fifteen minutes south of all this! This tends to be where most families residewe can have the small town feelwith the tourism and hustle-bustle just a short drive north.

Alright, ready for the tour?!


I’m sure you’re well acquainted with the little coffee shop known as Starbucks, but I promise you’ve never been to one quite like this. It doubles as the Sun Valley visitor center, and oozes those quintessential ski town vibes! This is the perfect place to kick off your trip, get a feel for all that the valley has to offer, and learn more about its history and culture.

Alright, lunch time! If you’re looking for the ideal local cafe, with a menu as big as it’s reputation, look no further than Bigwood Bread & Cafe. They supply the local grocers with their signature baguettes and other artisan breads, so their sandwiches are a must! And if you’re a breakfast fan, you’re until in luck, they serve all the goods until 11:00 AM.

sun valley travel guide

And dinner! Comin’ atchya with a timeless classic, The Sawtooth Club. If there is just one way to describe Sun Valley, it would be rustic elegance, and this is exactly the vibe at The Sawtooth Club. So it’s no surprise it has been voted “The valley’s best restaurant for 5 consecutive years!”

Starbucks|| 491 Sun Valley Rd, Ketchum || (208) 928-7039

Bigwood Bread & Cafe || 380 N East Ave, Ketchum || 208-928-7868

The Sawtooth Club || 231 North Main Street, Ketchum || (208) 726-5233


Independent Goods is minimal in style but packed with local pride. It features not only unique handcrafted products, but the stories behind the makers. (And their “Mountains are calling” photo-op wall should be enough to pay this shop a visit!)

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next home makeover, then I’m proud to say one of the best home decor stops is right here in Hailey. Red Door Design, blows me away every time I step in the door. They have perfected the art of that rustic elegance. After you’ve strolled through (and drooled over) their main store, exit out the back door and make sure you take a peek into their secondary showroom!

My go-to shop for tops, jeans, dresses, jewelry, etc., has to be Sway. Their aesthetic always leaves me wanting more, and wishing I could convince myself I need three new summer dresses. And you’re in for a real treat if you’re a dog person. More often than not, I’m greeted by Oliver, the sweetest yellow lab that gives the entire shop even more personality!

Gifts, gifts, gifts! Hank & Sylvie’s is my first stop when I have someone on my gift list. I always find the perfect something that packs a lot of meaning. They have a wide range of items ranging from unique greeting cards, small decor items, stationary, lotions, party supplies, and the most darling baby goods. They also have fresh flowers and cake, which pretty much sums up all you need for girls’ day out!

Lastly, who doesn’t love a good thrift store?! I know, it seems silly to feature a thrift store when I am highlighting a town as high-end as Sun Valley, but that’s just it! You have not experienced Sun Valley without a visit to The Gold Mine. The secret is in the name, and if you happen to hit it at just the right time (mornings are best!), you might be walking out with a new pair of skis or vintage fur coat. One person’s junk is another’s treasure, right? P.S. Bring your kids. Anytime we visit, my two little ones always find a little something, and more often than not, the cost is only a smile and a thank-you! [Editor’s note: This was my aunt’s must-stop spot when we were last in town.]

Independent Goods || 330 Walnut Avenue, Ketchum || (208) 720-9004

Red Door Design || 406 N Main St, Hailey || (208) 788-9075

Sway || 511 Sun Valley Rd, Ketchum || (208) 928-7884

Hank & Sylvie’s|| 471 Leadville Ave. N. Ketchum || (208) 726-0115

The Gold Mine Thrift Store || 331 Walnut Ave N, Ketchum || (208) 726-3465


Our favorite accommodation to recommend to our guests that go beyond the capacity of our futon (ha!) is the Limelight Hotel in downtown Ketchum. It is super family friendly and pet friendly! They opened just two years ago, and their lounge area on the main level has already gained the reputation of Ketchum’s living room. With live music, delicious flatbread pizzas, shuffleboard, a big screen for sporting events, and an area specifically designed for the kiddos, it’s hard not to make some fabulous memories here. Not to mention it’s right on main street and across from the all new Argyros Performance Hall.

If you are looking for something exuding local pride, Hotel Ketchum is a must! This is a newer addition to the valley, and they did not take curb appeal lightly. With an attractive modern edge, Hotel Ketchum is as hip as it gets. Friends often gather here to reminisce over drinks about their day on the slopes or local trails.

Limelight Hotel || 151 Main St S, Ketchum || (208) 726-0888

Hotel Ketchum || 600 N. Main Street, Ketchum || (208) 471-4716

sun valley travel guide


Outdoor recreation is the very reason this valley is on the map. You can push your limits on extreme terrain, or bring the whole family for a leisurely stroll through stunning landscapes. If you have your bikes in tow, take a ride along the 20+ mile Wood River paved trail, connecting Hailey to Sun Valley. Other activities that continue to draw outdoor enthusiasts from all over include mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, fly fishing, and nordic, downhill, and backcountry skiing.

[landscape via Visit Sun Valley]

One of our favorite things to do on a warm summer afternoon, is the Sawtooth Putting Course. Enjoy the surrounding beauty of the Sun Valley Golf Course, without the prices. (Peak Season rates are only $8 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. Yes, the kiddos are welcomed!)

In the winter, Ketchum floods and maintains Atkinson Park to offer free ice skating. They provide skates (of all sizes), hockey sticks and pucks, and supports for beginners. It will charm your skates right off!

Then when the weather keeps us indoors, the Sun Valley Lodge Bowling Alley is a must. This recently-renovated bowling alley dates to the 1950s and is one of the oldest in the Northwest. And they have dragon ramps and arcade games for the kids.


Layers: Temperatures can range quite a bit from mid-day to evening, and even day to day! Storms roll in unexpectedly, so make sure you have several options to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

Hat: It is called Sun Valley for a reason! Pack your hats and your sunglasses!

Day Pack: It’s not a bag idea to have a small backpack to haul around those layers and any other goodies to keep the kiddos happy while you adventure!

Have you been able to visit this wonderful part of Idaho? Were you a winter or summer visitor? Any favorites to add?

Rio is a graphic designer who is a year into her business Work + Wonder, where she combines her passion for her faith and her deep love of design, creating a workbook (filled with artwork of an all-new featured artist) for every LDS General Conference, to house and organize the listener’s thoughts and impressions. Take a look at her work and follow along @work.and.wonder.

Thank you to Molly Coyne (a native Idahoan!) for her help with this series! The Sawtooth Club photo is courtesy of The Independent. The lead photo is from our last visit

P.S. All of our 5 Things Travel Guides and Our Thanksgiving in Sun Valley! Also, some of my cousin’s photos of Sun Valley.

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