Destination: Sun Valley, Idaho
America’s first destination ski resort (opened in 1936) now shines as a four-season retreat showcasing grown-in-Idaho wine and food.
During the 1940s, this mountain hideaway captivated celebrities like Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Ingrid Bergman. Today, Sun Valley continues to draw A-list luminaries. Surrounded by the Sawtooth Mountains, this region tells a tale of two towns. Visitors can experience both the resort village of Sun Valley and Ketchum, a 19th-century mining center now known for shops, galleries and restaurants.
Relive Golden Age glamour at Sun Valley Lodge, which opened in 1936, and Sun Valley Inn, which debuted in 1937. It’s rumored that Ernest Hemingway penned For Whom the Bell Tolls at the Lodge. Completely refurbished, rooms evoke elegance with marble baths and coffered ceilings. Alpine allure comes to Idaho at Knob Hill Inn, located outside Ketchum. Enhanced by a $750,000 renovation, rooms look toward snowy summits and ski slopes. For your own private Idaho, book a multimillion-dollar apartment home at Thunder Spring. Perks include a concierge who can stock wine racks with your favorite vintages.
Even in winter, Sun Valley basks in sunshine 80% of the days. The main ski area is the 9,150-foot Bald Mountain, which locals affectionately call “Baldy.” You can warm up your legs on the cruisers off Seattle Ridge, then swoosh down steep, mogul-stippled bowls like Mayday and Lookout. Meanwhile, Dollar, Sun Valley Resort’s original ski mountain, nurtures novices on its gentle slopes and also amps adrenaline for freeriders at three terrain parks. Activities snowball into seasonal pastimes like ice skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. In summer, outdoor adventures range from hiking and biking to fly fishing for trophy trout on Silver Creek. Stars such as Kenny Loggins and Bonnie Raitt entertain at Sun Valley Pavilion. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., the Trail Creek Course challenges golfers with fairway streams and daunting bunkers. Explore Ketchum’s art scene on monthly Friday night Gallery Walks. Second-hand finds (especially designer ski clothing) abound at Gold Mine Thrift Shop.
Wine & Food
Move over, spuds—Idaho harvests more than its trademark potatoes. Sun Valley chefs are passionate locavores, showcasing pasture-raised lamb, Kurobuta pork and fresh rainbow trout. Top restaurants feature wines from Idaho’s Snake River Valley—one of the newest AVAs in the country. Scenes from the 1941 musical Sun Valley Serenade with Sonja Henie were filmed at The Roundhouse on Bald Mountain, which is accessible year-round by a spectacularly scenic gondola ride. In winter, a lederhosen-clad accordionist entertains at lunch, where choices include wild salmon and sautéed elk loin.
Head over the river and through the woods to Trail Creek Cabin, reached by horse-drawn sleigh rides in winter. The menu highlights local beef, complemented by extensive wine selections. Set in a cottage built in 1885, Ketchum Grill reflects culinary creativity from husband-and-wife co-owners Scott Mason (chef) and Anne Mason (pastry chef). Wild West décor balances sophisticated Northwest dishes like grilled duck breast with dried cherry chutney. Emphasizing local labels, the wine list also holds well-priced international sections. Although Cornerstone Bar & Grill occupies an 1884 building on the National Registry of Historic Places, the vibe is mountain trendy. Start with a handcrafted cocktail, then hunker into the buffalo strip loin. A dusting of coffee and cocoa nibs adds savoriness to the sizzle.