Sun Valley, Idaho | Travel | Salt Lake City Weekly

Sun Valley, Idaho 

Idaho's Sun Valley shines in the summer

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Sun Valley Resort in Idaho has the expected mountain activities as well as more unique offerings, such as ice-skating outdoors in 80-degree weather, watching Olympic medalists perform under starry skies, learning how to shoot skeet, or listening to a top show in a concert hall. Best of all, Sun Valley, as well the surrounding Idaho towns of Ketchum and Hailey—not to mention a number of mountain ranges—are just a little more than a four-hour drive from Salt Lake City, or, for those who prefer air travel, a one-hour flight to Hailey. Here's how to make your trip to Sun Valley worthwhile.

Sun & Ice
Slap on some sunscreen and enjoy the sun on your face as you hit the ice at the resort's outdoor rink, open year-round. In the evenings, check out some fabulous ice shows with professional figure skaters under the open night sky. You can also enjoy a gourmet dinner buffet during the show at rinkside tables. Scheduled shows for late August include performances by Meryl Davis and Charlie White (gold medalists in Sochi) and Evan Lysacek (who won gold in Vancouver).

Straight Shooters
Sun Valley was a favorite hunting area for Ernest Hemingway and celebrities like Clark Gable, who regularly visited during the 1930s and 1940s. Today, you can continue their age-old tradition at the Sun Valley Gun Club. Don't fret if you don't have any experience; this is your chance to learn. You can take lessons from an expert on how to shoot skeet and trap in the safe environment of an open-air gun range.

Golf for Non-Golfers
Sun Valley has three courses and 45 golf holes designed to challenge even the best golfer, but one of the most fun features is the Sawtooth Putting Course, an 18-hole course modeled after a similar course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Make no mistake, this is no mini-golf course where you hit the ball into a clown's mouth and rejoice when it comes out for a hole-in-one. It's 18 well-manicured greens that let inexperienced putters—including kids—enjoy an hour or two outdoors in a glamorous setting.

Birth of the Chairlift
Sun Valley was the site of the world's first chairlift in 1936, and now, more than 75 years later, you can get halfway up Bald Mountain in an enclosed gondola and ride the rest of the way on a chairlift. Rent a bike at Pete Lane's Mountain Sports at the base and get a free lift ticket before enjoying more than 28 miles of trails, including riding down a trail with a series of switchbacks that drop more than 3,000 vertical feet. The shop is also the place to sign up for the Wheels & Wine Guided Bike Tour. Whether you're a hiker or biker, you can put together some combination of getting up and down "Baldy."

Village to Mountain Dining
There are several dining options in the resort's village area, including Konditorei, which offers on new twist on alpine food, like pumpkin spatzele with sausage. Stop by for a full meal or grab some fresh European-style baked goods to go.

Trail Creek Cabin, dating back to 1937, is a great place to have a drink and share small plates, such as house-smoked rainbow trout and elk-buffalo sliders, while enjoying the scenery and watching the creek babble by.You can also take in some spectacular mountain views while munching on great burgers by taking the gondola up to the historic Roundhouse, which sits mid-mountain.

When locals have friends come visit, they take them to The Pioneer Saloon—aka "The Pio" to locals—on Main Street in Ketchum. The steak dinners are especially notable and include baked potatoes that are close to the size of a football. Bet you can't finish the Jim Spud: a giant potato sliced open and filled with pieces of teriyaki Prime rib, grilled onions, cheese and anything else you want to throw in there.

Fall Fun
Although Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer, there are still plenty of sunny days left in the Sun Valley area, and lots of celebrations to go along with them.

The Sun Valley Pavilion is an open-air arena with a tent covering that offers just the right balance of indoors and outdoors—a 1,500-seat arena with the capacity to seat another 3,000 people on a grass hill above. Free concerts are offered throughout the summer; the next big event on the calendar is a visit from the Beach Boys on Sept. 9.

Foodies and outdoorsy folks will want to check out the Sun Valley Harvest Festival, Sept. 18-21, for a combination of culinary and natural delights.The Trailing of the Sheep Festival in the towns of Hailey and Ketchum happens Oct. 9-12 and celebrates the history and culture of the area with music, arts and culinary events focusing on lamb dishes.And what do you get when you combine cyclocross and Octoberfest? Crosstoberfest! The 11th iteration of that event happens Oct. 17-18 and combines bikes and beers.

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