Sun Valley is home to the very first destination ski resort in North America, and visitors flock here in the winter to enjoy its slopes. But the warmer months of the year are a fabulous time to be here too. The sun is almost always out and the skies are a vivid bright blue, while the soaring mountains provide one of the most picturesque backdrops around for enjoying a wealth of things to do. Read on to discover our picks for the best things to do in Sun Valley, Idaho this summer.
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Hiking (Nearby Hotels)
By visiting Sun Valley you don’t even have to drive far to go hiking, although you’ll find miles and miles of trails throughout the surrounding mountains. Within a 10-minute drive of the town center, there are multiple options like Bald Mountain Trail, the mountain that towers over the area. It’s a great workout, gaining 3,200 feet in over five miles, but at the top, you can enjoy 360-degree vistas that stretch from the Smoky Mountains to the west, across the Pioneers to the east, the plains of the Snake River Valley to the south and Boulders to the north. Plus you can get a free ride back down via the ski lifts and gondola. Proctor Mountain is a great option when you don’t have much time, a 4.5-mile round trip trek with views over Bald Mountain, Ketchum, and greater Sun Valley.
Golf (Nearby Hotels)
Golfing surrounded by such breathtaking mountain scenery under the ever-present sun is a must for any golf enthusiast who visits Sun Valley. The 18-hole Trail Creek championship course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., is ranked among the country’s best while the alpine links-style nine-hole White Clouds provides 360-degree views of the Wood River Valley. At the Sun Valley Club, which is open to the public, you’ll find a pro shop, club rentals, a practice facility, putting course, restaurant, bar and more.
Horseback Riding (Nearby Hotels)
If you’d rather get out and explore on four feet than two, Sun Valley is a great place for horseback riding. Sun Valley Stables offers trail rides for all experience levels and ages as well as special wagon experiences, horsemanship lessons and training, providing a great way to relieve the days of the Old West.
Paddleboarding (Nearby Hotels)
If you like to paddleboard, or if you’ve always wanted to try, there are some beautiful high alpine lakes that are ideal for paddling while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Redfish Lake is one of the most iconic high alpine lakes in the Sawtooth Valley, but if you’re looking for a short drive, Alturas and Pettit Lake are ideal for enjoying for the day. About 35 miles south of town, Just 35 miles south of town, Magic Reservoir is another great pick for standup paddleboarding – as it’s in the desert, the water is almost always warm in the summer. Head to Backwoods Mountain Sports at the north end of town for rental packages.
Ice skating (Nearby Hotels)
Ice skating is possible year-round in Sun Valley, with its outdoor rink one of the few that can be enjoyed in every season. It also hosts Sun Valley Ice Shows and is one of the top spots for watching the biggest names in the sport. You can take a lesson, watch the experts and even get a few autographs from the Olympic and World class skaters. Skate rentals, group and private lessons and a full-service Pro Shop are all available on site.
Biking (Nearby Hotels)
There are endless opportunities for mountain biking in Sun Valley too. If you don’t want to bring your own you can stop in any bike shop and rent one. Mountain biking here includes buff singletrack, flow, and views for miles on more than 400 miles of trails. The Historic Harriman Trail starts 8 miles north of Ketchum at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Headquarters and is ideal for beginners. It gains a gentle 1200 feet in elevation, winding its way north and west to Galena Lodge following the course of the Big Wood River, passing through wide open meadows, aspen stands and lodgepole forests, while the Boulder Mountain Range provides a scenic backdrop.
Swim (Nearby Hotels)
There are lots of opportunities for cooling off from summer’s heat, from gorgeous infinity pools with mountain views to splash parks with spraying, misting, and streaming water like Ketchum’s Rainmaker Splash Park. If you want a cool dip in the great outdoors, the Big Wood River is ideal with a number of popular swimming holes under the railroad bridge and near Big Wood Church at Big Rock.
Ride the Gondola (Nearby Hotels)
Riding the gondola on Bald Mountain is a really a must. Fun for all ages, it offers panoramic vistas of Sun Valley and the towering surrounding mountains. You can just enjoy the views or stop into the Roundhouse at the top to enjoy a tasty lunch, including incredible fondue and a glass of wine while soaking up the jaw-dropping scenery.
Sawtooth Botanical Garden (Nearby Hotels)
Sawtooth Botanical Garden offers the opportunity to stroll through the gardens that wind past tranquil streams, works of art, native and cultivated plants. The high-altitude botanical garden showcases five major gardens representing five biomes, the Sagebrush Steppe garden, Lava Rock garden, Alpine garden, Montane garden and Riparian garden. Kids will especially enjoy spinning the handcrafted 400-pound prayer wheel in the Garden of Infinite Compassion which was a gift from the Dalai Lama himself when he visited in 2005.
Attend the Ketchum Arts Festival (Nearby Hotels)
If you visit in mid-July, don’t miss the Ketchum Arts Festival. Held over three days, July 12-14 in 2019, at the Festival Meadow, it’s free to attend and features lots of food, drink, live music and more than 100 arts and crafts from Idaho artists. There’s also a Kid’s Activity Tent that offers free childcare with plenty of entertainment for the little ones.