A First Timer’s Guide to Sun Valley
If you’ve made the decision to visit Sun Valley for the first time, well, then your next move should be to give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve made a very wise choice, my friend.
Heck, in my opinion you’ve already gotten smarter and better looking!
That’s because Sun Valley is one of the most beautiful spots on God’s green and deep-pow covered earth. It’s is also a lot of fun.
Spending time in Sun Valley is sure to lift your spirits and inspire your sense of adventure. The place is literally an outdoor winter sports wonderland. But there are also plenty of tasty options for some quality rest and relaxation time, too. Whatever you want out of your winter getaway you can find here.
If you are visiting for the first time, or first time in a long time—it is the oldest destination ski resort in the country—here’s a rundown of some can’t miss things to do in Sun Valley.
Grab a treat at the Konditorei
If you time it just right, you won’t even need directions to the Konditorei in Sun Valley Village, your nose will lead you there.
The aromas of fresh pastries, cookies, cakes and coffee drift from the Austrian-style bakery like little invisible clouds of joy. The Konditorei offers more than 100 different items during busy times and can sell out their entire freshly made display twice a day. In fact, picking my wife up a fresh croissant from the Konditorei now gets me more “good husband points” than bringing her flowers.
The Konditorei also offers a full breakfast and lunch menu and my Austrian buddy, Ewald, vouches for the authenticity and tastiness of their traditional dishes like schnitzel and spätzle.
Downhill Skiing, Nordic Skiing, Heli-skiing, Snowshoeing, Fat Tire Biking, Fly Fishing, Ice Skating, if you can do it on the snow or ice you can pretty much do it in Sun Valley.
This is a winter playground and there are lots of world-class winter sports options at your fingertips. Baldy is the ski hill for the big kids and is a dream-come-true for those who like to do laps on 3,000 vertical feet of the best terrain in the West. Dollar Mountain is the spot for families and those new to the sports of alpine skiing or snowboarding. It’s also home to several terrain parks, but we’ll get to that later.
With 40k (nearly 25 miles) of cross-country ski terrain and over 300 days per year of sunshine it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why they officially call Sun Valley “Nordic Town USA.”
For those who like more rocket boost to their cross country snow adventure, Fat Tire Bikes are the hottest things in the snowsports industry and can be rented and ridden right from Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports in the Village.
Fly fishing the Big Wood River as it passes by Mount Baldy or snowshoeing from the Nordic Center Clubhouse are nice, mellow ways to engage with winter. While taking off into the backcountry with Sun Valley Heli Ski, the oldest permitted helicopter skiing outfitter in the country covering the largest territory inclduing three mountain ranges, is a good way to kick it up a notch, too.
Watch the Show at Dollar Mountain
One of the best parts of the terrain park scene at Dollar is that it can easily be seen from the back patio or even from inside Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
The main terrain park is full of big jumps, boxes and rails to delight those enjoying the patio. One of the nation’s true Super Pipes is also easy to see while you’re enjoying a hot cocoa or a cold adult beverage by the fire pit on Dollar’s back deck.
Après Ski at River Run
Live music and smiling people are what you’ll find at the River Run Lodge each weekend afternoon. Located at the base of Baldy, just a stone’s throw from the banks of the Big Wood, the River Run Lodge is a fun spot to ride the buzz as another epic day in Sun Valley turns into night.
The Warm Springs Lodge on the other side of the Bald Mountain also offers live music for the after-ski scene. Toasting a day of carving turns during Sun Valley’s famous spring corn snow at either spot is awfully tough to top.
Go for a Swim
If it’s snowing too much to enjoy the great outdoors, or you just want a nice soak after a day of fun, Sun Valley offers two heated pools. Ever since the resort first opened in 1936, Sun Valley has been famous for its pools. The circular pool at the Inn graced the pages of Life magazine and the new pool at the Lodge has been a big hit.
The Sun Valley Lodge was remodeled in 2015, and while the exterior remained the same, the new Lodge includes a state-of-the-art fitness facility and world-class spa. Even though we like to play hard around here, when it’s time to relax in Sun Valley,we do that well, too.
Take a Unique Trip to Dinner
There are certainly lots of great meals to be had in and around Sun Valley, but there’s one dinning option you’re sure to never forget.
Taking the gondola to The Roundhouse on Baldy is a treat that should be on everyone’s Bucket List. Besides the unique way of arriving and departing for dinner, the food is extraordinary—and not just because The Roundhouse is famous for serving up fondue in pots the size of buckets.
Located at 8,000’, the restaurant originally opened in1938 and offers a rather romantic rustic charm that perfectly adds to the appeal of the experience.
It also explains why it’s a popular place to pop the question.
Enjoy a Nightcap at the Duchin Lounge
While the décor may have changed over the years, the Duchin Lounge in the Sun Valley Lodge is the same place where Ernest Hemingway enjoyed spending time, recalling the delights of another day in Sun Valley.
Much more open and airy than the old version, the updated Duchin Lounge has garnered a big fan base for their handcrafted cocktails. Focusing on fresh ingredients, Kurt Harris and his staff are offer fresh takes on classic cocktails as well as weekly specials featuring flavors to match the season.
“There’s great history in cocktails. So whether it’s a new drink or a classic we’re always trying to find flavors that give people that ‘Wow’ moment,“ Kurt said. “We’re trying to offer a really high level experience.”
You’re first trip to Sun Valley is certain to be full of “Wow” moments. So it’s always nice to enjoy a night cap at the Duchin Lounge and drink in the history of the place and the brilliance of your decision to visit Sun Valley for the first time.
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