White water rafting Sun Valley, Idaho

Favorite Things to Do in Sun Valley

Living in Stanley during the summer is very special, but escaping to the Wood River Valley is always a treat. As promised, I’ve compiled a list of our favorite things to do in the Sun Valley area during the summer. Because our kids, Miles, Fin and Ollie are ages three to nine, most of the activities listed are kid-friendly.  I tried to keep the list to ten things, but I really couldn’t narrow it down below 12. Enjoy!

Things to do in Sun Valley:

1) The Ice Show—the Sun Valley Summer Ice Show is, in one word, magical. There is not a better way to spend the evening in Sun Valley with your kids. They will love it!

2) Farmer’s Market—I am a sucker for farmers markets and the Sun Valley area has two great ones, in Ketchum on Tuesdays, and in Hailey on Thursdays. And because both of them are located in the downtown areas we usually combine this with a walk or bike ride around town and a stop at the splash park (see number 11). On warm, sunny days this is my favorite way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

3) Take the lift up Baldy and hike down—I absolutely love the abundance of wildflowers in our mountains and on this hike you are guaranteed to see a beautiful variety. While you can hike up the trail and take the lift down, we prefer to take the lift up the mountain and hike down. Bring a picnic or grab lunch at the Roundhouse Lodge, look for wildlife and wildflowers and enjoy panoramic views of the valley all while getting in a bit of exercise. This one is not for kids under three, so I look forward to bringing Finley along this year as she turns three in April! If you have any mountain bikers in your family, this is a great place for them too.

4) Horseback Riding at Galena w/Stage Stop Corrals—Going by horseback into this area really gives me a feel for the ruggedness of our mountains and makes it easy to imagine what life was like for the miners who first came here. This is something we do at least once every summer, especially when we have guests in town. I look forward to taking our kids along once they turn six.

5) Sawtooth Botanical Gardens—Small, but definitely worth the visit. I’ve learned so much about local ecology here and there’s always a new discovery every time we go, especially in the stream that kids are encouraged to explore.

6) Sun Valley Summer Symphony—Free, yes free, outstanding performances that take place outside in a beautiful setting. To be honest, I’ve had to wrangle my kids a bit to make them behave appropriately for the setting, but it is a great opportunity not to be missed.

7) Wood River YMCA—I haven’t been to very many “Y’s”, but the first time I walked into this one I was blown away. It is a fantastic community resource and my kids love the pool.

8) Hailey 4th of July Rodeo—The 4th of July in Hailey is nothing but festive. We love the Children’s Carnival and the Main Street Parade, but our favorite thing is the RODEO. Plain, good old fashioned fun.

9) Scenic Drive to Stanley for a rafting trip with The River Company—Driving north out of Sun Valley, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway will take your breath away, especially when you reach the Galena Overlook that looks down on the Sawtooth Valley. And a day of whitewater rafting with The River Company is the perfect family activity. Launch times are catered to accommodate guests coming from Sun Valley. The 10:30 lunch trip includes transportation to and from our headquarters in Stanley to the river, two to three hours on the water, and a scrumptious lunch that is sure to please even the pickiest palates.

10) Take fly-fishing lessons—Even if fishing is not your thing, hiring a guide for fly-fishing lessons let’s you try your hand at something new while enjoying serene alpine beauty and blue ribbon trout streams.

11) Splash Parks—we’ve happened upon splash parks in both Ketchum and Hailey. Both small, but really fun for the kids. Every time we are in the valley they beg to stop and play in the water. On hot days I almost always oblige for at least a quick visit.

12) The Chocolate Foundry—I cannot be in Sun Valley without going into this fabulous place. Almost overwhelming for this sugar lover, I only allow myself one or two delectable items each visit. In addition, all that candy from your youth…you can find it here!