Sun Valley, Idaho Family Vacation Guide: Getting There, Where To Stay, and What To Do

Katy Shipley | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article

[Sponsored by Sun Valley Resort]

Sun Valley Resort Gondola
Sun Valley Resort was America’s first ski destination and continues to top the charts today as one of North America’s best ski resorts. Image: Sun Valley Resort

Snow is falling, and it is time to get ready for your winter vacation.  The perfect family getaway consists of top-notch terrain paired with cozy accommodations, good eats, and fun activities both on and off the slopes.  Luckily, you won’t need to look much further than Sun Valley Resort in Idaho.

Consistently ranked as one of the top ski resorts in North America by the annual SKI Magazine Readers’ Survey, Sun Valley has everything you need and more.  Bald Mountain offers perfect-pitch skiing from peak to base.  Meanwhile, the Sun Valley Village is a constant flurry of fun activities and events.  A special place for families and die-hard skiers alike, the charming atmosphere will have you wishing you could stay forever.

Sun Valley Bluebird
Bluebird days are nothing new here. Ski powder by day and enjoy the Village by night. Image: Sun Valley Resort

Getting There

Sun Valley, ID lies in the Rocky Mountains of south-central Idaho, just three hours east of Boise.  The Friedman Memorial Airport, located 14 miles away in Hailey, offers direct flights into Sun Valley.  This season, there will be nonstop flights from six major cities including Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Denver (DEN), Seattle (SEA), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), and Salt Lake City (SLC).  Those staying at the resort receive complimentary round trip transportation to the airport.

Once you are at Sun Valley, a car is pretty much unnecessary.  Anything you might want or need is within walking distance or just a quick bus ride away.  The Mountain Rides complimentary bus service offers transportation throughout the Wood River Valley, including round trips from the Village to both Dollar and Bald mountains and to the nearby towns of Ketchum and Elkhorn Springs.

Sun Valley Village Lit Up
Once you get to the Village, vacation mode is in full force. Just a short walk or a quick bus ride, and you are right where you need to be. Image: Sun Valley Resort

Where To Stay

The Sun Valley Lodge and the Sun Valley Inn are top choices for lodging. Both are located in the Village and are walking distance from several dining options and family-friendly activities.  There may be other options throughout Ketchum, but the Inn and the Lodge come highly recommended and offer the full resort experience.

Sun Valley Lodge

The Sun Valley Lodge was completely overhauled in June 2015.  The revamped lodge offers new and much larger guestrooms, a spa, a fitness center, yoga studio, and an enclosed pool and cafe.  The Lodge also received new restaurants, lounges, lobbies, and event space in the remodel.


Sun Valley Lodge Pools
Enjoy the year-round heated pools after a long day on the mountain. Image: Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley Inn

The Sun Valley Inn was originally built as the Challenger Inn in 1937.  Now under renovation, the Inn is scheduled to be complete in January 2019.  The first phase included 25 renovated guest rooms, the new Village Station restaurant, and a major update to The Ram restaurant and The Ram Bar.  The second phase will include the renovation of the remaining 80 guest rooms, a new fitness center, and a new archway that will connect the parking area to the lawn to welcome guests as they enter the Village.  The Inn will be fully revamped while retaining the historic look and feel of the original hotel.

What To Do


There is no shortage of things to do in Sun Valley. However, the most important part of a ski vacation is, of course, skiing. Hop on the Mountain Rides bus service and get dropped off at the base of Bald Mountain, the ski resort’s undeniable claim to fame.

“Bald Mountain’s consistent pitch, lack of lift lines and variety of terrain have earned it a reputation as one of the world’s finest ski mountains.” – Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley Bald Mountain
Bald Mountain offers perfect terrain with light winds and sunny days. It’s a skier’s paradise. Image: Sun Valley Resort

Dollar Mountain is located next to the Village and offers gentle beginner terrain.  Dollar is equipped with two new high-speed quads and a full-featured terrain park with 76 rails.  It is also home to the new “Smart-Piste, Terrain-that-Teaches” learning system.  This is where many learn to love downhill sports for the first time.  Take a lesson or tune your terrain park skills.  This mountain is the perfect place to progress as a skier or rider.

Sun Valley Dollar Mountain
Dollar Mountain is a great place for beginner skiers to learn the basics before they graduate to Bald Mountain. Image: Sun Valley Resort


After a day of skiing, the whole family can enjoy après at Village Station.  They offer a daily happy hour and family dishes such as pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, and appetizers.  Kelli Lusk, Sun Valley’s public relations and communications manager, suggests several great off-mountain options.  She mentions bowling, movies at the Opera House, ice skating, and swimming in the year-round outdoor heated pools.

Sun Valley Bowling
Bowling is always a family favorite. Image: Sun Valley Resort


While the kids are in ski school, make sure to take advantage of everything else Sun Valley has to offer.  This year, Sun Valley is introducing the Guided Cold Springs Canyon Tours on Bald Mountain.  This tour will be really fun for advanced skiers according to Kelli Lusk.

“The tour gives the opportunity to ski and see the new terrain being opened next season — another 380 acres of skiable terrain!” – Kelli Lusk, PR and Communications Manager, Sun Valley

For those looking to relax, Kelli suggests hitting the Spa at Sun Valley for massages, salon treatments, or relaxing by the pool.  She also recommends hitting the trails at the Nordic Center for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking.  Lastly, don’t forget to grab a drink at the Duchin Lounge or The Ram Bar.

“Parents can also head up Bald Mountain to The Roadhouse for lunch with a fireplace and epic views at 7,700ft.”

Sun Valley Duchin
Grab a drink at the Duchin to unwind after an adventure filled day. Image: Sun Valley Resort


The most popular events of the season, according to Kelli, are the Winter Wonderland holiday events.  Festivities kick off with a scavenger hunt and holiday stroll through the Village on December 8th, then end with all of the New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Parties, movies, and sleigh rides fill the month’s event calendar. If you come in December, the Village will be alive with Christmas spirit.

Sun Valley Winter Wonderland
Join the holiday festivities in December during Sun Valley’s Winter Wonderland Events. Image: Sun Valley Resort

As America’s first ski destination in 1936, it is easy to see where Sun Valley gets its authentic charm.  Years of great service and exciting outdoor pursuits have kept this resort at the top of the charts year after year.  With so much to do and see, there is something for everyone.  Whether you are an advanced skier, or just here for the spa, it’s an easy choice for your next family ski vacation.

Sun Valley Family
Try Idaho for your next family vacation destination. Image: Sun Valley Resort

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