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Alexandra Baackes worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.

For many, Sun Valley is synonymous with skiing. And while the slopes are indeed stellar, in recent years Sun Valley has quietly begun leaning into another reputation: that of Idaho’s unofficial holistic wellness capitol.

woman standing on mountain with Sun Valley in background
Sun Valley is quickly becoming synonymous with wellness. Photo credit: Alexandra Baackes.

It’s been a long time coming. The Sun Valley Wellness Festival, an annual event touting how to live your healthiest life, has been held in the area since 1997, and visitors and residents alike have long spoken of the rejuvenating feeling of a return to Sun Valley, even if they can’t quite put their fingers on why. But maybe it’s what pulls some travelers back year after year.

Want to experience some of that intangible magic for yourself, and leave feeling leveled up in mind, body and spirit? Here’s how.

Sweat to Reset

Options for sun salutations abound in Sun Valley. But keep your eyes peeled for unique yoga experiences like the Journey Through The Elements soundscape series with Eduardo Emmanual Ballesteros in partnership with Gather Yoga.

yoga pose at sawtooth botanical gardens
Look for unique experiences in Sun Valley. Photo credit: Alexandra Baackes.

This five-day workshop, which yogis could drop in on a day of or attend the full lineup, flowed through one element per day – earth, water, fire, air, and spirit – with a hybrid mix of vinyasa yoga and sound bowl meditations. The peaceful Sawtooth Botanical Garden, which hosts many events and workshops like this one throughout the year, was an idyllic setting – and the onsite greenhouse will be the site of the next workshop edition in November.

After emerging from your dreamy meditation, don’t miss the chance to wander through the garden, founded in 1994 by a group of ardent environmentalists. The five acres represent the five biomes of south-central Idaho, with local wildflowers taking a major spotlight. They have some hefty competition, however: in the Garden of Infinite Compassion, a prayer wheel donated by the Dalai Lama during a trip to the area in 2005 is just one of two such treasures in all of North America .

prayer wheel at sawtooth botanical garden
The Sawtooth Botanical Garden is perfect for meditation. Photo credit: Alexandra Baackes.

Across town at Zenergy Spa, members vie for a bike in Alex Law’s patented spin class Rythmatic Meditation™. After completing forty marathons and fifteen Ironman triathlons, Alex developed an integrated approach to biking, one he uses to inspire students to this day. His distinctive meditation cycling class “combines the meditative rhythm of spinning with a focus on inner peace and self-awareness.” No spiritual training wheels necessary.

yoga class at zenergy spa
Zenergy Spa offers a variety of classes. Photo credit: Alexandra Baackes.

It’s just one example of Zenergy’s innovative programming, including a local hiking club that takes in some of the area’s epic peaks over the summer, progressing from chilled-out warm up hikes to more advanced summits throughout the season. Sun Valley has a wide range of trails of all lengths and skill levels – check AllTrails app to filter to your vibe of the day. White Cloud Nine is a great trail to warm up on, with gorgeous views over Ketchum, Sun Valley Resort, Bald Mountain, and beyond.

woman sitting in hotel ketchum
Hotel Ketchum is a great base camp. Photo credit: Alexandra Baackes.

If you’d rather DIY your own mini-health retreat, there’s no better base than Hotel Ketchum. Free bikes and endless local paths will allow you to create your own soul cycle, cozy beds are ideal for catching up on health-boosting sleep, and an onsite gym, pool, and most importantly, hot tub, are perfect for resetting after a long day of adventures.

Feed the Body, Feed the Soul

Sun Valley isn’t short on dining options that are nutritious, locally-sourced, and healthy. Curious where the produce on your plate is coming from? Check out the weekly farmer’s markets in Ketchum and Hailey to meet many of the farmers supplying the ingredients for your meals face to face – or to buy it directly from the source.

flowers in buckets at Hailey farmer's market
Stroll through one of the local farmer’s markets. Photo credit: Alexandra Baackes.

For those who want to dive deep on a wellness trip, there are also several specialty options that are laser-focused on making you feel fantastic.

Want to savor your meal? At Glow Juice Bar and Café, you can fuel up on organic and sustainable creations like bright smoothie bowls, nutritious salads, roasted buddha bowls, and beyond. Nab a seat in the fountain-facing garden to enjoy your plant-based meal surrounded by sunshine.

Considering a cleanse? Head to Ginger Sweet Juice Bar, where the fridge is filled with a rainbow of brightly-hued cold-pressed juices in mason jars. Don’t miss their acai bowls, or smoothies like the Manizest, featuring wild orange oil, tahini, and bee pollen.

Looking for goodness on the go? Pop into 5B Fruit, where you can grab a quick juice, acai bowl, or healthy toast – and you can rest assured that every bite is GMO free, organic, and crafted with care.

Holistic Healing

There’s nothing like a trip to inspire us to try new things. If you know your way around a standard spa menu, why not indulge in a new-age treatment or two while in Sun Valley?

At 5B Flotation in the heart of Ketchum, you can slip into a futuristic pod and indulge in “float therapy.” Suspended in water infused with buoyancy-boosting salts, float enthusiasts report a wide array of mental and physical health benefits. Red light therapy, another trendy treatment in skin health and muscle recovery, is also offered.

If you’re craving the comforts of a fluffy bathrobe and a heated massage table, fear not – you can still find more traditional treatments in Sun Valley too. And those with a twist. In addition to the most expansive traditional spa offerings in the area, the iconic Sun Valley Spa also offers acupuncture, reiki, infrared heat therapy, cupping massage therapy, and a “healing vibrations massage” that incorporates sound bowls.

Feature image credited to Alexandra Baackes.

Alexandra Baackes is a digital entrepreneur and globetrotter whose travel, sustainability, and adventure content has been charming followers for over ten years. Through her Instagram and blog, Alex has hooked readers on her intimate style of writing covering her escapades abroad, whether that be scuba diving, aerial yoga, or working to green her life and the planet. She’s collaborated with brands such as Capital One, KAYAK, Kind Bars, PADI, and numerous tourism boards and hospitality brands, domestic and international. Most recently, her loyal followers have been able to join Alex to travel to destinations near to her heart as part of her women’s travel company, Wander Women Retreats.


Published on September 17, 2020