In today’s world, enjoying the high life on a budget can be a challenge. But a common misconception among travelers is that resort towns can only be visited at resort prices. In Idaho, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sun Valley is known for luxury vacations. But if you’re on a budget, no need to fear. We’ve mapped out where to go, what to do, where to stay, and what to see during your trip. All you have to worry about is making sure your camera is ready to capture the action.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley truly is a winter paradise. From snowshoeing to skiing, ice skating to sleigh rides, the list of outdoor activities never ends. You can splurge and spend a little extra dough on a family ski pass, or you can keep things simple and spend your time exploring this famous resort town draped in a blanket of snow. No matter the route you take, you’re bound to make memories in one of Idaho’s most sought-after winter destinations.

Things to Do

Ski at Sun Valley
Earning turns at Bald Mountain in Sun Valley.

Bald Mountain: Grab a set of skis and explore 2,000 acres of snow-drenched terrain. Lift tickets range from $55 to $125 depending on when you visit.

There is a wide array of winter activities that don’t require tossing yourself down a snow-covered hill and they’re easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. The resort’s Nordic and Snowshoe Center near Dollar Mountain gives you access to over 25 miles trails that are groomed like the 18th green at Augusta. Take your pick of Nordic skiing, skating, and snowshoeing.

Snowshoe Rentals: One of the best ways to get out and explore the unique wilderness in the Wood River Valley is by foot. Best of all for the budget traveler, you only have to spend $20 to rent a pair of snowshoes. To pick your destination and check out multiple rental options, visit Sun Valley online.

Preparing for a Sun Valley sleigh ride.
Preparing for a Sun Valley sleigh ride. Photo credit: Sun Valley Resort

Sleigh Rides: For a more romantic excursion into the wild, book a classic horse-drawn sleigh ride. Sleigh rides range from $120 to $150. See the full list of prices and options here.

Sun Valley Outdoor Ice Rink: This outdoor rink is the training ground for Olympic and world-class skaters and is one of the few year-round outdoor ice rinks in the country. Brush up on your skills, take a lesson, or watch amazing athletes up close. Rentals will run you $6 plus the cost of admission.

If you need a few more ideas on what to do during your stay, visit the Sun Valley events calendar and choose from a bevy of entertainment options.

Where is Happy Hour?

No visit to Sun Valley is complete without getting into the mountain spirit. Take a trip to Baldy’s Warm Springs base area and grab a drink from Apple’s Bar and Grill. Apple’s is a pure reflection of Sun Valley’s rich history showcasing posters, photos, and signed apparel from Olympic athletes. Enjoy a regional craft beer with a mouthwatering house-made burger. It’s the perfect spot to refuel after a long day up on the hill.

Another great stop for happy hour is the Sawtooth Club in nearby Ketchum. This unique pub features a wide array of drink specials and famous hot wings. Locals swoon over their mesquite wood cooking and fine wines.

Where to Stay

Sun Valley Sunset.
Sun Valley Sunset.

There’s an endless list of lodging options in Sun Valley ranging from modern renovated lodges and spas to charming cottages tucked in the surrounding wilderness.

If you’re looking for a cozy stay, rent a room at Knob Hill Inn. It’s within walking distance to Ketchum and has breathtaking views of the Smokey and Boulder mountain ranges and the staggering Bald Mountain. Complete with 29 boutique guest rooms, a wood-burning fireplace in the lobby, indoor heated pool, hot tub, sauna, and an on-site restaurant the convenience is hard to beat.

To view your options visit Sun Valley Lodging online.

A Sun Valley Must-Visit

Sun Valley is teeming with amazing culinary options and lodging choices, but make sure you stop for a bite to eat on Main Street at Sun Valley Brewing Company. Order the chicken pesto pasta or the cashew chicken stir fry. The chicken pesto pasta is unbeatable with fresh homemade pesto, parmesan cheese, and perfectly toasted garlic bread. The mouthwatering cashew chicken stir fry is cooked to perfection every time with fresh vegetables, mushrooms, cashews, and chicken. The dish is topped off with homemade Chinese rice wine and fresh ginger sauce. Wash it all down with a Belgian White, an unfiltered Belgian-style wheat beer with notes of clove, coriander, and bitter orange.

Deals, Specials, & Packages

For all you budget-savvy travelers out there, here are several resources where you can find unbeatable deals. Sun Valley offers many packages that you won’t find anywhere else and specials that run throughout the year and change constantly, so be on the lookout!

Here are two great pages to visit if you’re looking for that fun day up on the mountain or a one-of-a-kind winter room special: Sun Valley Specials & Packages, Visit Sun Valley Deals & Specials.

This author is a paid content writer for Idaho Tourism.

Tyler Schnur

Published on January 15, 2016