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An Autumnal Weekend in Sun Valley: A Perfect Two-Day Itinerary

Jesse Ambrogi-Yanson's picture
Jesse Ambrogio-Yanson

Fall is in the air! While we are sad to see the days grow shorter and the nights grow colder, fall is an exceptional time to visit Sun Valley – and it means winter is just around the corner. Wood River Valley’s changing seasons are best experienced in September and October. From the brilliant colored Aspen leaves on a morning bike ride and seasonal menus at local eateries, to fishing excursions in the surrounding rivers - experience it all in this perfect two-day itinerary.

Day 1

Start your day off right with a steaming cup of coffee from Maude’s Coffee & Clothes, a unique spot featuring locally roasted coffee, snacks and a casual vibe that embodies all things Sun Valley. Enjoy your joe while browsing vintage clothing and gifts, or take it for a stroll to the Gold Mine, where your next thrifted treasure awaits. If you’re a Pumpkin Spiced Latte diehard (you know who you are), there’s a local Starbucks just around the corner).

Just a few blocks away from Maude’s is the Kneadery, a cozy and rustic eatery that serves up hearty staples like eggs benedict, french toast, omelets and pancakes.

Once fueled up, saddle up for a mountain bike ride in Adam’s Gulch. Beginning at the trailhead, this almost seven-mile loop offers mountain top vistas of the valley’s golden Aspen leaves and caps off with a fun and fluid descent.

Adam's Gulch Hiking - Fall in Sun Valley, Idaho

Bike rentals are available at many of the shops in town, including: Sturtevants and Formula Sports. If you’re staying at the Limelight, the adjacent Four Mountain Sports offers convenient rentals as well.

Prefer to explore on your feet? A hike up Proctor Mountain provides excellent views of the changing Aspens below in the valley as well as Bald Mountain. Or, stroll the Wood River Trail, a paved bike and recreation path that meanders to neighboring Hailey and around downtown.

Experience the best of fall flavors with a lunch at Cristina’s. The restaurant’s ever-changing seasonal menu offers fresh salads, pizzas and sandwiches that reflect the owner’s Tuscan influence, fondness for fine ingredients and homemade artisanal breads. We recommend picking up a few goodies at the bakery on your way out. After all, you’ve earned it.

An afternoon drive up Galena Pass grants visitors sweeping views of the jagged Sawtooth Mountains. Revel in the postcard-like views and snap a few selfies from the outlook just over the pass, or at closer viewing points in Redfish Lake or Stanley. Cap off the day’s sightseeing with a drink at Redfish Lake Lodge (we recommend the rum punch of the bar margarita) and head back to town to experience the Sun Valley nightlife.

Fall at Galena Pass near Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley offers a plethora of dining options, from casual bites at Wiseguy Pizza to wine and burrata appetizers at Enoteca – you can’t go wrong. For some of the Valley’s finest, make a reservation at the Ketchum Grill. Located in the historic Ed Williams house built in 1885, the Ketchum Grill serves up some of the Valley’s best fruit-wood grilled meats, Idaho venison and lamb, fish and homemade breads and desserts. An awarding winning wine list and selection of micro-brews quench the day’s well-earned thirst, while unrivaled service and cozy atmosphere create and evening to remember.

Day 2

Recoup and reenergize at Zenergy, Sun Valley’s award-winning spa and health club. This five-star, 50,000 square-foot facility houses a full service spa, Sports Rehab Clinic, café, boutique, indoor and outdoor pools and Jacuzzi. An insider tip for visitors - a massage appointment also includes a complimentary day pass to the facility. Soak in one of the outdoor saltwater pools that overlook Baldy Mountain, grab a smoothie or green juice at the café and let the rejuvenation begin.

Fall at the Zenergy Pool in Sun Valley, Idaho | Steve Dondero Image

Alternatively, hit the links at one of the many golf courses in Sun Valley. Located adjacent to Zenergy, Bigwood Golf Course offers a nine-hole course with great views of the ski area alongside Highway 75. Or, test out your skills at the 3,600 yard, alpine-style White Clouds course, set against the backdrop of surrounding mountain ranges including the Pioneers, Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain ski areas.

Grab lunch at one of the two Bigwood Bread Cafe locations (downtown and in the industrial district). Featuring homemade breads, sandwiches, soups and salads, the fare at Bigwood is a crowd-pleaser. Local’s favorites include the Bigwood Burrito or the Kale and Quinoa Wrap. Be sure to take a bag of the homemade chocolate cookies to go. You won't be disappointed.

The rivers surrounding Sun Valley are world-renowned fishing waters. From the Salmon River to the north to the Big Wood River closer to town, anglers of all abilities will enjoy catching legendary brown, rainbow, cutthroat, bull trout and more. Don’t miss neighboring elk and moose while fishing Silver Creek.

Silver Creek Outfitters and Lost River Outfitters, both conveniently located on Main Street, provide everything from fishing licenses, gear, equipment rental, guides and knowledge to provide an afternoon of nature-seeking and lunker-catching.

For a final dinner, immerse yourself in the historic and Western-themed Pioneer Saloon. Relics from the West, as we best remember it, adorn the walls, while the kitchen cooks up flavorful steaks and the famous, Idaho-classic, Jim Spud Baked Potato. Grab a margarita from the bar while you wait for a table and let the history on the walls paint a picture of what mining days in Idaho once entailed.

Extra Bonus

Plan your perfect weekend getaway around the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, which takes place October 4-8, 2017. Enjoy cooking classes, weaving demonstrations, locally prepared lamb dish tastings, sheep dog trials and the famous Trailing of the Sheep Parade. The not-to-miss festival brings to light the town’s rich history and traditions.

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