How to Fit-In Like a Local this Winter

When on vacation anywhere, the best advice anyone can give or take is to live like the locals do; they know the best food and drink spots, the best ways to navigate town, and by living like they do, you’re sure to get the best experience of that place. Ketchum is no different and while the tourist economy is how this town survives, it’s the locals that make it thrive. Take a few tips from us and by the time you leave, fellow locals will be asking you, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?…”

Ditch the Attitude

People enjoy small towns for a reason and it’s that small-town-charm. Give yourself a dose of it and you’ll find that a little goes a long way in Ketchum. Slow down, be nice, ditch the attitude. Be humble, polite, tip your bartenders, servers, and baristas, have some patience, don’t honk your horn, be aware of your surroundings when using the crosswalk, smile. And don’t park like an idiot, otherwise you might end up on Ketchum’s Facebook group “Ketchum Elite” that makes fun of those who think they can park on sidewalks and going against traffic.

Keep it Ketchum Casual 

There’s no need for furs here unless it’s closing day, save those for Vail. Even the fanciest restaurants in town will still accept the go-to uniform of jeans and flannels. Ladies, it’s going to be cold and even if you’re spending the evening going from restaurant to bar to hotel, you’ll still be in the cold for at least 5 minutes. Bring a jacket and skip the heels, slippery ice can bring down even the most fashionable!

Make a Reservation Well in Advance

Know that restaurants typically stop serving food around 9:30pm here so don’t expect the late-night service you’d see in a bigger city. Also, making multiple reservations for the same time at different restaurants “just in case” is frowned upon and will get you a bad reputation. It’s a small town and restaurant workers talk, it’s good to stay on restaurant’s good sides, especially if you frequent the area.

Keep it Under Control on the Ski Hill

If you haven’t skied in 4 years (or ever) or have a self-induced buzz that is leaving you feeling invisible, this is not the time to go full-send and end up on Jerry of the Day. Safety is cool no matter what age or skill level so always look uphill before taking off down a run, spot your landings, don’t treat groomers like race arenas, and buy your ski patrollers a beer.


Don’t be a “Gaper”

“Gapers”, like “jerrys”, are basically skiers and snowboarders who don’t have a clue. Things that will make you a gaper or Jerry in Ketchum: walking around town in ski boots, wearing your skis into the lodge, or having too many Go-Pros attached to you. 

Pro Tips for Dodging the Gaper Syndrome from Outside Magazine


Explore the Arts & Culture Experiences

Don’t just limit yourself to what’s playing at the Argyros, explore plays at local theater company The Spot, free gallery exhibitions at the Sun Valley Museum of Art or gallery walk, or fun free events put on by the City in town square.

Get Out There

Check out the local Nordic trails, snowshoe or take a winter hike up Adam’s Gulch, or (if you’re feeling daring), skin up Baldy for a night-time run. Ketchum’s splendor is in its mountains!

Tip your Bartenders

This one may be common sense but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. It’s local style to keep bartenders happy since they keep you in stock with your favorite drinks year-round, but even if you’ll only be in town a few days, throw a couple your bartender’s and servers way; after all, they’re what make this town.

Learn Landmarks 

No one in Ketchum knows the names of any streets, even those born here (take a left at the big chair, then a right at Atkinson’s…) so familiarize yourself with the landmarks if you plan to take or give directions. It’s way better than being that person glued to the Google Maps app on your smartphone walking in to traffic…

Take Public Transportation

There’s busses and shuttles from almost every big hotel in town (or walking!) and parking can be a nightmare during the busy ski season. Make like a local and utilize the great options Ketchum provides. 

Check Out the Town of Hailey 

Hailey is where the majority of the working class community lives so you’ll be sure to rub elbows with true year-round locals. It has tasty restaurants like CK’s. Check out night skiing at Rotarun on Friday nights for a family-friendly good time or the Sun Valley Suns Hockey games!

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