Foodie Heaven

Autumn is synonymous with bounty and the time of harvest, so what better time to celebrate the best in locally sourced, absolutely fresh and positively delicious food. The Sun Valley Harvest Festival returns for the fifth year from September 18 to 21 and you won’t want to miss a course!

The Sun Valley Festival is a collage of taste experiences you won't want to miss (photo visitsunvalley.com)

The Sun Valley Festival is a collage of taste experiences you won’t want to miss (photo visitsunvalley.com)

Billed by organizers as “a culinary celebration … the epitome of epicurean indulgence, an oenophile’s dream, and an outdoor enthusiast’s Mecca,” the festival appeals to all palates. With a focus on seasonal, regional sustainable foods, it promises to be a fun-filled weekend featuring new events this year. These include highly anticipated Foodie Adventures, two new wine tastings at beautiful local venues, a Speakeasy-themed after-party in downtown Ketchum, as well as the first Hailey event, Swine, Wine & Dine.

Kick off the festival with friends in a casual atmosphere at the Taste of Ketchum on September 18

Kick off the festival with friends in a casual atmosphere at the Taste of Ketchum on September 18 (photo Sun Valley Harvest Festival)

Other highlights include the very popular Taste of Ketchum. On Thursday evening, September 18, the festival kicks off with copious amounts of delicious food, served in a relaxed, sociable setting. The fun begins at Ketchum Town Square at 5 p.m. when you are invited to take a leisurely stroll through the heart of Ketchum stopping to sample regional fare and paired libations from participating eateries. The evening winds down at 7 p.m. at Memory Park with dessert and sparkling wine. Cheers!

Sun Valley Executive Chef and Culinary Director John Murcko will weave his magic at both the Martini and Caviar Party at Roundhouse at at the grand finale party at Trail Creek Cabin

Sun Valley Executive Chef and Culinary Director John Murcko will weave his magic at both the Martini and Caviar Party at Roundhouse at at the grand finale party at Trail Creek Cabin

Also on the agenda is the new and highly anticipated Taste of Sun Valley. Travel back in time to the rustic and historic Trail Creek Cabin where Sun Valley Resort’s own Culinary Director and Executive Chef John Murcko will create an evening you will never forget. On Sunday afternoon the 21st, soak in the beautiful fall day as the aspen trees surrounding Trail Creek Cabin begin to glow gold while sampling locally sourced foods and wines from Buried Cane, Cadaretta and Clayhouse Vineyards. Murcko, a James Beard Finalist, will work with other fine chefs from the Resort to ensure the grand finale to the Sun Valley Harvest Festival is simply amazing.

For more information about Chef Murcko please click here.

There is no place more beautiful in autumn than the historic Trail Creek Cabin. The Sun Valley Harvest Festival caps off an amazing weekend with a party here on September 21

There is no place more beautiful in autumn than the historic Trail Creek Cabin. The Sun Valley Harvest Festival caps off an amazing weekend with a party here on September 21

Feeling adventurous? Then be sure to check out the new Foodie Adventures offerings at the festival. On Saturday, September 20, tickets to two eating adventures are still available: one to Galena Lodge for bike adventure and one to Nighthawk Farm in Bellevue. At Galena, you will work up an appetite by enjoying a bike ride with some of the area’s top athletes and at Nighthawk Farm, all food served will come from the farm. Both events feature food prepared by top chefs paired with sublime wines.

Martinis and Caviar with a killer view has the makings of a truly memorable night (photo visitsunvalley.com)

Martinis and Caviar with a killer view has the makings of a truly memorable night (photo visitsunvalley.com)

Another very special way to savor and sip in Sun Valley is by signing up for the Martini and Caviar party at the Roundhouse Restaurant that is perched two-thirds of the way up Bald Mountain. On Saturday evening September 20, starting at 6 p.m., get whisked up the River Run side of the mountain on the gondola and start the memorable evening off with a scenic ride. You will be greeted at the base of the Roundhouse with a glass of Michelle Sparkling Wine. Again, Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko is in charge of the night and is sure to impress with his artfully crafted fare featuring sturgeon caviar and Idaho caviar. Popular mixologist Ryan Sullivan will craft cocktails featuring Idaho’s Square One organic vodkas to complement the food. This is one fun party that continues until 9 p.m. and magical and iconic setting at 7,700 feet above sea level simply can’t be beat!

Come, gather, eat and drink. The Sun Valley Harvest Festival is almost here. Get your tickets today! (photo Sun Valley Harvest Festival)

Come, gather, eat and drink. The Sun Valley Harvest Festival is almost here. Get your tickets today! (photo Sun Valley Harvest Festival)

There’s so much more to this weekend. For a full listing of events and to buy tickets, please click HERE.

The Sun Valley Harvest Festival was voted one of the top food festivals in America by Fodor’s. Come see why for yourself. Whether you prefer jeans and boots at a picnic or a cocktail dress on the deck at Roundhouse, you will find the perfect way to enjoy a glorious fall day or evening in Sun Valley.

–RES

Along the Banks of Trail Creek

As our server Shauna approached the table to take a drink order with her signature smile, the business of the day began to evaporate into the tumbling water of Trail Creek as it raced just feet from where we sat. The wide wooden deck, perched inches away from the burbling stream, was set with umbrellaed tables and offered a full bar, complete with comfortable bar stools and festooned with twinkling lights.

The deck at beautiful Trail Creek Cabin awaits to make your dining dreams come true!

The deck at beautiful Trail Creek Cabin awaits to make your dining dreams come true!

Welcome to summer at Trail Creek Cabin, Sun Valley’s historic restaurant located 1.5 miles east of the Sun Valley Lodge. This romantic hideaway in the Idaho hills was originally built in 1937 as a hunting lodge and now offers a first-class dining experience featuring a menu filled with the freshest, most local, most seasonal choices available.

There is no better place this summer to enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail (pictured is the Hawaiian Cosmopolitan) and delicious, locally-sourced food.

There is no better place this summer to enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail (pictured is the Hawaiian Cosmopolitan) and delicious, locally-sourced food.

This summer, creekside dining is a must-do. Though the restaurant normally offers al fresco dining on the lawn adjacent to the restaurant, there is something really special about descending the steps onto the deck. The slight mineral smell of the creek and the sounds it makes as it bounces over rocks and around bends ensure a one-of-a-kind experience.

Through June 21, the menu at Trail Creek Cabin includes a nightly “deck” special, that for $15.95, is a can’t-miss. This week, the special included a grilled New York Steak with crushed red potatoes and seasonal vegetables accompanied by a glass of red wine and ending with homemade cinnamon ice cream.

The daily 'deck special' hit the spot.

The daily 'deck special' hit the spot.

The rest of the menu this summer, under the direction of Chef Wendy Little, is full of delicious details and fan favorites. Small plates include House Smoked Rainbow Trout with potato and watercress salad, a Charcuterie Plate and Ground Elk-Buffalo Sliders. A complement of salads provide a light interlude and rely on locally grown, in-season ingredients. Large plates range from Grilled Eggplant for the vegetarian to a Bone-In Cowboy Rib Eye for those who crave a taste of the wide-open range. Of course, wonderful fish dishes like Cedar Planked Alaskan King Salmon and Potato Wrapped Idaho Sturgeon with sublime sides are also available.

Trail Creek Cabin is also known for it’s hand-crafted cocktails and extensive wine list. Bartender Richard carefully prepares Basil Lemondrops using fresh basil that is still growing behind the bar. Another favorite is a Huckleberry Mojito, full of the flavor of fresh local huckleberries. My favorite is the Hawaiian Cosmopolitan made with fresh pineapple. It’s a trip to the beach without ever having to leave the beautiful Idaho mountains.

My chicken was juicy and flavorful, perfect for a summer's evening.

My chicken was juicy and flavorful, perfect for a summer's evening.

Save room for dessert as Trail Creek Cabin’s enormous “Mile High” Mud Pie is something you have to taste to believe. They also serve local ice creams, a wonderful chocolate lava cake and specialties featuring in-season berries and fruit.

For dinner one night recently, our party of four enjoyed a relaxing dinner on the deck and ordered a wide selection from the menu. I sampled the night’s Market Salad that was comprised of the freshest local asparagus, crumbled egg, a bit of breadcrumb and hazelnuts. It was accompanied by a wild mushroom strudel and was absolutely perfect. Our large plates ranged from the Bone-In Cowboy Rib Eye (with the best buttermilk onion rings ever), the deck special, Brick Red Organic Rotisserie Chicken and the Slow Cooked Heritage Pork Ribs. Delicious!

Bring your friends and enjoy a memorable meal along the banks of Trail Creek.

Bring your friends and enjoy a memorable meal along the banks of Trail Creek.

To make a special night even more special, book a round-trip carriage ride to Trail Creek Cabin from the Resort. This approximately half-hour journey includes beautiful scenery and the chance to take life at a slighter slower pace. For details on this memorable option and to ask about the Mountain Romance package, please call 208.622.2387.

Reservations for dinner are available by calling 208.622.2097 and dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Dinner on the deck beside Trail Creek – it really feels, and tastes, like summer!

–RES

Giddy Up!

Growing up on the East Coast, my early perceptions of the west largely consisted of visions of horses and wide open plains – images from books and films. This reality was reinforced by trips to ‘dude ranches’ in Wyoming as a child. I mostly remember scratchy straw cowboy hats, stiff leather cowboy boots and saddle sores from vacations spent on horseback. But I also remember the gorgeous scenery and excitement of learning riding basics.

Picture yourself here. Trail rides are offered seven days a week throughout the summer in Sun Valley.

Picture yourself here. Trail rides are offered seven days a week throughout the summer in Sun Valley.

Though Sun Valley isn’t the Wild West, horseback trail riding is certainly still part of our western culture. And no trip to a dude ranch is required to get some quality time in a saddle.

The Sun Valley Horsemen’s Center, located within easy walking or biking distance of the Lodge and Inn, provides a genuine trail riding experience that is fun, scenic and great for all ability levels. During the summer, stop by the Stables, or call 208.622.2387, and book a guided one or one-and-a-half hour ride up scenic Dollar Mountain. Rides are also available by appointment.

Look for the wagon on Sun Valley Road and stop by the Horsemen's Center to reserve a trail ride or carriage ride.

Look for the wagon on Sun Valley Road and stop by the Horsemen's Center to reserve a trail ride or carriage ride.

Chana, the assistant manager at the Horsemen’s Center (who looks the part in her flannel shirt, cowboy boots with spurs and broad smile), said both rides are beautiful. The California native turned Sun Valley wrangler said the longer ride dips down the Elkhorn side of the mountain, while the shorter ride offers fantastic views of Ketchum and beyond.

“During the high season that really heats up in mid-June, we offer trail rides seven days a week,” Chana said. “The first ride goes out at 9 a.m. and the last ride at 4 p.m. Reservations are required and we can take up to eight people at one time. We cater to the ‘never-ever’, the experienced horse person and everyone in between.”

Participants must be at least eight years old, 52 inches tall and accompanied by an adult. Riders are asked to arrive at the Stables 20 minutes before their set-out time for an orientation. A one-hour ride costs $46 and the longer ride runs $59. Tax is not included.

Communing with Sun Valley's horses is a popular family activity.

Communing with Sun Valley's horses is a popular family activity.

If you don’t want to ride a horse, you can still visit with some of Sun Valley’s most popular residents. The wide pasture along Sun Valley Road is populated by some of the Resort’s gentle horses that are more often than not up for a scratch on the nose or a carrot treat.

Another way to get a taste of the western experience is to book a summer wagon ride to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner. Please call 208.622.2387 for the details on this memorable mode of transportation. Currently, wagon rides are being offered on Tuesday and Friday evenings. The cost is $28 for guests 13 years and older and $18 for ages 2 – 12. This does not include dinner.

Your limousine awaits ... Idaho style!

Your limousine awaits ... Idaho style!

Rustic takes a turn to the romantic when the horse drawn carriage ride is part of a special package in Sun Valley. First, you will be welcomed with chocolates in your well-appointed and elegant room. Then, step back in time as you board a carriage that will carry you to, and from, the sublime Trail Creek Cabin. There, a table for two awaits, either outdoors on the patio or inside in the one-of-a-kind dining room. This romantic special is $237 per person double occupancy and includes one night’s lodging and the carriage ride. It does not include dinner. For reservations please call (866) 616-8224.

Get your giddy up on!

–RES

A meal at Trail Creek Cabin is made even more special by a horse drawn carriage ride

A meal at Trail Creek Cabin is made even more special by a horse drawn carriage ride.

A Walk Through History: Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley Resort’s historical walking tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Sun Valley. But for those who can’t wait until they’re here to discover the secrets behind this historic resort, here is Part Three: Sun Valley Resort. For the complete series click here

The Red Barn once belonged to the Brass Ranch, on which Sun Valley Resort was built

STOP ONE: Take Sun Valley Road from the Lodge towards Ketchum and stop at the bright Red Barn on your left just before you reach the city. This barn is all that remains of the original Brass Ranch on which the resort was built. Used by the Brass family as a granary and machine shed, it is now an iconic image of Sun Valley. In January 1936, a week or so after Count Felix Schaffgotsch arrived in town and deemed the area “perfect” for a million-dollar ski resort, he bumped into Roberta Brass sitting on a fence pole near this very spot. “This is it,” he told her. “This is where Union Pacific is going to put in a ski resort. Next year at this time there will be a thousand people here.” Two months later Roberta’s father Ernest sold the family’s 3,888-acre sheep and cattle ranch to the railroad company for $39,000, or about $10 an acre. Construction of the Lodge began in May of that year, and its doors opened eight months later.

STOP TWO: Travel a few hundred yards along Sun Valley Road toward the Lodge and turn right down a dirt road to the Sun Valley Stables. It was here the Sun Valley Rodeo enjoyed its brief life. Having given little advance thought to what it would do with a ski resort during the summer, Union Pacific quickly whipped up a rodeo grandstand in the spring of 1937 and Sun Valley hosted its first Wild West rodeo on August 14. It proved too expensive however, and once visitors discovered the real draws of Sun Valley in the summer, the gimmick was no longer needed. The rodeo ended its regular run with the closing of the resort for WWII in 1942 and the stands were finally torn down in the late fifties.

STOP THREE: Continue east a mile or so along Sun Valley Road past the Lodge to the magnificent Sun Valley Club. Built in 2008, this 58,000 square foot clubhouse provides a luxurious base from which to access 27 of the resort’s 45 golf holes in the summer, and 25 miles of Nordic trails in the winter. Union Pacific was quick to spot the importance of golf to a resort, starting work on the Sun Valley golf course in the fall of 1937. Designed by William P. Bell, it opened in the summer of 1938.

STOP FOUR: Walk through the clubhouse and out to the expansive patio, where you will enjoy what is arguably the best view of Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain in the valley. While it now stands as the centerpiece of Sun Valley Resort, Bald Mountain was not the initial attraction. When Schaffgotsch first arrived in the Wood River Valley, at the end of his six-week, 7,000 mile odyssey across the West in search of the ideal spot to build Harriman’s ski resort, it was the gentle inclines of Dollar, Proctor and Ruud mountains that caught his eye. He certainly noticed the “bald” mountain, but deemed it too advanced for the majority of skiers in America, where the sport was still in its infancy. He was wrong. Although lifts didn’t open on Baldy until December 23, 1939, even in the first season guests attempted to tackle its 3,400-foot vertical rise using the services of an early snowcat named “the tank.”

STOP FIVE: A few hundred yards further along Sun Valley Road look for a sign on your right pointing to the Hemingway Memorial. Take the trail down the hill and discover one of the most tranquil spots on the valley’s floor. A bronze bust of Ernest Hemingway sits there, presiding over the trickling Trail Creek. Inscribed on the memorial is part of a eulogy Hemingway delivered for the man who brought him to Sun Valley in 1939. Gene Van Guilder was a publicist for the resort and an avid outdoorsmen. He introduced Hemingway to the excellent hunting and fishing in the area, but tragically was shot in a hunting accident a few weeks after the author arrived at Sun Valley. A notoriously shy public speaker, Hemingway surprisingly agreed to write and deliver Van Guilder’s eulogy, perhaps an indication of how comfortable he felt at Sun Valley. Sadly, Hemingway’s association with Sun Valley ended with his suicide in 1961. He is buried in the Ketchum Cemetery a mile or so from this spot.

STOP SIX: Walk back up to Sun Valley Road and take in the mountains suddenly towering over you to the south. Proctor and Ruud in front of you, and Dollar to your right, were the first mountains in the valley developed for skiing. But it was on Proctor Mountain that skiing history was made. Named for Charlie Proctor, the American Nordic Olympian who together with Schaffgotsch selected the skiing terrain, the mountain was home to the world’s first chairlift. Sun Valley’s publicist Steve Hannagan greatly disliked skiing, and hated cold even more, so he constantly looked for ways to make the experience more comfortable. One of his better ideas was the concept of mechanical devices to take people to the top of the mountain. Putting the vast engineering knowledge of Union Pacific to work, the idea of a chairlift was born. Engineer James M. Curran’s previous experience building a device to load bananas onto a ship inspired him to create a people-carrying version, and the world’s first chairlift was installed on Proctor in December of 1936. The second was completed a few weeks later on Dollar. A J-bar lift was also installed on Proctor Mountain in 1936, but it was moved to Ruud Mountain and refitted with chairs the next year. That lift is the only one that still stands, and it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It can be visited via a short, but steep hike. From where you stand however, if there is no snow on the ground, you can just make out the original, decaying poles from that first chairlift on Proctor jutting up out of the hillside.

STOP SEVEN: Head further up Sun Valley Road to the newly remodeled Sun Valley Gun Club on your left. First situated along what is now Fairway Road across from the Sun Valley Lake, the gun club was constructed from the Hot Potato Hut that once warmed chilly skiers at the top of Proctor Mountain. That original structure is still part of the club, but the addition of marble bathrooms and other amenities has greatly increased the building’s luxury factor. Skeet shooting was once the most popular summertime activity at Sun Valley and the club hosted many internationally accredited shooting competitions. The addition in 1940 of Carl Bradsher, an internationally known skeet instructor from the exclusive Pennsylvania Rolling Rock Club, helped in generating interest in the sport. Today, that interest remains high, and the gun club claims the honor of teaching more beginners than any other club in the country.

STOP EIGHT: Opposite the gun club is the entrance to Trail Creek Cabin. Opened in January 1939 to create a destination for Sun Valley’s jingling scarlet and yellow bobsleighs, the cabin embraced all the rustic Western atmosphere that the Lodge lacked. Built not out of concrete but from real logs brought down off Galena Summit, it boasted a small coffee bar, a whitewashed kitchen where host August Jacobsen turned out pies and hot biscuits, and a fire that was always burning. Today, you can take a seasonal sleigh or hay ride to the cabin and enjoy dinner surrounded by the same spectacular beauty that Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn enjoyed when they had their pre-wedding dinner here in March of 1939. 

The history of Sun Valley is a rich tapestry that weaves the birth of America’s fascination with skiing, the glamor of the overlapping worlds of Hollywood stars and East Coast socialites, and the shadow of international disaster, into the creation of a vibrant and special community in Idaho’s high desert. This introductory tour merely scratches the surface of the fascinating events, amusing anecdotes and historical milestones to be tracked in this isolated valley. To read more about Sun Valley, its history and its characters, pick up a copy of The Sun Valley Story by Van Gordon Sauter. As Clint Eastwood wrote in his foreword “This book captures the magic and the tradition and a whole lot more.”

Written and researched by Jennifer Tuohy

Click here for Part One: The Sun Valley Lodge

Click here for Part Two: The Sun Valley Village 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

‘Tis the season to get out that red pen and mark your calendar so as not to miss any of the wonderful events that will make holidays in Sun Valley the merriest yet! From twinkling lights, to fabulous food; from fun for the family to sensational shopping – it’s all right here.

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Sun Valley

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Sun Valley

Here are some highlights for your December plans:

Our season kicks off in earnest on December 14 with a Winter Wonderland Stroll in the Sun Valley Village. This special afternoon includes photos with Santa at the Boiler Room deck from 1 to 3 p.m., a gingerbread man decorating workshop at 2 p.m., delicious food cart offerings including cider, hot cocoa, beignets and treats, craft demonstrations and a scavenger hunt and Window Stroll prizes. Stop into a la mode for gourmet hot chocolate or the Konditorei for a savory lunch or treat. It is a celebration for all ages.

Pop into a la mode and warm up with a special holiday hot chocolate

Pop into a la mode and warm up with a special holiday hot chocolate

The Sun Valley tree will sparkle to life on December 21 in front of the Inn. This annual tradition officially begins at 5 p.m. Shortly thereafter, the storied Sun Valley Carolers will entertain with their wonderful multi-part harmony renditions of Christmas classics and Sun Valley General Manager, Tim Silva, will then count down and light the tree. The remainder of the evening includes caroling, Santa arriving by sleigh at the Inn, ice carving demonstrations, food and warm drinks and a vintage Christmas sweater party for the grown ups at the Duchin Room beginning at 6 p.m.

On December 22, music takes center stage when the 6th annual Classic Christmas Concert comes to the Opera House at 7 p.m. The Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will bring its signature blend of gospel and traditional music and will be joined by a live trio and the Sun Valley Carolers.

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks are among Sun Valley's most treasured holiday traditions

The Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade and fireworks are among Sun Valley's most treasured holiday traditions

The culmination of all the pre-Christmas festivity leads to Christmas Eve, Sun Valley style. Don’t miss the tradition of the Christmas Eve Nutcracker on Ice and Torch Light Parade. At 4 p.m. on the 24th, complimentary hot cocoa and cookies are served on the Lodge patio. The Carolers welcome what is always a huge audience to the show at 5:30 p.m., with the special Nutcracker production, featuring professional and local young skaters, gliding into action at 5:40 p.m. Following the show around 6 p.m., look past the rink to Dollar Mountain where members of the Sun Valley SnowSports instructors and special guests will ski down the slopes holding lit torches – creating a mesmerizing serpentine of light into the dark night. Fireworks follow and if that isn’t enough, Santa is scheduled to arrive for a special appearance.

 

The torchlight parade is truly magical (photo courtesy Charlie Webster)

The torchlight parade is truly magical (photo courtesy Charlie Webster)

Shopping at the Sun Valley Village specialty shops, as well as at the base of River Run, will inspire you to polish off those Christmas lists. Quality defines the merchandise available at Brass Ranch, Panache, Pete Lane’s, Silver Creek Outfitters, the Toy Store, Towne & Parke Jewelers and the Sun Valley Signature Shops, and no matter if your tastes run from classical to whimsical, there is truly something for everyone.

The tastes, smells and flavors of holiday meals also help define the season. Sun Valley’s signature restaurants will be serving fare that invites you to linger, to continue the conversation, to order just one more course or another glass of fine wine.

Tell Santa how good you've been this year at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room

Tell Santa how good you've been this year at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room

Special to the season is the reopening of the elegant Lodge Dining Room for a Champagne Brunch every Sunday, December 15 through March 30. On December 21 and 22, be sure to come to the bountiful breakfast for a special chance to see Santa Claus before he begins his around-the-world journey. Please call Restaurant Reservations 208-622-2800 to reserve a seat with Santa.

Historic Roundhouse perched two-thirds up Bald Mountain opens for the season for lunch daily on December 12 and for dinner during the season on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. A meal there is truly magical! Reservations for dinner are accepted at 208-622-2012.

The Sun Valley sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin is a must-do holiday activity

The Sun Valley sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin is a must-do holiday activity

No trip to Sun Valley is complete without a sleigh ride under the stars to historic Trail Creek Cabin for a warm, inviting and plentiful meal before a roaring fire. Book your sleigh ride and dinner reservations through the Recreation Center at 208-622-2135.

Check back to this blog for updates and more information on all the flavorful, fun options for holiday food as well as all the holiday hoopla.

Holidays in Sun Valley are exactly what they are supposed to be – genuine, memorable, colorful, filled with traditional. Be sure not to miss a minute!

–RES

Travel and Leisure agrees — Sun Valley is for Families

Anyone who has come to Sun Valley with their family knows that there is no better place, no matter your age, to enjoy a memorable, unique experience. The readers of Travel and Leisure agree. In the magazine’s just released 18th annual “World’s Best Awards 2013” results, discerning readers were polled and asked to cast their vote for the best of the best hotels, destinations, and companies that define the very finest in travel.

Year-round, Sun Valley is for families

Year-round, Sun Valley is for families

In the category of top Family Hotels, Sun Valley Resort was voted #38 out of the top 50. With our year-round recreational opportunities, three pools, eight restaurants, caring childcare, extensive kids’ programs, and family-friendly atmosphere, Sun Valley was among very few mountain resorts to receive the recognition.

As the winter season begins in earnest, it is readily apparent that Sun Valley is the premiere cold weather destination for families. With the Sun Valley Snow Sports School gearing up for the best season ever, specially trained instructors who love working with children will offer little shredders the best experience possible on the slopes. Based from the gorgeous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge and River Run on Bald Mountain, full-day ski lessons are available for children ages 4 – 12 and snowboarding for ages 6 – 12. Lessons include four hours of on-snow instruction and a healthy hot lunch the kids will actually eat!

Happiness is children on Sun Valley's snowy slopes

Happiness is children on Sun Valley's snowy slopes

The epic Terrain Park at Dollar is another reason Sun Valley is family-central. With the only  22-foot Superpipe in the northwest and constantly growing and evolving jumps and park features, it is really one huge white playground. Sun Valley’s Adventure Trails on Baldy are also a family favorite. These trails that cut into glades on all sides of the mountain, provide narrow, banking, rolling runs that are wildly popular with the younger set. All are designed to meet up with traditional runs, so adults who choose not to follow their kids in, are always within earshot of the “woo hoo” cheers coming from the trees.

Snowshoeing and cross country skiing also make Sun Valley the best choice for families. Five-year-olds can snowshoe with their 75-year-old grandmothers on beautiful trails that highlight some of the area’s most scenic vistas. Cross country skiing is something the entire family can do, as well, and the finest instruction and gear rental are available at the lovely Sun Valley Club.

Go ahead and play on the Terrain Park

Go ahead and play on the Terrain Park

Two year-round outdoor heated pools await at the Sun Valley Lodge and Inn and are a great way to wind down and warm up after a day on the snow. If the family needs a quiet afternoon, the Sun Valley Bowling Alley and Game Room provides the best in old-school entertainment and the iconic outdoor ice rink awaits just beyond the Lodge’s back patio. The Opera House runs first-run movies, too. Try a family-friendly dinner at Bald Mountain Pizza and Pasta before taking in a film.

Bowl, eat, take in a movie -- you can only spend seven hours a day on slopes!

Bowl, eat, take in a movie -- you can only spend seven hours a day on slopes!

That doesn’t even begin to cover cozying up for a gourmet hot chocolate at a la mode in the Sun Valley Village, riding a horse drawn sleigh to a very special dinner at Trail Creek Cabin, or Sunday brunch with Santa Claus at the elegant Lodge Dining Room. The possibilities truly are endless.

With the first visit to Sun Valley, every member of the family, whether their “children” are toddlers or adults, will agree with the readers of Travel and Leisure that the Resort is a pretty special place for families. Start a tradition that lasts generations by bringing your clan to Sun Valley this winter. You will quickly understand what all the accolades are about!

–RES

Sun Valley is magical for families, especially at the holidays. Here, children enjoy brunch with Santa at the Lodge Dining Room

Sun Valley is magical for families, especially at the holidays. Here, children enjoy brunch with Santa at the Lodge Dining Room

Trail Creek Cabin – Thanksgiving Day Harvest Dinner

Thanksgiving Day Harvest Dinner

$52/person – $25/kids 12 & under

Reservations Required, Reserve Online or call 208-622-2019.

 

For additional questions please call Restaurant Reservations at 208-622-2800 or e-mail restaurantreservations@sunvalley.com for more information.

A Taste of Trail Creek (at a special price)

Welcome to Trail Creek Cabin in autumn -- fabulous food in a fabulous setting and now at a price that can't be beat

Welcome to Trail Creek Cabin in autumn -- fabulous food in a fabulous setting and now at a price that can't be beat

Ah, slack. The autumn shoulder season in Sun Valley brings many pleasures – gorgeous sunny days, bright fall foliage, and no less importantly … slack food specials. During the quieter months, most of our area’s mouthwatering eateries entice diners with appetizing meals at an appetizing price.

Sun Valley Resort is on the slack special program with historic Trail Creek Cabin offering a dinner special and both Gretchen’s and the Sun Valley Club inviting lunch patrons to enjoy the season with a price break.

Midweek, Trail Creek Cabin's charming and rustic interior was filled with happy diners

Midweek, Trail Creek Cabin's charming and rustic interior was filled with happy foodies

Wednesday night, finding myself with nothing in the refrigerator and too tired to cook anyway, I decided to take the short drive to Trail Creek Cabin for their two entrees for $30 promotion. On the menu through November 2? Hungarian Beef Goulash, Spicy Cajun Gumbo, Vegetarian Lasagna as well as the full regular Trail Creek menu featuring locally sourced, seasonally appropriate fare.

Greeted by not one but two roaring fires on the brisk, almost-full-moon-lit October night, our group of five was quickly seated at a spacious, comfortable table. In short order, a big basket filled with Trail Creek Cabin’s famous sweet scones and other breads was delivered. Two minutes later it was empty. Did I mention I brought all three of my children?

Surrounded by the flickering fire, rustic décor and tantalizing smells from the kitchen, my family’s mood improved almost immediately. Conversation flowed and the day’s happenings were compared as we perused the menu.

Healthy, light and local,the Idaho trout was an addition to the specials this week

Healthy, light and local,the Idaho trout was an addition to the specials this week

For me, the only problem with slack specials is that many of them, at many local restaurants, don’t appeal to me. I am a pretty particular eater and, I am told, difficult to dine with. But there was something for everyone on the Trail Creek special menu. I found myself struggling to choose between the lasagna, the gumbo and a third special that evening, Idaho trout with seasonal vegetables. In the end, I went with the hearty gumbo as well as a cup of butternut squash soup with white beans. My dining companion opted for the trout special and everyone at the table ordered the soup. My children couldn’t deviate from their Trail Creek favorite (and the most popular menu item) — a cowboy steak with onion rings and a loaded baked potato.

All the food arrived piping hot and plentiful. The soup was a creamy taste of the season. My gumbo offered just the right amount of kick and my friend’s trout was fresh, light and full of flavor. Of course, the kids loved their steak, too.

Two-for-one dessert made finishing our meal with something sweet a given

Two-for-one dessert made finishing our meal with something sweet a given

For dessert, I downloaded coupons offering two-for-one, so we had to take advantage of that, too. Soon, two tall, frosty root beer floats arrived at the table, as did two warm chocolate lava cakes. They disappeared as quickly as the scones.

That evening, Trail Creek was bustling because even when Sun Valley is quiet, it’s not that quiet. Romantic tables for two were interspersed with large party groups. Many diners wore their badges from the Jazz Festival that is in full swing at Sun Valley Resort.

Cozy and inviting, this is the perfect time to head to Trail Creek Cabin

Cozy and inviting, this is the perfect time to head to Trail Creek Cabin

Trail Creek Cabin is a special place. Just a few miles up the road from the Sun Valley Lodge, the historic building is cozy and inviting, harkening back to simpler times and feeling very much away from it all. Now, with the aspens glowing gold, the evening air cool and invigorating and dinner very affordable, it is the perfect time to make the sojourn to the cabin.

Be sure to reserve your table and enjoy a memorable meal by November 2.

Bon appétit!

–RES

Our group was all smiles following a memorable meal

Our group was all smiles following a memorable meal

The Sheep are Coming!

The sheep are making their way toward Ketchum for a weekend that's all about them

The sheep are making their way to town for a weekend that's all about them

It is officially October in Sun Valley, and that can mean only one thing: the sheep are coming! The countdown has begun to the 17th Trailing of the Sheep Festival that kicks off October 10. This wild and woolly weekend has been called one of the Top Ten Festivals in the world by MSN Travel, one of the Top 200 U.S. Festivals by Amazing Festivals and one of the Top 100 Festivals in North America by the ABA. Around here, we just call it a beautiful fall weekend that provides a wonderful glimpse into our region’s rich history. And the parade of sheep down Main Street in Ketchum is pretty entertaining, too.

It is believed that John Hailey first brought sheep into the Wood River Valley in the 1860s. They soon became a source of fiber and food for early settlers. As the mining industry became less important in the region’s economy, the role of sheep increased. For decades, the sheep population in the state of Idaho greatly outnumbered the human population!

All eyes are on the region's rich history during this festival

All eyes are on the region's rich history during this festival

The Trailing of the Sheep Festival celebrates this heritage in a very colorful, flavorful, hands-on way. The four-day event kicks off on Thursday, October 10, and continues through the Trailing of the Sheep parade that runs down Main Street at noon on Sunday, October 13. In between, events up and down the valley entertain and educate.

One of the Festival highlights (among many) focuses on food. If you are a lover of lamb, you truly don’t want to miss opportunities to taste and savor this delicacy in countless incarnations. All week, even before the official kick-off of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, foodies can enjoy a lamb dine-around in Ketchum. Local chefs are offering all kinds of lamb specials — from a modern take on the traditional herb crusted rack of lamb with red wine and rosemary sauce at B. Restaurant in Ketchum, to lamb sliders with Lava Lake lamb on Big Wood bread buns at the Cellar Pub, to slow roasted lamb tacos at Despos. Many of your local favorite eateries are offering new takes on lamb so be sure to reserve a different table each night of the week.

Lots of tasty lamb treats are available to sample at the Folklife Fair

Lots of tasty lamb treats are available to sample at the Folklife Fair

Sun Valley’s historic Trail Creek Cabin is on the sheep celebration, too. The talented chef Wendy Little is sure to have an innovative take on incorporating lamb into her fall menu. Please call 208.622.2800 for more information.

Other eating (and drinking) opportunities are abundant, as well. Cooking classes featuring lamb and a course in pairing wines with lamb are scheduled for October 10. A barbecue on Irving’s Hill and Main Street Market in Ketchum will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Demonstrations show that not every process need be automated

Demonstrations show that not every process need be automated

My family’s favorite event of the weekend is the Folklife Fair that takes place in Hailey on Saturday, October 12. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roberta McKercher Park, enjoy the spectacle of Boise Highlanders’ bagpipers, drummer and dancers; Peruvian dancers and musicians; Oinkari Basque Dancers; Polish Highlanders and dozens of exhibitions featuring sheep shearing, wool spinning and sheep herding, as well as countless booths showcasing fiber art, face painting, crafts, and, of course, lots of lamb-inspired food.

The colorful Trailing of the Sheep parade caps off a fabulous weekend on Sunday, Oct. 13

The colorful Trailing of the Sheep parade caps off a fabulous weekend on Sunday, Oct. 13

Then there’s the parade that you have to see to believe. Hundreds of sheep racing and jumping down Main Street preceded by wonderful musicians and dancers is a sight you won’t see anywhere else.

For a full schedule for the weekend, please click HERE.

Sun Valley Resort is offering special incentive to come, stay and enjoy all the weekend has to offer with room rates starting at $159 for single or double room. Mention Trailing of the Sheep Festival when you make your reservation.

Think sheep, think fall and I’ll see you at the Festival!

–RES

TRICK-OR-TREAT 12K TRAIL RUN

The final run of the season utilizing mountain single track around Trail Creek Cabin. The course is made up of Proctor Loop, Aspen loop, and the Bench single track.

Runners will be challenged with moderate climbs and descents, flat sections and awarded with amazing views of the SV area.

There will be an award for best Halloween costume, so come dressed in your Halloween finest!