Sun Valley, Idaho, has been a favorite adventure getaway and celebrity respite for almost a century. In 1936, Union Pacific railway magnate William Averell Harriman installed the world’s first ski lift, cementing Sun Valley as a premier ski resort, though the entire Wood River Valley is equally popular during the summer months (and pretty much all year except for a few slack weeks when trails are too muddy for hiking). Over the years, the area has attracted everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Oprah Winfrey to Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as crowds of less recognizable guests, who find sustenance and recuperate from outdoor activities at restaurants in the neighboring cities of Ketchum and Hailey. A hungry adventurer can choose from fine dining, charming decades-old standbys, creative menus spanning the Mediterranean or Southeast Asia, and spots featuring locally sourced ingredients such as trout, elk, lamb, bison, hops, potatoes, morels, and huckleberries.
Update, January 2021:
In March 2020, as COVID-19 came to Idaho, Sun Valley became the epicenter of the state’s COVID-19 outbreak, forcing Mayor Neil Bradshaw to discourage visitors to the rural community. Over the summer, restrictions helped bring down the caseload in the area. Meanwhile, the state followed the Idaho Rebound plan to slowly loosen regulations from stage one to stage four, only to roll back in the fall as COVID cases spiked, eventually settling into a modified stage two in November.
Due to the outbreak in the area in early 2020, Sun Valley Resort and local businesses have taken precautions seriously, providing some confidence to skiers desperate to hit the slopes. Since the resort opened the season on Thanksgiving, social-distancing measures, limited ski lift access, and local mask mandates have helped keep winter feeling fun and safe. That’s also good news for restaurants that rely on the seasonal tourist economy. While indoor dining is allowed in Idaho as long as customers maintain social distancing, many eateries are also offering takeout and comfortable outdoor dining where possible.
The following is an updated list of restaurants pivoting, evolving, and serving Sun Valley through the pandemic.
Note: Due to the pandemic, restaurant hours and level of service may vary. Outdoor dining and takeout options are highlighted on each map point. Many Ketchum and Hailey restaurants are open for indoor service at a reduced capacity, though their inclusion should not be taken as an endorsement for dining indoors. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk outdoors, though the level of risk involved with patio dining is based on the enforcement of strict social distancing and mandated safety guidelines. For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please visit Rebound Idaho and Sun Valley’s own list of resources.