Slide into Idaho's best spring ski town.
In 1879, among the sage-strewn mountains of south-central Idaho, fur trapper David Ketchum unearthed a silver nugget. Word spread, prospectors arrived, times were good—but not for long. In the 1890s, the boomtown went bust.
Then, in 1936, Sun Valley Resort opened with fanfare and glamour. Hollywood stars—Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby—came to ride the nation’s first chairlift, and Ketchum got its boom back. Today, with snow staying as late as April, the old downtown remains a sophisticated après-ski spot: a place to munch pastries, buy a painting, try on cowboy boots, or dine on steak. Area code is 208.
In a sweet red cottage, Cristina’s serves Italian baked goods that make a great start to a day—flaky cream-filled pastries called cornetti and homemade bread smeared with honey butter. 520 Second St. E., 726-4499.
Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls at the Sun Valley lodge in the 1930s. Check out a first edition and thousands of rare tomes at Iconoclast Books. 211 N. Main St., 726-1564.
Inside the Ketchum–Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum, you’ll find Olympic ski champion Picabo Street’s red spandex racing suit and a wall-size map showing the 50 miles of tunnels that wind through the area’s largest silver mine. Corner of Washington Avenue and First Street, 726-8118.
Déjà Vu stocks vintage clothing—satin cocktail dresses, fur-trimmed coats, and the sorts of fashionable sweaters that Janet Leigh and Ginger Rogers wore when they put on a pair of skis. 511 Leadville Ave. N., 726-1908.
Of the 30 art galleries downtown, Gail Severn is the largest and most impressive, with heated sidewalks for outdoor exhibits and a 22-foot door for large sculptures. 400 First Ave. N., 726-5079.
Stop by Silver Creek Outfitters for a fly rod and tips on where the fish are biting. Women fishing for compliments will find chic Western wear: red suede cowboy boots, velvet jeans, ruffled flannel shirts. 500 N. Main St., 726-5282.
An affable Frenchman who coached the U.S. women's ski team in the 1980s runs Michel's Christiania Restaurant and Olympic Bar. It's known for its rich French food—filet mignon with a buttery morel sauce—that will restore you after a day in the snow. 309 Walnut Ave. N., 726-3388.
Photography by Kristen Shultz
This article was first published in March 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.