Monday, December 22, 2014


{ A few of my favorite Sun Valley moments as captured on Instagram }

My favorite time of the year has arrived. Spending a week in Sun Valley, Idaho with my family is something I look forward to with nostalgic longing and anticipation pretty much the entire year. Because I have spent so much time there but usually only get to visit once a year now, the place has an emotional grip on me like no other. 

While downhill skiing takes up most of anyone's time in Sun Valley over the winter holidays, there's a lot more to do in and around town. Between drinks at the bottom of the mountain, dinner parties with my parents and their friends and boogieing around town catching with old friends—many of my favorite Sun Valley memories revolve around eating and drinking. Hence, my ideal agenda between Christmas and New Year's is also largely guided by my favorite bars and restaurants.

This year, Tully is coming out for the first time. She's going to learn to ski, and I'm going to show her the ropes. From Frenchman's Hot Springs to Christina's and Galena, I can't wait to share with her all that makes this little corner of Idaho so incredibly special.


{ At the top of the mountain with Alex and Anne }

BREAKFAST AT JAVA: There's a reason you will always wait in line at Java over the holidays. The 'Bowl of Soul' is one of them, and the delicious food is the other. The line is worth the wait, and you're likely to run into a friend or six. My go-to order is the 'Skinny Minnie' breakfast and a Bowl of Soul with no whip. Whatever you do, don't miss Java.

LUNCH & FONDUE AT THE ROUNDHOUSE (AND A DRINK AVERRELLS): Located about half-way up the mountain, you won't find better views than those at the Roundhouse (unless you go all the way to the top, that is). Fondue is the special thing to order here, but make no mistake, it's also a great place to stop in for a beer and catch the Seahawks game before you ski down. [Note that you can also go sans-skis and take the gondola up from River Run.]

XC-SKIING AT THE SUN VALLEY GOLF COURSE: Perfectly groomed trails for every skill level and a near-perfect view of the mountain are only two of the reasons I love to get my sweat on with nordic skiing at the Sun Valley Club. The trails take you up past Hemingway's grave, up to Trail Creek Cabin and past some of the most gorgeous houses in the valley. 

{XC Skiing with the girls }

SNOWSHOEING FROM GALENA LODGE: Take the scenic drive up to Galena and you'll be rewarded with more snow than in the valley, pristine, epic views, and yet another fantastic place to have lunch. You can cross-country ski up at Galena, too, but I prefer to strap on snowshoes and hike up the Yurt Trail Loop to get some serious fitness. After, if the weather holds up, there's nothing better than sitting on the sunny deck with a cold beer and a cheeseburger, watching the little kids sledding and dogs running to and fro.

BRUNCH/LUNCH AT CHRISTINA'S: Simply perfect. So delicious, you just have to experience it for yourself. Chef Christina Cook is something of a local celebrity, and her Tuscan-style vibe creates a homey atmosphere you can't beat.  

APRÈS SKI AT APPLES: While the lodge at the bottom of Warm Springs is amazing (and their mulled wine is top notch), I love the low key vibe at Apples after a long day of downhill. Their burgers are amazing and the walls are covered with awesome photos.

{ The Valley Club and a view of the mountain... }

A DIP AT FRENCHMAN'S BEND HOT SPRINGS: One particularly snowy winter a few years back, some friends and I drove out to Frenchman's after dark for a little nighttime dip. With no electricity and not a cloud in the sky, the stars and moon illuminated the snow so brightly you didn't even need a flashlight. The steam rising of the water coats the surrounding trees with snow as it freezes, creating one of the most enchanting sights I've ever witnessed. Be warned: The crowd is unpredictable up there, and you may take a soak with a bunch of college kids drinking PBR or an old guy who's lived in Idaho his whole life—and will tell you all about every year of it.

  • The Gold Mine (331 Walnut Avenue): This place is a Ketchum classic; people raid their racks of "vintage" ski apparel for an 80s-themed ski on Baldy on New Year's Day. I go every year looking for vintage ponchos, LL Bean coats and stirrup ski pants in my size. (It's a thing, I promise.)
  • Consign Design (331 1st Avenue): Consignment shopping is always hit-or-miss, but I've never left Consign Design without something. Whether it was a Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater or metal shell-shaped clutch. Also, the ladies who work there are so nice, you'll have a great time no matter how much you spend.
  • Deja Vu (511 Leadville Avenue): If you're ready to drop some serious coin on some of the most fabulous vintage and consignment designer goods you've ever laid eyes on, don't miss the expertly curated selection at Deja Vu. Even just to browse, you really shouldn't miss it.  

DINNER AT THE PIONEER SALOON: Steak. Prime rib. Mounted deer and buffalo heads. Dark wood, warm light and cozy shadows. The Pioneer is an essential part of any trip to Sun Valley. It's a popular spot every night of the week during the holidays, so saddle up to the bar for a local draft beer while you wait. 

DOLLAR NIGHT AT WHISKEY JACQUES: Every Tuesday and Sunday is "Dollar Night" at Whiskeys, which means exactly what you think it does. The drinks are cheap, the bar is packed, and you'll surely run into everyone you could possibly run into, from childhood ski school friends to that guy you kissed on New Year's Eve 2005—and at least one of your parents' friends dancing in the front row for the live band.

SIT BY THE FIRE AT HOME: Sometimes I feel like my schedule is busier in Sun Valley than it is in New York. There are always runs to ski, friends to catch up with and meals to be had. But, I always make sure to spend enough time cozied up, just taking it in. Whether it's watching Netflix or playing a game of Yahtzee—spending time with my family just watching the snow outside and the fire inside is pretty much perfect.

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