Sun Valley Just Became Our Favorite Destination for an Arts & Culture Getaway
Here is what you never knew about Idaho’s arts and culture capital, where just about every event is free and includes wine
May 15, 2019
| Updated June 4, 2019
1 of 13
Sun Valley, Idaho has long inspired artistic greats, from Ernest Hemingway to Clint Eastwood. Here’s everything you need to see and do to experience the town’s latest boom in arts and culture, plus a couple more recommendations for enjoying this world-class mountain town.
Courtesy of Ketchum Arts Commission
2 of 13
Courtesy of Ketchum Arts Commission
Sun Valley Street Art
The parks and streets of greater Sun Valley are home to a stunning array of in-situ art. One of our favorite pieces is Spur by John Grade, constructed of Alaskan yellow cedar. Commissioned by the Sun Valley Center for the Arts and the City of Ketchum to celebrate the Craters of the Moon National Park for the NPS Centennial, Spur is the artist’s rendering of one of the lava tubes that snake under the national park like a maze. Visitors are encouraged to walk through and climb on the 80-foot-long, 13-foot-high, and 20-foot-wide sculpture.
Who’d Love It: Kids, art enthusiasts, national park devotees, and Instagrammers alike. Where to Find It: Wood River Trail, Ketchum, ID When to Experience It: Year-round What It Costs: Free
More Videos From Sunset
Courtesy of Visit Sun Valley
3 of 13
Courtesy of Visit Sun Valley
Sun Valley Music Festival
This summer marks the music festival’s 35th anniversary, and to celebrate, they have an incredible lineup for July and August, from classic composers including Mozart, Beethoven, and Gershwin to the more avant-garde “Music Inspired by Outer Space.” The concert takes place at the Sun Valley Pavilion, which offers indoor and lawn seating, both of which are free. Inside the pavillion, there are three bars with beverages and snacks, and outside, concertgoers are welcome to set up a picnic (for provisions, head to the town’s market mainstay, Atkinsons’).
Who’d Love It: Music lovers, families (they have a Kid’s Music Tent!), and anyone who enjoys spending warm summer nights outside with beautiful music and BYO food and drink. Where to Find It: Sun Valley Pavilion When to Experience It: 2019 Summer Concert Series What It Costs: Free
4 of 13
Ketch’Em Alive is a free concert series held every Tuesday night throughout the summer. The concerts take place at Forest Service Park, where BYO food, drinks (including wine, beer, and cocktails), and lawn chairs are encouraged. Sun Valley’s summer nights remain warm and light past 9pm, so the open-air concerts always turn into an incredible neighborhood party.
Who’d Love It: Music lovers of all ages Where to Find It: Forest Service Park When to Experience It: Every Tuesday, mid-June through August What It Costs: Free
5 of 13
World-Class Art Galleries
Sun Valley is home to an incredible array of world-class art galleries. Exhibits include Old World masters like Picasso and Miró, plus groundbreaking contemporary artists from all over the world. Throughout the year, the Sun Valley Gallery Association hosts a free Friday-night gallery walk between nine of the top shops in town. Better yet, the walks include wine and the opportunity to meet many of the artists on display. Insider tip: don’t miss the Gilman Contemporary Art Gallery, which is showcases an incredible diversity of artists and artistic mediums--photography, sculpture, paintings, and conceptual pieces.
Who’d Love It: People who enjoy art and wine (isn’t that all of us?!) Where to Find It: Downtown Ketchum When to Experience It: July 5, August 2, August 30, November 29, and December 27 What It Costs: Free
6 of 13
Argyros Performing Arts Center
The Argyros Performing Arts Center is new to town, and it has already made a huge splash with locals and visitors alike. The Argyros is a 25,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art performance space and community center. Events in the space range from contemporary concerts with artists like funk and R&B singer Joshy Soul to exhibits on mandala sand painting.
Who’d Love It: The Argyros has something for everyone. Where to Find It: 120 Main Street South, Ketchum, ID When to Experience It: Upcoming Events What It Costs: Varies
7 of 13
Sun Valley Center for the Art
The Sun Valley Center for the Arts hosts an incredible array of events throughout the summer, including: visual arts exhibitions, concerts with big-name headliners like Ziggy Marley and Nathaniel Rateliff, and Lucius, and theater performances by the Company of Fools.
Who’d Love It: Theater and music fans Where to Find It: Throughout Sun Valley When to Experience It: Upcoming Events What It Costs: Varies
Courtesy of The Spot
8 of 13
Courtesy of The Spot
The Spot is a non-profit, black-box theater known for producing thought-provoking performances with a youthful cast and crew. Their mission is “to tell the vital, difficult stories that explore the mysteries of the human condition.” The Spot is also a conservatory with a goal of educating and engaging young artists in the community.
Who’d Love It: Especially great for theater lovers, families (check the programming first to ensure the show is age-appropriate), and young adults. Where to Find It: 220 Lewis Street #2, Ketchum, ID When to Experience It: Upcoming Performances What It Costs: Varies
9 of 13
Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
Experience the art of the night sky at the country’s first Dark Sky Reserve. In December 2017, Sun Valley, Ketchum, and the surrounding area received the highly prestigious Dark Sky Reserve designation, which classified the region as one of twelve places in the world with “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights,” according to the DSR. There are no entry fees or addresses for the reserve--just look up in the sky when you visit Sun Valley and let the beauty wash over you.
Who’d Love It: Everyone Where to Find It: Sun Valley, Ketchum, and the surrounding area When to Experience It: Any night of the year What It Costs: Free
10 of 13
Ballet Sun Valley
Ballet Sun Valley is an international ballet festival featuring principal dancers from the world’s leading ballet companies. This year, San Francisco Ballet will bring 38 company dancers from 13 countries to perform two completely different programs in the iconic Sun Valley Pavilion. Program A on July 5 presents an evening of mixed repertory work and pas de deux. Program B on July 7 features three ballets from the 2018 Unbound Festival of New Works. The conductor of the Festival orchestra will be Maestro Martin West, acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost ballet conductors.
Who’d Love It: Dance lovers and people who want a cultural experience on vacation Where to Find It: Sun Valley Pavillion When to Experience It: July 5 and July 7, 2019 What It Costs: $50 - $500
11 of 13
While You're There: Eat
Java on Fourth Fuel up for a day of arts and outdoors at this local morning hangout, which serves bagels, pastries, and the Bowl of Soul, an incredible mashup of Mexican hot chocolate and espresso.
Lefty’s Bar & Grill Lefty’s is a local and visitor favorite with a casual dining menu, including killer burgers served on fresh baked bread, monster-sized sandwiches, wings, salads, and fresh-cut fries.
The Covey (Pictured Here) One of the newest restaurants in the Ketchum dining scene, The Covey sets itself apart with a chef’s kitchen and open-fire cooking. The menu includes house-made pasta, seasonal ingredients, and local accents contributed by community artisans. While you’re there, you must check out their stacked draft beer and wine selection, all of which come at refreshingly reasonable prices.
CK’s Real Food Chef Chris Kastner’s spot is one of our favorites in town. Join locavores for seasonal, hearty entrées, like Lava Lake lamb ragout with eggplant.
12 of 13
Courtesy of Warfield Distillery & Brewery
While You're There: Drink
Warfield Distillery & Brewery In downtown Ketchum, this 21st-century watering hole has ebony booths, exposed brick walls, and gleaming copper piping. Beers like a frisky saison and a strapping Scottish ale meet cocktails emphasizing the distillery’s whistle-clean vodka and gin (whiskey launches this winter). Upscale pub dishes, such as chef Sean Temple’s duck confit drumsticks, cap off the experience.
The Hangout Located inside Hotel Ketchum, The Hangout is a happy hour hotspot with an excellent selection of Idaho beers and Northwest wines.
13 of 13
While You're There: Sleep
Hotel Ketchum A former motel recast as a modernist outpost, this place exudes mountain glam. Rooms are cozy, with wood floors, plaid headboards, and local art playing up Idaho’s sheep-ranching heritage. The outdoor hot tub and heated pool are perfect for year-round swimming and relaxing.
Limelight Hotel The Limelight Hotel has an energetic scene perfect for families and groups. Big, light-filled rooms have kitchenettes, and some include fireplaces and views of Bald Mountain. Don’t miss the outdoor pool, heated to a comfortable 94° all year long.