20 Best Things to do in Ketchum, Idaho
Ketchum is a city within Idaho's Wood River Valley, located near the world-famous skiing areas of the Sun Valley and Bald Mountain. The city is home to a population of nearly 3,000 residents and is a popular international tourist spot due to its proximity to the Sawtooth National Forest and Recreation Area and its renowned art galleries and shopping district. It was originally incorporated as Leadville in 1880 due to its central location within the Warm Springs mining district and became a popular resort spot for a number of celebrities throughout the mid-20th century, including author Ernest Hemingway, who lived in the area throughout his later years. In addition to its connection to Hemingway and the access it provides to a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, the town is also nationally known for its Old West-themed Wagon Days festival, taking place each Labor Day weekend. Photo: Mark/Fotolia
»Sawtooth Botanical Garden
Sawtooth Botanical Garden is a five-acre public botanical garden that was originally founded in 1994, located near Highway 75. The gardens are open to the public seven days a week from dawn to dusk, showcasing a variety of native and exotic plants that thrive at high altitudes, with a particular focus on plants from Idaho's riparian, alpine, montane, and sagebrush steppe ecosystems. A number of cultivated gardens are showcased on the property, including a xeriscape garden, an ornamental garden, and a Zen Buddhist-style Garden of Infinite Compassion, constructed in 2005 by landscape designer Martin Mosko. A variety of horticultural classes are offered for visitors, including vegetable gardening, medicinal plant, and native edibles courses and summer camp workshops for children.
Contact: 11 Gimlet Rd, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-9358
»Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum
Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum is the official museum facility of Ketchum and the Sun Valley, originally founded in 1995 by the Ketchum/Sun Valley Historical Society. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of the social and cultural history of the Upper Wood River Valley, offering a variety of exhibits related to the region's cultural groups and economic and tourist industries. Exhibits detail the region's indigenous groups and pioneer fur trappers, along with its connection to author Ernest Hemingway and the rise of its tourism and resort skiing industry following the construction of the Sun Valley Lodge. Significant collections of historical documents and photographs are also preserved. The museum is open to the public Mondays through Saturdays throughout the morning and afternoon hours.
Contact: 180 1st St E, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-8118
Photo: Mikhail Olykainen/Fotolia
»Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Sawtooth National Recreation Area is a 730,000-acre national recreation area that is overseen as part of the Sawtooth National Forest, offering a wide variety of seasonal outdoor recreation activities for visitors. The recreation area was originally established in 1972 and is operated by the United States Forest Service, encompassing the national forest's Hemingway-Boulders, Sawtooth, and Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds units. It is home to the headwaters of the Salmon River and several hundred smaller alpine glacier lakes, including the Redfish, Pettit, Stanley, Yellow Belly, and Sawtooth Lakes. Popular visitor activities include kayaking, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, and white water rafting. Overnight campground facilities are provided throughout the park, along with two ranger stations.
Contact: Idaho 75, Stanley, ID 83278, Phone: 208-737-3200
»Sun Valley Center for the Arts
Sun Valley Center for the Arts is the Wood River Valley's oldest currently-operating arts organization, originally founded in 1971. The center operates two locations throughout the Wood River Valley region, including a primary facility in Ketchum that offers art galleries and a variety of public arts programming. It is one of less than five percent of arts and cultural institutions in the United States to receive prestigious accreditation status from the American Alliance of Museums. More than 25,000 people attend the center's annual exhibitions and events, which include temporary rotating exhibitions by Sun Valley and international artists, including Sebastião Salgado, Marie Watt, Martha Rosler, Joyce Kozloff, and George Nakashima. An annual lecture and performance series brings in top international names from the arts and culture world, including luminaries such as humorist David Sedaris, authors Junot Díaz and Louise Erdrich, and musicians Bonnie Raitt and Arlo Guthrie. Other annual special events include a wine auction and an August arts and crafts festival.
Contact: 191 5th St E, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-9491
Photo: Sun Valley Center for the Arts
»The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve is the United States' first gold-tier dark sky preserve, designated in 2017 by the International Dark Sky Association. Dark Sky Reserves are designated areas of land that are shielded from light pollution, allowing visitors to observe the night sky and wildlife conditions in the region without the interference of modern urban development. The reserve spans more than 1,400 square miles throughout the Sawtooth National Recreation Area region, located near Highway 75 and Redfish and Pettit Lakes. As the 12th dark sky reserve designation of its kind in the world, the reserve also spans land throughout four counties in Idaho, including Boise, Blaine, Elmore, and Custer Counties. The city of Ketchum, Idaho has also been listed separately as a Dark Sky Community, operating under a dark sky ordinance since 1999.
»Chapter One Bookstore
Chapter One Bookstore is an independent Ketchum bookstore that has been in operation for more than 40 years, serving as the community's primary source for New York Times daily and Sunday sales. The bookstore is open to the public seven days a week and specializes in a variety of book genres, including works by local Sun Valley authors and rare and out-of-print books and editions. It is housed within a former fly fishing store that was a favorite tourist site of legendary author Ernest Hemingway during the 20th century. The store has been featured in the nationally-released independent film My Bookstore and is considered to be one of the country's finest independent bookstores. In addition to book sales, the store serves as a central ticket box office for local concerts and events throughout the year.
Contact: 340 2nd St W, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-5425
Photo: Chapter One Bookstore
Cristina's is a Tuscan-style restaurant owned and operated by Italian immigrant Cristina Ceccatelli Cook, who opened the restaurant in 1993 half a decade after immigrating to the United States. Cook is the author of the Cristina's Tuscan Table and Cristina's of Sun Valley cookbooks and strives to recreate the rustic charm of traditional Tuscan restaurants, offering breakfast and lunch service throughout the week. Fresh-baked breads are available for purchase as well, including unique flavors such as orange cinnamon, apricot hazelnut, olive ciabatta, and the restaurant's signature prune walnut bread. The restaurant also fills special orders of catered wedding cakes and is available for private special event rentals, including weddings and rehearsal dinners.
Contact: 520 Second St E, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-4499
Enoteca is a family-owned restaurant that was opened in 2012 by Scott and Anne Mason, the owners of neighborhood favorite Ketchum Grill. The restaurant is named for the Italian word for "wine library" and is open daily for dinner service at 5:00pm, located within the historic Lane Mercantile Building. Locally-sourced ingredients are utilized in the restaurant's entrees, which include applewood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas and traditional Italian dishes such as lasagne al forno and pork osso buco. An extensive regional wine list is offered, along with traditional Italian selections from some of the country's top winemakers. Local draft beers are also served, along with a variety of traditional Italian desserts. Nearby, the Town Square Tavern is also operated by the Masons, serving a Mediterranean-style menu and 10 local beers on draft.
Contact: 300 N Main St, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-928-6280
»Fly Sun Valley
Fly Sun Valley is a paragliding tourism company that is operated by former national champion paraglider Chuck Smith, an influential figure in forming the American Paragliding Association and the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Smith is a certified USHPA Advanced Instructor and Tandem Administrator and has guided more than 5,000 flights at the company, which accommodates flights for visitors of all ages and ability levels. As the Sun Valley's only fully-insured paragliding company, tandem paragliding flights are offered with reservations, conducted in cooperation with the United States Forest Service. All certified pilots at the company use GoPro cameras to record experiences, with tour participants encouraged to bring their own cameras to document flights as well.
Contact: 160 4th St W, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-928-6280
»Gail Severn Gallery
Gail Severn Gallery is one of the Sun Valley's premiere art galleries and has developed a national reputation throughout its four decades of operation. The gallery is housed within an 8,000-square-foot exhibition campus, showcasing four exhibition rooms and a two-acre outdoor sculpture court. A wide variety of artists throughout the Sun Valley and beyond have been showcased at the gallery, including Jenny Honnert Abell, Linda Christensen, Morris Graves, Lynda Low, and Deborah Oropallo. Large-scale sculpture shows are presented at the gallery's sculpture garden on a rotating basis, including temporary site-specific installations. The gallery also publishes a variety of art books and catalogs and participates in international art fairs.
Contact: 400 1st Ave N, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-5079
Photo: Gail Severn Gallery
Independent Goods is an independent handmade crafts and gifts store that is owned by Ketchum residents Susan and Mark Nieves, located within the city's Colonnade Building on Walnut Avenue. The store is devoted to the art of independent makers and their crafts of choice, carrying a wide variety of homemade goods by artists throughout Idaho and the western United States. It is structured in a gallery-type format, showcasing makers' biographies and creative stories alongside their goods for sale. Gifts and collectibles available include household goods, jewelry, and a variety of gift items paying homage to mountain life and the American West.
Contact: 330 Walnut Ave, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-720-9004
Photo: Independent Goods
»Java On Fourth
Java On Fourth was originally opened by Todd Rippo in 1991 as a neighborhood hangout on Ketchum's Fourth Street. The cafe and restaurant serves American fare at breakfast and lunch seven days a week, with recipes crafted by Rippo's sister Annie to reflect the family's Southern California heritage. Freshly-roasted Fair Trade coffees are served in a variety of coffee shop beverages, including Americanos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and specialty beverages such as Thai iced coffees and Mexican hot chocolate with espresso. Oregon chai tea is also served, along with a variety of tea and matcha beverages, health-conscious smoothies, and Italian steamer beverages. Breakfast options include scrambles, burritos, and gourmet toasts, while lunch options include vegetarian and vegan sandwiches.
Contact: 191 4th St W, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-2882
Photo: Java On Fourth
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The Kneadery is a Ketchum bakery that has been a local favorite for more than four decades, originally opened to the public by owners Sheila and Duffy Witmer in 1974. The bakery offers wholesome fresh and homemade foods at breakfast and lunch, served in a rustic mountain atmosphere. All meals are prepared with locally-baked breads, cage-free eggs, locally-sourced seasonal fruit, and farm-fresh meats. Breakfast menu options include country-style omelettes, Belgian waffles, frittatas, and the bakery's signature Kneadery Benedict, which features freshly-sliced Canadian bacon and homemade hollandaise sauce. Lunch options include salads, homemade soups, and classic hot and cold sandwiches, including BLTs, reubens, and Cuban sandwiches.
Contact: 260 Leadville Ave, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-9462
Photo: The Kneadery
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Kneeland Gallery was originally opened in 1982 by husband and wife team George and Diane Kneeland, located on Ketchum's First Avenue. The gallery represents the works of more than 40 regional and national artists working in a variety of mediums, including painting and sculpture, with an emphasis on traditional landscape and still life paintings and the works of contemporary Western artists. Artists represented at the gallery include Carol Alleman, William Berra, Lori McNee, Caleb Meyer, Jean Richardson, and Linda St. Clair. The gallery is open to the public six days a week during the morning and afternoon hours, with Sunday showings available by special appointment by contacting the owners directly.
Contact: 271 N 1st Ave, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-5512
Photo: Kneeland Gallery
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»Redfish Outlet Lake
Redfish Outlet Lake is a popular outdoor recreational center located around the Sun Valley's Redfish Lake, located near the Salmon River and the Sawtooth National Forest. The lake offers a public visitor center overseen by the Sawtooth Interpretive and Historical Association, offering an interpretive trail and visitor programming. Popular activities at the lake and its surrounding region include fishing, boating, kayaking, paddleboarding, water sports, hiking, and wildlife watching. Boat rentals and lake tours are offered at the Redfish Lake Marina, while fishing licenses and supplies are available at the facility's general store. Bike rentals are also available at the lake's lodge facility, allowing visitors to explore popular nearby trails such as the Elk Mountain, Fishhook Creek, and Potato Mountain trails. Guided fly fishing excursions are led by a number of excursion companies, with half-day and full-day scenic horseback rides available for reservation.
Contact: 401 Redfish Lodge Road, Stanley, ID 83278, Phone: 208-774-3536
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»Sawtooth Brewery Public House
Sawtooth Brewery Public House is the public restaurant and bar facility of Sawtooth Brewery, which was originally opened to the public in 2011 by owners and avid homebrewers Kevin Jones and Paul Holle. In 2016, the brewery opened its public house facility as an extension of its fourth anniversary celebration. Today, it serves the company's high-quality ales and lagers, which are inspired by the rugged wilderness of Idaho's mountain regions and the Sawtooth National Forest and Recreation Area. 25 beers are tapped on draft, including the company's flagship Sunnyside Session Wheat, Idahome IPA, False Summit Amber Ale, Free Solo Single-Hop Pale Ale, and Last Chair Stout. Other local beers are also tapped, along with wines, ciders, kombuchas, and non-alcoholic root beer. A full menu of classic American pub fare is served at lunch and dinner, with dishes made with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.
Contact: 631 Warm Springs Rd, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-6803
Photo: Sawtooth Brewery Public House
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»Sun Valley Trekking
Sun Valley Trekking is the Wood River Valley's premiere adventure and exploration touring company, offering year-round treks throughout the Sawtooth National Forest and Recreation Area region. The company has been in operation since 1982 and offers guided skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, biking, and hiking excursions. It is one of North America's top wilderness hut-to-hut skiing companies and offers six backcountry yurts that are available for rental by tour participants for multi-day skiing, hiking, and biking excursions. Field-based avalanche education courses are also offered periodically, along with excursions to other top regional wilderness sites, including Yellowstone National Park and the popular wilderness regions of Alaska.
Contact: Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-788-1966
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Wagon Days is Ketchum's annual Labor Day Weekend celebration, held every September for more than six decades. The festival celebrates Idaho's pioneer and mining history, originally stemming from the city's Wagon Days Parade, which was first held in 1958 to showcase a donation of ore wagons to the City of Ketchum. The parade still serves as the centerpiece of the festival, showcasing the transportation methods of the Sun Valley prior to the implementation of national railroad lines. Marching bands, basque dancers, and cowboys are also showcased throughout the parade, which has a strict no-motor-vehicles policy. Children's activities are offered on the Saturday of the festival, along with a pancake breakfast event, an arts and crafts fair, a bareback riding demonstration, and a family-friendly concert.
Contact: 480 East Ave, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-727-5077
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»Warfield Distillery and Brewery
Warfield Distillery and Brewery is a Ketchum brewpub that was founded by Alex Buck following his travels to classic breweries throughout Europe. The company is a joint venture with co-owners Jo and Ben Bradley and Heidi Giordano and serves both high-quality beers and liquors produced according to traditional brewing and distilling methods. Flagship beers include the company's Thorny Thistle Scottish Ale, Lucky 7 IPA, Witty Woodpecker Witbier, Still Thinking Blonde Ale, and Storehouse Saison. The company also produces its signature No Return Gin and Mayday Vodka, with plans to expand to whiskey and brandy production in the future. High-quality gastropub fare is available at lunch and dinner, crafted by executive chef Sean Temple, with options including kebab charcuterie boards, shareable appetizers, and land and sea entrees.
Contact: 280 N Main St, Ketchum, ID 83340, Phone: 208-726-2739
Photo: Warfield Distillery and Brewery
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20 Best Things to do in Ketchum, Idaho
- Sawtooth Botanical Garden, Photo: Courtesy of Nigel - Fotolia.com
- Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Mikhail Olykainen - Fotolia.com
- Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of fredlyfish4 - Fotolia.com
- Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Photo: Sun Valley Center for the Arts
- The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, Photo: Courtesy of michael - Fotolia.com
- Chapter One Bookstore, Photo: Chapter One Bookstore
- Cristina's, Photo: Courtesy of M.studio - Fotolia.com
- Enoteca, Photo: Enoteca
- Fly Sun Valley, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Gail Severn Gallery, Photo: Gail Severn Gallery
- Independent Goods, Photo: Independent Goods
- Java On Fourth, Photo: Java On Fourth
- The Kneadery, Photo: The Kneadery
- Kneeland Gallery, Photo: Kneeland Gallery
- Redfish Outlet Lake, Photo: Courtesy of kostik2photo - Fotolia.com
- Sawtooth Brewery Public House, Photo: Sawtooth Brewery Public House
- Sun Valley Trekking, Photo: Courtesy of anzebizjan - Fotolia.com
- Wagon Days, Photo: Courtesy of savelov - Fotolia.com
- Warfield Distillery and Brewery, Photo: Warfield Distillery and Brewery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Mark - Fotolia.com
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