Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of south-central Idaho lies Ketchum, an outdoors-obsessed city and home to America’s first destination ski resort, Sun Valley. At 9,150 feet, Bald Mountain, called Baldy, presides over Ketchum with 12 lifts, 105 trails, a sophisticated snow-making operation and impeccably groomed runs. While new hotels (Limelight Hotel on the south end, Hotel Ketchum on the north) bookend Main Street, the half-mile stretch still exudes plenty of the old-time charm from Ketchum’s mining and sheep ranching heyday with cabin-style shops and historic brick buildings. Professional big-mountain skier and native Alexis “Lexi” du Pont describes Ketchum as “classy Western.” She says the area offers a great deal of history and a European influence from Sun Valley resort, which opened in the 1930s, “but at the same time it’s Wild West Idaho.” Here are five of her favorite places.
1. The Covey
In December, Ms. du Pont’s childhood friends Jane and Jesse Sheue opened their first restaurant, dishing out New American food in a building resembling a small red barn. The cozy restaurant is centered around a big colonial-style hearth and features housemade pastas and meats like pheasant and elk, grilled on apple wood. “It’s cool to see a local chef who was born and raised here” at the helm of a restaurant with such high-quality dishes, Ms. du Pont said. With 24 taps and 30 wines by the glass, guests can pair drinks with food and stay a while to enjoy what Ms. du Pont calls “cool vibes” and a rotating art collection, courtesy of a local gallery, Lipton Fine Arts, that includes original works by Alexander Calder, Keith Haring and Marc Chagall.
520 Washington Ave; thecovey.com
2. Maude’s Coffee & Clothes
Opened in 2017, this shop sells locally roasted organic coffee, pastries, jewelry and contemporary and vintage clothing. Tara Frehling, who owns the store with her husband, Jacob, said she is excited about this season’s hand-knit sweaters by French designer V de Vinster ($300-350). Where else can you score vintage American-made denim jackets ($60-250) with an order of avocado toast with hard-boiled egg and local microgreens ($8.50)? “I love the combination of thrift store and the best coffee in town,” Ms. du Pont said.
391 Walnut Ave N; maudesinketchum.com
3. Johnny G’s Subshack
Family-operated since 1998, this spot sells satisfying Chicago-style subs to those hungry after outdoor adventures. Ms. du Pont’s go-to sandwich (of 21 options, all $7 for 6-inch; $11 for foot-long) is the Sammis Camas (roast beef, ham and barbecue sauce) named after the local ski legend Brett Sammis, who died in a ski accident in 1997. “This is a local watering hole,” Ms. du Pont said. “It’s filled with ski posters signed by local shredders.” On top of that, the co-owner, Johnny Gorham, who runs the popular place with his wife, Gretchen, has a knack for remembering everyone’s name.
371 Washington Ave; johnnygsubshack.com
4. Apple’s Bar & Grill
For 30 years, Apple’s has been a popular spot for lunch and après-ski. At the base of Baldy near the Warm Springs Lodge, Apple’s, decorated with local ski memorabilia, is known for its burgers, ahi tuna salad and TVs that blast ski videos. “It’s probably my favorite spot in all of Sun Valley,” said Ms. du Pont, 29, who grew up going to Apple’s for after-school snacks before practice (the ski team office is directly above).
215 Picabo Street; facebook.com/applesbarandgrill