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Ski Getaway: Sun Valley, Idaho

With a new direct daily flight out of SFO, and ski and stay deals to die for, Sun Valley is an easy, spectacular snowy getaway

With the Winter Olympics all wrapped up, US gold medalists like snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington (pictured at left, and below) are headed home from Sochi. As we welcome our athletes home, it's also time for East Bay ski bums to head for the mountains and hit the slopes.

East Bay skiers should know that they can now get to Sun Valley, Idaho in about the same time that it takes to get to North Lake Tahoe. If you get to this charming Idaho ski destination by March 1, you can even help welcome Sun Valley native Farrington home—the town is throwing its gold medal winner a big party this Saturday.

Even if you don't go this weekend. you can stay and ski in this world-class destination for approximately the same cost of a California ski vacation.



Here's what to do:


1. Jump on a United Airlines flight from San Francisco International to Sun Valley's Hailey Airport. The airport is just 15-20 minutes from the mountain and the town's lodging choices. United started running a daily shuttle this season; tickets for the two-hour flight cost about $200 each way, but there are many deals and discounts to be found online—a query on Yahoo travel just now offered round trip airfare and two night's lodging for $457, and Ski.com is offering discounted deals as well.


2. Check into one of the charming lodges in Ketchum, Idaho. Again, the deals this season are off the hook. The Sun Valley Lodge has ski and stay packages at $143 per person. Some of the lodges in town are offering ski and stay packages for as low as $65 per night. Meanwhile, kids under 15 ski free, so a family can save serious dough on a several-day getaway.


3. Hit the mountain. Sun Valley's Mount Baldy is MASSIVE, and does not have the crowds that our beloved Northern California resorts draw. It also has the world's largest automated snow making system, so the entire mountain is open, even when Mother Nature is not cooperating.

"People will get more vertical before lunch than they will get on an entire ski vacation at other places," says Greg Randolph, of the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance. Speaking of lunch, there are six restaurants on the mountain.


4. Hit the town. Charming Ketchum is a funky old mountain town with a first-class polish, packed with nice restaurants and apres ski spots, such as the Pioneer Saloon. There's also a free ice skating rink, nearby fly fishing (wait until spring?), and heaps of other winter activities.


5. Save the Dates. Besides Farrington's March 1 homecoming event, Sun Valley will host the US Revolution Tour from March 3–7 and the Sun Valley Film Festival from March 13–16.