A Travel Price Comparison for Idaho Boise vs. Sun Valley for Families, Couples, Food, and Attractions

Should you visit Boise or Sun Valley?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Boise or Sun Valley? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Boise

Boise is a friendly, welcoming, and authentic city. It's also known for nightlife, shopping, and museums.

Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a active, adventurous, and outdoorsy town. With stunning beauty, it attracts visitors from all around. It's also popular because of the food, hiking, and shopping.

Boise and Sun Valley: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Boise or Sun Valley?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Sun Valley than Boise, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Sun Valley is better known for its skiing, food, resorts, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Boise is more popular for its museums. Sun Valley is more touristy than Boise and is popular for its ski resorts as well as being the home of Ernest Hemingway. Also, Sun Valley is famous for Sawtooth National Recreation Area. Boise is well known for its many outdoor and recreational activities.

How is Boise different from Sun Valley?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sun Valley and Boise. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Skiing?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a must-visit destination for skiing and snowboarding. However, Boise is not a skiing destination.

If you're an avid snow skiier, Sun Valley should be on your list. There are plenty of slopes that are accessible by lift as well as backcountry terrain for those who are more adventurous. The ski areas include Bald Mountain, which is next to Ketchum, and Dollar Mountain, by Sun Valley. Bald Mountain is best for advanced skiers and Dollar Mountain has options for beginners and intermediates.

Boise is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Boise or Sun Valley?

Boise
Sun Valley

Boise is a good destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Sun Valley is a town with minimal options for its historical sights.

Boise is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. As the state capital, there's a nice selection of local museums around town. Favorites include the Boise Art Museum, the Basque Museum & Cultural Center, the Idaho Black History Museum, and Discovery Center.

While most people don't head to Sun Valley specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Museums in the area include the Sun Valley Museum of Art and the Wood River Museum of History and Culture.

Is the Food Better in Boise or Sun Valley? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is an excellent place to visit for its restaurants. However, Boise is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Sun Valley has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Many restaurants pride themselves in using local, organic, and sustainable ingredients. You'll find everything from cafes and bakeries to sushi, pizza, and Mediterranean.

Boise offers some easy restaurants to choose from. While Idaho has long been associated with the potato, the locals usually think of "finger steaks" when describing local food. These are deep-friend beef strips that are as good as they sound.

Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Nightlife?

Boise
Sun Valley

Both Boise and Sun Valley have notable vibes after the sun sets.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Boise. In downtown Boise you'll find a selection of bars, lounges, and breweries. There's enough around town to keep the nightlife scene interesting.

Sun Valley has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. It's a low key town with relaxing bars and breweries where you can enjoy a cold drink after a day on the slopes. It's not a party town that's high energy, but there are plenty of places where you can hang out in a mellow setting.


Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Resorts?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is an excellent place to visit for its luxury resorts. However, Boise is not a resort destination.

Sun Valley is known as a popular and fun resort destination. The most popular place to stay is Sun Valley Lodge, but there are also other small lodges and hotels in the area.

Boise is not a resort destination.

Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Hiking?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is an excellent place to visit for its hiking trails. However, Boise is not a hiking destination.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Sun Valley. During the warmer months you'll enjoy miles of hiking trails in the area that take you by fields of wildflowers and to scenic mountain overlooks. White Cloud Trails is a relatively easy 4 mile trail that many visitors enjoy. Baker Lake and Taylor Canyon are also nice options.

Boise is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Boise or Sun Valley?

Boise
Sun Valley

Shoppers can find a variety of notable stores in both Boise and Sun Valley.

Boise has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find a mix of local boutiques, independent vendors, and suburban shopping centers where you'll find anything that you might need.

Sun Valley is a great destination for shopping. While most visitors spend their time adventuring outdoors, there are also plenty of shopping options in the area. Whether you need to pick up hiking or ski gear, or you want to browse some local boutiques, you'll find shops that meet your need.


Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Families?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a must-visit destination for its kid-friendly activities. However, Boise is lacking in options for its family-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Sun Valley is a very family-friendly destination. During the winter months there's skiing, ice skating, and other winter activities. During the warmer months families will enjoy riding the Roundhouse Express Gondola, hiking through the mountains, or horseback riding.

Boise doesn't usually come to mind when thinking about kid-friendly destinations. You'll find parks, playgrounds, and the Discovery Center which will help keep kids entertained.

Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Couples?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a must-visit destination for couples. However, Boise is lacking in options for romance.

Sun Valley makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. Couples who enjoy winter sports and outdoor activities will love a romantic getaway to the area. There's also a charming downtown area that has great restaurants. In the surrounding countryside there's plenty of spectacular hikes that couples will enjoy as well.

Boise is not the best destination for a couple to visit. Date night activities include dining at a nice restaurants and seeing a show at the theater.

Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Boise is lacking in options for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Sun Valley. There are a couple of hostels in the area and plenty of activities that appeal to the backpacker crowd.

Boise is not the best destination for backpackers and budget travelers due to its high prices. Backpackers rarely make their way to this town.


Is Boise or Sun Valley Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is an excellent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Boise is lacking in options for its public transit.

Sun Valley offers a very effecient public transportation network. There are free shuttle buses that run through Wood River Valley including connections between the Village and Dollar and Bald Mountains. It's also connected to Ketchum and Elkhorn Springs.

Public transit is generally limited in Boise. There are infrequent buses around town, but visitors usually have a car to get around town efficiently.

Is Boise or Sun Valley a more walkable city?

Boise
Sun Valley

Sun Valley is a must-visit destination for its ease of walking around. However, Boise is lacking in options for its walkability.

It's very easy to get around on foot in Sun Valley. It's easy to walk to almost anything you need if you stay at a conveniently located hotel.

Boise is generally not very walkable. There are a couple of walkable neighborhoods but, in general, the town isn't very walkable.

For even more information, also check out Is Boise Worth Visiting? and Is Sun Valley Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sun Valley or Boise?

How long in Boise or Sun Valley?

Both Boise and Sun Valley have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Sun Valley than in Boise. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Boise, and 3-7 days is enough time in Sun Valley.

Families should spend more time in Sun Valley than Boise. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Sun Valley, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Sun Valley than Boise. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Sun Valley that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Sun Valley than Boise if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Sun Valley.


  • How many days in Boise or Sun Valley? Ideal Length of Stay
    Boise 1-2 
    Sun Valley 3-7

One day in Boise or Sun Valley?

With museums and nightlife around the authentic city of Boise, there's plenty to do. Anyone can find something fun to do here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Boise, one day is sufficent for most.

In Sun Valley, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this active destination offers. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Lots of people come for the skiing. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.


A weekend in Boise or Sun Valley?

With nightlife and shopping around the destination of Boise, there's plenty to do. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this city.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Sun Valley. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Boise or Sun Valley?

Boise, a popular city, is full of activities for travelers. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Sun Valley is a fun place to experience. In Sun Valley, many people enjoy the skiing and nightlife that this destination offers. Lots of people come for the skiing. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.

A week in Boise or Sun Valley?

Boise is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

In Sun Valley, many people enjoy the nightlife and food that this active destination offers. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the skiing. One week is often enough time to do most activities.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours from Los Angeles, The Best Family-Friendly Tours to United States of America, The Best Wildlife Tours to United States of America, and The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Sun Valley or Boise?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Boise is $146, while the average daily cost in Sun Valley is $184. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Boise and Sun Valley in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Boise $75
    Sun Valley $95
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Boise $150
    Sun Valley $190
Compare Hotels in Boise and Sun Valley

Looking for a hotel in Boise or Sun Valley? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Boise


Hotels in Sun Valley


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Boise Hotel Prices and Sun Valley Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Boise $34
    Sun Valley $61

Is it cheaper to fly into Boise or Sun Valley?

Prices for flights to both Sun Valley and Boise change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Boise $45
    Sun Valley $48
Typical Food Prices in Boise

For Boise, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Hotel
    $59
  • Cracker Barrel Lunch (for 4)
    $55

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Boise $30
    Sun Valley $42
Typical Entertainment Prices in Boise

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Boise's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Edwards Boise Imax
    $27

Tours and Activities in Boise

For Boise, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Boise by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Boise Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $13
  • Boise Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • A Macabre History of Boise Walking Tour: $25
  • Hells Canyon Kirkwood Jet Boat Tour near Boise, Idaho: $218

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Boise $24
    Sun Valley $49


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Boise and Sun Valley, we can see that Sun Valley is more expensive. And not only is Boise much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Boise would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Boise and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Sun Valley would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Sun Valley than you might in Boise.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Boise Expensive? and Is Sun Valley Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Boise or Sun Valley?

Boise has a larger population, and is about 100 times larger than the population of Sun Valley. When comparing the sizes of Boise and Sun Valley, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.