It was my ex-husband, Bruce [Willis], who wanted to get a place here; I’d never really heard of Sun Valley. The first time I came, our eldest daughter Rumer was 12 days old. It was to be a holiday spot, but then, when Rumer was starting school, I thought: “What are we doing in LA?” These days I split my time between LA and Idaho, but Sun Valley remains the same for me. You arrive, and you have more room to breathe, literally and figuratively. You’re just like: “Ahhh!” 

There are three connected towns – Ketchum, the main one, then Bellevue and Hailey. I live in Hailey. I grew up in a small town so there was something cosy and familiar about it when I first saw it: the little main streets, the beautiful mountains and the clean air. Many businesses are still family-owned. There’s a certain simplicity, but it has an art community too; the Gallery Walks join up the various art galleries in the area several times a year. This is where Hemingway lived and died: it’s rustic but still a bit cosmopolitan.

The actress in her garden in Hailey
The actress in her garden in Hailey

They say in Sun Valley it’s the winters that bring people but the summers that keep them. And it really is two different places: one a blanket of green, one a blanket of white. Averell Harriman made it a ski destination back in the ’30s; the world’s first chairlift was installed here in 1936. In the winter, you can take the gondola up to the top of Bald Mountain – “Baldy” – and ski all day, and have lunch at the Sun Valley Lodge. The beautiful thing is, there’s a separate beginner’s mountain called Dollar Mountain. It’s where you see all these adorable little kids lining up to do their very first ski – it’s what I did too. 

Sun Valley Lodge
Sun Valley Lodge © Kevin Syms/Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort

The Lodge has a lot of history: the hallway is full of glamorous photos from the 1930s. It has a bar called the Duchin Lounge, which is elegant, dark, cosy, with an old-school vibe. But it’s not a scene-y place – nobody cares about what you’re wearing. One great adventure is to have a yurt dinner in Galena, about 25 minutes’ drive away: you can cross-country ski or snowshoe out to a yurt and eat there at night. When there’s a full moon, the whole sky is lit up.

A baseball cap from Grumpy’s
A baseball cap from Grumpy’s

An ideal summer’s day would start with a hike before it gets too hot – Adams Gulch is a favourite. On the way back you could grab a juice at Nourishme in Ketchum, or lunch at Aroma; the Bigwood Bread bakery does great bread. For groceries, the family‑run Atkinsons’ has loads of goodies – the next generation of Atkinsons went to school with my daughters. But a landmark that I have to mention, otherwise my kids would kill me, is Grumpy’s. It does burgers and fries that you stand in line for. A favourite coffee spot is Maude’s Coffee and Clothes, where you can find outdoor-casual pieces: leather jackets, Carhartt stuff, cool ski sweaters from the 1940s and ’50s. Jacob Frehling is the owner, I’ve known him since he was a baby. His mother, Annette, owns one of the best clothing stores for women here, called Sister.

Bigwood Bread bakery and café, Ketchum
Bigwood Bread bakery and café, Ketchum © Josh Wells/Sun Valley Photo

Another one of my highlights is the Sun Valley Music Festival, a set of annual free concerts. Everyone lays out their blankets and chairs and brings picnics, with a full table and china. You sit in this beautiful weather, surrounded by mountains, and the sound is incredible. Once they played the full soundtrack to the first Star Wars film. 

Picnicking with her daughter, Rumer Willis (far left), and friends at the Sun Valley Music Festival
Picnicking with her daughter, Rumer Willis (far left), and friends at the Sun Valley Music Festival
The Wood River Valley near Hailey
The Wood River Valley near Hailey © Tetra Images/Getty Images

At the base of my property is a river, which is another summer hotspot. Sometimes, when we’re brave enough, it’s a great swimming hole: we call it the Redneck Riviera. You can also kayak, river‑raft, fly-fish… Nature is everywhere. I might see a herd of elk in my backyard.

After Bruce and I divorced, we stayed close: he and his wife, Emma, now have a house maybe a mile away. In the winter we tend to stay indoors and play games like Mexican Train dominoes, which gets very cut-throat. I am so comfortable as a homebody. I could spend all day catching up on British crime shows. I’ve just watched all of Endeavour and now I’m ploughing through Inspector Morse. I’ve seen almost everything with Nicola Walker in it, and all of Line of Duty.

Another thing we have here in Sun Valley are incredible hot springs, and I’ve been thinking, “Do I define where they are?” No! It’s part of the mystery. If people really want it, they have to go and earn it…

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