best city to live in
Although people call Boise the "city of trees," the name could also apply to Hailey, seen here from Della Mountain. The west side of the city, where the Big Wood River flows southward, is especially forested.
Photo by Roland Lane
Best city to live in known for friendly feel.
It should come as no surprise that the city of Hailey was voted "Best City to Live In" by readers of the Sun Valley Guide magazine. The next town down the highway from Ketchum is not only the county seat, with more children, schools and historic architecture than the other cities in the Wood River Valley, Hailey is also known for fine dining and increasingly vibrant music and recreation scenes.
Hailey has decidedly rural roots; it is not uncommon to see someone ride a horse around town, and not only during the city's famous Fourth of July parade down Main Street.
The city's population of about 8,000 is made up of 3,065 families, of which 41 percent have children. The relatively diverse cultural map is 28 percent Hispanic or Latino, or from other ethnic backgrounds. Six percent of Hailey households consist of a single elderly person over the age of 65.
Teddie Daley, director of the Blaine County Historical Museum on Main Street, has lived in the Wood River Valley for 60 years, including in Ketchum and on the Board Ranch, west of Ketchum. She moved to Hailey in the 1980s.
"I fell in love with the people in Hailey," Daley said. "It feels more like a community than Ketchum did. There are real, old houses with lawns and trees, and not just big office buildings. Hailey is doing a good job of retaining the flavor of a historic town."
"I fell in love with the people in Hailey."
Hailey boasts an original town site with numerous 100-year-old homes, including one that is the birthplace of the controversial poet Ezra Pound. The numerous sites on the National Register of Historic Places include the Mason's Hall, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the Hailey Hotel, the Old County Courthouse and several old brick buildings on Main Street.
Despite its noteworthy history, Hailey is a youthful town, with a median age in 2010 of 35.1 years. About 29 percent of residents are under the age of 18. In the last four years, the city has become a mecca for young cyclists. Mountain bikers enjoy the dirt roads and trails in Croy Canyon, while many road cyclists ride the bike path from Ketchum to hang out at one of the watering holes on Main Street.
R.L. Rowsey, a theater professional and member of the Hailey Arts Commission, said he appreciates the offerings of the Liberty Theatre, where top-notch theater and movie screenings entertain valley residents, as well as the city's restaurants.
"You get to both know your neighbor and enjoy some of the best dining and entertainment opportunities in the country," Rowsey said.