Watch out, Whistler. Take note, Tahoe. Step aside, Telluride. There is a rising star on the mountain scene: Whitefish, Montana.
Whitefish, Montana is an alpine getaway that truly has it all: unsurpassed scenic splendor, authentic Old West character, and an abundance of year-round recreational options. With lakes for boating and fishing, rivers for rafting, and a profusion of trails for hiking, biking and skiing, Whitefish ramps up the mountain experience to a whole new level, but never loses sight of its frontier soul.
Make the most of your visit to Montana’s high country paradise with Global Gallop’s Whitefish Guide:
For a dramatic natural setting, hang your hat at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake. Nestled on the shore of pristine Whitefish Lake, in the shadow of Big Mountain, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is a guaranteed showstopper. Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that the Lodge drew the nod of location scouts for the hit television show, The Bachelor. The Lodge has all the trappings of a classic western mountain chalet, but elevates the experience with a talented kitchen in the lake view Boat Club Restaurant, a full service spa and marina, and indoor and outdoor pools. With hotel rooms and suites, shore-front condominiums and luxury creek-side cabins, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake has accommodation options to suit any party size or budget.
If you prefer to play Urban Cowboy, opt for the citified trendsetter, the Firebrand Hotel in downtown Whitefish. Newly opened in 2016, the Firebrand Hotel fuses traditional decorative elements such as leather, iron, stone and salvaged wood with modern flourishes like playful art and cutting edge comforts. The rooftop deck, stylish lobby lounge and a well-executed small plate menu make the Firebrand Hotel a popular social gathering spot. Best of all, the dining, nightlife and shopping of picturesque downtown Whitefish are all a mere boot scoot away.
Eat, Drink, Play:
Central Whitefish is largely the domain of locally-owned dining and drinking establishments. Subway is banished to the outskirts of town. You will be rubbing elbows with friendly, straight-forward locals wherever you wander in the diminutive downtown.
Start the day with a home-style breakfast at Loula’s, veggie-friendly provisions at the Swift Creek Café, or comfort food concoctions at the Buffalo Cafe. For lunch, swing by the Stumptown Marketplace for fresh, healthy fare at Zucca Marketplace Bistro or Pig and Olive, and then reward yourself with a scoop of hand-crafted goodness at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream. In the evening, try Tupelo Grille for a creative menu with a Cajun/Southern twist or follow the scent of garlic to Ciao Mambo for generous servings of Italian staples.
There is a reason there are over two dozen craft breweries within a 200 mile radius of Whitefish. Great beer starts with great water. For brews with a mountain view, go to The Great Northern Brewing Company. If you prefer sports with your suds, the Craggy Range Bar and Grill has plenty of big screens and 16 craft beers on tap.
Whitefish is a little town with big talent. You will find live music at one venue or another just about every night of the week. You can also check out what’s playing at the Whitefish Theatre Company, which hosts music, dance and theatrical performances.
Local artisans and collectors are the backbone of the Whitefish shopping scene. For a mix of classic cowboy kitsch and contemporary curios, check out Big Sky Antiques. For curated, cutting edge fashion, Harlow has you covered. Whitefish Pottery is the go-to-place for colorful, one-of-a-kind functional art.
Whitefish is awash with recreational options, year-round. Whitefish Mountain Resort, a fifteen-minute drive from town, boasts 3,000 acres of skiable terrain for all experience levels. You won’t have a powder problem with over 300 inches of snowfall a year, but when warm weather arrives, the resort offers mountain biking, an alpine slide, zip line tours and an aerial adventure park.
Closer to town, the community of Whitefish has created a system of 36 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, all readily accessed from central Whitefish. Whitefish Lake, just over a mile from downtown, offers fly fishing, boating, jet skiing and water skiing on an unspoiled, 7-mile strip of water. If you prefer to go with the flow, Great Northern Whitewater Raft and Resort will put you afloat in the rushing currents of the nearby Flathead River.
Perhaps the most spectacular draw to Whitefish is its proximity to the west entrance of the Glacier National Park, only a half-hour drive away. Glacier National Park boasts 700 miles of hiking trails, 762 lakes, and the legendary, 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Insiders also recommend an excursion along the western perimeter of the park to the tiny community of Polebridge, for a cup of coffee and a huckleberry bear claw at the historic Polebridge Mercantile. Wherever you venture, keep a look out for the area’s abundant wildlife, including bighorn sheep, elk, deer, mountain lions, mountain sheep and the largest remaining grizzly bear population in the lower 48 states.