Montana was filed into that part of America that I very much wanted to visit, but never knew when that would be. Luckily I got the chance to spend several days in and around Whitefish, Montana and it quickly became one of my favorite trips of the year. I’m sharing my complete itinerary of things to do in Whitefish, MT in hopes of you adding this pleasant nugget of Montana to your bucket list.
Explore Downtown Whitefish
The first thing I like to do when landing in a new city is explore my surroundings. This allows for me to not only stretch my legs after a day of flying, but I like to know what’s around me. I tend to scope out places I want to eat or have drinks during my trip as well as any place I may want to shop.
Downtown Whitefish is full of amazing restaurants, bars, and shops. From May 28 through September 24 there’s a farmers market in the heart of Downtown every Tuesday from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm. There are food trucks galore and locally sourced produce, flowers, and more. It’s possible to take a quick stroll through the market but it’s easy for one to spend a minimum of an hour just checking out the stalls and chatting with vendors.
Dinner at Cafe Kandahar
Cafe Kandahar is a restaurant that most would save for the end of a trip, however, it’s one of the first things I recommend doing in Whitefish, MT. I believe this delectable dining experience is a great introduction to Whitefish’s culinary scene. It couldn’t have been further from the dining experience I expected to have in Montana of all states, and I’m happy to have been blown away.
This fine dining experience provides thoughtfully constructed cuisine that changes seasonally. Each plate has different ingredients and anything that can be sourced locally, is. Chef Any Blanton has been the Executive Chef for 20 years now and I think I can say his genius is the reason that locals and tourists frequent this restaurant atop the mountain.
A Day At Whitefish Mountain Resort
After having a “chill” first day in Whitefish, it’s now time to test your limits at Whitefish Mountain Resort. If you’re into skiing or looking to learn, then you’ll be frequenting the resort throughout your stay. But keep in mind that there’s plenty of other activities awaiting you.
Try the Aerial Adventure Park
The aerial adventure park is a great obstacle course that tests your balance, endurance, and fear of heights. The only catch is that you’re doing it all while suspended in the air. There are five separate courses with over 60 obstacles and it is not for the faint of heart.
I recommend starting out on the green course to get a taste of what to expect from the more difficult courses. After the green course I tried out the blue and that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to be going any further. There were times where I simply wanted to quit but I was in the middle of an obstacle and too high up to be able to simply get down or turn around.
Although it was sometimes difficult, fun doesn’t even begin to describe it. I highly recommend this park for both children and adults. The best part is that there’s some light zip lining included on the courses for those who have to choose between zip lining and the aerial adventure park.
Take A Lift Ride to the Summit of Big Mountain
Summiting Big Mountain was one of the highlights of my day at Whitefish Mountain Resort. I had never been on a chair lift so that alone was thrilling for a mountain newbie like myself. The views are unmatched and a great way to see the surrounding lakes and mountains in the area. Definitely take your camera along for the ride and be on the lookout for wildlife both in the air and on the ground.
Ride the Alpine Slides
If the alpine slides are open during your visit to the resort, then don’t hesitate going for it. There are two different slides and it’s said that one is faster than the other although I didn’t feel a big difference. Both are fun and exhilarating for all ages.
Spend the Evening At Glacier National Park
Visiting Glacier National Park is a must-do when it comes to things to do in Whitefish, MT. If you can, stop in Apgar at Lake McDonald on your way there because not only is the lake a site to behold, but the view of the mountains look more like a painting than real life. You can kayak or canoe on the lake, or opt for a swim if the water temperatures are to your liking.
We drove along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun-Road before arriving at Logan Pass for our hike. I’ll go more in depth about the experience at a later date, but hopefully you’ll see as much wildlife as we did during our hike. Be on the lookout for bears, mountain goats, and more. Make sure you pack bear spray, just in case!
I have to mention pacing yourself as the hike is not difficult, but the altitude will definitely affect your breathing if you’re from a lower altitude state like me. I initially couldn’t figure out why I was huffing and puffing while climbing just a few stairs but altitude turned out to be the culprit.
I have wanted to try rock climbing for most of my adult life, but the closest I ever got was an indoor wall on my college campus. Fast forward to September 2019, and your girl was climbing up the side of an actual mountain, eek!
I had the pleasure of being taught how to rock climb from Link of Rock Climb Montana, and I’m already looking forward to my next go at this sport. I can’t stress enough that I am a complete rock climbing beginner and Link not only made me feel comfortable, but was able to always push me to go further than I thought I could. I highly recommend not only going for a climb during your visit, but booking with the pros at Rock Climb Montana.
Bike Along the River
After a morning of Rock Climbing I was excited to finally be able to rent one of the bikes at The Pine Lodge. Because they’re located right on Whitefish River, it was the perfect opportunity to bike along the paths and straight into Downtown Whitefish. Once we arrived Downtown we indulged in fine lagers and ale at the Great Northern Brewing Company. I opted for the beer flight and made sure to choose the Wild Huckleberry Lager as huckleberry is the buzzword in the area, and for good reason.
Take A Sunset Flight
Thanks to Backcountry Flying Experience, I can now say I took a scenic, sunset flight in a float plane. I didn’t even realize that was a thing, but it is. Our pilot picked us up directly on the lake at The Lodge At Whitefish Lake and we glided above the mountains for about a half hour as he pointed out different homes and landmarks. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Go Stand Up Paddle-boarding
Our hotel, The Pine Lodge, offered kayak and paddle-board rentals, but on the morning we were supposed to be exploring the lake, it was gloomy and rainy. However, if you happen to have decent weather, I highly recommend stand up paddle-boarding. It’s one of my favorite activities to do when traveling as it’s not only fun, but it gives you a chance to see the town from another angle.
Enjoy An Interpretive Hike
Because of the weather on this particular morning, I was lucky enough to be able to tag along on an interpretive hike at the Living Wetlands Interpretive Trail when I decided I wouldn’t be paddle-boarding.
This easy hike is tranquil and beautiful, especially on a rainy day. I can’t guarantee you’ll see wildlife but I think there’s a strong chance. We spotted a couple deer, one of which inquisitively stopped to check us out, and the cutest squirrel. The squirrel is only of note because it’s interesting to see how different squirrels can look from state to state.
Try Out Salt Therapy
I’d never heard of salt therapy before my trip to Montana but I’ve now learned that it’s a popular form of therapy throughout Europe that has now made its way to the US.
The Salt Box was a great way to end my trip and it’s a unique activity to add to your list of things to do in Whitefish, MT. The benefits of this particular therapy are seemingly endless, but here are a few things it’s said to help with:
Craft Cocktails At Spotted Bear Spirits
Like Cafe Kandahar, I also didn’t expect a place like Spotted Bear Spirits to be a hidden gem amongst many in Downtown Whitefish. Before our final dinner, we indulged in craft cocktails that consist of locally sourced and organic ingredients. And if you’re more of a beer person, you can grab yourself a flight here too.
*My trip to Whitefish was hosted by the lovely team at Explore Whitefish. All opinions are 100% my own.