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Top Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana in Every Season

If you’re planning to visit Glacier National Park and the beautiful state of Montana you really must include at least a couple of nights in Whitefish. Although best known for great skiing at Big Mountain, there are so many other things to do in Whitefish, MT in summer, spring and fall that it’s becoming a year-round destination. Plus, it’s an easy drive from Whitefish to Glacier National Park making it a great home base for visiting the famous park.

When we started planning a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks we knew that Whitefish would be a definite stop. To be completely honest this wasn’t because it was a place on our bucket list. Our main reason for making Whitefish a “must-see” was because Nathan had once lived there as a child and had very fond memories…something that everyone we met in Montana was sure to hear about.

Did Whitefish live up to his memories and expectations? Absolutely! Not only did it not disappoint but we also created our own fond memories of this welcoming and charming mountain town.

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How to Get to Whitefish, Montana

With options to drive, fly or take a train, getting to Whitefish is really easy.

If you’re coming from one of the surrounding states or Canadian provinces then a road trip would be a great option. Routes to Whitefish are incredibly scenic, especially in Northern Idaho, and having a car will give you the opportunity to really explore the areas around Glacier Country. The only caution would be in winter as the roads can get pretty treacherous. If traveling during the winter months be sure to check for severe weather conditions and road closures and have a good winterized vehicle.

At just 15 minutes from downtown, the nearest airport to Whitefish, Montana is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) which is also the closest airport to Glacier National Park. Flights to Whitefish, MT arrive from many major cities on airlines such as American, United, Delta, and Alaska.

*Check for flights to Whitefish, Montana here.

A fun, scenic, and relaxing way to travel to Whitefish is by train. Amtrak runs the Empire Builder from Seattle in the west and Chicago in the east and arrives in downtown Whitefish.

Note: If you fly in or take the train we suggest renting a car to get out and explore the surrounding areas. If you don’t wish to drive there are plenty of taxis to get around town, tours to sights outside of Whitefish and in winter there’s the free Snow Bus which carries passengers to and from Big Mountain.

Best Things to Do in Whitefish, MT Year-Round

While it’s true that many people see Whitefish as a winter destination due to the proximity to fabulous ski slopes, that’s far from all there is to do there. So here are some ideas of what to do in Whitefish, Montana any time of year.

Stroll Historic Downtown Whitefish

Downtown Whitefish, Montana is charming and compact which makes exploring by foot one of the top Whitefish things to do any time of year. Central Avenue is where you’ll want to start. You’ll find an array of boutique and souvenir shops plus cafes, restaurants and art galleries for browsing or buying.

We’ve listed below some of our favorite spots. While you’re wandering around downtown Whitefish, lookout for signs providing details on the town’s historic buildings and their significance.

Visit the Historic Whitefish Depot Train Station

Exterior of Whitefish Depot Train Station

The Whitefish Depot Train Station is well over 100 years old and is still in full use. In fact, it’s the busiest train station in Montana with an average of 180 people per day coming and going by Amtrak train. This photo-worthy Tudor-style building is also home to a free museum, run by the Stumptown Historical Society. It displays the history of Whitefish and some artifacts from the indigenous peoples.

Interesting fact: Whitefish was once known as Stumptown after railroad workers cleared trees for the train to come through leaving stumps everywhere.

Get Pampered

If your body is aching from all the Montana outdoor adventures, Whitefish can fix you right up. The town may be small but there’s no shortage of options for pampering yourself. Indulge in a spa day complete with a massage and facial, take a rejuvenating yoga class or try a flotation tank. All this and more are readily available in Whitefish, MT.

Our recommendation is the Spa at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake for a day of relaxation. By indulging in any of their spa services you also have access to the lakefront hot tub and pool.

Do a Tasting Tour of Whitefish Breweries and Distilleries

View from balcony looking down to the bar

There are three craft breweries and a distillery in downtown Whitefish making for a perfect walking and tasting tour. Start at the Montana Tap House and choose from more than 50 craft brews on tap. Next, stop at the boutique brewery Bonsai Brewing Project for one of their handcrafted ales.

The third stop is Great Northern Brewing where they’ve been creating Montana-inspired ales and lagers since 1995. Make your final stop Spotted Bear Spirits for a delicious craft cocktail made from their gin, vodka, or one of their tasty liquors.

Tip: It’s never good to drink on an empty stomach but luckily Montana and Bonsai both have a great food menu and there’s plenty of eateries along the tour route.

If you enjoy self-guided craft brewery tours this guide to breweries in Seattle might interest you!

Shop at the Charming Boutiques in Downtown Whitefish

Shopping in Whitefish, Montana is pretty great due to all the boutique shops and specialty stores. Here are a few of our favorites stops:

Peruse the well-stocked bookshelves while nibbling on Copperleaf chocolate at Voyageur Booksellers. Have a good laugh and pick up a unique gift or souvenir at the creative Meriwether, “makers of wit & sarcasm.” Get soft and scenty at Sage & Cedar and add something beautiful to your home or wardrobe at Sappari.

If you’re the outdoorsy type you’ll be in heaven with Army-Navy or Sportsman and Ski Haus and if you’re crafty don’t miss Knit’ N Needle Yarn Shoppe or Whitefish Quilts & Gifts.

Browse the Whitefish Art Galleries

Things to do in Whitefish, Mt

If you don’t expect a western, mountain town to be big into the arts then Whitefish will surprise you. This small town has more than a dozen art galleries and studios displaying incredible works of regional painters, sculptors, photographers and jewelry makers. It was one of our favorite things to do in Whitefish.

One of our favorites is the Dick Idol Signature Gallery which is so full of beautiful pieces you may never want to leave. Another thing we love it is that it’s a family business with a great story of a father and his two sons who are all artists with their work on display.

Be Entertained with Whitefish Live Theatre

If you enjoy live theater you’ll be thrilled to learn there are two fabulous production companies in Whitefish. The Alpine Theater Project and the Whitefish Theatre Company have plays, musicals, comedy, and concerts running year-round so whatever season you’re in town there’s sure to be something entertaining going on.

Indulge at Whitefish Restaurants

Things to do in Whitefish, Mt

There are so many good restaurants in Whitefish, Mt that everyone is sure to find something they love. Some suggestions:

Breakfast: Buffalo Cafe or Amazing Crepes

Lunch: Loula’s or Swift Creek Cafe (try the Reuben sandwich)

Dinner: Latitude 48 or, our favorite, Tupelo Grille (we highly recommend the brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower, elk meatloaf, and shrimp and grits.)

Dessert: Sweet Peaks (incredible, and sometimes strange, choices of ice cream flavors)

Burgers & Beer: Bulldog Saloon (The iconic and somewhat seedy western bar with PG rated bathrooms and great burgers)

Seasonal Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana

Visit the Farmer’s Market (Summer)

Farmer's market set up along a road with mountains in the background

One of the popular things to do in Whitefish, Mt in summer is shop at the Farmer’s Market. The market is on every Tuesday between May and September. Booths are set up in front of the train station creating a scenic backdrop for an abundance of farm-fresh produce, baked goods, local crafts, and tempting food trucks.

If you enjoy markets this post on Markets Around the World might interest you!

Head Up Whitefish Mountain (All Seasons for Different Reasons)

If you’re interested in skiing in Whitefish, Montana then Big Mountain (aka Whitefish Mountain Resort) is the place to go. A full range of winter activities are available and there’s a free S.N.O.W. Bus that runs to and from the mountain to downtown Whitefish.

But, summer is also a great time to visit Big Mountain with activities like mountain biking, hiking, and zip-lining at the Aerial Adventure Park. In addition, there’s also the Alpine Slide and the Walk in the Treetops. In both summer and winter, there are restaurants on the mountain like the popular Cafe Kandahar for seasonal refreshments.

Visiting Whitefish Mountain is definitely one of the top things to do near Whitefish Montana any time of year.

Fly Fishing in Whitefish, MT (spring, summer, fall)

Two men fly fishing in a river with blue sky and lush greenery

Whitefish is surrounded by lakes and rivers, perfect for fishing and fly fishing, with several varieties of trout, Coho salmon, whitefish and northern pike. You can head out with a guide, go fishing on horseback, book a tour or get out on your own. For all your fishing needs, including guides, pay a visit to the Lakestream Outfitters & Flyshop.

Water Activities in Whitefish (Summer)

With a lake right downtown, there are plenty of water sports to enjoy during a Whitefish, Montana summer. Rent a speed boat, pontoon boat or Sea Do for a fun cruise around the lake. Alternately, get some exercise with a kayak or paddleboard.

We suggest going down to the Marina at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake where you can find watercraft rentals and services. Plus you’ll be at one of the best spots in Whitefish to eat and drink with a view of the lake after your water adventure. There are also rivers for more water fun, especially if you love whitewater rafting!

Hiking in Whitefish Montana Big Sky Country (spring, summer, fall)

foreground of wildflowers with lake and mountains in the background

With hiking being one of the top things to do in Glacier National Park and being so close by it’s no surprise there’s an abundance of hiking trails near Whitefish. Some of which are open year-round. One of the most accessible and popular is the Whitefish Trail. There are 12 trail-heads and more than 42 miles of natural trails used by hikers, cyclists, equestrians and even skiers in the winter.

Just be sure to check for trail closures due to weather and be prepared for bears since you are deep in Montana bear country.

Become a Cowboy/Cowgirl for the Day (spring, summer, fall)

Does anyone think of Montana without thinking horses? Whether you’re an experienced rider or a complete beginner you really should add a horseback ride to your Whitefish itinerary.

Fulfill your cowboy or cowgirl dreams by riding the trails around Montana’s outstandingly beautiful wild west, Big Sky Country. Swan Mountain Outfitters and the Lodge at Whitefish Lake both offer a variety of rides for all levels and if you want to have the full dude ranch experience take a look at a stay at Bar W Guest Ranch.

If you’re looking for authentic Whitefish Montana things to do, trying your hand at being a cowpoke may be it.

Try Llama Trekking (spring, summer, fall)

Brown and white Llama walking away from the camera led by a woman

Definitely, the most fun and unique experience we had near Whitefish was a day with Swan Mountain Llama Trekking. We did the ½ day Llama trek which entailed leading our Llamas two miles into the woods and stopping at Bond Falls for a picnic lunch.

The moderate hike totaled about 4.5 miles round trip which was enough time to get to know our shy but sweet, new furry friends. We would definitely jump at another chance to go Llama trekking! Swan Mountain also offers a full-day, multi-day and even a wine and cheese Llama trek.

Play a Round of Golf in Whitefish, MT (spring, summer, fall)

Golfing in Whitefish, Montana is all about the Whitefish Lake Golf Club. It’s a 36 hole complex with full amenities and such stunning mountain and lake views you may find it difficult to keep your eye on the ball.

Both the North and South courses offer a variety of tees making them great courses for beginners and experienced players. There’s also a Clubhouse offering casual dining and refreshments and a more formal dining room open for dinner.

Go Cycling (all seasons)

We’ve already mentioned mountain biking at Whitefish Mountain Resort and scenic cycling along Whitefish Trail but those are just two of the options for bike lovers. There are dozens of cycle trails around Glacier Country as well as some epic road biking routes including those within Glacier National Park.

If you want a longer cycling experience you can visit Whitefish Bike Retreat with trail-side lodging among 19 acres of wilderness. You can even cycle in the winter with Fat Bikes along many of the trails and roads. Mountain, road and Fat bikes are all available to rent at a number of places around town and at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Lodging in Whitefish, Mt

Whitefish has a pretty good selection of accommodations in and around town and the mountain from inns to lodges to hotels, resorts and ranches. Our recommendations, based on personal experience, are the Whitefish Lake Lodge and the Snow Bear Chalets.

Lodge at Whitefish Lake

Wooden Adirondack chairs set in a circle around a firepit witht eh lake and mountains in the background
Grounds of the Lodge at Whitefish Lake in the fall

The beautiful Four Diamond Lodge at Whitefish Lake offers the best of both worlds as it sits on the shores of Whitefish Lake offering epic views plus easy access to downtown and the ski slopes. Deluxe accommodations include standard rooms, suites, condos and cabins. Amenities include a marina, private beach, day spa, pools, hot tubs, fitness facility and an array of dining experiences.

Snow Bear Chalets

Cedar sided chalet in the trees
Snow Bear Chalets offer unique Whitefish Mountain lodging

The Snow Bear Chalets are unique and luxurious tree-house chalets sitting on a slope of Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. This means incredible views to wake up to every morning from the expansive windows and deck. The gorgeous chalets are fully outfitted with deluxe furnishings and amenities with details including an outdoor hot tub, fairy-tale turret, gourmet kitchen and large bathrooms with in-floor heating. They sleep 2 to 8 people making them a perfect romantic retreat or family and friends getaway.

More Whitefish Montana Hotels & Places to Stay in Whitefish

The Firebrand Hotel

The Firebrand Hotel is part of the Lodge at Whitefish Lake family and is a popular hotel in Whitefish Montana conveniently located right downtown. The design is a harmonious blend of rustic and sophisticated and has a choice of deluxe and skyline rooms furnished with super comfortable beds and bedding.

Bar W Guest Ranch

For a truly Montana experience consider staying at the Bar W Guest Ranch just minutes from downtown Whitefish. Chose from a lodge room, a cabin suite or even opt for glamping in a canvas tent. Of course, the main reason for staying here is the dude ranch experience so this may not be the best choice if you’re not interested in horses and the cowboy lifestyle.

Under Canvas Glacier

If you want to experience glamping in Glacier National Park then Under Canvas Glacier is where you want to be. Choose from luxury Safari tents or even treehouse glamping tents. These comfy tents come with a king bed, private bathroom, private deck, and a wood-burning stove. For a small family, there are also tent suites that have a queen-sized sofa bed.

For more lodging choices we suggest Tripadvisor for checking reviews and availability or Hotels Combined to find the best possible rate.

Airbnb Whitefish, MT

If you’re traveling as a group or with your family, or you just want the convenience of having your own kitchen and privacy consider Airbnb vacation rentals in Whitefish, Mt. You can find everything from cozy mountain cabins to luxury downtown condos on Airbnb. If you aren’t already set up with them you can use this code for a discount off your first booking.

Modern Condo in Downtown Whitefish

Whitefish, Mt lodging
Image from Airbnb

Lakefront Condo

This gorgeous, spacious 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo is right in the center of downtown so you can walk to all the great restaurants, bars and shops.

Lakefront condo Whitefish

If you want a stunning lakeview plus access to a community pool and hot tub this 1 bedroom condo is a winner.

Quintessential Whitefish Cabin

Whitefish cabin in the woods
Image from Airbnb

Get the full Whitefish, Montana experience with this cozy cabin in the woods. This spacious cabin has 1 bedroom plus a sleeper sofa perfect for a small family.

Disclaimer: Portions of our experience in and around Whitefish were sponsored by Glacier Country Tourism. However, we have only included things that we personally recommend and all opinions are entirely our own. This article may also contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something through one of these links we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This is one way that we make a living that allows us to keep this site running and we thank you for your support. 

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