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11 Best Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana

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on
July 22, 2021

Are you looking for a list of the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana?

In this article, we’ll highlight the best family activities in Whitefish, Montana as well as show you the many reasons that this bustling resort town is the ultimate home base for both summer and winter adventures.

Whether you’re looking to explore its millions of acres of mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers, or to use Whitefish as a home base for exploring Glacier National Park, there are literally so many fun things to do in Whitefish, Montana.

Regardless if you’re dining and drinking in Downtown Whitefish, hitting the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort, or dipping your toes into the chilly glacial waters of Whitefish Lake, a Whitefish vacation will leave you feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and refreshed!

Look no further for the 11 things to do in Whitefish, Montana, with or without kids.

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Mountain backdrop
Whitefish, Montana

Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana

Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Whitefish is a resort town located in northern Montana.

Known for its year-round appeal, popular Whitefish activities include skiing and snowboarding in the winter, as well as backpacking and hiking, and a plethora of water activities on Whitefish Lake in the summer.

With a commute of less than 30-miles, Whitefish is also the perfect gateway for your Glacier National Park itinerary as it offers plenty of unique and affordable lodging options when venturing into the park.

Here are 11 things to do in Whitefish, Montana that you don’t want to miss!

Loula's Cafe sign
Loula’s Cafe

1. Have Breakfast at Loula’s Cafe

Trust me when I say, start your day off with breakfast at Loula’s Cafe.

This sweet cafe is housed in the basement of a historic building in downtown Whitefish and going there feels just like ‘home’.

Along with their simple, yet amazing menu, you’ll find that their prices are totally reasonable, and that service comes with a smile.

Serving up breakfast (think giant plate-sized pancakes, fluffy french toast, grits, and scrambled eggs), lunch, and amazing pie, LouLa’s is family-owned and operated with an emphasis on “made from scratch” dishes using fresh and local products.

Additional planning tip: Try to get to Loula’s for breakfast between 7 AM – 8 AM to avoid a wait to be seated.

Whitefish Montana gift shop
Meriwether gift shop

2. Browse and Shop in Downtown Whitefish

It doesn’t get more laid-back chic than Downtown Whitefish.

As one of the best things to do in Whitefish, you can spend hours browsing the locally owned shops and galleries from the covered sidewalks of downtown Whitefish.

Here, the streets are lined with unique restaurants, coffee houses, souvenir shops, apparel, and jewelry stores; all with a twist of rustic charm.

With plenty of free parking located up-and-down the streets, be sure to stop at Montana Coffee Traders, Amazing Crepes, Montana Shirt Co., Meriwether, and Whitefish Gift & Gear, among others.

Whitefish City Beach
Whitefish City Beach

3. Relax at Whitefish City Beach

Whitefish Lake (created by a melting glacier!) is a popular hub for water recreation, and there’s no better way to experience it as a visitor than to spent an afternoon at Whitefish City Beach!

Whitefish City Beach is home to a family-friendly beach, shaded grass area, designated swimming area, gazebos, clean restrooms, and picnic tables.

If you’re not swimming in the crystal clear water overlooking the mountains, enjoy treats or ice cream from the concession stand, rent a SUP, kayak, or inner tubes, and watch the boaters using the public launch area there.

Whitefish City Beach rentals can be reserved ahead of time from Whitefish Outfitters or can be rented the day of, directly from the beachfront (based on availability).

Want a beautiful view of Whitefish Lake from your hotel room? Check out our full review of the awesome accommodations at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake!

Glacier National Park sign; one of the best stops on Going to the Sun Road
Our family at the West Entrance to Glacier National Park

4. Venture to Glacier National Park

One can’t mention the best things to do in Whitefish without taking note of its intimately close proximity to one of the world’s most beautiful National Parks.

Located only 27 miles from the West Entrance, Whitefish, Montana is a popular home base for those looking to explore the towering mountains, cascading waterfalls, and abundant wildlife found in Glacier National Park.

Don’t miss Glacier National Park’s Going to the Sun Road, a national scenic drive that can be traveled by personal car, hiking, park shuttle, or via a historic Red Bus Tour. 

Likewise, be sure to check out the many opportunities for hiking, biking, camping, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding, within the park.

This place has it all!

5. Stay & Play at Whitefish Mountain Resort

A hub of activity during both the winter and summer months, a visit to Whitefish Mountain Resort is definitely one of the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana.

As one of the largest ski resorts in North America, Whitefish Mountain Resort has over 3,000 acres of terrain for all abilities and interests.

It was recently ranked No 3. Best Resort in the West by Ski Magazine readers for the 2020-2021 ski season, and 2nd in affordability.

In the summer, Whitefish Mountain Resort converts into a giant outdoor recreation area offering 25 miles of lift-accessed and cross-country mountain bike trails, zipline tours, alpine slides, and an aerial adventure park.

During both the summer and winter seasons Whitefish Mountain Resorts’ S.N.O.W. bus offers free transportation to and from various areas in Whitefish to Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Check their schedule here.

Montana Tap House
A great place for pizza and local beers!

6. Dine at Delicious Restaurants

Despite that Whitefish is a small town in the middle of rural Montana, Whitefish has a ton of amazing restaurants and cafes!

Committed to supporting the community, most restaurants feature fresh, local ingredients for almost everything on their menu. 

In Whitefish, you can find American, Italian, French, Mexican, and Japanese cuisine, as well as several brewpubs and bars & grills.

Whether you’re looking for takeout, delivery, or dine-in, Whitefish has so many great options that you’ll need several days to even begin to try them all.

Check out our list of the absolute best restaurants in Whitefish – and at the end of the day, be sure to stop for a treat at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream!

Made right in Whitefish, this perfectly crafted ice cream is so delicious that there is almost always a line…but don’t let that stop you from going there!

7. Visit their Local Brewery and Distillery

Another one of the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana is to experience their local brewery and distillery.

Bonsai Brewing Project is the sole micro-brewery located directly in Whitefish, though a few other breweries can be found in surrounding communities.

Bonsai includes a brewhouse and serving room as well as a huge outdoor seating area (that is kid and dog-friendly), complete with a walk-up counter for food that serves hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, and soup bowls.

(Keep in mind that due to Montana law, breweries must stop serving beer at 8 PM – so do plan accordingly.)

In addition, be sure to check out Spotted Bear Spirits located in Downtown Whitefish.

Spotted Bear Spirits is a community-minded distillery of vodka, gin, and coffee liqueur.

Their tasting room is open 7 days a week from 4 PM -8 PM.

Whitefish Lake Golf Club
Whitefish Lake Golf Club

8. Play a Round at Whitefish Lake Golf Club

Whitefish Lake Golf Club, the only 36-hole complex in Montana, is a beautifully well-kept public golf course that is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike.

The Club consists of two 18-hole courses, the North Course (a traditional mountain course), and the South Course (home to a couple of world-class lake holes).

If you’re not visiting The Club to golf, consider checking out the Whitefish Lake Restaurant located here.

This esteemed restaurant is consistently rated as the #1 restaurant in Whitefish, making reservations strongly recommended.

They offer lunch and fine dining for dinner.

While visiting Whitefish, Montana, we had the opportunity to stay at Grouse Mountain Lodge which is located directly on Whitefish Lake Golf Club. Here’s a link to our Grouse Mountain Lodge review.

Trail Rides at Bar W

9. Go Horseback Riding at Bar W Guest Ranch

Horseback riding in Whitefish, Montana is a great way to enjoy the spirit of the West.

Though there are several outfitters offering horseback riding found in Glacier National Park and the surrounding area, Whitefish itself offers horseback riding at Bar W Guest Ranch.

Bar W Guest Ranch is a year-round dude ranch that hosts up to 40 guests per week offering 3-night or 6-night stays.

Here, guests have the opportunity to participate in trail rides, rodeo games, and cattle work, along with hiking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, skeet shooting, and archery.

Not only does Bar W feature horseback riding for its overnight guests, but they offer two-hour trail rides to the general public as well.

Their trail rides are walking only, and children must be at least seven years old to ride.

Current rates are $110/guest per 2-hour trail ride.

10. Rent a Bike, Kayak, or SUP

Bike and watersport rentals are hugely popular and are one of the best things to do in Whitefish.

Quite simply, there is so much outdoor beauty to explore here, and doing it by way of a bike, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard (SUP) is an awesome and memorable family vacation experience.

Upon renting a bike you can choose to simply cruise the downtown or road bike the 22-mile Whitefish Lake Route.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, mountain bike one of the many remarkable mountain-biking trails found throughout Whitefish and Whitefish Mountain Resort.

When it comes to watersports, private kayak and SUP rentals can be launched from Whitefish City Beach, at Whitefish Lake State Park, or from Kay Beller Park located in Downtown Whitefish (Whitefish River access).

Here is a list of local outfitters and where they are found:

  • Whitefish Outfitters: Kayaks, SUPs, and inner tubes available for delivery & pick-up or onsite at Whitefish City Beach.
  • See Me Paddle: Kayaks, SUPS, and paddle boats available onsite at Whitefish Lake State Park.
  • Marina at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake: Kayaks, SUPS, jet ski, and pontoons available onsite to the public (Simply park and walk to the back side of The Lodge; the rental shack is located at the end of the boat dock.).
  • Glacier Cyclery and Nordic: Mountain bikes and cruisers; located in Downtown Whitefish with access to the Whitefish Trail (2 miles away), and the main bike path system in downtown.
  • Whitefish Mountain Resort: Mountain bike rentals for use on the Whitefish Mountain Resort trails.
Whitefish Depot
Whitefish Depot

11. Visit the Depot Museum and Park

As one of the best things to do in Whitefish Montana, I recommend visiting the historical Whitefish Amtrak station that houses the Stumptown Historical Society and Whitefish Museum.

Here, you can tour the restored Great Northern Depot and locomotives (free of charge!), as well as explore the area’s logging and railroad history.

It is also fun to experience the depot as it is still an operating Amtrak station from which to watch people coming and going.

Last, spend time relaxing in Depot Park.

Located directly in front of the depot in the heart of downtown Whitefish, Depot Park is a large grassy area with shade trees that is perfect for a picnic, or to reflect on your awesome family vacation!

Best Places to Stay in Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish offers a surprisingly huge selection of unique lodges, inns, hotels, guest ranches, condos, and VRBO & Airbnb vacation rentals.

Your final selection will come down to availability and how much you want to spend.

Here are some great selections on places to stay in Whitefish:

  • Grouse Mountain Lodge: Convenient location close to downtown, pool and huge outdoor hot tub, onsite restaurant (A great, less expensive lodge option! Full review coming soon!)
  • Firebrand Hotel: Located downtown, trendy, onsite bar and restaurant, rooftop hot tub and patio

If you liked reading about the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana, let us help continue to plan your getaway to Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park:

Whitefish, Montana

Glacier National Park

Travel Tips

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Find out the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana from Top US Family Travel Blog, Travel With A Plan!
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6 Comments
  1. Reply

    Colleen Lanin

    August 7, 2021

    We are considering a trip to Montana next summer so this is perfect. The Lodge at Whitefish Lake sounds amazing.

    • Reply

      Jen

      August 8, 2021

      Yes! The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is great! I am working on a full article/review on it now! I’ll be sure to share 🙂

  2. Reply

    Lillie

    August 4, 2021

    Gah — I’ve been ACHING to visit Montana, and this only adds fuel to the fire! Gorgeous.

    • Reply

      Jen

      August 5, 2021

      Yes, it was absolutely fabulous! You would love it there!!

  3. Reply

    Amanda Emmerling

    August 4, 2021

    We’ve never been but it looks like there are so many fun things to do in Whitefish Montana! Saved for a future trip!

    • Reply

      Jen

      August 5, 2021

      We definitely loved using Whitefish as our home base when visiting Glacier National Park! I would love to go there in the winter and experience it as a ski-town too!

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Welcome Friends!

We are the Brommer family from Minnesota, and I'm Jen - the travel planner for our family of 5! We are passionate about traveling together for it's what keeps us happy and healthy at home. The free family vacation itineraries and tips you'll find here are crafted with love to be shared with you. We hope our experiences inspire you to start planning your next family adventure!

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