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Are you looking for a list of the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana?
In this article, we highlight the best 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, and lakes or want to use the city as a home base for exploring Glacier National Park, there are literally so many fun things to do in Whitefish, Montana.
It doesn’t matter 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 35 things to do in Whitefish, Montana, with or without kids.
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 fewer 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 35 things to do in Whitefish, Montana that you don’t want to miss!
We love Whitefish, Montana so much that we’ve created several other guides to help you plan your trip!
1. Have Breakfast at Loula’s Cafe
Trust me when I say: start your day off with breakfast at Loula’s Cafe when considering what to do in Whitefish, MT!
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, yes, like the sign promises…amazing pie, LouLa’s is family-owned and operated with an emphasis on “made from scratch” dishes using fresh and local products.
Try to get to Loula’s for breakfast between 7 AM and 8 AM to avoid a wait to be seated. However, even if there is a wait, it’s worth it!
2. Browse and Shop in Downtown Whitefish Montana
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 the downtown Whitefish area.
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.
- Whitefish Gift & Gear
Other things to do in Downtown Whitefish include visiting the following art galleries (featuring local artists): Dick Idol Signature Gallery, Sunti World Art Gallery, or The Purple Pomegranate.
Additional planning tip: Consider shopping in Whitefish for Glacier National Park souvenirs, as they are much easier to find here versus in the park.
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 spend an afternoon at Whitefish City Beach!
As one of the best free things to do in Whitefish during the warmer months, the 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.
As one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in Montana, you can’t go wrong with an afternoon spent enjoying Whitefish City Beach!
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 here!
4. Venture to Glacier National Park
One can’t mention the best things to do in Whitefish without taking note of its 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.
Plus, 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 and around West Glacier.
This place has it all!
5. Stay and 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, in winter and in summer.
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. 6 Best Resort in the West by Ski Magazine readers for the 2023-2024 ski season and 7th Best Ski Resort in the United States.
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.
6. Dine at Delicious Restaurants
Despite the fact 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.
Note: 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 to 8 PM.
Additional planning tip: If you’re a fan of breweries, consider making reservations for a Sky Brews Cruise!
Sky Brews has teamed up with local breweries in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, and Flathead Lake areas to provide an incredible brewery tour experience.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at each craft brewing facility with an overview of the brewing process, plus 4 samples at each of the stops.
Most tours last 4 hours.
8. Play a Round at Whitefish Lake Golf Club
When considering Whitefish things to do, we absolutely have to mention golf!
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.
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 take part in:
- trail rides
- cattle work
- rodeo games
- 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, particularly in the warmer summer season.
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’re found:
- Whitefish Outfitters: Kayaks, SUPs, and inner tubes are available for delivery & pick-up or onsite at Whitefish City Beach.
- See Me Paddle: Kayaks, SUPS, and paddle boats are available onsite at Whitefish Lake State Park.
- Marina at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake: Kayaks, SUPS, jet skis, 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 downtown.
- Whitefish Mountain Resort: Mountain bike rentals for use on the Whitefish Mountain Resort trails.
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 Railway Depot and locomotives (free of charge!), as well as explore the area’s logging and railroad history. My 3 boys loved this museum, and were surprisingly engaged the entire time, which is always a win!
It is also fun to experience the depot as it is still an operating Amtrak station from which to watch people coming and going.
Lastly, 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!
During the summer, from late May through September, the park hosts the Whitefish Farmers Market every Tuesday from 5:00 – 7:30 PM.
This hugely popular event features local farmers and craftsmen showcasing their products.
12. Les Mason State Park
Les Mason State Park is a quiet (less visited) day-use-only park located on Whitefish Lake’s east shore.
Here, you’ll find blue water and well over 500 feet of sand and gravel shores, providing excellent swimming opportunities in this natural freshwater lake during the summer season.
In addition, there are picnic tables and restroom facilities.
Sea Me Paddle Kayaking Tours also has rental equipment available, including stand-up paddle boards, pedal boats, and kayaks.
Open each day from June 15 through Labor Day; hours of operation may vary.
Call 406-709-2124 or visit www.seamepaddle.com to check on prices and availability.
13. Go Hiking
Whitefish Montana holds a unique natural beauty that you just HAVE to see up close.
It’s not called the”Great Western Playground” for nothing.
In other words, strap on your backpack! It’s time to immerse yourself in the natural world with one of the best hikes in Montana.
There are plenty of hiking trails for all ages and skill levels in Whitefish. You’ll find everything from beginner nature walks to full-on adventures.
These are my top picks for hiking in Whitefish:
- Lion Mountain Trail – Easy, suitable for all ages, and offers panoramic views. My family loved this one!
- Spencer Mountain Trail – Semi-challenging biking trail taking you to the summit of Spencer Mountain.
- Whitefish Trail – A trail for everyone, including walkers, hikers, bikers, dogs, and even horses!
- Danny On Trail – A moderate hike with plenty of wildlife and beautiful wildflowers, ending in an optional scenic lift ride!
14. Enjoy an Afternoon at a Local Park
When we travel, there’s something truly special about immersing yourself in the local community.
And on a sunny day, there’s no better way to do so than at a local park!
Parks are wonderful gathering places where families can spend quality time, engage with the community, and enjoy a slice of natural beauty.
Beyond grand state parks, these parks are quainter locations. Here, you can stretch out on a picnic blanket, enjoy a packed lunch, and let the kids run wild for a bit!
Our top picks for Whitefish parks:
- Woodlot Park – Perfect for a gentle nature walk on one of its walking trails.
- Hugh Rogers Wag Park – A fantastic dog park where your fuzzy friend can roam and play!
- Lupfer Avenue Park – Great for sports with its basketball courts and grassy areas.
- Taylor Park – A community-oriented park with a playground and plenty of picnic tables.
Romantic Things to Do in Whitefish
While mentioning unique things to do in Whitefish, it’s important to note that there are a few romantic things to do in Whitefish when you’re visiting the area.
First, consider checking out a live theater production at Whitefish Theatre Company!
All productions take place at the O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center located in the middle of downtown Whitefish, MT, with tickets and showtimes found here.
Next, if you’re looking for live music, opera, and musical performances, attend an event at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center!
While in the neighborhood of the performing arts center, stop into the Sunti World Art Gallery; it’s also conveniently located on Spokane Avenue.
The world art gallery features award-winning paintings, sculptures, wood carvings, and Turkish rugs. You’ll even find a sweet cafe and coffee shop.
Lastly, try a new skill with your partner at Stumptown Art Studio. Here, they offer walk-in classes for painting, pottery, fuse glass, and more.
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 of places to stay in Whitefish:
- The Lodge at Whitefish Lake – This lodge is at a prime lakefront location with a beach, 2 pools and hot tubs, onsite restaurant, and activities.
- 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.
- Hampton Inn and Suites Whitefish – Hotel chain amenities, free hot breakfast, saltwater pool.
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott Whitefish – Hotel chain amenities, kitchens, free breakfast, outdoor pool, pet-friendly.
- Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge – Hotel chain amenities, free hot breakfast, outdoor heated pool, and hot tub.
Things to Do in Kalispell
If you’re traveling to Whitefish by air, the closest commercial airport is in Kalispell, Montana.
Whitefish is located 15 miles north of Kalispell, and many people visit the two destinations interchangeably when visiting this area.
Things to do in Kalispell include:
- Hiking, camping, and skiing in Flathead National Forest
- Visit Flathead Lake State Park
- Tour the Conrad Mansion
- Browse the shops and boutiques in Downtown Kalispell
- Golf at Buffalo Hill Golf Club, Northern Pines, or Village Greens Golf Course
If you liked reading about the top things to do in Whitefish, Montana, let us help continue to plan your getaway to Whitefish, Montana and Glacier National Park:
- Best Restaurants in Whitefish, Montana (For Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
- 7 Reasons to Stay at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake
- Grouse Mountain Lodge Review
Glacier National Park
- 23 Must-See Stops on Going to the Sun Road
- 3-Day Itinerary for Visiting Glacier National Park With Kids
- Our Ultimate Hiking Packing List for Day and Overnight Hikes
- Top 10 (No Fail!) Tips for Planning A Family Road Trip
- Family Road Trip Packing List Printable
- Top 16 Tips for Effortless Flying with Kids
- Family Vacation Packing Tips: How to Pack Like A Pro
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*