Looking for the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana? Your options range from visiting national and state parks, hiking, and watersports to relaxing by the beach, enjoying local craft beer, and much more.
Whitefish, Montana is a small town that serves as a gateway to the great outdoors, including the breathtaking Glacier National Park. We loved basing ourselves in Whitefish while we explored the park.
Before you head up into the mountains to get away from it all, you’ll want to stop over in Whitefish for a few days of creature comforts.
This small mountain town is so much more than just a place to resupply before exploring the surrounding wilderness. Whitefish has more than enough trails, lakes, and breweries to keep any tourist occupied for weeks.
No need to worry; we brought all of the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana to one place so you can easily decide what will fit in your itinerary.
Is Whitefish, MT Worth Visiting?
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Absolutely, yes. As you may have guessed, we absolutely loved our time in Whitefish. Many people think the area is just about visiting Glacier National Park but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
There is a never-ending list of what to do in Whitefish and even if you’re not quite as adventurous as us or prefer to mix up your activities, there’s something for you.
Whitefish is a destination where you can be as active as you want and try out all sorts of adventure activities or you can chill by the beach or lake all day. Either way, it’s a destination worth exploring!
27 Best Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana
1. Explore Glacier National Park
When asking tourists why they are planning on visiting Whitefish, many will answer, “To explore Glacier National Park.” And we totally get it! This is how we ended up in Whitefish, too!
Glacier National Park is by far one of the most popular parks in all of the United States, famous for its stunning mountains, alpine meadows, and frozen glaciers.
It has hundreds of miles of hiking trails leading up to the highest peaks, and others to cascading waterfalls. Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, there are scenic drives (like the famous Going to the Sun Road) where you can take in all the views of Montana from the comfort of your car.
2. Play at Whitefish Lake
Nearly all the best things to do in Whitefish are centered around Whitefish Lake. This scenic body of water is located right on the edge of the city and is easily walked to from the downtown area.
With hikes, boat rentals, and even swimming, tourists will find a little bit of everything to do along its shores.
If you’re looking to get an even closer look at Whitefish Lake, be sure to check out the kayak tours or one of the surrounding 25 campgrounds.
3. Relax at the Whitefish City Beach
Whitefish Lake is quite large, with miles of hiking trails and campgrounds. But if you’re looking for the closest spot from downtown to enjoy the water, you’ll want to head to City Beach.
At Whitefish City Beach, travelers will find seven miles of sandy beaches, perfect for laying out in the sun or taking a dip into the glacier waters. You’ll also find many boat and kayak rentals located along the shore!
You can also visit Whitefish Lake State Park, which is just a bit further up the shore from the City Beach.
4. Visit the Whitefish Mountain Resort
No matter what time of year you find yourself in Montana, there is always something to do at Whitefish Mountain Resort. From ziplining to mountain biking, you’ll be getting your heart pumping while exploring some of America’s most breathtaking landscapes.
The main pull for tourists to Whitefish Mountain Resort is the amazing ski slopes. With a season usually starting in December and lasting until April, adventurous travelers will have a large window to head up into the mountains and enjoy the powdery slopes!
The Shuttle Network of Whitefish, aka SNOW, offers free shuttles from the Whitefish Mountain Resort to town and vice versa.
5. Visit the Flathead National Forest
If you’re looking to escape the crowds of Glacier National Park, Flathead National Forest is the perfect destination for off-the-beaten-path travelers. Personally, this is something we love to do when we’re road-tripping!
Sprawling across 2.4 million acres, Flathead is made up of the same lakes, mountains, and breathtaking glaciers found in neighboring Glacier National Park.
Within Flathead National Forest, you’ll be able to hop on your bike, strap on your skis, or cast a line into the lake. If you’re planning on staying a bit longer in Flathead, they even have cabins and campgrounds perfect for sleeping overnight!
You can also visit Hungry Horse Reservoir in the park, which leads to the 564-foot Hungry Horse Dam. It’s one of the largest dams in the country and just 30 minutes from Whitefish.
6. Check Out the Whitefish Depot
Although travelers will find tons of restaurants, bars, and shops in Whitefish, the heart of the downtown is the Whitefish Depot. This historic train station stands tall and acts as the main landmark for the town.
Whitefish Station even has its own museum, where visitors can wander through the exhibits and get a closer look at the town’s history.
Complete with a park and picnic tables perfect for bringing your lunch over from the Stumptown Market, the Whitefish Depot truly is the soul of the city. It was one of our favorite places in Whitefish.
7. Stretch Your Legs on the Whitefish Trail
Are you looking to stretch your legs before heading out to the more strenuous trails in Glacier National Park? A good warm-up hike can be found just outside of town and is accurately named the Whitefish Trail.
The Whitefish Trail stretches a total of 42 miles and consists of several different trailheads. One of the most famous hikes is the Lion Mountain Trail, a three-mile loop taking travelers through gorgeous forests and boasting sweeping views of the valley and lake.
The Whitefish Trail is also great for biking. There’s no better way to see Whitefish than by bike, there are plenty of paved trails that start right from downtown Whitefish. One of the most popular biking routes in Whitefish is the Haskill Basin which runs 5.5 miles.
8. Enjoy the Spa at Whitefish Lake
It doesn’t matter how much hiking experience you have – even the most adventurous travelers need a spa day. There is no better place in town to kick off your boots and relax those muscles than the Spa at Whitefish Lake.
Located right along the water, visitors can enjoy all the beauty of the great outdoors from the comfort of their massage table.
What will really have you sold is the outdoor hot tub, perfect for cold winter nights where you still want to bask in the beauty of the snow-covered mountains.
9. Relax at Grouse Mountain Park
Grouse Mountain Park is not a place to go hiking or mountain climbing, but this large urban stretch of grass is the perfect spot to relax and bring your lunch.
If you are traveling with a few friends and want to find a park to unwind by throwing the frisbee around, or even pick up a soccer game, this is the place.
Whether you’re just looking to get some sun or want to play some sports, you can do it all at Grouse Mountain Park.
10. Hike Danny On Trail
One of the most popular hikes in Whitefish is Danny On Trail. This short beginner hike extends only 3.8 miles and is the perfect way to prepare for some of the more difficult trails of Glacier National Park.
At the end of the trail, travelers will be given sweeping views of Flatwood Valley below. Even if you find yourself worn out halfway through your hike, you can always take the Scenic Lift back down the mountain.
11. Shop the Whitefish Farmers Market
If you happen to find yourself in Whitefish during the summer, you’ll want to be sure to check out some of the local culture at the Whitefish Farmers Market.
Running from May to September every Tuesday, the farmers market brings together everything from local musicians to hometown artisans.
Even if you’re not looking to buy fresh vegetables or pick up some souvenirs, Whitefish Farmers Market is a unique opportunity to see more of the soul of the town.
12. Take a Day Trip to Kalispell
Are you about done with Whitefish but not quite ready to leave all the modern comforts of home behind? Why not get a change of scenery by traveling down to the charming town of Kalispell?
Kalispell is a small town located just minutes away from Glacier National Park and Flathead National Forest. It’s the perfect spot to grab a meal, pick up some souvenirs, and explore some of Montana’s unique history.
It’s also the major city hub in the area, meaning you’ll find strip malls, chain restaurants, and an airport that supports flights to the region.
13. Spend some time in Les Mason State Park
Due to how close City Beach is to Whitefish, you’re sure to see some crowds. If you’re a traveler looking to find a little more peace and quiet, Les Mason State Park is another great place where you can enjoy the beauty of Whitefish with fewer people.
Much like the other parks around Whitefish Lake, visitors to Les Mason State Park can take a dip in the cool glacier waters. With boat and kayak rentals, this park has everything you need to make your holiday one for the books.
14. Go Golfing
One of the most popular things to do in Whitefish is try your hand at a round of golf. That’s right, Whitefish has many great courses for avid golfers and even beginners who are looking to hit a few balls while being surrounded by mountains.
There are two golf courses in Whitefish and 5 others within 20 miles. With all of those course options, it’s no wonder why Whitefish is a popular golfing destination in Montana.
15. Take in the Local Art
There’s no other place in the western USA that has inspired artists over the years like Glacier National Park and the surrounding area. Whitefish has become a popular place for those inspirations (works of art) to be displayed to the public and available for sale.
There are many great local galleries throughout the whole town, including Underscore Art and FoR Fine Art. There’s also the monthly Whitefish Gallery Nights where all the galleries come together to promote art in the community.
16. Enjoy the WhiteFish River
Whitefish, Montana offers many great outdoor experiences and one of the most popular things to do is to enjoy the 23-mile-long Whitefish River.
This southward flowing stream runs between Whitefish Lake and the Stillwater River just before it reaches the Flathead River.
The Whitefish River offers some great opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, standup paddle-boarding, kayaking, rafting or just enjoying its shoreline.
We found the best spot to enjoy the Whitefish River was at River Trail Park located just steps from downtown
17. Explore Downtown – Historical Walking Tour
Whitefish is filled with many historical sights that date back to the early 1900s. A few of those buildings look like they did back then but many of them have been transformed into modern buildings.
Throughout the town, there are small placards posted along the side of every historical building providing history to visitors who are passing by. This is something special and it should be one of the top things to do when visiting.
The Whitefish historical walk will transport you back in time as you walk the sidewalks of Central Avenue and downtown. You can get a fully guided tour at the Whitefish Museum, The Whitefish train depot, and the Whitefish Visitor info center.
18. Skydive in Whitefish
For those adventure travelers, just imagine the views of Glacier National Park and the Whitefish area from above on a tandem skydive. There’s truly no other adrenalin-pumping experience that offers these breathtaking views and a free fall from 10,000 ft.
Just keep in mind that the window for skydiving in Montana is short due to weather conditions and they only operate from June to October. But if you happen to be in an area with good weather, take advantage of it!
19. Try Spotted Bear Spirits
I don’t know about you but I do love to try a good locally crafted drink when traveling and one of the best places to do so is at Spotted Bear Spirits.
They are a local grass-roots craft distillery located in Whitefish that is inspired by Montana’s wild places. You can experience just that in their lineup of spirits that reflects the deeply rooted heart & soul of this area along with its breathtaking rugged landscape.
The tasting room offers great cocktails featuring local and organic ingredients. For those who love to take a taste with them as a gift or so you can just enjoy this back home, the on-sight gift shop has a wide variety of everything they distill for purchase.
20. Try Local Craft Beer
If you prefer beer to spirits, you’re in luck! There are several craft breweries in Whitefish, Montana, and nearby Kalispell.
21. Have a Sweet Peaks Ice Cream
Do you have a sweet tooth or just love ice cream? Sweet Peaks Ice Cream is famous and a must-try when visiting Whitefish, Montana. They were founded in 2010 by two ice cream-loving Montanans, who have handcrafted their passion for ice cream and sorbets.
We love it because this business was built and crafted by locals who have a love of Montana using local dairy and quality ingredients from the surrounding mountains.
This isn’t your normal out-of-the-box ice cream or sorbets, if you want that you should head elsewhere. There’s a rotating selection every week but the most popular flavors are Huckleberry and Flathead Cherry.
22. Take in a Performance at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center
If you enjoy fine arts you should check out a performance at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center when visiting. It is located in downtown Whitefish within the middle school and is known as a “mini-Carnegie Hall”. It is one of the finest performance halls of its size in the Pacific Northwest.
They offer a wide range of theatrical plays and musical performances throughout the year. It is hands down something you need to do if any of the performance dates line up with your visit to the area.
If you love live performances, the Whitefish Theatre Company also puts on various shows throughout the year.
23. Book a Scenic Flight
The views of Glacier National Park are simply stunning from the ground but are even more impressive from above. Whitefish and the Glacier National Park area is hands down one of the most spectacular places in the USA to take a scenic flight.
Your experienced pilot will not only showcase this breathtaking area but also give you knowledge of the different places you’ll see from the sky in your own plane or helicopter.
If you are looking for something fun, adventurous, and romantic to do when visiting Glacier National Park or Whitefish, Montana then look no further.
24. Try & Buy Huckleberry Everything
Huckleberry food items are one of the popular staples of Montana and the Rocky Mountains. So naturally, when visiting Whitefish you must stop in at a local shop to not only try some local Huckleberry products but buy some to bring home with you.
They make the perfect gift since they can not be grown commercially and mass-produced. They are handpicked from the fields and meadows that border the mountain ranges.
The most popular items range from jam, syrup, pie filling, lollipops, licorice, chocolate, and coffee, to name a few.
If you are in search of an original local Huckleberry shop in Whitefish we suggest stopping off at the Huckleberry Patch. They have been open since 1949 and you’ll be able to sample many of their great products.
Want to pick your own huckleberries near Whitefish? They can easily be found in many of Western Montana’s state parks, along hiking trails or ski slopes, and even campgrounds.
We suggest checking out the Whitefish Mountain Resort if you are looking for a good picking spot near town. Keep in mind, though, that they are a popular snack for bears so when you do plan on going huckleberry picking, be sure to always carry bear spray.
25. Visit Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River in the continental United States. It’s approximately 200 square miles and there are 5 main mainland areas run by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.
Whitefish is just a 30-minute drive from the northern edge of the lake, making it a worthwhile place to visit.
One of the most unique things about Flathead Lake is Wild Horse Island, a 2000-acre park on an island in the middle of the lake. It’s famous for the 5 wild horses that still roam and was used by the Kootenai Indians as a pasture for their horses. The island is only accessible by boat.
26. Grab a Cup of Joe
If you need to start your day with a cup of coffee, be sure to stop by the Montana Coffee Traders café in downtown Whitefish. Montana Coffee Traders have been brewing in northwestern Montana since 1981 and are still a local favorite. You won’t find a better cup of coffee!
And if you want to know more about the process, visit The Roastery to take a tour.
27. Try Flyboarding
If you want an adrenaline rush, don’t miss the opportunity to go flyboarding on Whitefish Lake with Flyboard of Montana.
Not sure what flyboarding is? It’s one of the new watersports where you’re strapped to a board behind a jetski and water shoots up underneath you, so you can “fly” behind the jetski!
We didn’t get a chance to try this yet but it’s definitely something to look forward to on our next trip to Whitefish!
What to do in Whitefish, Montana FAQs
Whitefish is known for its variety of outside activities and close proximity to bigger attractions, like Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake.
Glacier National Park is just 27 miles from Whitefish, which is one of the reasons Whitefish is a popular base for those exploring the park.
Several days, at least! Glacier National Park is big enough that you can spend a few days exploring the park, not to mention all of the other nearby activities. You could easily spend a week or more in Whitefish and not experience it all.
For most people, summer is the best time to visit Whitefish. The weather is great, the state and national parks are open and ready for hiking, and you can participate in the many local watersports. Winter is also a popular time to visit, for those who enjoy skiing and other winter activities.
Where to Stay in Whitefish
There are plenty of great places to stay in Whitefish but one place that we loved was the Grouse Mountain Lodge.
This amazing Montana lodge is built by adventure lovers for adventure lovers and it’s truly an impressive lodge. It features a spa, award-winning restaurant, bar, indoor-outdoor pool and all located right on a golf course surrounded by towering pine trees.
Those are just a few of the main reasons why you need to stay at the Grouse Mountain Lodge when exploring Whitefish and the surrounding area.
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