For home-town charm and all the winter adventure you could dream of just beyond your doorstep, Western Montana’s city of Kalispell fills the bill. Affordable, friendly and a stone’s throw from Glacier National Park, Kalispell is a locus of Main Street shopping, arts, dining, comfy lodging and outdoor outfitters who can set you up with the winter adventure of your dreams.
But, first, explore your home base. A good way to get your bearings about a new place is by exploring its history. In Kalispell, the Northwest Montana History Museum is a great place to spend a winter day out of the cold. Take in their exhibitions covering prehistory in the Flathead Valley through European settlement and into modern times.
Kalispell is the retail hub of Northwest Montana with handfuls of local, independent shops and galleries. Marvel at one of the largest selections of cowboy hats and boots anywhere at Western Outdoor Store on Main Street. Find your new favorite ski pants at Rocky Mountain Outfitter or discover the latest ski and board designs at Sportsman & Ski Haus.
When it’s time to dine, you have no shortage of choices. Head for an only-in-Kalispell restaurant, like Moose’s Saloon on Main Street, which serves up authentic, laidback Western ambiance along with epic pizzas and a wide selection of brews. The DeSoto Grill dishes up Montana-sized portions of elevated comfort food (think BBQ and go for a DeSoto Q Platter).
When it’s time to get outside, 45 minutes southwest of town you’ll find Blacktail Mountain, a low-key, family-friendly ski hill with more than 1,000 acres of runs plus several miles of groomed Nordic trails.
Only 33 miles to the northeast of Kalispell is the West Entrance to Glacier National Park. There, rent snow shoes at Glacier Outfitters at Apgar Village and hit the trails in the park’s lower elevations. Or book a guided snowshoe tour with Glacier Treks. Exploring snow-laden Glacier National Park on snowshoes is a magical, almost meditative experience.
Back in Kalispell, it’s time to unwind after a day in the snow. Quench your thirst at Kalispell Brewing Company’s tasting room on Main Street. Also downtown, Sunrift Brewing Company pours a number of styles of handcrafted beers.
Tomorrow, get up and explore more of Kalispell or expand your horizons by heading to another town in Flathead Valley, like Bigfork or Polson, both on the shores of Flathead Lake.