If you are heading to Glacier National Park for outdoor adventures, hiking or kayaking, I highly recommend stopping in Whitefish, Montana, before or after your Glacier National Park explorations.
I spent a day eating, shopping and sailing in this delightful town and am excited to share my 22 favorite things to do in Whitefish, Montana.
This charming mountain town is located only 26 miles (30 minutes) from west Glacier National Park and 130 miles (2.5 hours) from Missoula. It’s also an ideal place to pick up coffee, tea or huckleberry treats before heading into the park.
Best things to Do in Whitefish Montana: Places to Eat
Whenever I travel, finding delectable food and desserts is a top priority. In Montana, you MUST try all things huckleberry. This delicious fruit, which is similar in size and taste to a blueberry (though a bit more tart), takes many forms throughout Montana.
My Whitefish, Montana, travel blog will guide you to some of my favorite huckleberry treats while exploring downtown Whitefish.
LouLa’s offers six types of huckleberry pies. Opt for plain huckleberry or huckleberry mixed with peach, raspberry, blackberry, cherry or mixed berries. Given that huckleberries tend to be tart, some people prefer huckleberry pies combined with other berries for a bit more sweetness. My family and I adored the huckleberry + mixed berry.
TOP TIP: LouLa’s opens at 8AM and their huckleberry pies sell out. If you are walking around Whitefish, order your pie as soon as you arrive and come back and pick it up before they close at 2PM. I made the rookie mistake of arriving at 9AM, but not ordering until 1PM. Fortunately, they had ONE huckleberry pie left (huckleberry + mixed berry). I would have been devastated if I missed out on this delicious treat given how much I’d been dreaming about it before my visit.
This family owned café uses local products for its “made from scratch” creations. If you are craving something savory or more substantial, fuel up with eggs benedict, lemon stuffed French toast, or a chicken Caesar wrap. Be aware no outdoor seating is available and be prepared to wait for 45-60 minutes for a table. They’ll text you when your table is ready.
FUN FACT: Since the restaurant is located in the historic Masonic Temple building, make sure to admire the building details from up close and across the street.
Central Avenue Bakery and Deli
If you are a bear claw fan (a puff pastry that falls somewhere between a danish and a donut), stop into Central Avenue Bakery and Deli in downtown Whitefish for their huckleberry bear claw.
TOP TIP: Arrive early as I bought the LAST bear claw at 11AM on a weekday! I imagine they go even faster on the weekends. Have them heat it up to enhance the flavor.
They also have strawberry and blueberry scones, savory sandwiches and wraps. I look forward to trying the veggie wrap with homemade hummus or breakfast burrito with potato, eggs and veggies next time. To parch your thirst, you can also get an Arnold Palmer made with huckleberry lemonade and huckleberry iced tea.
If you are craving a homemade sweet or savory crepe, Amazing Crepes is your place. The roasted root veggies crepe with potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, cheese, egg and spinach piqued my interest. Spice up the flavor by adding their homemade Thai green curry sauce to it! If you are gluten free, they can use buckwheat batter. Are you a bacon lover? If so, you might like the Darth Bacon with jalapeno-infused bacon, cheddar cheese and egg.
Quench your thirst with a ginger lemonade or a huckleberry lemonade (only available in the summer months).
Dig into farm to table food at Peerman Farmstead, much of which is sourced from the family farm. You should also indulge in their homemade breads and pastries.
TOP TIP: Have a hankering for huckleberry? Get your fix with huckleberry crepes, huckleberry salad, huckleberry sriracha turkey sandwich or huckleberry grilled cheese if they are on the menu that day.
If you love pumpkin as much as I do, their caffeine free pumpkin pie tea is something you might enjoy as well.
Top Things to Do in Whitefish Montana: Best Drink Places
Le Marche by NP and the Boudoir Bar
After grabbing a bear claw, head across the street to Le Marche by NP and the Boudoir Bar for interesting teas (or coffees) and huckleberry macarons. Sip your drink while sitting atop bar stools in the welcoming interior or at outdoor tables.
TOP TIP: This is the ONLY place I found a huckleberry macaron during my two weeks in Montana. If macarons are your thing, make sure to get one here. They also offered lemon, raspberry and vanilla bean macarons.
Since I’m not a coffee drinker, I always seek out unique teas. I enjoyed my London Fog, their novel twist on earl grey with lavender and French vanilla. They also offer an intriguing butterfly pea latte (butterfly pea flower, jasmine green tea and honey), which tempted me as well.
FUN FACT: While in Whitefish, Montana, I learned the butterfly pea flower imparts a blue color to the tea and has antioxidant properties.
I also appreciated the barista’s enthusiasm, knowledge and the fact they were willing to make my tea in my reusable travel coffee cup to decrease waste. Check out my Sustainable Travel Essentials article for other items I always travel with to minimize my environmental impact.
Montana Coffee Traders
If you are seeking coffee or spicy hot chocolate, head one block farther to Montana Coffee Traders. The Mayan Mocha with cinnamon spice chocolate sounds delicious as does the Chai Chiller, a chai Frappe.
I admire their commitment to “offering certified organic and fair trade coffees with a focus on quality and social responsibility.”
Steeps Tea at the Village Shop
Discovering Steeps Tea at the Village Shop ended up being the highlight of my Whitefish, Montana visit.
While perusing their varied selection of ethically sourced, organic teas, the owner’s son, Owen, pointed out their small tins with tea samples, which allow you to inhale the enchanting aromas.
TOP TIP: Sample one of their teas by having them make you a hot or iced tea while in the store. I highly recommend the White Sakura, a white tea with rosehips, rose petals, hibiscus, cherry, and almond. It reminds me of a tea I discovered in Germany years ago and have been seeking ever since. Every person I have served it to back home in San Francisco LOVES it!
I commend Steeps tea for using compostable cups and straws for all their teas. For more eco-friendly travel solutions, check out my favorite eco-conscious travel products.
I also adore Steeps Tea’s gift sets (mint, chai, good morning and health & wellness) with three different packets of two oz teas, allowing you to sample a few flavors.
I bought the mint set which includes Green Chai Mint, Big Mountain Mint and Velvet. The Velvet tea is one of the MOST divine teas I’ve EVER tasted. It’s a pu-erh tea with peppermint, cinnamon, vanilla bean, and licorice root. My aunt recently introduced me to an equally alluring tea in Missoula named Chocolate Mint Pu-erh at Lake Missoula Tea Company.
FUN FACT: Pu-erh tea is a fermented tea, originating from Yunnan, China.
I also purchased their Vanilla Earl Grey and Rooibos Chai (a decaffeinated chai with honey, black pepper and cloves.) It’s perfect to drink in the evening and not worry about being up all night due to a caffeine hit. I’m a Gremlin if I have caffeine after 12PM, so this is particularly relevant for me. Choose from two, three or four ounce bags in the shop.
TOP TIP: if you find that you love their teas as much as I do, you can restock online!
What to Do in Whitefish Montana: Indulge in Ice Cream
When in Whitefish, you can’t miss Sweet Peaks. Founded in 2010 in Whitefish, this handcrafted ice cream shop offers a variety of classic and specialty flavors.
TOP TIP: Sample as many flavors as you like using their compostable wooden tasting spoons.
You can’t go wrong with the Huckleberry, Salty Caramel or Mountain Mint. Sweet Peaks’ specialty flavors rotate seasonally, so get those while they last! Summer flavors when I visited included: Flathead Cherry Chocolate (flathead cherries in sweet cream ice cream with dark chocolate chips and Griz Tracks (caramel ice cream with cookie dough).
FUN FACT: Sweet Peaks has outposts in Kalispell, Missoula, Bozeman and Spokane, so you can indulge if visiting those towns.
What Are the Hidden Gems in Whitefish, Montana?
Seek out locally made and tantalizing gifts that your friends and family will adore.
Sage and Cedar
If you are enamored by nourishing bath and skin care products like I am, pop into Sage and Cedar. Browse their colorful and aromatic face and body scrubs, lotions, and body washes.
Be sure to check out their line of Montana-inspired products, aptly named Glacier Spring, Wild Huckleberry, Montana Morning and Mountain Sagebrush.
I personally loved Sage and Cedar’s Lemongrass Sage scent.
They also sell PJ Salvage pajamas, which envelope you in comfortable fabrics that inspire indulgent naps.
Whitefish Quilts and Gifts
Seeking huckleberry gifts or packaged treats? Whitefish Quilts and Gifts has an impressive selection, including lemonade, chai tea, chocolates, taffy, mints, pretzels, licorice and fudge.
If you find ones you love, you’ll be happy to know most of these same products are available at gift shops throughout Glacier National Park.
TOP TIP: Wander over to the refrigerated case and check to see if they have huckleberry soda. If they do, snag one. You’ll thank me later.
While I did find huckleberry soda throughout Glacier National Park and restocked every few days, it’s an elusive soda so grab it when you see it!
The Farmers Stand
On your way out of downtown Whitefish, Montana, make sure to stop at The Farmers Stand (only 1 mile/4 minutes away).
Funny enough, a friend from the Bay Area recommended them and a Whitefish friend knows the owners, so I HAD to stop and check it out.
I LOVED my Chicks Dig Grass egg salad sandwich, which fueled me up prior to my Wild Horse Island hike.
FUN FACT: Their tagline is “your food has a story.” The Farmers Stand wants you to ask questions and think about where your food comes from. To facilitate this, items include QR codes that provide background about the food’s origins.
In addition to locally sourced and organic foods from western Montana, The Farmers Stand sells a number of sustainable products, including compostable floss, bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste bits, soaps without palm oil and hand soaps and laundry detergent in refillable glass bottles. If you are interested in more eco-friendly travel accessories, my Sustainable Travel Essentials article also includes a number of solutions that make great gifts.
Fun Things to do Around Whitefish Montana: Sail to Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake
If you are in the area and have access to a sailboat, I highly encourage you to sail out to Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake, one of Whitefish, Montana’s best summer activities.
Since there are no public docks on the island, you must swim, kayak or stand up paddle board to reach the island once you sail close enough.
FUN FACT: Did you know Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the West, covering 200 square miles? The glaciers that formed Glacier National Park also created Flathead Lake.
When you reach the island, activities include hiking, viewing old structures and paddocks and, if you are lucky, seeing bighorn sheep or the five wild horses that reside on the island. You’ll be rewarded with expansive 360-degree views of the surrounding area and some massive mansions on nearby islands.
As my friend and I were heading back from hiking the highest peak, a few people told us to continue on the trail and we’d see the wild horses! Upon cresting a hill, we saw the five wild horses sauntering into the trees. Sighting wild horses is truly unforgettable.
Since I had a two-hour drive back to Missoula, we docked my friend’s sailboat prior to sunset. Fortunately, the drive home along the lake provided many opportunities for me to admire the enrapturing skies.
Places to Stay in Whitefish, Montana
Since I took a day trip to Whitefish, I didn’t stay overnight. If you are planning to spend a day or two, here are a few places to consider staying:
- The Lodge at Whitefish Lake – stay in the main lodge, Viking Lodge, lakefront condos or luxury homes. During the summer go boating, stand up paddle boarding or mountain biking on the Whitefish Trail. In the winter, ski, snowboard or fat tire bike.
- Whitefish Mountain Resort – stay in the ski village for easy access to the slopes in the winter. Cabins, condos and townhomes are available. In the summer, pick huckleberries on the Danny On trail.
- The Firebrand Hotel – stay in town and be walking distance to all the downtown Whitefish shops and restaurants. Consider a floatplane tour to experience the beauty from above or a snowshoe adventure in Glacier in the winter!
TOP TIP: When visiting Whitefish, Montana, also make sure to check out the Whitefish Theater Company and see what performances are offered.
I hope this Whitefish, Montana travel guide has inspired you with ideas for the best things to do in Whitefish, Montana. I loved it so much that I’m already plotting my return for next summer!