Continuing with our series of Montana road trip destinations, it's time to take a look at Whitefish. Whitefish is by far one of the most beautiful locations to visit in Montana. Its snow-capped mountains, scenic lake, and small-town feel make it an incredible getaway destination. Last, but not least, it's right by Glacier National Park! If you want to explore the western side of the park, Whitefish can certainly be your base. Accommodation there will be more affordable than in the park itself.
Okay, so you're sold on Whitefish — but now you're wondering what places to visit and what to do while you're there.
When you're in Whitefish, these are a few places to go and activities to do:
- Whitefish Lake and City Beach
- Depot Park
- Whitefish River Trail
- Art galleries
- Les Mason State Park
- Glacier National Park
Keep reading for a comprehensive travel guide for your trip to Whitefish, Montana!
Why You Should Visit Whitefish
Whitefish is a quaint town located in northwest Montana, right on the edge of Glacier National Park and nestled into the northern Rockies. You’ll find all kinds of year-round activities around the area.
Since it’s located in a valley, the town is sheltered from the extreme climate changes of other regions in Montana.
Escape from the hustle and bustle of life by immersing yourself into the laid-back lifestyle of this town. You’ll encounter friendly locals who are eager to welcome you into the town and share their stories and recommendations. The town is full of rich history, natural beauty, and intriguing culture.
7 Awesome Things To Do In Whitefish, Montana
Whether you like exploring the great outdoors or seeing what indoor adventures await, Whitefish has no shortage of activities and places to see. The town has something for everyone.
1. Whitefish Lake And City Beach
Stretching over 7 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, Whitefish Lake offers water and beach activities galore to its guests. The beach is very family-friendly and even has a lifeguard on duty to ensure your safety! There is a designated swimming area for your enjoyment. Restroom availability is seasonal.
There's no better way to savor the summer than being out on the lake swimming, boating, and fishing. Boat rentals are available along the lake. The City Beach has a boat launch area: day passes cost $10 and season passes cost $50.
2. Depot Park
At the heart of the downtown area lies Depot Park, a two acre park that has sprawling green grass, picnic tables, a gazebo, and large shade trees. Various events are held in this park throughout the year such as farmers markets, concerts, arts and crafts fairs, and other city events.
Since it is a public park, it’s open 24 hours and has no fees.
Whether you're an experienced hiker or a novice adventurer, the Whitefish region has plenty of trails to explore.
Lion Mountain Trail is a 2.6 mile looped hike near the lake. It's rated as easy, but can be enjoyed by hikers of all skill levels. The best months for using this trails are May through September. Take the whole family and enjoy the great outdoors together.
Lupfer Lookout Trail is a 2.4 mile out and back hike that's lightly trafficked and rated as moderate. The best months for using this trail are May through October. The trail is reasonably flat until you hit an incline that will take 10 to 15 minutes to scale.
Danny On Trail is a 7.2 out and back hike that's rated as hard and has 2,034 feet of elevation gain. Throughout your hike, you'll get to see an abundance of gorgeous wildflowers. The best months for using this trail are March through September.
Check out Alltrails.com to discover more hiking trails around Whitefish!
4. Whitefish River Trail
This paved trail is a popular segment of a larger trail system throughout Whitefish. The trail runs along the Whitefish River just south of the town. A notable landmark is the pedestrian bridge that you'll cross. The trail wanders throughout the trees. This specific trail is 1 mile, but does connect to other trails if you wish to go further. Breathe in the fresh air and soak up the unforgettable scenery.
5. Art Galleries
You can browse through an assortment of art galleries along the Whitefish downtown strip. Also, aside from the galleries, you’ll find the works of local artists sprinkled throughout the retail shops and restaurants.
The first Thursday of each month from May to October is dedicated to Whitefish Gallery Nights. These events feature the works of participating local artists accompanied by free food and drinks.
One of the most popular galleries is Sunti World Art Gallery. The gallery features works from internationally acclaimed artists. Check out the cafe for a bite of light lunch or sip speciality coffee. It’s open from 9:00 am to 5:00 Tuesday through Saturday every week.
Going To The Sun Gallery displays an array of pieces like fine art, antique furnishings, handmade jewelry, and bronze sculptures. It’s open to the public Monday through Saturday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. During the summer, it’s open on Sundays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
6. Les Mason State Park
This day use state park can be found on the eastern shore of Whitefish Lake. The park has a sprawling seashore, picnic areas, and swimming opportunities. Soak up the views and make sure to take in one of the stunning sunsets that glow on the water.
Les Mason is closed from December 1 through April 1. During the open season, park hours are 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Check out Sea Me Paddle for kayak and stand up paddle board rentals.
7. Visiting Glacier National Park
Located just 25 miles outside of Whitefish, Glacier National Park is a must-visit. You won't believe how much there is to do in this 1,600 square mile region. The 700+ miles of trails are suitable for hiking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and more. Or, if you're more interested in water activities, pick from scenic boat trips, whitewater rafting, or self-guided or tour-guided fishing trips.
This park has over 700 mountain lakes, 37 glaciers (of course you'd expect glaciers!), 1,000+ plant species, and lots of wandering wildlife. Streams, waterfalls, and mountain peaks - oh my! No shortage of breathtaking scenery here.
No matter what season of the year it is, there will always be an abundance of activities from which you can choose.
If you're wanting to spend a few days in this park, check out our Glacier National Park Itinerary For 3 Days.
Where To Stay
All sorts of lodging experiences are available in Whitefish to ensure you get the travel experience you've been craving!
Hampton Inn & Suites
Guests can enjoy a variety of accommodations at this hotel. The facility is well-maintained and clean, the staff is friendly, and every room is updated and comfortable. It's located just 20 minutes from Whitefish Mountain Resort and 30 minutes from Glacier National Park.
Lodge At Whitefish Lake
Pamper yourselves during your stay at this exceptional lodge. The spacious rooms are comfortably furnished with rustic-style amenities, and they even include a fireplace. It's located on the shore of Whitefish Lake, providing gorgeous sprawling views of the area.
The property has a full-service spa, an award-winning restaurant, a gym, and all kinds of watercraft rentals at the marina. With a lodge-like this one, you'll never want to return home.
Take your time and explore Montana
The Whitefish area, right by the Rocky Mountains is one of the best places to take a break and explore Montana in slow-travel mode. Combining some of the best scenery the state (and the country!) has to offer, with the activities of a fun upbeat town. It's definitely a destination that we plan on returning to. If you're road tripping our in the west, you should do.
And if you are doing that, make sure you also read our 37 tips for a successful road trip too! Also, on your way to Whitefish, if you're driving along the Rockies, make sure you also check out Missoula, Montana for more fun things to do! And as always, leave us a comment here if you can think about more fun stuff to do in Whitefish. We love hearing from locals, and your suggestions can help other travelers make the most of their stay in town.