Best Things to Do in Whitefish, Montana

BY Rob LeDonne | July 1, 2021

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” Whitefish, Montana? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in Whitefish?”

A premier Big Sky country town in a state full of them, the picturesque community of Whitefish was a modest railroad community before transforming into a humble part of Montana tourism. These days, the town is booming thanks to pandemic-related relocations and the appeal of its natural surroundings, including copious mountains, a superb golf club and its eponymous lake. 

Immaculately maintained and boasting visuals worthy of a Hallmark Christmas movie, the town’s charm is the result of an inherent passion from its locals. It’s a quality found in the community’s guidelines for tourists, a campaign dubbed “Be a Friend of the Fish”, which requests visitors act in a kind, sustainable and environmentally conscious manner. (Examples: avoiding single-use plastics and opting for walking instead of car travel.) The cause is close to their hearts, considering the community is a short jaunt from Glacier National Park; the melting glaciers are a direct result of climate change.  

The next time you’re looking for peaceful days and wild skies, here’s your guide to the wonders of Whitefish. (No, seriously…the sunsets can be theatrical.) 

Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish, Montana
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Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish, Montana

Buffalo Cafe

514 East 3rd Street, Whitefish, MT, USA

As the sun rises in Whitefish, there is one place where locals and tourists alike convene for dynamite grub and piping-hot cups of Montana Coffee Traders java. The Buffalo Cafe has seen it all, from its opening in 1979 to the town’s current heyday. Its menu is a Montana food fever dream, from hamsteaks to buttery biscuits with mouthwatering gravy and locally processed sausages. However, Buffalo Pies have been a staple of the cafe since it first swung open its doors. A mountainous stack of hash browns and your choice of fixin’s, it’s perfect fuel for a day of exploration. 

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Glacier National Park in Whitefish, Montana.
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Glacier National Park in Whitefish, Montana. Photo via Shutterstock.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

A stunning part of America’s glorious network of national parks, Glacier National Park is a jaw-dropping 1,500-acre oasis of lakes, mountains and trees. There’s also those aforementioned glaciers, looming over the area like gods of ice. An approximately 40-minute drive from downtown Whitefish, the area attracts visitors the world over for its breathtaking views, fresh air and copious wildlife. A playground for hikers and bikers, backpackers and campers, the area is also dotted with lodges and campgrounds, which the community asks you to leave just as you found them. That includes Lake McDonald Lodge, which sits at the shores of the pristine Lake McDonald. The crystal-clear water here looks good enough to drink, but not so fast. Despite its perceived clarity, never consume lake, river or stream water due to a variety of health risks.  

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The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish, Montana.
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The Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish, Montana.

The Lodge at Whitefish Lake

1380 Wisconsin Ave, Whitefish, MT, USA

From one lake to another, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is a charming resort-style property that features hotel rooms, condos, a deck overlooking its Instagram-worthy lake and a bar and restaurant dishing up everything from elk meatballs to regional wines. Leaning heavily into its rural surroundings (think: decorative moose and bear everywhere you turn), the Lodge also boasts both a spa and an indoor pool, complete with a waterfall, whenever the weather outside doesn’t cooperate. 

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Great Northern Bar and Grill in Whitefish, Montana.
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Great Northern Bar and Grill in Whitefish, Montana.

Great Northern Bar and Grill

27 Central Ave, Whitefish, MT, USA

A town watering hole since 1919, Great Northern is a beloved dive known for its cheap drinks, live music and ample space. Inside the building is plastered with vintage signs from Whitefish past (the tavern collects them from closed businesses of yore), while out on its patio you’ll find seating and a bar if you’re in need of some fresh air. The bar’s century-old history includes appearances courtesy everyone from Sir Mix-a-Lot to a legendary night in 1996 when Bruce Springsteen himself hopped onstage for an impromptu performance. 

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Loula's in Whitefish, Montana.
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Loula's in Whitefish, Montana.

Loula's

Loula's Cafe, 300 2nd Street, Whitefish, MT, USA

What Junior’s Cheesecake is to Brooklyn, Loula’s pie is to Whitefish. A longtime part of the town’s foodie fabric, Loula’s is known not only as a subterranean spot for breakfast and lunch, but for their range of pies. The absolute star of the roster is huckleberry pie, the region’s proud berry, which can be found around town in jams, soaps and syrups. Here at Loula’s, they whip up a seasonal gang of huckleberry pie variations, whether cherry, peach or classic. 

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Whitefish Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Montana. Photo via Shutterstock.
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Whitefish Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Montana. Photo via Shutterstock.

Whitefish Mountain Resort

1015 Glades Drive, Whitefish, MT, USA

Another major anchor for the town, the Whitefish Mountain Resort (previously named Big Mountain for its namesake home) is a winter oasis that boasts skiing and snowboarding over its vast 3,000 acres. Four short miles from downtown and a scenic drive to the top, the resort is a bustling centerpiece whenever the Western skies dump powder onto grateful visitors. Summertime draws visitors worldwide who mountain bike, hike or make use of its lift for expansive views of the region. The mountain also includes a range of dining options, including the quality culinary creations at Cafe Kandahar.

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Remington Bar in Whitefish, Montana.
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Remington Bar in Whitefish, Montana.

The Remington Bar

130 Central Ave, Whitefish, MT, USA

In a nod to Whitefish’s rollocking turn-of-the-century past, The Remington Bar resembles a classic Wild est-era saloon and even takes the name of the oldest gun manufacturer in America.  Aside from strong drinks and filling food, the charm of the Remington lies in its rows of casino machines. Gambling is legal in Montana, after all.

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Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana.
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Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana.

Grouse Mountain Lodge

2 Fairway Drive, Whitefish, MT, USA

Overflowing with rustic vibes and flanked by towering pine trees, Grouse Mountain Lodge makes for a picture-perfect Montana getaway. A short walk from the center of Whitefish and a quick drive from Whitefish Mountain Resort, the property is also perfect for golf lovers as it’s neighbors with Whitefish Lake Golf Club. Crash overnight in Grouse’s pleasant guest rooms, or grab breakfast, lunch or dinner at Logan’s, their on-site eatery and bar that slings out an inspired menu of delectable, Montana-inspired cocktails. 

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Tupelo Grille in Whitefish, Montana.
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Tupelo Grille in Whitefish, Montana.

Tupelo Grille

17 Central Ave, Whitefish, MT, USA

What’s better after a long day of skiing or hiking than a top-notch meal? Known to be one of Montana’s best restaurants, Tupelo Grille is a New Orleans-style eatery with a menu that includes everything from seared bison tartare to what they dub duck and waffle, the latter of which consists of two duck legs and a buttermilk bacon waffle, served with maple butter and a pomegranate gastrique. Even better, there’s a full calendar of live music, allowing for the most talented singer-songwriters around to complement your meal. 

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