Best of Whitefish, Mt

Here’s a list of the very best Whitefish, MT has to offer from a resident of over 20 years. This list is filled with ideas for when you are taking a few days off from exploring Glacier National Park.

the author of this article riding a horse at the Bar W guest ranch
I love an afternoon ride at The Bar W ranch near my home

There is so much to do in Whitefish, Montana. Let a 22+ year resident break it down for you:

Hi- I’m Meggen. Food blogger and specialty food manufacturer in Whitefish, MT. I have lived n Whitefish for over 22 years. Here is a list of my favorite restaurants, fun things to do and places to visit. Because I live here, I eat out often, go to all these places and can give you an up to date insight on what’s happening. I will update this post at least twice a year to keep up with new shops, eateries and all that is going on. In the summer, pop by my booth at The Whitefish Farmers Market every Tuesday night and say hello. Feel free to message me in the comments. I’m happy to answer any questions.

pumpkin pancakes at Swift Creek Cafe in Whitefish, Montana
Pumpkin pancakes with housemate apple butter at Swift Creek Cafe

Best Restaurants in Whitefish, MT:

These are restaurants that I am recommending. This is not a complete list of every spot in town.

the bar inside Herb and Omni in Whitefish , MT
The stunning bar at Herb & Omni in downtown is the perfect place for an after dinner cocktail

Breakfast & Lunch –

  • Swift Creek– closed Tuesdays
  • Buffalo Cafe-line starts early
  • Fleur Bake Shop-incredible croissants and cinnamon rolls on Sundays – see my photo
  • Montana Coffee Traders- several locations. Columbia Falls shop has the best breakfast, but the downtown whitefish location is wonderful.
  • Amazing Crepes- downtown Whitefish
  • Hucks Place– Closed Monday, Tuesday. 9-4 daily. Fresh juices and healthy options
  • Tiki Bar – Lodge at Whitefish Lake- great lakeside dining
  • Jersey Boys- Pizza and fantastic sandwiches. Gluten -free options as well. Order take out well in advance.
  • Sacred Waters Brewing Co. – On the road just past the airport. Live music at night.
  • Blackstar Brewery– The best smash burger in town and fantastic salads.
  • Scout and Gather Grill- HWY 40- open in summer only
a box of croissants from Fleur Bakery
Fresh croissants from Fleur Bake Shop and apricot jam from Markus Community Market

Best dinner restaurants in Whitefish, MT – reservations required

OT- Open Table app

R- Resy App-

  • Herb & Omni- OT James Beard Nominee Earl Reynolds- Best chef in town. OT
  • Tupelo Grill -OT Outstanding Cajun fusion
  • Abruzzo- OT Wood fire pizzas and hand made pasta
  • Whitefish Lake Golf Course- R Steaks!
  • Bang Bang Whitefish- OT Thai- Some like it spicy
  • Last Chair- call for reservations- Chef Tim makes the best sauces in town. Catered my daughters wedding.
  • Jalisco Cantina- Call for reservations- A great bar that serves killer tacos
  • Latitudes- OT Salmon is always fantastic
  • Ciao Mambos- OT If you like carbs, cheese and cream- this is your place. Fun. Loud.
The deck at the Whiteish Lake Golf Course
The deck at the Whitefish Lake golf course is a hot spot for lunch or a light dinner

Dinner spots in Whitefish, MT we like requiring no reservation-

  • Sacred Waters
  • Buffalo Cafe- dinner served Wednesday- Saturday
  • Blackstar
  • Bar in the Lodge on Whitefish Lake
  • Ed McGrew’s BBQ– call well in advance ( as in days or weeks) to place an order- all take out.
  • Patio at the golf course on Whitefish Lake – be prepared for long waits.
  • Central Ave Food Truck Pavillon- NEW SUMMER 2024 – at 38 Central Ave, a large vacant lot is being turned into a fenced in food pavilion with fabric shades, picnic tables and corn hole games. Mobile bathrooms are expected on site. Great option for folks wanting a quick meal. Scheduled to open June 2024. I will update as it opens.
The Tiki bar at the Lodge on Whitefish Lake
Tiki Bar at the Lodge on Whitefish Lake offers great drinks and a lake view

Best bars in Whitefish, MT:

  • The Great Northern- local go here . Great live music scene
  • Palace Bar- local hang out
  • Spotted Bear Spirits- killer craft cocktails
  • Blackstar- local beers, great rooftop
  • Bonsai Brewing- small batch craft beer -outdoor seating
  • Jalisco Cantina- a bar that serves great Mexican cuisine
  • Red Room at Latitudes
  • Herb & Omni- fancy pants
  • Tupelo Grille- best whiskey sour in town. live music
  • Abruzzo- great vibe. Hand made pasta- superb Italian
  • Bulldog Saloon – legendary watering hole
  • Snug Bar- on the mountain in Kandahar Lodge
  • Bierstube- Apres ski or afternoon post hike cold beer
  • a coffee from Montana Coffee traders
    Mt Coffee Traders
  • A Whiskey Sour at Tupelo Grille
  • a cocktail at Abruzzo's
    A dessert cocktail at Abruzzo’s

10 more Best of Whitefish, Montana: not on typical itineraries:

  • Attend a special pop up dinner at Dancing Spirit Ranch – check their calendar HERE for events
  • Go to the Whitefish Farmer’s Market every Tuesday from 5:00- 7:30pm. Food trucks., live music, local vendors and cafes. Downtown in Depot park.
  • Catch a Glacier Range Riders game . One of the most beautiful minor league park barks anywhere.
  • Attend a Glacier Symphony Concert- The concert at Rebecca Farm is always packed every year.
  • Grab a picnic dinner from Alpine market or Markus Community Market and enjoy dinner at City Beach on Whitefish Lake.
  • Attend a pop up dinner at The Farmhouse Inn & Kitchen.
  • Watch a concert and seaplanes land at Stillwater Landing. Check their Facebook page for events.
  • The Event at Rebecca Farm is a 3 date Equestrian Eventing competition. Food trucks, kid zone with pony rides, wide open meadows, large tent with vendors are there for viewing. Best day is the Cross- Country event- you can sit out on the course and watch the horses come thundering through. It is a USEF and USEA recognized Gold Cup event so horses of exceptional ability compete. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
  • Festivals- Huckleberry Days, Brash Rodeo Summer Series, Whitefish Art Festival, Under the Big Sky, Song writers Festival, and more- check the Chamber of Commerce event calendar HERE for all our events.
  • Gallery Nights- The first Thursday of every month May- October. All the downtown art galleries are open late hosting cocktails and an artists in residence. Great way to pick up a special one of a kind work of art.
an antique Model T Ford in Whitefish MT
A pristine Model T during the antique car show in Whitefish

Hotels in Whitefish, MT – the good, the great and the dirty:

Believe or not, when my friends and family visit, or when I host a big wedding in my back yard, folks are not staying in my house. They stay in the local hotels. And, I pop by all the hotels to see what the bars are like, how is the food, is there a lot of staff turnover? See my take on hotels below.

The Good:

  • Good Medicine Lodge-new owners in 2024.
  • The Garden Inn- CIA trained chef owns the Inn. Exceptional breakfast. Book early.
  • Hidden Moose Lodge
  • Grouse Mountain Lodge- full service hotel- basic rooms, but close to everything
  • Hampton Inn and Suites- on Hwy 93. Shuttle service
  • Towne Place Suites- Basic. But reliable. Need a car- not much close by.
  • Apres Whitefish- new owners- on the river, close to everything downtown. Food trucks always on site.
  • Clydesdale Outpost- Incredible luxury cabins with a spectacular Clydesdale family of horses for you to ride.
  • Bar W Guest Ranch- beautiful ranch with a large herd of horses for riders of all levels. All inclusive. Great new owners have made multiple upgrades and improvements over the past two years.
  • Chalet Inn- Renovated older hotels, fun hammocks outside each door. Very inexpensive. Property always tidy.
  • Pine Lodge- within walking distance of downtown.
  • Best Western- This was the first place my husband & I stayed when we b visited Whitefish 25 years ago. It’s basic, but holds a special place in my heart.
  • Duck Inn Lodge- on the river. Always a favorite. Fresh waffles.
Chefs teaching a cooking class at Trovare in Whitefish, MT
Cooking classes at Trovare are always fun- it’s BYOB but the food is incredible. These sell out fast.

Hotels that make me pause:

When we hosted my daughters wedding in 2021, these hotels had problems, Staff turnover is a big issue, but they are listed as luxury hotels so I’m sharing my experience.

  • The Lodge on Whitefish Lake- Large resort on the lake. Very $$$$. A bit dated on the inside, but very “Montana” The Boat Club dining is very overpriced. Spa is super small but I have always had great treatments there. My in-laws stayed in a lakefront room- a bit dated. But they loved their balcony with views of the lake, big room with coffee bar. We eat the bar- a lot. Great burgers. Good vibes, but rooms are just so so for the price you pay. Time for the Lodge to update things.
  • Firebrand Hotel- We had friends check in and the room and not been cleaned and they moved to another hotel. But – that was 2021 when things were post -pandemic nuts and no one had staff. Walls are always reported as thin. Fantastic location- you can walk everywhere and they have a great shuttle serve. Cool roof top igloo bar the winter.
  • Kandahar Lodge on Big Mountain- If I won the lottery, I would buy out the owners of Kandahar, gut the place and turn it into the five star hotel it so desperately wants to be. But for now- The Lodge is really a group of independently owned condos.
  • Expect a continental breakfast – muffins and bagels. Cafe Kandahar- the prize winning restaurant at the Lodge is long gone. Lobby has a great bar- the Snug Bar- an institution on the mountain. Greta location for Skiers, Lodge lobby is very old world.

Cool Airbnbs-

  • Snow Bear Chalets
  • The Nooq- mountain home of photographer Alex Strohl
  • Lupfer Avenue condos
  • Kintla Lodge- no AC, but great building- I used to own a unit.
  • Elk Highlands homes- great mountain top luxury homes. Private ski lift.
a young woman going down the alpine slide on Big Mountain MT
My daughter racing down the alpine slide on the mountain a few years ago

The Mountain- Big or otherwise

Our local ski hill is fondly referred to by locals at The Mountain or Big Mountain or The Hill. “I’m running up to do a few runs on the hill. ” Wanna climb Big Mountain this afternoon?”

But corporate entities bought Big Mountain and decided the name caused confusion with Big Sky so it was rebranded as Whitefish Mountain. Whatever you call it, there’s a lot to do up there.

a basket of posh groceries
Great picnic goodies at Markus Foods

Here’s my list:

  • Hike the Danny On trail- ride the gondola down. Save your knees
  • Have a beer on the deck of the Summit house.
  • Ride the gondola up and down. We won’t judge you (well, a little bit)
  • Have a lunch on the deck of the Bierstube in the village- great grilled burgers
  • Mountain bike the mountain- rentals available
  • Ride the Alpine Slide- big kids allowed as well.
  • Pack a picnic from Markus Foods and enjoy it on one of the rocky ledges on the mountain
  • Ride the zip line- three is a weight limit of 60-230 lbs
The inside of Mum's Flower shop in Whitefish Montana
Mum’s flowers and gifts

Retail Therapy: When you need a day off

My favorite shops in Whitefish. Husbands can go hang out at The Northern, Craggy Range or the Bulldog Saloon if they don’t want to shop ’til you drop.

Meggen’s favorites:

  • Bookworks
  • The Toggery
  • Mum’s flowers and gifts
  • SM Bradford- Summer 2024 closed for renovations
  • Sage & Cedar
  • Hunter & Co Interior Design
  • Scout & Gather
  • Forage & Floral
  • Dick Idol Art gallery
  • FOR Fine Art gallery
  • Walking Man Gallery
  • Trovare
  • Sappari
  • Coming Summer of 2024- Kemo Sabe
pints of ice cream from Sweet Peaks in Whitefish, MT
Grab a few pints from Sweet Peaks

Worth a mention:

  • Sweet Peaks Ice Cream
  • Clydesdale Creamery- opening Summer 2024
  • Third Street Market- large selection of local produce and health foods
  • Whitefish Liquor Store- pick up a few libations by local distillers
  • The Farm Stand- Nest to Super One farmer owner specialty food shop- take out meals to go
  • Vibrant Roots organic- the best fizzy healthy drinks in town
  • Haskill Creek- SO much more than just a place for that special gummy- beautiful home products, gorgeous farmhouse setting, pop up dinners and brunches
Downtown Whitefish MT covered in a blanket of snow
Chuck Haney photo of Cross country skier in downtown street of Whitefish Montana

More of my insider information on what to do in the Flathead Valley:

outdoor tables set up in a hay meadow
The beautiful farmhouse at Haskill Creek

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2 Comments

  1. Michael Tyson says:

    Great information! We are looking forward to our first visit at the end of the month. Be well!

    Mike Tyson