Historic buildings in downtown Kalispell, Montana along Main Street, one of the top things to see and do in Kalispell

A Montanan’s Guide to Kalispell: What to See, Do, Eat & Drink

Are you planning a trip to Kalispell, Montana soon?

While some people see it as just a stop along the way on their visit to Glacier National Park, there are actually a lot of incredible things to do in Kalispell.

Plus, Kalispell is a great place to base yourself when exploring the the gorgeous Flathead Valley. We love this little city and think you will, too.

Read on for our best tips on what to do while in Kalispell. We also share our top picks for dining and drinking and nearby places to visit.

Historic buildings in downtown Kalispell, Montana along Main Street, one of the top things to see and do in Kalispell
Historic buildings in downtown Kalispell

Best Things to Do When Visiting Kalispell, Montana

Kalispell and its surrounding area is one of our favorite parts of Montana and it places you right between gorgeous Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park. You’re also close to other beautiful places like Swan Lake and Hungry Horse Dam.

But it’s Kalispell you’re looking for info on! So without further ado, let’s get to our list of the best things to do in Kalispell, Montana. 

Because Kalispell is in such a great location surrounded by some of the nation’s most beautiful wilderness, I have included some things that are slightly outside of the city, too.  All of the things to do on this list are close enough that they are easy to get to from Kalispell.  

Walk Along Main Street for a Historical Walking Tour of Kalispell

Historic Main Street in Downtown Kalispell, Montana
Kalispell’s Main Street

While in Kalispell, take some time to amble down the city’s historic main street. You’ll find restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, and boutiques.

Main Street is lined by these establishments and wide sidewalks, making it easy to explore on foot and check out the businesses, many of which are located in historic buildings. During your walking tour, read the historic plaques on some of the buildings to learn more about what the buildings were previously used for.

As you continue your walk south along Main Street (or if you drive down Main Street) you’ll discover the road culminates in a gorgeous view of the architecturally impressive building that houses the Flathead County Clerk and Recorder offices.

Flathead County Courthouse is the focal point of the Courthouse Historic District in Kalispell, Montana
Flathead County Courthouse

Good Places to Eat Along Kalispell’s Main Street

If you’re looking for a good meal in downtown Kalispell, check out Hops Downtown Grill for local cuts of meat and craft beer or Sykes Diner, which has a diner and deli/coffee shop with small-town charm vibes plus a small market where you can pick up some local huckleberry products.

Moose’s Saloon on the north end of Main Street is another must-eat restaurant in Kalispell. This eatery is about as laidback as you can get, with wooden booths you’re welcome to carve you name into, old west sawdust covering the floor (along with peanut shells), and deliciously cheesy pizza pies. Plus a full bar.

Best Shop for Western Wear

For a true Montanan shopping experience, you can’t miss browsing the western wear at Western Outdoor. You’ll find thousands of boots and hats plus an assortment of the best in western attire.

If you’re planning on doing any horseback riding while visiting Kalispell and want to look the part, this is the place to get outfitted!

Horseback Rides Near Kalispell

Speaking of horseback riding, there are numerous places to do so in and around Kalispell. Some top picks include:

Kalispell Breweries

To check out Kalispell’s famed brewery scene, head to Bias Brewing, Kalispell Brewing Company, and SunRift Beer Company, all of which are located right along Main Street or just a block or two down one of its side streets.

Sacred Waters Brewing Company is another popular taphouse for beer tasting, located right off Hwy 2 between Kalispell and Columbia Falls. It has a large indoor tasting room plus a beer garden in which to enjoy a pint on warmer days.

Historic Conrad Mansion Museum

Conrad Mansion Museum in Kalispell, MT
Conrad Mansion

Learn about the western frontier at the Conrad Mansion Museum in Kalisepll.

Charles Conrad moved to the Montana Territory in 1868 at the age of 18 and built an empire on trading and freighting and left a lasting mark on the state of Montana, and even founded the city of Kalispell in 1892.

In 1895, he built the Norman-Style mansion as his home that would eventually become the Conrad Mansion Museum. The home is beautiful, elegant, and holds a significant amount of historic importance to the area.

The historic mansion is 13,000 square feet and sits on a magnificently manicured lawn with beautiful gardens. The yard still boasts some of its original features such as the drystone fencing. The one-hour tour is well worth it to learn more about the history of Kalispell and see how wealthy frontiersmen lived during the turn of the 20th century.

Woodland Park

Woodland Park Walking Trail in Kalispell, MT
Woodland Park Walking Trail

This city park is centered around a serene pond with a paved walking trail and mossy vegetation. It is located just down the street from the Conrad Mansion.

My grandkids loved watching all the ducks and turtles on the pond.

Woodland Park is also home to the Woodland Water Park and Woodland Ice Center.

Herron Park

This one is for the adventurers!  If you love to hike, bike, or horseback ride on trails, you should definitely take a jaunt over to Herron Park, located just ten minutes from downtown. 

Herron Park is a 44-acre park located 10 minutes away from downtown Kalispell.

The park is home to the 13.5-mile Foy’s to Blacktail Trails. These trails have amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges. If you’re looking for an even longer hike, the Foy’s to Blacktail Trails connect to Blacktail Mountain Ski Area.

In winter, the trails of Herron Park become a popular place for cross-country skiers.

Hockaday Museum of Art

Hockaday Museum of Art is one of the top things to do in Kalispell, Montana

A visit to the Hockaday Museum of Art is a great way to spend your time while in Kalispell if you love the arts.

The focus of this museum is to enrich the culture of the local area as well as to preserve the artistic legacy of artists from Montana and artists from around the world who use Montana as their inspiration.

Making the Hockaday Museum of Art even better is that it’s located in a historic Carnegie Hall Museum.

The museum is also a family friendly destination, thanks to the Children’s Discovery Gallery which offers hands on learning and activities for kids.

Northwest Montana History Museum

The Northwest Montana History Museum is located in an old school building that has been restored.

As you walk around within the walls of the former school, you’ll get to explore rooms highlighting different parts of the history of Kalispell and the Flathead Valley.

Flathead Lake: An Oasis Just South of Kalispell

Wayfarers State Park by Flathead Lake south of Kalispell, Montana. Visiting Flathead Lake is one of the top things to do near Kalispell.
Wayfarers State Park on Flathead Lake

Just a 25 minute drive south of Kalispell, you will find Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. It’s also one of my favorite places in the world!

Flathead Lake offers recreation opportunities such as boating, fishing, mountain biking, hunting, and cross-country skiing.

We also highly recommend taking a boat or kayak to Wild Horse Island State Park in the southern part of the lake, where if you’re lucky you’ll spot the five wild horses that still live there.

All that is just a small sliver of what you can do at this beloved lake. Click the link below for more ideas on how to spend a day trip to Flathead Lake.

Read More About Flathead Lake: The Best Flathead Lake Activities

Lone Pine State Park

This is another fun outdoor adventure land just 10 minutes south of Kalispell.

At Lone Pine State Park you will find trails for horseback riding, hiking, and biking as well as snowshoeing in the winter. There’s even an archery range. The views here are amazing, so be sure to pack a picnic and take your time to soak it all in.

Check in with the visitor center since it has a gift shop and Lone Pine State Park often offers guided hikes, workshops, kid-friendly activities, and more.

Take a Drive From Kalispell on “the Swan”

Do you love taking scenic drives? If you said yes, then I suggest taking a drive on “the Swan.”

The Swan is a 40-minute drive just south of Kalispell that is a scenic corridor along Hwy 83. The drive is heavily forested, with a highlight being Swan Lake, the little sister to Flathead Lake, that has an excellent day use area.

Paddle Boarding in Swan Lake, Montana at Swan Lake Day Use Area Near Kalispell
Paddle Boarding at Swan Lake Day Use Area

—-> Read More: In-Depth Guide on the Swan Lake Day Use Area.

Glacier National Park: A Must-Do Day Trip From Kalispell

Hiking trail with lake and mountain views in Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is a roughly 45-minute drive from Kalispell, but I promise you it is worth the time in the car. I think Glacier National Park is one of the best places in the world and it’s so close to Kalispell!

This beloved National Park is home to some of the greatest views on earth (picture glacier carved peaks and valleys, mountainous ranges, and wildlife).

With nearly 1,600 square miles of stunning wilderness, there’s too much to do to list it all here, but we have a comprehensive article all about what to do in Glacier, that you can click on below.

—> Read More: Top Things to Do and See in Glacier National Park.

From Kalispell, you’ll enter Glacier National Park via West Glacier, which gets you close to Apgar Village and popular hikes like Avalanche Lake and Cedar Creek Trail.

Avalanche Trail in Glacier National Park
Avalanche Lake Trail

Polebridge Detour

If you want to explore further into the park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is iconic and is a bucket list worthy thing to do. Polebridge to the north of West Glacier is also a fun destination for foodies and those who like rugged, off-the-beaten path lake spots (i.e. Bowman Lake).

Flathead National Forest

Flathead National Forest sign in Montana

Glacier National Park too daunting to do on this Kalispell trip, but you still want some unforgettable outdoor adventures? Your answer is Flathead National Forest, one of the best national forests to explore in western Montana.

It has lots of hiking trails and beautiful views, plus the crowds won’t be anywhere near as pervasive as they are in Glacier National Park.

Flathead National Forest basically surrounds Kalispell. To the east, it stretches down from Canada along the western edge of Glacier National Park and then all the way past Flathead Lake, around Hungry Horse Reservoir, and down to Seeley Lake. To the west of Kalispell is another section of the forest. All in all, this national forest encompasses and impressive and enchanting 2.4 million acres.

Jewel Basin

The Jewel Basin area of Flathead National Forest is particularly alluring with its 15,000 acres that are maintained for hikers and campers. The Birch Lake Trail in Jewel Basin is a great hike for most ages and levels that is less than a mile. It has the reward of reaching the picturesque Birch Lake.

This part of Flathead National Forest typically gets more crowded so bring your parking patience and practice your trail etiquette when recreating in Jewel Basin.

Lone Pine State Park

Another popular hiking area close to Kalispell is Lone Pine State Park. It covers 270 acres with 7.5 miles of trails. You can see all the way to Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park, and the Jewel Basin from some of the trails.

Lone Pine State Park is a great place for hiking and mountain biking in the summer. When winter comes, locals come here to cross-country ski and snowshoe.

Buffalo Hill Golf Club

This 27-hole golf course is open to the public and is a picturesque place to play a round of golf. Buffalo Hill Golf Club is located right in the city, just a short distance from downtown. The golf club is also home to a restaurant with a nice patio overlooking the putting green.

Cool history fact: Remember the Conrad family we talked about earlier? They also once owned the land the Buffalo Hill Golf Course is located on and used it as a buffalo pasture.

Whitefish Mountain Resort: Skiing or Hiking Day Trip From Kalispell

Whitefish Mountain Resort near Kalispell, Montana
Photo Courtesy of Whitefish Mountain Resort

Located just 25 miles away from Kalispell is one of the best ski resorts in Montana: Whitefish Mountain. If you love to ski or snowboard, you don’t want to miss shredding down the mountainside of Whitefish Mountain Resort.

This goes for wintertime, of course, but summertime is a fun time to visit Whitefish Mountain, too.

Family hiking down Whitefish Mountain
Our family on a summer hike in Whitefish

Some of the summer activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort include ziplines, alpine slides, mountain biking, and a strider bike park just for kids who love their pedal-less strider bikes!

—> Read More: Top Things to Do in Whitefish in Every Season

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area

If you want a smaller, more laidback skiing edxperience that still has epic runs, head south to Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. Located close to Lakeside by Flathead Lake, you can even see views of the iconic lake from atop some of the runs.

Blacktail Mountain has 26 runs, a lodge with a restaurant, and ski and snowboard rentals.

Whitewater Rafting

If skiing isn’t your thing, but you still want to get your adrenaline racing, check out some of the whitewater rafting excursions and rentals near Kalispell. Some outfitter options include:

Enjoy Local Ice Cream Creations at Sweet Peaks

Sweet Peaks Ice Cream in Downtown Kalispell along Main Street

After your day’s adventures in and around Kalispell, treat yourself to some delicious ice cream at Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, a local ice cream chain that serves up delicious Montana-inspired flavors. I especially like the huckleberry flavor, which uses real huckleberries sourced right from Libby, Montana!

Where to Stay in Kalispell

If you want to increase your time to explore Kalispell, then staying right in the city center is the way to do so.

My top pick is the historic Kalispell Grand Hotel, a lovely hotel right in downtown Kalispell that dates back to 1912. The rooms have been beautifully updated, while the lobby and common areas still have that turn of the century charm.

—> Click here for prices and pictures of Kalispell Grand Hotel.

More Accommodations in Kalispell:

Looking for More Info on Things to Do Around Kalispell? Read These Articles…

Enjoy All the Fun Things to Do in and Around Kalispell!

Kalispell, like many places in Montana, is simply full of amazing activities and recreation opportunities.

While Kalispell could be quite easy to simply drive through on your way to the next destination, I highly suggest that you take the time to stop and visit. You will find that there are so many fun things to do in Kalispell that you might just want to stay an extra day or two.  

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