A Montanan’s Guide to Kalispell
Are you planning a trip to Kalispell 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 great things to do in Kalispell, Montana.
Kalispell and its adjacent towns are almost completely surrounded by wilderness so it is an amazing place to be if you love the outdoors or if you love to adventure.
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 just might find some amazing things to do in Kalispell, Montana.
Things to Do in 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! 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 though are close enough that they are easy to get to from Kalispell.
Walk Along the Main Street of Kalispell
While in Kalispell, take some time to amble down Kalispell’s historic main street. You’ll find restaurants, bars, coffee shops, breweries, and boutiques. (And we list where to go for ice cream at the end of this article!)
Main Street is lined by these establishments and wide sidewalks, making it easy to explore on foot and check out the many businesses.
If you drive down Main Street, you’ll quickly find it culminates in a gorgeous view of the historic building that houses the Flathead County Clerk and Recorder offices.
For a true Montanan shopping experience, you can’t miss browsing the western wear at Western Outdoors. 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.
Quick Packing Tip!
My packable daypack comes in so handy on my Montana adventures. It’s comfortable for short day hikes (more info on that coming up below). For city exploring, I can easily fold it up into its pocket and stick it in my purse just in case I end up needing it for souvenirs — or to take home some cans of craft beer! — so I don’t have to lug around shopping bags. Love that this one comes in so many different colors!
This one is for the adventurers! If you love to hike, bike, or horseback ride on trails, you should definitely take a trip to Herron Park.
Herron Park is a 44-acre park located 10 minutes away from downtown Kalispell. The park is home to 15 miles of trails with some amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Hockaday Museum of Art
A visit to the Hockaday Museum of Art is a great way to spend your time while in Kalispell. 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.
The museum is also home to a gallery which offers hands on learning and activities for kids that change often so they can come time and time again without getting bored.
Flathead National Forest
Another place you must visit if you love the outdoors and you are in Kalispell is Flathead National Forest. It has lots of hiking trails and beautiful views, plus the crowds won’t be nearly as big as they are in Glacier National Park (more on Glacier later on below!).
Whitefish Mountain Resort
Located just 25 miles away from Kalispell is a world-famous ski resort. If you love to ski or snowboard, you would be remiss to not visit Whitefish Mountain Resort. This goes for wintertime, of course, but summertime is a fun time to visit, too.
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!
The Conrad Mansion Museum
Charles Conrad moved to the Montana Territory in 1868 at the age of 18. Here he built his empire on trading and freighting and left a lasting mark on the state of Montana, and even founded the city of Kalispell in 1891.
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.
Interested in learning more about the history of Kalispell? Check out this book all about Kalispell’s past.
The mansion is 13,000 square feet and sits on roughly three acres. The acreage is beautifully landscaped and still boasts some of its original features such as the drystone fencing. The one-hour tour is well worth it.
Just a 25 minute drive away from Kalispell, you will find Flathead Lake which offers recreation opportunities such as fishing, mountain biking, hunting, and more. Plus, if you happen to be visiting at the right time of year, you can check out some amazing live theater, whiskey tastings, or even dog sledding! I love the diversity of activities there. Flathead Lake is one of my favorite places in the world!
Read More About Flathead Lake: The Best Flathead Lake Activities
Lone Pine State Park
This is another fun park and outdoor adventure land! At Lone Pine State Park you will find trails for horseback riding, hiking, and biking as well as snowshoeing in the winter. You can find a gift shop for some fun Montana themed souvenirs, and you can even find an archery range! The views here are amazing, so be sure to pack a picnic and take your time to soak it all in.
Lone Pine State Park often offers guided hikes, workshops, kid-friendly activities, and more, so check the park’s website to see what’s going on while there.
Take a Drive on the Swan
Do you feel like doing a bit of exploring? 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 the locals have named. This is a scenic corridor along Hwy 83. The drive is heavily forested, with many lakes, lots of recreation spots at which to stop, and views that can’t be missed.
You can grab lunch along the way or pack a picnic and stop at the Swan Lake Day Use Area and enjoy your meal at a picnic table while you watch the lake activity from the beach.
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!
Glacier National Park is home to some of the greatest views on earth (that is, if you like glacier carved peaks and valleys, mountainous ranges, and wildlife). With nearly 1,600 square miles of stunning wilderness you are sure to find stuff to do here.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is an awesome drive that everyone must visit at some point in their lifetime, and there are hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore.
If you are an outdoors-person and you are in Kalispell, you must make the trip to Glacier National Park.
Enjoy Local Ice Cream Creations at Sweet Peaks
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.
Here are some more hotel options in and around downtown Kalispell:
Looking for More Info on Things to Do Around Kalispell? Read These Articles…
- Things to Do in Bigfork
- Things to Do in Polson
- Visiting Glacier National Park in Winter
- Montana State Parks Around Flathead Lake
Enjoy All the Fun Things to Do in Kalispell
Kalispell, like many places in Montana, is simply full of awesome activities and recreation opportunities and 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.