I have lived in a small ski town in NW Montana for nineteen winters called Whitefish. It took me awhile to figure out how to have fun here because, as a Chicago girl, I didn’t really grow up skiing. We did a lot of sledding, but it wasn’t blood sport like it is out here. For instance, our parents never made us wear helmets when we went to the golf course with our Flexible Flyers. Out here it’s a wild jubilee of slipping around on things from November to March, and I have learned how to take some of it and leave some of it. And most important, not to be bullied by any of it.
I can find just as much joy in the frost of our winter wonderland sitting with a friend in my living room window seat sipping tea, as another person might skiing tree runs on the mountain. I have my adventurous days…and my not adventurous days. Mostly for me it’s a time to be dormant and in the deep calm of winter, when I write and go slowly and hope to get down my driveway (see: black diamond vertical skating rink) in one piece. It’s a time when I don’t have to worry about grizzly bears when I walk in the woods. It’s a time when lakes freeze over and we can dare the ice, fish below us promising life when Spring hatches. I feel akin to the chickadees and ravens who winter over. I feel akin to hoarfrost and lone whitetail deer in barren meadows. I feel giddy making spiral designs in the snow on my horse. So if you come to Montana to recreate, remember to take some of it. And leave some of it. What to do in Whitefish, MT in Winter:
Skiing: Whitefish Mountain Resort
Cat Skiing: Great Northern Powder Guides
Dog-sledding: Dogsled Adventures
Ice-skating: The Ice Den
Cross-country skiing: The Glacier Nordic Center, Round Meadows, Stillwater Nordic
Rent snow shoes and go into Glacier National Park. You can hike up to John’s Lake.
Stop by the historic Belton Chalet for a hot toddy or a delicious dinner in West Glacier afterward.
Enjoy some locally roasted coffee at Montana Coffee Traders and sit in this lovely café to enjoy local people watching. The lemon blueberry scones are deelish!
Try the unique homemade flavors of Sweet Peaks ice cream shop. (my fav: lemon dill)
Drive to the Isaac Walton Inn in Essex and go cross country skiing. You can spend the night there as well. It’s worth the trip.
Check out the great antique and salvage shop in Columbia Falls called Station 11—one of my guilty pleasures.
Get a massage at Remedies Day Spa
Sit by the fire at the Whitefish Lake Lodge or the Grouse Mountain Lodge.
Have a glass of wine at Crush wine bar or the Red Room.
Shop Central Avenue and pop into great independently-owned boutiques like:
Sprouts for kids, The Village Shop/Indigo Creek, Imagination Station for toys, The Toggery, Sportsman Skihaus, Sapari…and many others.
Eat a nice dinner at:
Tupelo, McGarry’s, Whitefish Lake Restaurant, Latitude 48, Café Kandahar, Whitefish Lake Lodge
Or more casually at:
Wasabi sushi bar, The Boat Club bar, Haskill’s, Hellroaring (on the ski mountain), Amazing Crepes
Here is the link to our local Chamber of Commerce http://whitefishchamber.org/: You will find links to all of the above and more. These are just a few of my very favorites. Enjoy our wonderful community!
Laura Munson is the author of the New York Times bestseller, This Is Not The Story You Think It Is (Amy Einhorn/Putnam). She blogs at These Here Hills