Kalispell has long been a gateway to Glacier National Park, but all too often visitors miss the gems that exist right in the heart of the Flathead Valley. From incredible food and breweries to hidden hikes just minutes from downtown, there is a lot to see and do. Discover Kalispell brought me out for a weekend to share with you all what an ideal weekend in and around Kalispell includes. So, without further ado, here’s my ideal weekend!
Day 1: Somers Bay, Downtown, Rails to Trails, and Lone Pine State Park
While Kalispell is only 32 miles from Glacier National Park, it’s also an incredible gateway to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. We started our weekend with a sunrise from Somers Bay to take in the crystal-clear water that holds so many memories for me. After an early morning, we needed to properly fuel up for the day, and of course, that meant a trip to Ceres Bakery for delicious baked goods and coffee.
Properly fueled, we opted to visit a few shops downtown before lunch. We browsed the impressive cookbook collection and fun gifts at Modern Pastime, picked up a few beers for the week from Brix Bottleshop, and enjoyed one of my favorite antique stores in the state, the Kalispell Antiques Market.
We grabbed a quick lunch and a flight of beers from SunRift Beer company and then picked up our rental bikes from Sportsmans & Ski Haus (you can now reserve your rental online) . Our afternoon was spent riding the Rails to Trails system from Kalispell to Somers Bay (about 16 miles). Along the way we stopped to read all the signage lining the trail and learned about the railroad that was previously on the route we were now biking.
A busy day called for a big dinner and no better place than DeSoto Grill (easily some of the best BBQ in Montana) to refuel for one last adventure. After filling up at DeSoto, Lone Pine State Park was calling our name and we headed up there to take in the view over the whole valley and enjoy a sunset before retiring for the night. We took the short hike to the overlook and watched the mountains surrounding us turn pink as the sun dropped below the horizon. We were wiped from our first day and were thankful that Montana Basecamp was only a few minutes from Lone Pine to get some shuteye.
Day 2: Kayaking Flathead Lake and Hiking Foy’s to Blacktail
After a busy first day, we were excited to spend a leisurely morning with breakfast at Sykes Diner and Market. I absolutely recommend one of their famous Eggs Benedicts (there are 10 to choose from, but I went with the smokehouse benny). After filling up, we headed back to Somers Bay to rent two kayaks from Paddle Board Outfitters located right at the boat launch. They also rent paddleboards, jet skis and even boats. We kayaked our way around the north part of Flathead Lake, even paddling by the old mill.
We returned our kayaks and headed back to town for… you guessed it… more food and drinks. An essential part of my traveling experience comes from the fantastic food and drinks I get to try, and we found no shortage of it in Kalispell. Big Mountain Ciderworks was incredible, and I definitely recommend a flight and the pimento cheese stuffed pretzel knots. We had big plans for dinner at a legendary local spot, so we opted for some light apps.
With the harsh afternoon light, we opted to spend our time enjoying some more shopping in downtown Kalispell, including the Toggery, one of my favorite gear shops in the area. Eventually, we made our way to Moose’s Saloon for dinner, the ultimate dive bar and pizza joint. There are few places where you can get a frosty goblet of microbrew for $2.50, but Moose’s is one of them.
Full from dinner, we headed just a few minutes down the road to the Foy’s to Blacktail trail system at Herron Park for a sunset hike up to the notch. It ended up being about a 3.5-mile trail with 760 feet of elevation gain, the perfect post-dinner hike, and a great view overlooking Foy’s Lake. And the best part of all, we only saw one other person on the trail the whole time (and he happened to be a friend of mine).
I can’t come to the Flathead Valley and not make my way to Glacier National Park, but with the new entry ticket system for GNP, we opted for a 4:30 a.m. departure to arrive at Lake McDonald by 5:30 a.m. (before the ticket system goes into effect at 6 a.m.). Not only does this allow us into the park, but we were able to go for sunrise as well. And best of all? The early departure put us back in Kalispell in time for breakfast at Bonelli’s Bistro. I got the butternut sausage hash, and it was exactly what I needed after a weekend of heavier foods.
The day began to heat up, and we could use some RNR time, so we took the quick drive up to Foys Lake, so Chelsea could put the paddleboard in, and I could go for a swim. I can’t believe in all my trips to Kalispell that I had never taken the journey to Foys.
Feeling refreshed, we headed back to downtown Kalispell and opted to take full advantage of vacation mode with a trip to Sweet Peaks before lunch for some ice cream. Parched from the heat, we then stopped in for beers and lunch at Bias Brewing. The beer was excellent, and I was pleasantly surprised by some healthier lunch options.
Early mornings call for afternoon naps, so I checked into the historic Kalispell Grand Hotel right in the heart of downtown for a snooze. Waking up feeling like a new man, I met up with a few friends at Sacred Waters Brewing Co for a pint before dinner. Speaking of which, I decided to spend my evening downtown to snag a few sushi rolls from Blue Samurai and watch the sunset light hitting the historic buildings lining Main Street. Pro tip: the Heavenly Roll lives up to its namesake.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip to Kalispell as much as I enjoyed visiting! It was great to revisit some old favorites and find a few new ones.