We do things a little differently around here—and we like it that way. Many who live in Western Montana share the sentiment “live and let live,” which creates support and space for unusual creations, niche attractions and quirky customs among locals. Want to get your quirky on? Come to Glacier Country, and visit like a local.

J.R.R. Tolkien fans will want to book a stay at The Shire of Montana. Photo: The Shire of Montana

1. The Shire of Montana is an adults-only Hobbit House.

2. We have letters on our hillsides, like the iconic “M” in Missoula.

3. Montanans love their pickup trucks—we’re ranked No. 2 in the nation for pickup trucks per capita.

4. To make the most of the “warm” weather, locals start wearing shorts when the temperature hits a high of 40 degrees. 

5. The Clearwater Cow is an iconic, 15-foot-tall, roadside bull-cow statue and landmark in the Seeley Swan Corridor. “Take a left at the cow” makes perfect sense to us.

A colossal cow marks the intersection of Montana Highway 200 and 83.

6. Breweries, distilleries and wineries close at 8 p.m. per Montana State Law. Many locals stop at the brewery before dinner, and it’s perfectly acceptable to bring children—a few even have a kids’ corner. Montana has the second-most breweries per capita in the United States.

7. There is fierce pride in generational longevity among locals, so if you ask how long someone has lived here, the answer might be in generations, as in “I’m a fourth generation Montanan.”

8. A 27-foot-tall penguin in Cut Bank claims to have once been the coldest spot in the nation.  

Snap a selfie with the giant penguin in Cut Bank Photo: Andy Austin

9. The temperatures and weather can change dramatically each day; for example, summer mornings can start at 30 degrees and by the afternoon be 90 degrees.

10. The Montana Vortex and House of Mystery is a curiosity that defies the “laws of physics and nature.”

11. Our ice cream flavors, like huckleberry, cardamom, and cinnamon sticky buns, are highly coveted. The local ice cream shops have a fierce following—you’re either team Sweet Peaks or team Big Dipper.

Be sure to try a scoop of huckleberry ice cream at The Bigger Dipper in Missoula.

12. Another food favorite locals can’t get enough of is fair food, specifically a Lemondairy (vanilla ice cream in lemonade) or a Viking (a corndog made with sausage).

13. There’s a UFO at the Miracle of America Museum, among their 340,000+ curiosities.

Hang out in a vintage helicopter and check out dozens of classic vehicles and memorabilia at The Miracle of America Museum in Polson. Photo: Andy Austin

14. Our road signs are reflective of our unique landscape: “next rest stop 67 miles,” “watch for bighorn sheep,” and “cattle crossing.”  

15. Speaking of driving, when asking for distance, expect an answer in time, not miles: “Kalispell is two hours away from Missoula.”

16. St. Regis Travel Center has a trout aquarium.

At the St. Regis Travel Plaza you can fill up on gas, order a huckleberry milkshake and view a live trout aquarium. Photo: Andy Austin

 17. There are slot and keno machines everywhere—such as restaurants, gas stations, and bars. To play a larger variety of games you have to be at a casino which can be found throughout the region, or on one of the two Indian reservations in Western Montana, like Gray Wolf Peak Casino or Glacier Peaks Casino.  Some bars also host live poker.

18. One of the best things about summer is that it stays light out until around 10 p.m.

19. The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas has literally one thousand buddha statues. 

Wind down and take some deep breaths of fresh mountain air at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee. Photo: Andy Austin

Please note: We ask that all our visitors and residents Recreate Responsibly by being mindful of the following: practice physical distancing; know before you go; plan ahead; play it safe; leave no trace; tread lightly and build an inclusive outdoors. Travel responsibly by reviewing Western Montana COVID-19 information and guidelines at SafetyFirstMT.com.

April 18, 2022

Related: Arlee, Breweries, Browning, Columbia Falls, Cut Bank, Dining, Distilleries, Missoula, Montana, Polson, Seeley-Swan Corridor, St. Regis, Trout Creek, Vacation, Wineries