Category Archives: Shopping

Discover Fall in Glacier Country

We’re sweet on every season here, but we’re especially smitten with autumn. The tapestry of golden hues and hillsides dusted with the first snow complemented by the impossibly blue sky gets us every time, and fall brings a few of our favorite things: flannels, festivals, scenic road trips, seasonal microbrews and farmers markets brimming with pumpkins, heritage apples, ciders and more of our favorite harvest flavors.

Not to brag, but our fall look is pretty spectacular.

<

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The crisp mountain air beckons, so we get out and about for fall frolic, and then we cozy up fireside. Autumn is our golden season—it’s vibrant, it’s quiet, it’s not to be missed. Traffic is lighter and shoulder season prices kick in. It’s a wonderful time to hop in the car and take a road trip around Glacier Country.

Here’s where and how we like to spend beloved fall days in our corner of Montana.

INTERSTATE 90 CORRIDOR – MISSOULA

The thing about Missoula is that you can explore one of Glacier Country’s hippest cultural hot spots, which bustles all year long, and then pretty much take off in any direction to add a scenic fall drive into the mix. While in town, explore the “Best of the West” outdoor market scene, visit one of 10 breweries, three distilleries and two wineries, pick out a pumpkin and conquer the corn maze, or hike any one of several trails; we love the Rattlesnake Wilderness in the fall.

Fall Bonus: Montana Cider Week (September 29 – October 7) hosts events throughout Montana, with multiple festivities taking place in Glacier Country communities. See what’s happening where and when, and prioritize a stop at Missoula’s new (and first ever) cidery—Western Cider—for a tour and a taste.

We love dining out during all our seasons, but fall cuisine has some extra special flavor. Photo: Top Hat Lounge

Trip Tip: A Missoula favorite, the Top Hat serves up mouthwatering cuisine—like chicken spaghetti squash—amid live music and friendly community vibes. Plan your visit around one of their Tunes & Taste music-infused dinner theme nights.

BITTERROOT VALLEY

This lush forested valley nestled between the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountain ranges is prime for leaf peeping, and the fall rut makes it a spectacular time for watching wildlife at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Begin in Missoula, and take U.S. Highway 93 south toward Hamilton, stopping along the way in some of Glacier Country’s most charming towns.

Hamilton’s Daly Mansion boasts 50 kinds of trees—all gorgeous this time of year—and offers haunted hayrides at the end of October. Top off your tour at Backroad Cider or betterRoot Cidery for some fresh-pressed deliciousness—the core of fall flavor.

It doesn’t get much more festive than Stevensville’s Scarecrow Festival. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Fall Bonus: Plan your trip around a Ravalli County Museum Ghost Tour, Victor’s Field of Screams, Stevensville’s famous Scarecrow Festival or Hamilton’s McIntosh Apple Day—hailed as one of Montana’s Best Fall Festivals.

Trip Tip: Bike “The Root” instead! The Bitterroot Trail is a 50-mile-long paved bike path following the same route mentioned above, perfect for a vibrant autumn cycling adventure.

TOUR 200

Montana Tour 200 in Sanders County from Dixon to Heron travels along scenic riverbanks (bursting with fall color), active wildlife and ample outdoor recreation opportunities. Stop for a soak in the mineral waters at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, nestled in Paradise along the Clark Fork River. Afterwards, stop in Thompson Falls for a home-cooked meal at Minnie’s Montana Café, or enjoy a drink and exceptional fall views from the deck Big Eddy’s.

Fall greets winter in Thompson Falls. Photo: Kate Baxter

Trip Tip: Lace up your hiking boots near Trout Creek and hike to the beautiful Vermilion Falls or Graves Creek Falls.

SEELEY-SWAN CORRIDOR

Between the stunning Swan and majestic Mission mountain ranges, the Seeley-Swan Valley boasts hundreds of pristine alpine lakes and beautiful hiking spots. Kayak around picturesque Holland Lake, canoe the Clearwater Canoe Trail or hike Morrell Falls, all spectacular ways to take in the fall spectacle. This exceptionally scenic valley is known for its large population of tamaracks—unique pine trees that lose their needles in the fall, setting Montana’s hillsides aflame with vivid shades of yellow and orange.

If you take U.S. Highway 83 from Seeley Lake all the way to Bigfork (as you should), this storybook village on the northeast shore of Flathead Lake, does not disappoint. Bigfork’s Whistling Andy Distilling serves up award-winning whiskeys and spirits made with Montana-grown grains and fruits. Savor some Harvest Select Whiskey, perfect for the season. From Bigfork, head south on State Highway 35 to The Raven Bar & Grill in Wood’s Bay for delicious waterfront dining, craft cocktails and some of the best views in the area.

A road trip to an event on Flathead Lake is always filled with incredible views.

Fall Bonus: Visit Seeley Lake mid-October and meet some of Montana’s finest artists, see their work and tour area studios, galleries and museums during the Alpine Artisans – Tour of the Arts, or land in Bigfork on October 13 for Tamarack Time!—an annual local’s-favorite amateur food competition akin to a county fair—and be sure you’re hungry.

Trip Tip: Make your Glacier Country getaway an overnight adventure with an authentic Montana lodging experience at the Double Arrow Resort in Seeley Lake, offering four-season recreation, cozy accommodations and incredibly warm hospitality.

FLATHEAD CORRIDOR

The west side of Flathead Lake is equally as scenic and charming as the east. If you’re coming from the south on U.S. Highway 93 or State Highway 200, stop in Moiese for wildlife watching at the National Bison Range. You may even get to experience bull elk bugling in the fall rut. Further north, in Charlo, visit Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana and Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge with stunning wide-open panoramas of the Mission Mountains. Then, on to Flathead Lake where jaw-dropping views await.

Fall Bonus: The Tamarack BrewFest take place in Lakeside, October 13. Enjoy live music, line dancing, canoe races, local vendors and evening bonfires, all taking place in this stunning fall Flathead Lake location.

HIGHWAY 2 CORRIDOR LIBBY TO KALISPELL

Running through Western Montana’s northern region, Highway 2 travels along some of the most scenic places in Glacier Country and introduces road-trippers to off-the-beaten-path treasures and well-known attractions. Begin in Libby, one of the region’s most scenic and quietest corners and end in Kalispell, the perfect mix of small-town Montana and old-west charm. Ghost chasers can head to the Conrad Mansion for a ghost tour.

Fall Bonus: Meander 4,000 bales of hay at Kalispell’s Whitefish Stage Organic Farm hay bale maze. This family-fun autumn activity also includes a barrel train ride, hay ride, super trampoline, petting zoo, pumpkins and more.

Get lost in Glacier Country. Photo: Whitefish Stage Organic Farm

Trip Tip: Linger in Kalispell for good food, shopping and museums, plus the whimsical autumn wonderland of Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch, where you’ll find plenty more than gourds.

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK SURROUNDING AREA

The park is absolutely breathtaking in autumn. Traffic is light, shoulder-season prices are in effect, and communities in and beyond the park are celebrating the season. Explore the outdoors by boat in Whitefish on Whitefish Lake, or take to the trails by bike or by foot on The Whitefish Trail or the Swift Creek Loop, and then stop in for delicious food at Casey’s Whitefish pub and grill, featuring rooftop dining options—especially scenic right about now.

Raise a glass to our amazing local brews at the Great Northwest Oktoberfest. Photo: Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

A bit closer to the park, Columbia Falls offers the perfect place to swap adventure stories over burgers and craft beer at Backslope Brewing. Try one of their rotators on tap this fall: Chocolate Hazelnut Stout. When it’s time to turn in, Cedar Creek Lodge offers a truly exceptional Montana lodging experience, and their pool and hot tub are open year-round.

Fall Bonus: The Great Northwest Oktoberfest takes place in Whitefish, and, because one weekend is not enough, join us for two weekends of authentic German beer, food, music and fun with a Montana flair, September 27 – 29 and October 4 – 6.

Trip Tip: There’s still time to get on the green at Meadow Lakes Golf Course, open until mid to late October.

We packed quite a bit of autumn adventure in for you, and now it’s time for you to pack your bags and head to Western Montana’s Glacier Country for the perfect fall road-trip experience.

A Perfect Western Montana Getaway: Bigfork

Western Montana’s Glacier Country spans 22,000 square miles of pure perfection. Boasting natural wonders like Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Bitterroot Valley and Flathead Lake, you’ll never tire of exploring our corner of heaven. This stunningly beautiful region is home to 75+ communities, and each of them deserves to be discovered. We recently visited one of our very favorite Western Montana towns, the storybook village of Bigfork.

One of our favorite small towns, Bigfork. Photo: Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

Spending a summer weekend in Bigfork is the stuff that dreams are made of. Hugging the sparkling blue bay where the Swan River flows into the northeast corner of Flathead Lake, this picturesque community lays on the charm with world-class art galleries, fine dining, live theater and outdoor fun. We feel right at home whenever we find ourselves in this little Glacier Country gem, and we wanted to share some of our favorite Bigfork hot spots and activities with you.

BIGFORK VILLAGE
Don’t be surprised if you fall in love with Bigfork the moment you set foot in it. This waterfront village is lined with quaint and eclectic shops and boutiques, fun eateries, and art galleries where you’ll discover artwork made by cherished Western Montana artists. Taking in the rustic charm of this historic little downtown is a Flathead Valley must.

Bigfork Village is seriously charming. See it for yourself.

BIGFORK SUMMER PLAYHOUSE
If you’re visiting Bigfork between May and September, do yourself a favor and catch a performance at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, which brings in popular Broadway shows with exceptionally talented artists. For more information, click here.

The performances at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse are a cannot miss. Photo: The Bigfork Summer Playhouse

POCKETSTONE CAFÉ
Start your morning off right by eating at the Pocketstone Café. All the food here is delicious, but their breakfast is absolutely delectable—think pancakes, waffles, crepes and scrambles. Located in Bigfork Village on Electric Avenue, Pocketstone offers home cooking that will leave your taste buds simply satisfied. Tip: get the cinnamon roll; you’ll thank us later.

THE RAVEN BAR & GRILL
Located in Woods Bay (just south of Bigfork), The Raven Bar & Grill offers guests Flathead Lake waterfront dining in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. This welcoming spot serves up some tasty food and drinks. If you’re looking for a scenic and fun dining experience, The Raven is where you’ll find it.

The Raven Bar & Grill offers tasty food, refreshing cocktails, and cool lake breezes. Photo: Beth Woods

BRIDGE STREET COTTAGES
Enjoy a weekend in Bigfork with a stay at the Bridge Street Cottages. These luxury cottages along the Swan River at the edge of Bigfork are within walking distance of Bigfork’s restaurants, galleries, shops and the Bigfork Summer Playhouse. These cozy cottages are open year-round.

MARINA CAY RESORT
As one of the only lakeside resorts on Flathead Lake, Marina Cay Resort is one of Glacier Country’s finest. Enjoy a cocktail at the waterfront Tiki Bar, or during the off-season, the Fireside Restaurant & Lounge provides a fine-dining experience of locally sourced food. Marina Cay offers activities for everybody: live music events, a relaxing spa and fishing charters as well as rentals for jet skis, pontoons, boats, inner tubes and wakeboards.

OUTDOOR FUN
In addition to exploring all of the indoor fun to be had in Bigfork, outdoor recreation abounds here. Perfectly situated on the sparkling and pristine Flathead Lake, water play is a given. For starters, take a boat tour with Flathead Lake Sailing and Charters or WildHorse Island Boat Tours. Or, try your hand at “SUP” (stand-up paddleboarding), rent a boat or kayak, or cast a line on the lake’s calm cool waters. June through August, hook up with the friendly folks at Base Camp Bigfork for a guided kayak tour of the lake at sunset or wake up to a refreshing morning paddle. If you are looking for something a little different, we suggest taking a horseback ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters for a short excursion or day trip.

Relax by the lake or dive-in, Bigfork is the perfect point for all Flathead Lake activities. Photo: Donnie Sexton

INSIDER TIP
Bigfork charms all year long, but if you plan your visit around one of their celebrated annual events or weekly markets, it’s icing on the cake.

Whitewater Festival: May
Fourth of July Parade
Bigfork Rodeo: July
Festival of the Arts: August
Crown of the Continent Guitar Festival: August/September
Rumble in the Bay Car Show: September
Farmers Market: Tuesdays + Fridays, May – September

Here’s wishing you a big time in one of our favorite little villages!

Dallas to Missoula: Fly Direct to Even Bigger Skies

Dallas friends: leave the humidity in the Lone Star State and come bask in the heavenly mountain air in Big Sky Country. American Airlines now offers direct flights from Dallas to Missoula. Your friendly neighbors up north in Western Montana’s Glacier Country offer the warm hospitality you’re used to and your cowboy boots will fit right in here, plus…our mountain landscape offers a stunning change of pace.

There’s a lot to see in Western Montana and Upper Holland Lake is one of our favorites. Photo: Noah Couser

In under three hours you can be in Montana. Let that sink in. People tend to think of Montana as a faraway place, but it’s actually quite simple to get here, and now it’s especially easy—and quick—for you, Texas. Think about it: you can eat breakfast in Dallas and be in Missoula for a bison burger by lunchtime.

We’re picture perfect up here in the mountains of Montana, and our outdoor recreation scene is second to none. Home to storied small towns and mesmerizing panoramic landscapes of majestic peaks and sweeping valleys with sparkling rivers and lakes, adventure is endless no matter the season—did we mention nonstop flights between Dallas and Missoula are year-round? Get away for a weekend of hiking and hot springs. Looking for snow? Take a ski vacation—we specialize in downhill, backcountry and Nordic adventures

Paws Up Resort is one of Glacier Country’s most luxurious and popular resorts. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Accommodations come in every shape and size here, from relaxing guest ranches and luxury resorts to timbered mountain lodges, tents for camping, bigger tents for glamping, B&Bs, vacation homes, cabins, hostels and hotels. Around here, everything’s cozy and everyone’s friendly.

You’ll land in—and love—Missoula, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t stay put right here in this treasured mountain town. It’s the kind of place you can visit over and over again and never have the same adventure twice, unless you want to, of course. This Western Montana arts and culture hot spot at the confluence of three rivers offers thousands of miles of trails, millions of acres of stunningly beautiful wilderness and a hopping and eclectic downtown bustling with cafés, coffee shops, breweries, distilleries, galleries and museums. Dining ranges from fine to downright fun. Explore festivals and farmers markets—one of the best markets in the West, actually. Take in the performing arts, theater and live music scenes, including an outdoor amphitheater hosting national music acts on the banks of the scenic Blackfoot River.

Missoula has something for everyone. From gorgeous views to amazing food, you’ll love it up here.

There’s plenty to see and do in Missoula, and it also makes a pretty perfect base camp for exploring the rest of Western Montana, including the jaw-dropping beauty of Glacier National Park. Drive the famously gorgeous Going-to-the-Sun Road and discover the history and allure of one of the country’s most breathtaking places. Explore the largest natural frewshwater lake in the West, Flathead Lake, visit one of our Indian reservations, cowboy up at a dude ranch mountain-style, ride rapids, bike trails, hike canyons, fly-fish blue-ribbon trout streams or ski an epic powder paradise.

It’s about time you mosey on up to our neck of the woods and see what all the buzz is about. Whatever your preference: a huckleberry milkshake or whiskey made from glacial waters, we’ve got one waiting for you. From heavenly summers and winter wonderlands to undiscovered spring splendor and golden autumn abundance, you’re bound to love it up here in the mountain air.  

It’s no wonder Glacier National Park is called “The Crown of the Continent.” Photo: Hunter Day

Warning: This flight may become habit-forming. Side effects may include an increased itch to travel to Montana.  

 

Sparks Fly Under the Big Sky: Romantic Getaways

This probably comes as no surprise, but we’re suckers for romance. That’s because we’re surrounded by natural beauty and breathtaking places go hand in hand with romantic adventures. It’s simple to see why Glacier Country is the perfect spot for new couples to connect and longtime lovebirds to rekindle the romance.

Winter or summer, Western Montana is the perfect setting for a romantic getaway.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic weekend adventure in the woods, a relaxing spa retreat in a mountain lodge, a quiet bed-and-breakfast with personalized service or a luxury hotel in one of our bustling (and quite charming) community downtowns, Western Montana is always ready to make your time together memorable.

Surprise your partner this Valentine’s Day (pssst…it’s just around the corner) and plan a late-winter weekend or spring fling in Glacier Country.

Spend a special weekend in Glacier Country for an adventure, some leisure or both. Photo: Joyce Walkup

Here’s your romantic getaway trip planner for some ideas.

Take your sweetheart to Swan Lake. Nested in the stunning Seeley-Swan Valley, Swan Lake’s Laughing Horse Lodge (open May through October) offers a two-night springtime package for couples, including a four-course gourmet dinner and chef-recommended bottle of wine both nights. During the colder months, find epic snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in Seeley Lake—a winter recreation mecca. Cozy up at Seeley Lake’s Double Arrow Lodge for the perfect evening: enjoy a meal at their delicious Seasons Restaurant, followed by fireside drinks and a nostalgic horse-drawn sleigh ride for two under the big starry sky, including champagne, a buffalo robe to stay warm and hot rocks to keep your feet toasty. How’s that for romantic? And we’re just getting started…

A tad southwest of Seeley Lake, The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough offers luxury lodging, spa packages for couples and 37,000 gorgeous acres with inclusive year-round activities like ice skating, snowshoeing and nature hikes.

The Resort at Paws Up knows fine dining, so treat you and your special someone to a world-class dinner.

Head north for a relaxing escape to the woods at Silverwolf Log Chalets—private designer chalets built for two, just minutes from the western entrance of Glacier National Park. Nearby Coram’s Green Valley Ranch offers fantastic Montana accommodations, breathtaking views of the park and snowmobiling adventures with Swan Mountain Snowmobiling.

Indulge in one-hour massages for two as part of the spa package at Whitefish’s Kandahar Lodge. This authentic mountain lodge offers cozy accommodations and upscale dining—or check out the Tupelo Grille, one of the top eateries in the Flathead Valley. Taste the local spirit and toast to your time together at Spotted Bear Spirits or Great Northern Brewing Co.

Cheers to love and Montana at Spotted Bear Distillery in Whitefish. Photo: Spotted Bear Spirits

Bigfork lays on the charm with fireside steaks and lake views at Terra Steak at Mountain Lake Lodge. The lodge also offers fireplace suites, on-site massages and winter packages. While you’re in town, find time to enjoy Pink Peppercorn Pear Gin cocktails at Whistling Andy Distillery.

Further south on Flathead Lake, Red Lion Ridgewater Inn & Suites is the perfect home base for exploring Polson. Flathead Lake stuns year-round, and Polson offers easy access to surrounding recreation areas.

West of the lake, soak in the healing mineral waters at the local hot springs resort in Hot Springs. Head north and stay in a Jacuzzi suite or cabin on the shores of Noxon Reservoir at Trout Creek’s Lakeside Motel & Resort.

Find Western Montana’s cultural hotspot in Missoula. This lively town is explore-worthy all year long, boasting galleries, museums, theaters, eclectic dining spots, breweries, distilleries and wine bars. Stay at the 1903 Gibson Mansion B&B—where Victorian elegance meets modern convenience—and plan your trip around a show at The Wilma, Missoula Community Theatre or The Top Hat. The Top Hat has amazing food to boot. By day, explore Missoula’s shops, galleries, cafés and coffee shops. Not to be missed: the free Missoula Art Museum.

See art together at the Missoula Art Museum for a romantic and cultural experience. Photo: Slikati Photography

The Bitterroot Valley beckons those looking for a relaxing getaway. Immerse yourself in cowboy culture at Darby’s award-winning, adults-only retreat, Triple Creek Ranch. Embark on a dog-sledding adventure, ride horses and enjoy fine wines. Also in Darby, take a guided snowmobile ride with Rye Creek Ranch or experience true western hospitality at the Bitterroot River Ranch. Just north in Hamilton, ABC acres offers a unique permaculture farm-stay for eco-minded couples looking to experience ecological design and sustainable food, production and healthy living systems.

The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg is the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Guest Ranch. Need we say more? Find downhill skiing nearby or cross-country ski at Georgetown Lake. Stop for treats at The Sweet Palace, or treat your sweetheart to a beautiful piece of Montana jewelry at The Sapphire Gallery and when the weather gets warmer, pan for your own sapphires.

Want to take your relationship to a new level? Book a scenic flight over the jaw-dropping Mission Valley with Blue Goose Aviation (by appointment only and weather dependent).

You won’t want to leave Dancing Spirit Ranch after a stay in one their chic cabins. Photo: Dancing Spirit Ranch

Just outside Glacier National Park, bring your creative spirits to experience the stillness, splendor and simplicity at Columbia Fall’s unique Dancing Spirit Ranch where you’ll have the opportunity to become one with nature (or two, as it were). With winter yoga retreats and activities like Thai bodywork for couples, you’re sure to connect with yourself and with each other. Nearby in Kalispell, enjoy a concert by the Glacier Symphony and Chorale.

There’s no end to the romantic adventures and authentic experiences couples can experience in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Make time to connect under the big sky.   

 

Small-town Discovery in Glacier Country: Meet Stevensville

There are some places that feel so welcoming. Those towns that once you hit their main street are filled with charm, happy people and something. Places that make you want to stop and stay a while.

One such place is the historic town of Stevensville, Montana. Nestled between the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, Stevensville offers some beautiful views, great outdoor recreation and it over flows with small town charm. During the winter months this town doesn’t rest at all, and we had the chance to go and check out all the sites.

Stevensville, Montana is Montana’s first permanent settlement.

First stop had to be the Morning Star, this place has some of the most delicious coffee and sweets around.

So delicious!

Truth time: we love walking down these streets.

Just two blocks from Main Street, is the historic St. Mary’s Mission, founded in 1841.

No trip to Stevensville is complete without visiting their general store, Valley Drug & Variety. Inside you’ll find an old fashioned soda fountain…

…with the most delicious milkshakes around!

Just a few miles outside of Stevensville, is the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge. This 2,800 acre wildlife refuge is open year-round and offers some beautiful sites no matter the season.

Even with it being a little cold out, this place was super peaceful and beautiful.

We ended our perfect day with some local Montana brews at Blacksmith Brewery.

Stevensville is a real charmer and we can’t wait to go back.

Missoula Magic: A Weekend in a Western Montana Hot Spot

We’ve got a crush on Missoula. It’s the kind of place that will steal your heart and never let go. The allure of small-city charm surrounded by breathtaking wilderness has secured its position as one of our region’s cultural and recreation hot spots. If you’re looking for a place to feed your soul and your belly, spend a weekend in Missoula, but plan on being a little heartbroken when it’s time to leave. The list of things to do in the robust mountain town is long, so we took the guesswork out of planning the perfect Missoula weekend:

SATURDAY

The Missoula farmers markets are full of local favorites and seasonal surprises like morel mushrooms and fresh huckleberries.

Firsts things first: coffee. Start your Saturday off with a cup of Montana’s best at Black Coffee Roasting Co. (named the Best Coffee in Montana by Cosmopolitan and Mental Floss, 2017). Try the AM blend…it’s morning, after all.

A kayaker on Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula.

From there, stroll downtown to the Clark Fork Market (did we mention Missoula is kind of famous for its outdoor market scene?) and grab yourself a waffle sandwich. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

A Carousel for Missoula was hand-carved and painted by Missoula residents.

While you’re in Caras Park, take a spin on A Carousel for Missoula and then take a look out over the river’s edge at Brennan’s Wave and watch the surfers and kayakers play in this man-made whitewater playground.

From there, head up onto the Higgins Bridge and begin your exploration of downtown Missoula’s shops, galleries and eateries. Then for good measure (and because it’s delicious), grab some ice cream at Sweet Peaks or the Big Dipper.

When happy hour rolls around, stop in at the Top Hat or Finn & Porter for appetizers and drinks, and then spend a relaxing evening with an Eddy Out® Pale Ale or a Fresh Bongwater™ Hemp Pale Ale at Kettlehouse Brewing Co. When you work an appetite back up, head to the Wally & Buck food truck (recently setting up camp outside the southside location of Kettlehouse Brewing Co.) for a handcrafted, grass-fed burger from Missoula’s own Oxbow Cattle Company. Read more about Missoula breweries here.

Don’t be scared off by the line…It moves quickly!

If by this point you’re not quite ready for Saturday to be over, there’s a good chance you can catch a live show at the Top Hat, The Wilma or the Kettlehouse Amphitheater. Check out our events page to plan your next visit around a fantastic Glacier Country event.

When the day is done, enjoy some of Missoula’s warm western hospitality at any of its fine lodging options, and rest up for Day 2 of exploring the Garden City.

SUNDAY

Head downtown to devour a breakfast at the Catalyst Café & Espresso Bar. We promise it will be an incredibly delicious experience.

The Catalyst’s menu is full of locally sourced ingredients and excellent vegan and vegetarian options.

Now that you’re full and caffeinated, and since you’ve explored a bit of the town already, it’s time to play outside. Head to Missoula’s Snowbowl, where there’s plenty to do no matter the season. Hike, bike or zip line your way around the bowl and stay put for a lunch on the mountain…Snowbowl is famous for its Bloody Marys and wood-fired pizza.

When Snowbowl isn’t full of snow you can catch the chairlift and folf, bike or hike at the top of the mountain.

After a day spent playing under Missoula’s big blue sky, check out Western Montana’s premier shopping destination, Southgate Mall. Shop till you drop and then grab a bite at the mall’s Mustard Seed Asian Café, and take your server up on dessert—it’s well worth the calories.

From there, head back toward downtown and see a film at Missoula’s historic community theater The Roxy. Pssst…they serve organic popcorn, beer and wine.

As Sunday comes to a close and you reflect on your weekend in Missoula, you’ll likely find yourself thinking about when you can return again. After all, you’ve only experienced a fraction of the one-of-a-kind activities a weekend in Missoula offers. We have so many tips, tricks and favorites to share that can’t possibly be squeezed into two days. Visit our Missoula community page for lodging options and more activities.

In the mood for a hiking weekend instead? Missoula has several trails with beautiful views on the edge of town. Try Mount Sentinel (pictured), Peace Park or Blue Mountain to see Missoula from another perspective. Visit our hiking page for directions.

Ho, Ho, Ho: Meet This Year’s Montana Gift Guide

It’s no secret that I think the Christmas season is one of the most wonderful times of year. And for those of you who know me, it’s probably no surprise that I love giving presents. Like, really love it. No matter who I’m giving a gift to, I try to make sure that it’s perfect for them, that it has meaning and that they’ll (hopefully) love it. And if you’re anything like me, you want to be sure to give the people you love thoughtful, meaningful gifts.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Montana. Photo: TheBobFactor

The Christmas spirit is alive and well in Montana. Photo: TheBobFactor

To help you do that very thing, I’ve rounded up my favorite Montana-lovin’ gifts and some of the best places to shop local for the holidays.

With that said, here’s a look at this year’s Montana gift guide

1. Jewelry. Chances are, the women in your life love jewelry. And I’m here to tell you that Montana has incredible jewelry makers who are creating stunning works of art. Topping my must-have list are Bellwether Jewelry, Ruby and Revolver and Rag and Stone. Located in Babb, Montana, Bellwether Jewelry is the brainchild of an adorable gal named Claire who uses Montana’s landscapes as her design inspiration. I learned about her when I was gifted earrings and a necklace from one of my dear friends (thanks Courtney!) and I’ve been in love ever since.

Two of my favorite pieces from Bellwether Jewelry. Photo: Bellwether Jewerly

Two of my favorite pieces from Bellwether Jewelry. Photo: Bellwether Jewelry

Meanwhile,  Ruby and Revolver has become one of my favorites mainly due to her instagram feed. In two words: it’s amazing. Jessie—the master creator behind the brand—creates some of the most beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen, but I’m especially fond of her rings. And if your significant other is a fan of stones, do yourself a favor and check out Erin’s work at Rag and Stone. 

2. Local spirits. While breweries have been a part of the Montana scene for awhile, in the last few years we’ve seen more distilleries open in Western Montana. Two of my personal favorites: Glacier Distilling in Coram, Montana, and Spotted Bear Spirits in Whitefish, Montana. Both distilleries are creating incredible Big Sky Country-inspired spirits and utilizing local Montana grains and products, including Flathead cherries, to do so. You can pick up Glacier Distilling spirits at several places in Montana (check out their distribution here) and Spotted Bear Spirits has adorable cute 50mL bottles that are perfect for gift giving.

The cutest little bottles I ever did see. Photo: Spotted Bear Spirits

The cutest little bottles I ever did see. Photo: Spotted Bear Spirits

3. Montana Wreaths. Truth time: I didn’t know about these until a few weeks ago and now I’m obsessed. (I’ll give you one guess as to what my Minnesota-living sister is getting for Christmas this year.) Based in Missoula, Montana Wreaths are handcrafted with grand fir and cedar trees and are absolutely beautiful. Plus, it’s like giving a piece of Montana to your family and friends across the country.

The standard wreath (AKA the wreath my sissy is getting soon). Photo: Montana Wreath

The standard wreath (AKA the wreath my sissy is getting soon). Photo: Montana Wreath

4. Montana Made Soap. Made from goat milk from goats that are raised on a farm near Dutton, Montana, Leigh is a stay-at-home mama (who also runs her family’s farm Grazing Greyn Acres) who creates her soap as organically as possible. The result: delicious smelling and nourishing goat soaps.

Goat milk, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil: I think I need this. Photo: Grazing Greyn Acres

Goat milk, coconut oil, avocado oil and olive oil = I think I need this. Photo: Grazing Greyn Acres

5. Leather bags. If you don’t know about T-Bird Leather and Goertzen Adventure Equipment, it’s time you do. While both companies make their handcrafted leather bags here in Western Montana, each brand has a distinct style and look that is uniquely its own. Based in Whitefish, Montana, and designed and created by Tress, T-Bird Leather is one of my personal favorites. Not only do I adore Tress, but the bags she produces are truly beautiful. Currently on my must-have list: her new mystery braids tote. Why? Because braids and fringe.

Mystery braids tote. Photo: T-Bird Leather

Mystery braids tote. Photo: T-Bird Leather

Handmade in Missoula, Goertzen Adventure Equipment’s leather bags are more gender-neutral and have a bit of a vintage vibe. Trust me on this one: their bags get better with age. Plus, they make fly-fishing equipment for the fishermen (and fisherwomen) in your life. 

A well-loved leather bag from Goertzen. Photo: Taylar Robbins

A well-loved leather bag from Goertzen. Photo: Taylar Robbins

6. Shoes and moccasins for the babes (as in babies) in your life. Hands down, these may be the cutest baby gift in all of Montana. Made my mountain mama Melanie, Starry Knight Designs crafts the most perfectly adorable items for babies, kids and toddlers I’ve ever seen.
Sidenote: anyone got a baby I can dress up in these? 

Bison booties, gray desert boots and fringe booties. Photo: Starry Knight Design

Bison booties, gray desert boots and fringe booties. Photo: Starry Knight Design

7. UPTOP. Owned by Montana boys and brothers Luke and Colt Anderson, UPTOP embodies the love of Montana that people who live here—and those who visit—have for this state. While their “Montana Til I Die” tagline may be the most famous to date, the boys have a wide variety of UPTOP gear that includes T-shirts, hats, hoodies and kids’ gear.

Montana over everything + Montana Til I Die. Photo: UPTOP

Montana over everything + Montana Til I Die. Photo: UPTOP

8. Shop local stores. As part of a family-owned business, I understand the importance of shopping local. When we’re all able to spend our money in locally owned businesses, it makes a difference. Here are a few of my favorite Montana shops: Electric Buffalo Gallery in Bigfork, Monte Dolack Fine Art in Missoula, Think Local in Kalispell, Montana Shirt Company in Whitefish (and online), Sora & Company in Missoula and Great Falls, Cloth & Crown in Missoula, Crown of the Continent Discovery Center in West Glacier and Great Gray Gifts in Charlo (just opened in May 2016 and is one of my favorite stores – they also carry abundant made in Montana products). You can also check out additional stores, boutiques and shops here.

A selection of the made in Montana items at Great Gray gifts. Photos: Great Gray Gifts

A selection of the made in Montana items at Great Gray gifts. Photos: Great Gray Gifts

And with that, happy shopping, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

xo,
TT

PS: For more gift ideas, check out my top 10 made in Montana gift list here.

 

A Montana Mother’s Day

It’s almost one of the most wonderful days of the year: Mother’s Day.

And for many of us, that means celebrating that special lady in our life. Whether it’s a biological mother, an adopted mother, a mother-in-law, an aunt who’s like your mom, a step-mother or a grandmother, you likely have someone in your life that plays this role. Me? I’m just lucky I guess. I have motherly figures coming out my ears. This girl is the proud recipient of a mama, a step-mother and two grandmothers that are as feisty and as spunky as ever.

A Montana girl and her Montana mama.

A Montana girl and her Montana mama.


And to be completely honest, I feel blessed and fortunate to have all of those women as part of my life. For one, I have a great mother. If I was to sum her up in three words, I’d say she was glamorous, fun and exuberant. She also happens to be one of the most unselfish people in the world. (Luckily).

Fun facts about the lady that I call mom…
-She thinks that all babies are her babies. I kid you not. Chances are if she gets her hands on your baby, they will be returned to you covered in lipstick-laden kisses.
-She brings out the best in people. No matter what, she always wants you to do better and kind of demands it.
-During the last couple of years that she was with us, my gram’s health wasn’t very good. Through it all, my mom took care of my grandma and never complained. Not even once.
-She loves her nieces and nephews (and their babies) like they are her own.
-She doesn’t think her children are perfect and she doesn’t make excuses for us. Instead she wants us to be better and to always, always do our best. That’s something I like in a mama.
-She doesn’t embarrass easily. (This must be where I get it from). With this little lady, dancing to music in a store is more usual that unusual.
-She gets better with age.
-She’s tough and strong. She regularly unloads freight trucks by herself.
-She channels a unique balance of fierceness, elegance and beauty into her little 5′ 4″ frame.

To sum it up, she’s a great mom. While she may not be a perfect one, she’s a perfect one for me.

And for those of you who are still looking for the perfect gift to celebrate your mama I’ve rounded up a few Montana-inspired gift ideas, just in time for the mother of all days.

Elk Camp Arts Gallery
This art gallery is located in Eureka on Highway 93 and is one of the most charming, filled-with-art shops in Western Montana. Local artist and gallery owner Randy McIntyre has plentiful treasures and trinkets that are perfect for Mother’s Day, including hand-crafted jewelry, barnwood framed prints and hand-painted wine glasses.

Hand-painted (and dishwater safe) wine decanter and glasses.

Hand-painted (and dishwater safe) wine decanter and glasses.

Grouse Mountain Lodge
Just for Mother’s Day, Logan’s Bar and Grill at Grouse Mountain Lodge is offering a brunch that includes delectable dishes like leg of lamb, an omelet bar, a waffle bar and chicken francaise. For reservations, call 406.863.4700.

Mustard Seed Cafe
If you’re in Missoula, one of the yummiest places to take your mama out is to Mustard Seed. My suggestion: Order dessert first. Why? Because after your entrees, you won’t have room for it. And trust me, a dessert from Mustard Seed is not-to-be-missed.

Sailing on Flathead Lake
Whether you’re a Montana local or just passing through, book your mom a sailing trip at Flathead Lake Lodge. During the summer, the lodge offers daily sailing excursions on the crystal clear waters of Flathead Lake–an experience you can guarantee she’ll always remember.

A sailing trip on the largest natural freshwater lake in the West--Flathead Lake.

A sailing trip on the largest natural freshwater lake in the West–Flathead Lake.

A Piece of Montana
While your mama may not be in Montana, now she can have a piece of the 406 with her always with these trendy trucker hats (my mom rocked one last summer and it was adorable) or a Glacier Country Montana mug, available at glaciermt.com.

Wishing you and your mama a love-filled Mother’s Day,
TT

May in Montana: Farmers Markets

The arrival of May means one thing in Montana. The season of farmers markets is upon us. And this girl is a firm believer in the fact that strolling through a local farmers market is one of the best ways to experience a community’s culture and some of the best of what they have to offer.

Sidetrack time: Last summer I was able to visit a friend in Mexico City. We hit all of the highlights of the city and I loved each and every moment that was spent there. But I’ll never forget the morning we spent at a local market. The smells and the energy, combined with an insightful look at the city’s culture, introduced me to a side of the city that I hope I never forget.

Dancers in Mexico City.

Dancers in Mexico City.

 

While I may be overly sentimental, I’m holding firm to the belief that local markets are a fantastic way to immerse yourself into a destination’s culture. And the farmers markets that are found throughout Western Montana’s Glacier Country are no exception. Leisurely strolling through a market on a sunny Montana day will give you a pleasant and fresh look at what makes each community so special.

Bigfork Farmers Market
Wednesdays (3 p.m. – 6 p.m.) and Saturdays (9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) – June to October
Embracing all things local, this market provides products grown or made in Montana, including produce, plants, flowers, baked goodies, jams, jellies and hand-crafted arts and crafts.

Columbia Falls Farmers Market
Thursdays (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) – mid-June to mid-September at Pinewood Park
This small town market combines live music with a family friendly atmosphere, as well as local arts and crafts, tasty food and produce.

Darby Farmers Market
Tuesdays (12 p.m. – 6 p.m.) – May to October at S. Main Street Park
Soak up small town charm and snag fresh produce, jams, soaps and crafts.

Eureka Farmers Market
Wednesdays (4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.) – May to September at Riverside Park
A hotbed of local talent and goodies, this market features produce, bedding, baked goods and arts and crafts from local Tobacco Valley artists.

It's farmers market time in Eureka, Montana.

It’s farmers market time in Eureka, Montana.

Hamilton Farmers Market
Saturdays (9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) – May  to October at Bedford, Second and Third streets
With more than 150 vendors all from Ravalli County, this lively market includes fresh organic produce, locally raised beef, alpaca wool, jewelry and locally harvested wood furniture.

Hand-woven baskets. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Hand-woven baskets. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Kalispell Farmers Market
Saturdays (9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) – May to October at Flathead Valley Community College
One of the oldest markets in the state, the Kalispell Farmers Market boasts a variety of goodies, including arts and crafts, meat and eggs, native plants, iron works, woven rugs, woodwork, handspun yarns, photograph and fresh produce.

Libby Farmers Market
Thursdays (12 p.m. – 5 p.m.) – May to September at Libby Chamber of Commerce
This market features live music entertainment, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, crafts and baked goods.

Missoula Markets
Tuesdays (5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.) – July & August; Saturdays (8 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – May to October at North Higgins and under the Higgins Street Bridge
An integral part of summer in Missoula, farmers markets feature fresh local produce, baked goods, organic dairy products, locally brewed coffee, flowers and crafts. An added bonus: The People’s Market is just up the street and is held every Saturday through the summer.

Live music in Missoula.

Live music in Missoula.

Polson Farmers Market
Fridays (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – mid-May to October
Located at the southern end of Flathead Lake, this market offers fresh farm produce, flowers, wood crafts, jewelry, photography and soap products.

Stevensville Farmers Market
Saturdays (May to October)
Located in the heart of downtown, the Stevensville market features local goods.

Seeley Lake Farmers Market
Sundays (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) – June to September
This outdoor market features locally grown produce, as well as artists and local food vendors.

Thompson Falls Farmers Market
Saturdays (9 a.m. – 12 p.m.) – June to September at Rose Garden Park
This community market is known for its locally grown produce, craft items and baked goods, as well as handicrafts created by local area artists that include paintings, leatherwork, pottery and quilts.

West Glacier Farmers Market
Fridays (3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.) – June to Labor Day 
This quaint afternoon market showcases local products from farmers and artisans. Bonus: It’s steps away from the west entrance of Glacier National Park.

Whitefish Farmers Market
Tuesdays (5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.) – May to September at Central Avenue & Depot Park
One of the liveliest markets in the region, the Whitefish Farmers Market features live music, fresh herbs and spices, food vendors, produce and locally made arts and crafts.

The Whitefish market features a different musician each week.

The Whitefish market features a different musician each week.

xo
TT

Montana’s Small Business Saturday

It’s cold and snowing in Montana. To which I give a hearty “woo hoo!” because that means winter season is nearly here. Which also means that this girl had to wear her snow boots this week and has been perpetually chilly. But no complaining here! Instead, while I wait for my body to adjust to the stellar winter we’re about to have, I’m going to bundle up and spread the love…in the form of small business shout-outs.

Small businesses have a legacy in Montana…One founded upon hard work, long hours and a mix of blood, sweat and tears. Some have stood the test of time and have been passed along generation to generation, while others may still be gaining their footing in Big Sky Country. But whether they’ve been here for years or are just settling into their own corner of Montana, I love ’em just the same, as they often bring that extra dose of heart and soul to an area, street corner or town.

Here’s my list of some (please note this is not an all-inclusive list) of my favorite small businesses that call Montana home…and why they sparkle in my eyes.

The Toggery, Whitefish
It’s the perfect combination of outdoor apparel and cuteness.

Tupelo Grille, Whitefish
Two words: Bread pudding.

The Montana House, Glacier National Park
Open year-round, this shop is the ending to my perfect winter day in the park, filling my need for hot tea and treats.

Elk Camp Art Gallery & Showroom, Eureka
A brand new shop, this gallery features artists and craftsmen from the heart of the Tobacco Valley.

Kettlehouse Brewery, Missoula
They have two locations in Missoula with great beer, but for this girl they sparkle because they work with Big Dipper Ice Cream to create beer-flavored ice cream treats. Yes, please.

Hidden Legend Winery, Victor
A family owned winery, Tim uses local honey and berries to make their (award-winning) meads. PS: I love local honey.

Monte Dolack Gallery, Missoula
Monte’s work manages to inspire and calm me, all at once.

Lincon’s Silver Dollar Bar & Gift Shop, Haugan
A childhood favorite pit stop, there are more than 50,000 silver dollars on display.

To the small businesses, and their stalwart owners, thanks for being a part of Montana.
TT

PS: SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26
Saturday, November 26 marks the second annual Small Business Saturday, with many stores across the United States offering discounts, deals and specials in their shops to encourage consumers to shop locally.

Here are a few deals from around Montana for November 26…
*Whitefish: Purchase a $25 gift card at The Naked Noodle and get 10 percent off meal purchases.
*Augusta: Allen’s Manix Store is offering 15 percent off non-grocery items (excluding guns). Just down the street, Latigo and Lace is offering 15 percent off on T-shirts and additional selected items.
*Missoula: MSO Hub is offering 15 percent off (excluding clearance and non-profit organization items). And just a few doors down, MkLAREN Boutique is offering 20 percent off storewide.