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The Downtown Whitefish Experiences You Won't Want to Miss

How do you define a place that boasts fine dining on the pristine shores of a mountain lake in the same breath it invites the partying crowd into its legendary dive bars? A place that features world-renowned artists, but also has activities sure to delight children? A place that welcomes dogs the same way it would welcome the sweet neighbor from next door?

You can’t. You can’t really define Downtown Whitefish, Montana. Is it a ski and mountain town? Yes. Is it a cultured region filled with refinements typically only found in upscale micropolitans? Yes. Is it a party town? Most definitely. Does it speak to families searching for unique places to take the kids? Right again.

If Downtown Whitefish has a defining characteristic, it’s that you can make it your own – define what it means to you and your lifestyle. Here are just a few of the unique experiences to be had in Downtown Whitefish that you do not want to miss…

The Cawdrey Gallery

Step into the Cawdrey Gallery with a healthy curiosity about Nancy Cawdrey’s mastery of the ancient method of painting on silk, and step out of the gallery with new friends. Nancy and Steve Cawdrey have traveled the globe, lived in exotic locales, and own an impressive art gallery, but they are two of the most down-to-earth people you would ever want to meet.

The Cawdrey Gallery not only features Nancy’s work, but showcases the art of other Montana artists. Nancy is known for her painted silk depictions of the life, landscapes, and wildlife of Montana, but she is fearless – she paints what she wants, using whatever medium she wants. Nancy’s approach to art – coupled with the friendliness of the Cawdreys – makes the Cawdrey Gallery a must-have experience in Downtown Whitefish.

206 Lupfer Ave

Whitefish, MT 59937

Farmhouse Inn and Kitchen

There is something about spending time in clean mountain air that stirs up a hearty appetite. If your Downtown Whitefish adventures include breakfast, the farm-to-table menu at Farmhouse Inn and Kitchen is an experience you don’t want to miss.

Your experience begins as you scale the steps to the Farmhouse’s front porch. You pull the unmistakable aroma of homemade donuts and fresh ground coffee into your lungs and feel as if you have stepped back in time. So what will it be? The Farmhouse’s house-made toast, slathered in avocado mash and topped with a farm-fresh egg? Or maybe you’re in more of a buttermilk-pancake-covered-with-huckleberry-compote kind of mood? The Farmhouse Inn has one of those menus that you can close your eyes, point to something, and you’ll be thrilled with what you get.

If your morning gets a late start – good news! The Farmhouse Inn and Kitchen now serves lunch. This farm-to-table experience is one you won’t soon forget.

28 Lupfer Ave

Whitefish, MT 59937

Kid Activities

There are plenty of experiences for the kids in Downtown Whitefish as well. Those experiences begin with a stop at Sweet Peak Ice Cream, featuring, “mountain made ice cream.” When was the last time your kids had “Bigfoot Tracks”? The menu is as unique as the parlor itself – you will want to come back time and again until you and the kids can proudly say you’ve tried everything on the menu.

419 E 3rd St

Whitefish, MT 59937

No Downtown Whitefish experience is complete for kids until they have visited the toy store, Imagination Station Toys. Inside its magic doors, time fades away for children of all ages. Parents will see toys and games they played with when they were kids, and their children will gravitate to, well, whatever peaks their imagination. Be warned Mom and Dad, stepping into this store is a little like being pulled into a vortex where time, space, and money (if your kids have anything to say about it), have no meaning.

Photo credit: Explore Whitefish

221 Central Ave

Whitefish, MT 59937

Great Northern Railway Depot

If the kids have never seen a train or been to a train station before, the Great Northern Railway Depot is an experience they will talk about well into adulthood. Harking back to 1904 when Whitefish was still known as “Stumptown,” the train station provided (and still does) a stop on a route that spans from Minneapolis/St. Paul to Seattle.

In 1927, Whitefish was growing and needed an updated depot. Since the railroad tycoons developing the area and Glacier National Park decided all buildings had to have a Swiss Alps feel, the depot was designed by the same architect who designed several of the buildings in GNP.

This Whitefish landmark is steeped in history and fascinating facts about the area, including its importance to modern-day railway transportation.

Great Northern Railway Depot

500 Depot Street

Whitefish, MT 59937

Great Northern Bar & Grill

If it’s nightlife you are after, you can’t really say you’ve experienced Downtown Whitefish until you’ve listened to live music at the Great Northern Bar & Grill. With its 15 flat screens, pool tables, full patio, shuffleboard, 29 beers on tap, and occasionally sticky floor, GNB is Whitefish’s party mecca. Tourists, locals, fly-fishers, skiers, water enthusiasts, grandparents, parents, and college kids all gather at the Great Northern Bar for the same reason – great beer, great music, and great conversations. GNB is like an amusement park for adults and a Whitefish rite-of-passage.

Great Northern Bar & Grill

27 Central Ave.

Whitefish, MT 59937

Bulldog Saloon

Depending on how “local” you’d like to get, the Bulldog is a Downtown Whitefish staple, and an experience of a different kind. We’ll say it like it is – the Bulldog is a bit of a dive bar, it knows it, and it’s proud of it.

The angry bulldog on the front door, framed by the Bulldog’s “colorful” website address, should set your expectations appropriately. (You’d never guess this place is over 100 years old, and that the second floor served as doctors’ offices in the early 1900s!!)

This place is crawling with local flair – definitely one of those places that you feel great about spending your time and money in. To start, the Bulldog Saloon is named for the high school mascot. How do you not immediately fall in love with a place named for a group of hard-working kids?

The Bulldog is a saloon-meets-sports-bar known for its outstanding burgers, great people, and memorable parties, making it the perfect stop on your “Downtown Whitefish To-do” list.

144 Central Ave

Whitefish, MT 59937

Photo credits: All from respective business websites, unless otherwise noted


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