Content Produced in Partnership with Explore Whitefish
Considered one of the top destinations in the country for fall travel (and voted by NBC's Today Show as the perfect fall getaway), Whitefish, Montana is the rustic mountain getaway you didn't know you needed in your life — until now. Gone with the summer heat are the crowds at Glacier National Park, while its downtown offers the best views of the changing leaves and snowcapped mountains off in the distance. With outdoor and urban adventures a plenty, a laid-back vacation that can offer equal parts relaxation and adventure might just be more doable than you think.
See Glacier National Park Sans Crowds
According to park records, approximately 3.3 million people visited Glacier National Park in 2017. About 2.5 million of those people (or roughly 75 percent) visited in June, July or August. Solace can be the most powerful tool when experiencing the outdoors, so why not take advantage of the quiet fall season? We've been firm proponents for visiting national parks in the off seasons and Glacier is no exception as fall visitors are given exclusive, unobstructed access to the park's crisp mountain air and fiery foliage. While the best time to visit for peak fall color is late September, the last color change occurs with the larch trees in the western portion of the park typically by mid-October.
Cruise Going-to-the-Sun Road
There has been a lot of well-earned hype around Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile stretch of smooth riding that is a bucket list-worthy adventure for cyclists. While the bikes rule the road in the spring, fall is anyone's game. Throw the bike in the back of the car, then take a winding drive through the scenic mountains. If you see an area that strikes your fancy, use the pull-outs to park your car and enjoy a brief ride. No matter your cruising style, all times of day offer varying degrees of beauty and sun-blanketed fall moments along Going-to-the-Sun-Road — and you're sure to be rewarded with some of the finest views you've ever seen.
Clink a Glass and Toast to Being Out West
Everything tastes better when you're out in the mountains — or at least it feels that way. After a long day of exploring the outdoors, it's time to give your taste buds an adventure at one of Whitefish's two breweries or microdistillery. Bonsai Brewing Company is as well known for its 10 brews on tap as it is for its habanero ginger hot sauce, while The Great Northern Brewing Company offers all the crisp, Alpine-influenced beer you'll ever need, including a wild huckleberry lager. Meanwhile, find rugged yet delightful concoctions at Spotted Bear Spirits, where its housemade liquors are used in all its handcrafted cocktails. We'll cheers to that.
Stay on Track
Whitefish is haven for outdoor lovers and active adventurers, but you don't have to stick to the trails to enjoy it. You can easily access some toning (and sweating) in town. Yogis can explore several options, like Shanti Yoga Studio or Yoga Hive, while the Whitefish Wave houses both an aquatic and fitness center. City folk may be well-versed in SoulCycle, but here in Whitefish the name of the game is SobbaCycle, which still houses an urban and modern vibe centered around their 20 bikes. Make sure to reserve a bike ahead of time, though, because these classes fill up fast. Perfect for a rainy day, chilly morning or a conditioning day, these options are sure to help you stay prepped for your time on the trail.
Downtown Whitefish Has So Much to Offer
Aside from outdoor adventures and mountain vistas, downtown Whitefish is a quaint, lively area teeming with arts and culture. Showcasing local artists and international works, more than a dozen art galleries line the streets of Whitefish. You can experience them all at once with the First Thursdays Gallery Night Art Walk. Held each first Thursday of September and October (the next one is October 4, 2018!), the free events allow you to tour a baker's dozen of art galleries, stopping for bites and sips on the way. There are plenty of locally-owned businesses to shop at-- find everything Bakeries, eateries featuring cuisine from all over the world, tea shops, and other locally-owned businesses be found throughout Whitefish. Later in the season, the area also hosts its annual Great Northwest Oktoberfest, an event so big it spans over two different weekends! From jewelry made out of Montana-based gemstones to authentic Montana cowboy boots and German brews, you'll be sure to find something special to commemorate your time in Whitefish.