A weekend in Kalispell, near Glacier National Park, can be filled with horse rides, Western-wear shops, and good eats.
Visitors driving Kalispell’s Main Street past its cafés and galleries quickly grasp that this former Great Northern Railway hub is no mere gateway to Glacier National Park. The city of 21,000 presents sweet autumn tastes at a weekend farmers’ market, choice finds at Western-wear shops, and horse rides on mountain trails. Area code is 406.
To Do and See Artemis Acres Paint Horse Ranch Guests at this 80-acre ranch ride spotted horses through the yellowing larches and fragrant ponderosa pines of the Salish Mountains, then dismount for barbecue beef and a bonfire. 610 Patrick Creek Rd., 755-3723, artemisacres.com. Conrad Mansion Museum Entrepreneur Charles Conrad built his 26-room Shaker-style mansion in 1895. See its pineapple-shaped, Tiffany-like chandeliers, carved oak staircase, and attic playroom by candlelight during ghost tours on Oct. 3 and 4. 330 Woodland Ave., 755-2166, conradmansion.com. Hockaday Museum of Art In a historic Carnegie library building, the museum displays art depicting Glacier National Park. An exhibit of rarely shown works from the Hockaday’s vaults opens Nov. 6. Free admission during Art Walk on Friday, Dec. 5. 302 Second Ave. E., 755-5268, hockadaymuseum.org. Kalispell-to-Flathead Bike Trail Cyclists can head south on a paved trail to the north shore of Flathead Lake or detour west to Kila, where red-winged blackbirds trill at the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. railstotrailsofnwmt.com. Wheaton’s Cycle Rents hybrid, road, and mountain bikes for $30 to $50 a day. 214 First Ave. W., 257-5808, wheatonscycle.com.
Shopping Kalispell Farmers’ Market Vendors offer jams, pumpkins, and even quilts on Saturdays through Oct. 18 at Flathead Valley Community College. 777 Grandview Dr., 881-4078. Rocky Mountain Outfitter A fixture on Main since 1976, this springboard for outdoor adventure stocks everything from kayaks and cross-country skis to maps and GPS watches. 135 Main St., 752-2446, rockymountainoutfitter.com. Think Local Exclusively Montana Made Visitors to this packed gallery discover work by 50 artisans: wooden toys, lariat rope bowls, and wildflower jewelry. 140 Main St., 260-4499. Western Outdoor Embroidered snap-front shirts and cattleman-style Stetsons vie for space with more than 3,500 pairs of boots. 48 Main St., 756-5818, facebook.com/westernoutdoor.
Eats Hop’s Downtown Grill Western eats with a twist: trout pâté and a yak burger. 121 Main St., 755-7687, hopsmontana.com. Kalispell Brewing Co. Wash down a Rope Tow Pale Ale with a gourmet brat from the Saucy Dogs food truck, an occasional visitor to the parking lot of this renovated car dealership. 412 Main St. 756-2739. North Bay Grille Sophisticated steak house fare includes lamb sirloin with Dijon mustard and herbs, and local goat cheese with fruit, walnuts, and honey. 139 First Ave. W., 755-4441.
Photography by Donnie Sexton (downtown); Chuck Haney (woman in cowboy hat)
This article was first published in September 2014. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.