A Family-Friendly Winter Getaway Near Glacier National Park
Family Winter Wonderland Getaway
Experiencing Glacier National Park in the winter with your family? Sign us up! Trade in your hiking boots for snowshoes and skis, and embark on a winter wonderland adventure like no other. Whether you are looking to stay right near the park or are planning on making one of the nearby larger towns your homebase, there’s a little something for everyone in this corner of Montana, from shredding the slopes to sipping cocoa by the fire. Grab your mittens, your kiddos, and your sense of adventure, get ready for a family winter getaway to Glacier National Park this winter. Let’s dive into the snowy fun!
- Planning Your Family-Friendly Witner Getaway Near GNP
- Family Winter Getaway Lodging Options
- Family-Friendly Dining Experiences
- Outdoor Adventures and Activities
- Local Winter Events
Just like the bears, a lot of the businesses hibernate and only operate during certain seasons. Rest assured there is still lots of fun and activities to fill up your winter cup of adventure in and around Glacier National Park. Traveling during the “off-season” requires a bit more planning ahead. This blog will help give you a bit of the inside scoop to best fill your days.
Planning Your Family-Friendly Winter Getaway Near GNP
Consider Road Closures
Glacier National Park is open year round but once Going-To-The-Sun road fully closes for the season that does look much different than in July. You will find that Logan Pass and St. Mary Visitor Centers will be closed and Apgar Visitor Center may be open on the weekends as staffing allows. Polebridge is a cute town and has lots of areas to recreate and explore. They are famous for their mercantile and baked goods, unfortunately they are not open for the Winter so pack a lunch and escape to Polebridge and enjoy your day exploring. You can make the trek up to Polebridge from Glacier or you can head through Columbia Falls and continue up the North Fork Rd. via Hwy 486, just 35 miles North of Columbia Falls.
Eploxe GNP via Snowshoe or Cross County Skis
Glacier in the Winter hosts a truly different kind of beauty. The snow capped mountains along the shores of Lake McDonald are beautiful. The air is crisp, even fresher than you feel it is in the Summer months. We are truly blessed to be able to explore such areas all year round with each season providing a different postcard view. To get the most out of a winter trip to Glacier, you can snowshoe or cross country ski around as you wish in Glacier. The best spots to rent equipment are at Sportsmans Ski Haus in Whitefish and Kalispell. ( If you are planning to downhill ski/ board as well you can rent that equipment here as well.) Most of the trails in Glacier aren’t marked so I would advise to have a great map with you and do not out adventure the skill set of you and your group. Winter temperatures and conditions can be harsh too so make sure you stay geared up, dry and hydrated are the best ways to avoid hypothermia. Be also aware of avalanche danger and conditions as you explore the backcountry and make sure you have all the gear necessary for what you are planning to do for the day.
Family Winter Getaway Lodging Options
Finding the perfect spot for your crew may be difficult to choose as there is such a wide variety of places to choose from here. VRBO and AirBNBs are a great way to travel. Have a house to yourself, book a private cabin somewhere, stay in a yurt, the opportunities are endless around here. I would pick something closer to the majority of things you want to do. This helps cut down on travel time although you will feel most places are about 15-30 minutes to get to around here. Road conditions in the winter may add some time to your commute but the roads are well maintained by the state and county. We do suggest renting a vehicle with 4 wheel drive and make sure you leave with enough time to get where you need to be. Did you know that Glacier Highline is more than just an adventure park? We also have a few rentals of our own where you can stay near Glacier right in the heart of Coram. We even have some with private hot tubs to soak away your sore muscles from the slopes or warm you up after a long day of winter adventure!!! Check out our lodging page to see what we can offer for you and your crew during your dates. Don’t want to deal with a rental? There are plenty of hotels and lodges in Whitefish and Kalispell mainly. Make sure you secure some lodging and a rental car early.
Family-Friendly Dining Experiences
Rest assured you will not go hungry around here while you visit, we may not have a lot of variety or you may not be able to eat dinner after 9pm but there are lots of great places to grab a bite. Most places around here are all family friendly around here, let’s get into a few of our favorite spots around the valley!
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Some of our favorite spots to go are Loula’s Cafe or the Buffalo Cafe in Whitefish. In Columbia Falls, Montana Coffee Traders. In Bigfork if you want to make the drive, Echo Lake Cafe is not only worth the drive, it’s worth the wait. All of these places you can’t go wrong with, great coffee, portion sizes and a little bit of something for everyone.
Some of our favorite lunch and or dinner spots in the area are Backslope Brewing or Gunsight Saloon. The chicken sandwich and mac n cheese are a must at Backslope and I’ve yet to have something bad at Gunsight, they also have a great live music calendar so hopefully you can have dinner and a show there. In Kalispell, MacKenzie River Pizza has great options but my favorite place to grab a slice is Moose’s Saloon, don’t miss it! Thin crust to die for and Moose’s Saloon is a Kalispell staple, a great unique experience and you can guarantee to be able to catch a game here. In Whitefish you can find most dining options right along Central Ave. A few of my favorites are Great Northern Bar (minors allowed until 9pm), they have a large menu, great atmosphere and is full of Whitefish history. Bulldog Saloon is also full of history and a good atmosphere as well. The huckleberry hot wings are a MUST here! Craggy Range is good as well! If you are looking for something a little fancier, more of a sit down setting Abruzzo, Latitude 48, Tupelo Grille always serve up great food- reservations not required but strongly encouraged.
This is just the tip of the iceberg I feel like with restaurants here in the area, ask around too while you are on the chairlift or out and about. The local scoop is the best way to go.
Whitefish Mountain Resort
Whitefish Mountain Resort is our big attraction here in the Winter. People travel from far and wide to hit the slopes here. With 113 named trails there is plenty of fun to be had here. New to skiing or snowboarding? Whitefish Mtn Resort has great ski & ride programs. Spots fill up fast so make sure you have it all squared away so you make sure you have a spot! Rentals can be done right at the base lodge or downtown in Whitefish at a few locations. They will typically kick off their season the beginning of December and end in April, but visit their website for full details. Come enjoy some great views overlooking Whitefish Lake and the Flathead Valley and into Glacier National Park from the family winter getaway location, Whitefish Mountain Resort!
Outdoor Adventures and Activities
Blacktail Mountain Ski Area
Another ski hill here in the area is located down in Lakeside, Blacktail Mountain Ski Area is another option to hit the slopes here in the area. Here you will find a smaller scale of a ski hill from Whitefish Mountain Resort with 29 named runs but still plenty of area to enjoy! Blacktail tends to be far less crowded and you can save quite a few bucks on lift tickets here as well. Blacktail also has great ski & ride programs as well. Make sure you sign up early! Be mindful that Blacktail Mountain operates mainly Wednesdays through Sundays (except holiday weeks) and they will hittin’ the slopes until April 14th this season!
Lakeside has also welcomed Montana’s first Alpine Coaster to the area, open year round for family fun would be a great thing to add to your Flathead Valley to do list in all seasons. Check out their website for current hours and must know info you need to know before you head on down there. After the alpine coaster, enjoy a bite and maybe a hot cocoa to warm up at Tamarack Brewing Company.
Cross County Ski Rentals and Options
Don’t want to downhill ski? Most of the golf courses around here groom trails for cross country goers in the winter months. Glacier Nordic Club maintains trails around Whitefish Golf Course, Big Mtn, Meadow Lake Golf Course and Round Meadow. Their website is an excellent resource for maps and trail conditions. Down near Blacktail Mountain there are also more opportunities for cross country skiing in the area outside of Glacier National Park. These trails are all groomed and regulated by North Shore Nordic Club, check out their website for trail maps and conditions as well. Sportsmans ski haus in Whitefish and Kalispell are great places to rent your cross country ski equipment.
Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures
Not a skier or snowboarder? Need a rest day from the slopes? Book a sleigh ride with our friends at Bar W Guest Ranch! Enjoy the snow covered landscapes from a horse drawn sleigh ride along Spencer Lake right along the base of Spencer Mountain. Located right outside of Whitefish, our friends at Bar W will help you make some more wonderful family memories. Looking for a little more of a thrill? Swan Mountain Snowmobiling offers guided snowmobile trips in a few different areas here in the valley and are your go-to for snowmobiling here in the Flathead Valley. Riders must be at least 5 years old and drivers have to be at least 16 years old. Montana is full of truly one of a kind adventures and this is another one! Such a fun way to see the heart of Glacier Country.
Explore Main Street
Central Ave. is the hot spot for Whitefish all year round and a must-see on your family winter getaway. You will find an array of shops, places to eat, and enjoy a beverage and in the Winter months it is full of Christmas spirit. From the Amtrak station as far as the eye can see the street is illuminated with lights, greenery and the Christmas spirit. You could also catch a local hockey game down at Stumptown Ice Den, bundle up and cheer loud to stay warm or you can test out your skate skills there during one of their open skate sessions!
There are a few annual, iconic winter events in the area that are worth attending if you are in town.