Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake, Whitefish Lake and Jewel Basin provide some pretty fantastic natural playgrounds for families. But we know how kids are. Sometimes it takes more than a nature hike to keep them enthused. Fortunately, our area has plenty of other pursuits swimming, bumper cars, horseback riding, whitewater floats and the famed Walk in the Treetops at Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Woodland Park — All accounted for, 30 parks complement the city of Kalispell. The city’s largest and oldest, 38-acre Woodland Park is the perfect place for families to go play. Besides two miles of walking trails, a large pond housing a variety of waterfowl species, a playground and a skateboarding park, families come to cool off in Woodland Water Park’s. Dare to drop down two totally awesome waterslides, or cruise on ‘tubes on the lazy river float. Little tikes love the shallower activity pool’s toys, sprinklers and fountains.
Whitefish Mountain Resort — Experience fun, learning and adventure. SUMMER: Walk In The Treetops is a 2 1/2-hour nature walk offers a unique view of the forest from an elevated boardwalk. Alpine Slide is fun for all ages as you grab a sled and race down the slide controlling your speed through straight-aways and around banked curves. The Zip Line puts you in a paragliding-style harness in a choice of six zip tours for riders of all ages at least 54 inches tall and 60 pounds. WINTER: Awesome skiing!
Foy’s Lake — Where families take a cool dip on warm summer days. A boat dock, public dock for sunbathing, and park for picnicking and Jet Ski watching.
Bar W Guest Ranch — An authentic and unforgettable Western vacation awaits your family on this handsome dude ranch just outside of Whitefish. Horseback riding, sleigh rides, rodeo action, fishing, cookouts and more. Open year round.
Big Sky Waterpark — Four swimsuit-yanking slides from the Bonzai to the 70-foot Geronimo rattle the nerves of even the most fearless speed demons; or bump along the River Ride, warm up in a gigantic hot tub or grab some sun by the jumbo children’s activity pool. The 18-hole miniature golf course will challenge even grandpa. Horseshoe pits, barbecue grills, an arcade and carousel add up to an all-day fun fest.
House of Mystery — Popular roadside attraction and site of Montana’s only vortex where the laws of nature are turned upside down. You’ll think you entered “The Twilight Zone.“ 7800 U.S. 2 E., Columbia Falls.
Amazing Fun Center — Lose yourself in the life-size Glacier Maze! Go carts, bumper boats, miniature golf and bankshot basketball. 10265 U.S. 2 E., Coram.
Hungry Horse Dam — The nation’s 11th highest dam in the best dam town in the Northwest. Free guided tours from the Visitor Center mid-June through September.
Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch - In the dreamland of autumn, pick your choice of pumpkin for Grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe or your favorite jack-o-lantern design, but make sure you bring the whole family for an afternoon of pillow jumping (on a giant 50 x 100-foot pillow), barrel car rides, trail mazes and tractor tours. And while you're there, indulge in a fresh batch of kettle corn or hand-dipped caramel apples.
The Conrad Mansion
Experience late-19th-century life during the railroad glory days of Montana with a tour of the opulent home of Kalispell’s founders, Charles and Alicia Conrad. Inside this unique, 13,000-square-foot manor you’ll find brilliant architectural design and more than 90 percent of the home’s original furnishings. Tours are available in the summer and the mansion is open for special events throughout the year; visit the Conrad Mansion online for information.
The Museum at Central School
Explore the Flathead Valley’s deepest roots and earliest industries through four permanent exhibits at The Museum at Central School. Housed in an immense 1894 schoolhouse, the museum offers exhibits on regional Native American history, the early timber industry and the valley’s earliest European settlers.
Hockaday Museum of Art
The cultural history of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park has a fitting home at the Hockaday Museum of Art. The museum itself is housed in a stunning classical-revival-style building, originally erected as the town library in 1901. The permanent “Crown of the Continent” exhibition features classic works by some of Montana’s best-known artists and an expansive collection of art associated with Glacier National Park.