Charles Conrad knew a good thing when he saw it. In the late 1800s, Conrad followed the newly constructed Empire Builder rail line west until he arrived in the northern Flathead Valley and decided he needed to travel no farther.
Conrad’s destination was Kalispell, and he became this place’s founding father by being the first man to pair the unmatched natural beauty with the economic opportunity the new railroad provided. His discovery planted the seeds for what Kalispell has become — a bustling, amenity-filled city with historic roots and a strong sense of adventure and exploration that runs all the way to its core.
This Building Has a Story to Tell
Take the long-distance view of Kalispell’s Main Street, and the vintage signs and rustic storefronts scream history. The oldest buildings on Main Street date back to 1891, and just off Main you’ll find one of the oldest independent bike shops in the United States, Wheaton’s, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2018.
Back on Main Street, history oozes out of places like Norm’s News, a family-friendly soda fountain, and retailer Western Outdoor, located underneath what used to be an opera house first opened in 1896. And just down the road sits Moose’s Saloon, where a set of saloon doors welcome diners to a bar and pizza parlor with peanut shell-lined floors.
Take a Closer Look
Zooming in on downtown shows more than just history, though. A closer inspection reveals the true secret of Kalispell; that while history is important here it never outsteps innovation. This town has been reimagining itself for more than a century, evolving with the times to keep our locals happy and provide all the comfort outsiders have been seeking since the days of Charles Conrad.
Main Street today includes myriad opportunities to shop for art, furniture, clothes, jewelry and everything in between, and dining options run the gamut from locally sourced Montana meats to freshly imported sushi. And beer? We’ve always been all about beer, from the days of the Kalispell Malting and Brewing Company’s first pint in 1894. Today, Kalispell Brewing Co. occupies the former Hendrickson Motors on Main Street and is joined by two other brand new offerings — Bias Brewing and SunRift Beer Company. There’s even a craft distillery here, Vilya Spirits, if your taste buds prefer absinthe to IPAs.
Come check out downtown Kalispell and all it has to offer, and see what happens when history, style and opportunity collide at the center of your next adventure.