In northwestern Montana lies the city of Kalispell; a Salish word meaning "flat land above the lake." Salish is the ancestral language of several Pacific Northwest tribes, and is considered endangered today. The city of Kalispell keeps the Salish word alive, though: It's the largest city and commercial center in northwestern Montana, with a population of nearly 24,000 people. Kalispell was officially incorporated in 1892 after Charles Conrad moved into the region and began developing (more about him below!). Today, the city serves as the county seat and central hub of commerce in Flathead County. Nestled in the Flathead Valley and surrounded by beautiful scenery and unique attractions, Kalispell is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts all over the country. Did we mention Glacier National Park is a mere 31 miles away? If you haven't taken a trip up to Kalispell, now is the time to add it to your bucket list!
Charles Edward Conrad, a multimillionaire, first came to the Flathead Valley area when he and his wife visited and fell in love with Flathead Lake. Using his fame and fortune, Conrad was able to arrange for a new railroad to come through the area. He then began laying out a town site and named it Kalispell in honor of the local Salish-speaking tribes. It was there that he settled and built his mansion, which was completed in 1896. This 13,000 square feet, Victorian era Norman-style mansion represents the turn of the century architecture in the Pacific Northwest. This mansion has three floors, 26 rooms and eight sandstone fireplaces. It was gifted to the city in 1974, and, on June 1st, 1976, the mansion opened as the Conrad Mansion Museum for public tours.
Glacier National Parksits a short 45 minutes away from Kalispell via Montana Highway 206 and US-2. Glacier's beautiful forests, alpine meadows and towering mountains are a sight to behold. There are over 700 miles of trails to explore, according to the National Park Service. If you're not into hiking, take a drive on Going-to-the-Sun Road. It's a whopping 50 miles and takes two hours to complete (sounds like you better take some snacks!). Be sure to also check out one of the three visitor centers while you're there! All in all, Glacier National Park is the place to go if you want treasured memories and breath-taking views.
A new tradition in Kalispell, the Great Bear Festival is a treat to all who attend. Hosted by the local Daybreak and Noon Rotary Clubs, this festival boasts craft beer, wine, food and live music. With 35 plus local breweries, cider makers and wineries in attendance, you are in for a good time! And as if a night out wasn't enough to draw you in, all the the proceeds from the festival go to support local and international organizations! If you're not busy, check out this awesome festival coming up in August! For tickets, go to Eventbrite.
Each August, the Northwest Montana Fair brings together people from all over Flathead County. This fair features three nights of rodeo, a concert and a carnival. If you're a parade-goer, check out the Friday Fair Parade in downtown Kalispell. It features nearly 90 entries from tractors and trucks to horses and superheroes. Also, don't forget to check out the exhibits - the fair features over 8,000 hand-crafted exhibits that display the talent of regional residents. There really is something for everyone! Did you know it was started 116 years ago?
For delicious barbecue in Kalispell, head to The Desoto Grill! Here in the historic Forge building, you'll find delicious "Rockabilly" BBQ platters, featuring classics like smoked beef brisket, and unique finds, like elk sausage. Enjoy your meat of choice with corn bread slathered in honey butter, PLUS your choice of two additional sides (good luck deciding!). Even vegetarians can enjoy menu items like the Montana Cobb Salad or Desoto's Mac & Cheese, which can be topped with jalapeno for a little kick! There are also a wide variety of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers to satisfy any craving. And it's all local: with meat sourced from local ranchers, and milk from the Kalispell Kreamery, you'll get the true Montana experience here. And for dessert, you'll definitely want to try one of the fresh-baked pies, cobblers or cheesecakes made by The Desoto's pastry team. One thing's for sure: at The Desoto Grill, you won't leave hungry!
Online reviews lead us to believe that Pho Ly in Kalispell has the "best Asian food in the Flathead valley." This unassuming spot is situated in a strip mall off the main drag, but serves up delicious, authentic Vietnamese food that people are willing to travel for. As the name implies, here you can enjoy a steaming hot bowl of beef-broth noodle soup, or Pho (pronouned Fuh), which many name among the best they've ever had! Try their delicious spring rolls, potstickers, or one of their many jasmine rice plates. You'll feel right at home with their friendly and attentive staff. Pho Ly is a well-loved gem in Kalispell that will leave you craving it long after you leave!