This was one of our favorite ski areas before we moved to Montana and remains so even today. Whitefish seems always to be fun, relaxed, wide-open, and full of fluffy snow. The ski area is one of the older ones in Montana but has grown steadily; today it's a world-class mountain with plenty of room to roam and superb views -- especially to the east, where the high peaks of Glacier National Park stand out. What's more, it's a relatively affordable destination, as standard hotel rooms can be easily found 30 minutes away in Kalispell and it's not hard to find discounts on lift tickets (hint: Costco). Just below the base village is a free cross-country ski track, and the mountain is also open in the summer with zip lines, toboggan rides, and lift-accessed mountain biking and hiking.
Well now doesn't Whitefish have it all? There’s the too-cute downtown, the major ski area, Glacier National Park down the street, and the beach – City Beach, that is. City Beach is a small developed picnic and swimming site on Whitefish Lake a few blocks from downtown. There is a kiosk, bathrooms, picnic pavilions, a roped-off swimming area, and a nice stretch of pebbly shore. Whitefish Lake is deep and snowmelt-fed, so don’t expect tropical waters, but a dip here on a rare hot day is a true treat – as is the walk to town after for a beer!
It was a typical Montana November Sunday -- gloomy and quiet. There was snow in the mountains but not on the ground and we were taking advantage of the relative warmth to bike some more in the Flathead. With the lunch hour looming we pulled off the road and into the lazy yard of Bonsai Brewing. This new brewery is small by almost any measure but has a cool warm tasting room and a big lawn usually filled with as many kids as adults. Today, however, we had it to ourselves. No food is served here, so we munched on nuts we had brought along and sipped beers. I had the IRA -- India Red Ale -- and Laura had a brown. The IRA was good, with a hop balance and not too much in the way of floral notes. I liked the brown less as I got a sort of filmy aftertaste. There are eight more on tap, including a bourbon barrel aged porter.