What’s your favorite way to make family memories? Our family enjoys taking short family trips, exploring a new area and sleeping in our RV under the stars. We live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho which gives us easy access to many cool Pacific Northwest destinations. We discovered some great road trip destinations and family activities during a short summer getaway to Montana. Our kids ventured across the Kootenai Falls Swinging Bridge also used by firefighters, slid down the Whitefish Mountain Resort Alpine Slide and enjoyed a night out at Seussical the Musical. These 5 things to do with kids in Northwest Montana are definitely worth checking out on your next family trip!
Kootenai Falls & Swinging Bridge
Kootenai Falls is a beautiful area with rocky river edges and blue-green water. We took our kids on the short hiking path down to a viewpoint of Kootenai Falls. The hiking path was easy for kids to navigate, with some rock scrambling sections and places to climb. We love hikes like this because young families can enjoy the experience and see some memorable views, without requiring much endurance.
The Kootenai River flows down the falls and through tumultuous sections into Kootenai River gorge. The hike to the falls leads you past several scenic river outlooks. Once you’ve viewed the falls, you can hike back and take a trail in the opposite direction to the Swinging Bridge.
We learned that firefighters also use the Swinging Bridge to cross the Kootenai River. The recently renovated bridge offers a secure yet suspended experience as you cross to other side. My kids had a blast skipping along and stopping in the middle of the bridge to take in the view of the river flowing downstream.
Kootenai Falls and the Swinging Bridge is a memorable family-friendly destination for your next road trip through Montana.
Bigfork Summer Playhouse
It’s always fun to experience some of the local Arts and Culture on a family adventure. We took the kids to Seussical the Musical one night at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse. This classic production combines favorite Dr. Seuss stories and characters including The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie, and JoJo. The Seussical is a comical story with important values of friendship, loyalty, love and standing up for your beliefs.
The production at Bigfork Summer Playhouse was excellent. We learned that the cast includes college students and recent theater graduates. Each actor performed their role well, from Horton the Elephant’s thoughtful personality to Mayzie’s colorful care-free pizzazz. The Cat in the Hat served as an energetic MC which tied the whole show together.
We brought our three children ages 3, 4 and 7 to see the Seussical. The show was lively with colorful characters, whimsical costumes and creative Dr. Seuss-inspire sets. Halfway through the show, a short intermission allowed us to get drinks and use the restroom. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, which provided a professional-level performance in a small town setting.
The Bigfork Summer Playhouse repertory theater offers a fantastic variety of shows for every taste. During repertory season, you can choose from four rotating shows or stay four days and see four plays. Most shows start at 8:00 PM. The 2019 Repertory Season performances include Oklahoma!, Seussical the Musical, Catch Me If You Can, and The Wedding Singer.
Whitefish Mountain Resort
Another day during our Montana family adventure, we were invited to check out some of the summer activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort. This ski resort has plenty to offer during the warmer months. We rode the gondola up the mountain, which gave us a bird’s eye view of mountain bikers traversing their way down the slopes. We also saw breathtaking views of the Flathead Valley, Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies.
At the top, we got in line to ride the Alpine Slide. We sat in carts and slid down a long track at a moderate speed. Our 7-year-old daughter went by herself, easily operating the hand lever for accelerating or slowing down. Younger kids can sit in a parent’s lap for their ride down the Alpine Slide. At the bottom of the mountain, our kids enjoyed riding balance bikes along the trails in the Strider Bike Park and sliding down the Summer Tubing run.
Strider Bike Park at Whitefish Mountain Resort
Whitefish Mountain Resort in Montana is an awesome destination for a family trip in the summer or winter. During the summer, you can make family memories while embarking on a Zip Line Tour or navigating the Aerial Adventure Park high ropes course. Avid mountain bikers will enjoy more than 30 miles of lift-accessed and cross-country mountain bike trails above the Flathead Valley.
Families of all ages will enjoy the Alpine Slide and Summer Tubing run! Whitefish Mountain Resort even offers activities for young kids such as the Spider Monkey Mountain climbing area for ages 4 and older and the Strider Bike Park for ages 2-6. You can purchase tickets for each activity and do as much or as little as you’d like. We spent a very fun family afternoon at Whitefish Mountain Resort making memories together in the beautiful outdoors.
Whitefish Downtown Shopping
The town of Whitefish also has plenty to offer downtown. We took our kids window shopping and spent some time exploring the local shops. We sipped coffee at Montana Coffee Traders, tried on accessories at Sappari and shopped for kids’ clothing at Sprouts Children’s Boutique.
Imagination Station Toys
Our kids were eager to go into Imagination Station Toys. This toy store had lots of toys and playsets on display, as well as learning activities organized into sections. My two youngest kids enjoyed playing on the “demo” play tables which had train sets and Calico Critters set up for kids to test out. I always appreciate when a toy store has a small play area for kids to enjoy while I’m looking around the store. It can be tough for kids to see so many toys without being able to play with anything.
My 7-year-old daughter enjoyed checking out the science activity section, looking at the Playmobil sets and picking out some miniature critters to buy. She loves collecting tiny treasures and creatures. We also purchased a family board game called Keys to the Castle, which we played together several times on our trip.
We found a lot of cool things at the Imagination Station Toys in Whitefish, Montana. In the store, you can find stickers, costumes, games, collectibles, learning kits and many of the mainstream toy brands.
Montana Coffee Traders
After the toy store, we headed across the street to buy a coffee drink at Montana Coffee Traders. We ordered a mocha coffee drink to share and flavored water for the kids. Montana Coffee Traders has a great atmosphere with lots of tables perfect for relaxing, chatting, studying and reading. You can get all your favorite espresso or coffee drinks as well as baked goods, grilled paninis and hot soups. I appreciated the calm atmosphere which was also family-friendly for our crew of sometimes noisy kids.
Sappari Decor and Apparel Store
I especially enjoyed our stop by Sappari, a local independently owned home decor, clothing and accessory store in downtown Whitefish. The store has a creative design and a modern and glamorous style. My girls tried on several hats, shimmery headbands and crowns. I saw some soft twirly dresses that caught my eye. Finally, we picked out earrings and my daughter choose studs that look like tiny coffee cups. I also had the chance to meet Kristina, one of the co-owners, and learn a little bit about how she selects merchandise for the store. It’s always inspiring to visit a woman-owned business and see so much hard work beautifully on display. Overall, Sappari is an enjoyable store to browse in Whitefish where you can find many unique accessories, a gorgeous clothing selection and eye-catching accents for your home.
Sprouts Children’s Boutique
My little fashionistas, of course, always enjoy shopping at the local kids’ clothing store in any town. I was excited to discover that Sprouts Children’s Boutique in Whitefish, MT carried classic kids’ clothing brands such as Tea Collection and Mimi & Maggie. My daughter picked out a long sleeved Tea Collection dress, which she needed for her fall wardrobe. I wanted to get matching dresses for both my girls, but I’m discovering that our 7-year-old is developing her own fashion sense. Regardless, I love finding timeless outfits that my kids can wear for both play and dressing up. We enjoyed chatting with the store’s owner Kelly, who was very friendly and eager to help us find the perfect clothing choices for our kids. Her store is beautiful and well organized so you can find exactly what you are looking for.
Glacier National Park
On one of the last days of our trip to Montana, our family enjoyed an awesome hike to Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park. We got up early so we could arrive at the parking lot before 8 am, which we heard fills up fast. There were about 6 parking spots left in the area where we parked. We brought along some water, hiking snacks and lunch for later. We also made sure everyone wore protective closed toed shoes. This easy hike was perfect for kids, with lots of interesting terrain, rocks and new views to see around each turn.
We hiked the 2.3 miles each way there and back from Avalanche Lake with our three young kids. Along the way we enjoyed some amazing views of Avalanche Creek, plenty of rocks to scramble over and flat spots for our kids to run along the trail. We also encountered many other hikers along this popular trail in Glacier National Park.
Lunch at Avalanche Lake
At the end of the hiking trail, we emerged onto the spacious bank of Avalanche Lake. Right before we reached the lake, we discovered a convenient pit toilet located off the main trail. At the lake, there were already 50 or more people including many families enjoying the view. Nevertheless, we had no trouble finding a spot to rest along the generous swath of sand. We ate our lunch, watched a family of chipmunks scurry around and gazed out over the lake, soaking up the natural beauty.
Avalanche Lake is situated beneath Bearhat Mountain, which rises an additional 4800 feet above the lake towards the northeast. To the south, Little Matterhorn provides a scenic mountain view. Across the lake from the hiking trail beachfront, several long waterfalls plunge hundreds of feet down the mountain cliffs towards the lake.
The hike to Avalanche Lake is a great family excursion because a lot of the trail is shaded and fairly flat. The temperature was perfect when we visited in July. The path slopes in some places and parallels fallen logs, dense forest and vibrant ferns. The hike back is just as easy as the hike to the lake. We definitely recommend experiencing this easy family hike the next time you are near Glacier National Park.
As we discovered, there’s no lack of memorable activities to do with kids in Northwest Montana. Although we only visited for a few days, we made the most of our schedule packed with exploring, shopping, hiking and lots of family fun!
Hi, I’m Katie! I live with my husband and 3 kids in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I love Jesus, coffee, creative projects, taking photos and traveling. I’ve previously worked as a web designer, journalist and barista. I hope you enjoy our creative projects and family adventures!