Spring into Kalispell for fun, affordable family adventure

If you’re brainstorming spring break ideas, Kalispell’s close proximity to outdoor recreation, plus its Western culture, fun shopping and affordable restaurants and lodging offer families a true escape without breaking the bank. In a letter to her mom, here one woman captures her family and friend’s spring break mom-and-son adventures:  

Dear Mom,

So wished you were with us! The husbands had to work so Denise and I grabbed up our boys and drove to Kalispell for a semi-unplanned spring break adventure.

We decided to stay at the Red Lion downtown — it’s smack in the middle of everything so walking is easy, has a pool for the kids and Mom-comfy rooms for us. Not too tired and needing to get some air and stretch our legs, we walked through part of Depot Park and around downtown a bit. We spent a good hour at the local toy store, Imagination Station. As you can imagine the boys had a blast playing with the tops and wind up toys. Denise and I got a kick out of their classic game collection. For dinner we landed at Norm’s News, the soda fountain with “miles” of choices for sundae toppings. Yes of course they finished their nothing-like-fast-food burgers before they got their sundaes of happiness. The walk back to the hotel was much appreciated after that!

Woke up to clear skies so we rejiggered our “schedule” and geared up for Glacier National Park. It’s only a 45-minute drive to West Glacier, so even with a stop at Sportsman & Ski Haus for snowshoe rentals, we had a lovely full day in the park. Oh my gosh, Mom, you would have loved it — sheer mountain beauty that fills your soul, boys laughing and falling “on accident” into snow piles and powder fights, and enough exercise to make you feel strong and alive. The boys saw lots of tracks and tried to guess what animal “made those.” Want to come back when the Red Buses are running so we can enjoy the vistas — maybe your summer visit?

Four boys napped on the way back to town so were ready for a quick dip in the pool and then a short walk to Mooses Saloon for some serious local pizza. While the pizza was great, the boys’ favorite was cracking peanuts and dropping shells on the floor — all part of the rustic ambience. Denise and I appreciated sitting down with a local microbrew.

Our second day we woke up early and ready for a spring ski day. We decided to head south to Blacktail Mountain at the recommendation of a local. (Impressive Whitefish Mountain is nearby too, but we had already experienced the resort a previous winter and were excited to check out another ski area.) Affordable lift tickets, soft spring snow and breathtaking views of Flathead Lake: we couldn’t have had asked for a nicer day.

The next morning our legs needed a little rest, so we leisurely walked around Kalispell Center Mall. The mall’s attached to the Red Lion, which made it super convenient and we found lots of good deals on summer clothes for the boys. For lunch we grabbed sandwiches and other snacks to go and spent the afternoon in Woodland Park, not a far walk. Footballs were thrown, geese were chased, swings were swung.

After all the outdoor activity, us moms were determined to fit in some educational culture the next day (helped by some clouds coming in over the mountains). From the hotel we walked to the Museum at Central School (cool old-time mining and logging exhibits, and amazing works about the area’s indigenous peoples, the Flathead, Kootenai, Crow, Blackfeet, Cree and Chippewa tribes).

The clouds cleared and the boys needed some outside time, so we drove up to Lone Pine State Park for a nice hike. The views of Kalispell are amazing from the trail and the visitor center helped us all get educated on the local ecology and wildlife. After that day, another round of burgers was in order; this time at Hop’s Downtown Grill (also in nice walking distance from the hotel). The boys got daring and tried their first bison burgers — we all agreed they tasted mighty good.

Denise and I let the boys pick the activity for our last day in Kalispell. And they voted unanimously for the climbing wall at The Summit. The fitness center’s 30-foot-high wall of ropes and handholds is a blast for adults and kids (must be over age six). The facility on the campus of the Kalispell Regional Medical Center also has a great pool that includes open swim evenings and offers day passes for use of the entire fitness center — racquetball and tennis courts and all.

And with that it was time to head home and check on the dads and pets. It was good to get away and it’s good to be home. Check Facebook for photos! With love.

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