A Sunny Autumn Day in Kalispell, Montana

posted October 7, 2014 by Holly Hayes part of trip: The Great European Road Trip
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Main Street in historic downtown Kalispell, Montana.
Map of photos taken in Kalispell.

I spent two nights in the small town of Kalispell, Montana, and had a great time. The sun was shining, the leaves were turning colors, the downtown was quiet and walkable, there were many good lodging options and interesting things to check out, and it's right next to Glacier National Park. Highly recommended.

The Kalispell Grand Hotel

I stayed in the Kalispell Grand Hotel, which I was very happy with. Built in 1912, it is located right downtown in the heart of things, has a great breakfast and friendly staff, and I had a cozy little room with a nice view (and a nice low price!).

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Night view.
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Side view.
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Free parking is provided in the lot behind the hotel - hooray!
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Side entrance and lobby.
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Stairs and moose. Breakfast is served in the area on the left.
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My favorite part of the excellent breakfast - really delicious, hot potato quiche! Also served were a variety of cereals - including Grape Nuts! - with fresh berries and other toppings, homemade coffee cakes in several flavors, individually-wrapped slices of bread and English muffins for the toasters, plus fruit and all the usual beverages. A very nice way to start the day.

Museum at Central School

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After a random stroll down Main Street, I stopped in at this museum located in a pretty public school building. I don't think I actually knew about it in advance, so it's a good thing they had such a big sign to draw me in!

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I was greeted by this wonderful lady, Fran Ruby, who was a student at the school. She has wonderful memories of her school years and is so happy to volunteer there. (Unfortunately this is the only picture I took of her and I didn't realize she was blinking! This is why I'm not a portrait photographer.)

It was very fun to chat with her and hear about her school memories - she was a cheerleader! - and the story of how the building was just barely saved from demolition. I wished I had more time to hear more stories of her life in Kalispell.

Mrs. Ruby reluctantly informed me that photos are not allowed in the museum but, after seeing my disappointment and hearing about Go Historic, she sent me downstairs to talk to the manager about it. That was a new experience! It was interesting to talk to him, too, and he eventually agreed to allow me to take photos. So, happily, I can show you around the museum a bit. If you're in the area, please visit - it's interesting and they need those admissions to stay open!

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Entrance area. Mrs. Ruby says a lot has changed in the interior since she went to school there, but the ceiling is the same. She loves it. She explained that it's made of tin, not for fire prevention (as I guessed), but so it doesn't fall off like plaster when the trains rumble by!
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This classroom features a lovely historic bar (not originally from the school, unfortunately for the students).

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Conrad Mansion

A short walk from the museum is the Conrad Mansion, built for Charles E. Conrad, founder of Kalispell, in 1895. When he built his house, there was pretty much nothing else here.

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The mansion is now a museum that contains almost all of the original family furnishings, which is rare and pretty impressive. Visits are by guided tour only, and I didn't plan ahead so didn't get a chance to join one. Instead I just had a nice wander around the grounds and garden.

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More Residential Goodness

A few other notable sights from my leisurely walk through Kalispell's residential neighborhoods:

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Ice Cream!

After all that hard work, I was ready for a break featuring a cold drink or maybe some dessert, so I headed back downtown to see what was what. I came upon Sweet Peaks Ice Cream, which a quick phone-lookup told me was homemade and excellent. Done!

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It's a happy place, with interesting flavors to choose from.
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Bonus: a sunny rooftop patio overlooking Main Street!
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I got a lovely root beer float, with a really generous serving of fancy vanilla ice cream, and life was good.

Downtown Miscellany

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next: Driving Across Northern Montana

previous: History and Hiking in Glacier National Park

Article Info

Page Title
A Sunny Autumn Day in Kalispell, Montana
Added By
Holly Hayes
Date Published
October 6, 2014
Last Updated
April 15, 2024