big cities continue to draw eager vacationers, there's growing interest in
getting away from the traffic, pollution, and pandemonium of the city and
the frenzied and energy draining routines of day-to-day urban living. A
growing number of singles, couples, and families are choosing vacations in
areas where family, community and nature take precedent over concrete,
asphalt, towering buildings, mega shopping malls, houses on top of each
other, and all the other ghastly trimmings of urban sprawl.
by Patricia Perratore-Anis
We're not suggesting sleeping in a tent in a remote
wilderness and eating tree bark or freeze dried packet meals (been
there, done that). But after discovering some awesome less traveled
places, we now realize the axiom, "peace and tranquility in your life
begins with getting back to basics" rings true. Interacting with
nature, it seems, "naturally" heals our wounds from the stress
of life and helps us to remember if some cases re-order our priorities.
With that thought in mind, picture, if you will, beautiful snow-capped
mountains in the spring, with their richly colored foothills and meadows
blanketed with a thick velvet cover of spring foliages below, revealing a
contrast that’s hard to ignore when you visit the state of Montana.
Picture postcards of the area are merely a whisper compared to the
striking reality of the awesome majestic mountains as you stand before
Beside this surreal backdrop in Western Montana is the
town of Whitefish, a true four-season vacation paradise, located in the
beautiful and majestic Flathead Valley, at the foot of an area the Indians
call the "Backbone of the World." (The Blackfeet Indian
reservation runs along the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains, bordering
the eastern edge of Glacier National Park.) Whitefish is the home of
the Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort, The Great Northern Brewing
Company, the Whitefish Brewery, Whitefish Theatre Company, The Studio, and
Whitefish Lake. It offers world-class skiing, hiking, and golfing, and is,
of course, the gateway to Glacier National Park.
In the winter, there's world-class skiing at the Big
Mountain Resort, which is only six miles from town. And in the spring and
summer, there are lots of wonderful activities including visits to Glacier
National Park and Whitefish, McDonald, and Flathead Lakes.
- Whitefish Lake, located in Whitefish, is a
10-minute walk from downtown and about five minutes by car. The lake
is six miles long and 1/2 mile across. Whitefish Lake has the
beautiful Whitefish City Beach Park (where canoe rentals are
available). This lake offers canoeing, fly fishing (there's a
wonderful mayfly hatch that begins in mid June and moves up the lake
throughout summer), and sea kayaking.
- Lake McDonald, Glacier Park's largest lake, is
10 miles long and one mile across, and 472 feet deep. It's named for
an early trapper named Duncan McDonald and is an ideal place for
canoeing, motorboat rentals (10 hp), and fishing.
- Flathead Lake also in the park, is the largest
fresh-water body of water west of the Mississippi. It's 38 miles long,
11 miles across and is popular for area sailing, boating, sea
kayaking, and lake trout fishing.
Whitefish only has about 5,800 year round residents,
(population increases by about 1,500 in summer), but it has an impressive
selection of eateries, pubs and microbreweries, shops, galleries, hotels,
and bed and breakfast inns. It's a great place to spend a weekend, week or
two, or lifetime.
There are about 15 restaurants in Whitefish offering
fare from excellent burgers to prime rib, to Cajun specialties and sushi.
Notables include burgers at the Great Northern Bar & Grill, Prime Rib
at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant, Cajun at the Tupelo Grille, and Sushi at
Garden Wall Inn - Summer
Garden Wall Inn - Winter
While visiting Whitefish, we were fortunate to spend
several great days at an "incredibly wonderful" Bed and
Breakfast (B&B), The Garden Wall Inn. Sunset Magazine rates the Garden
Wall Inn "Best in the West" and after staying at this great
B&B we can see why. Serving discerning travelers since 1987, the Inn
was built in the 1920’s. Charming and personable owners, Rhonda and Mike
Fitzgerald have impeccably restored this beautiful home and turned it into
an even more beautiful B&B. It offers five luxurious and good-sized
guestrooms, all double occupancy and each furnished with lovely period
antiques. The Inn is open to travelers seven days a week year round and is
conveniently located just one block from downtown Whitefish’s charming
shops, nightspots (and yes, there are nightspots), and restaurants (and OH
YES there are GREAT restaurants) such as the popular Truby’s Bistro and
the famous Tupelo Grill.
In the morning, a delightful coffee or tea tray is
delivered about a half-hour before breakfast to each guests’ room.
Known for their exceptional food, the scrumptious
three-course breakfast, prepared by chef/owner Rhonda Fitzgerald and
chef/innkeeper Chris Schustrom, begins with delicious fresh-squeezed
orange juice and their own delicious blend of locally roasted fresh brewed
coffee. Next comes elegantly presented fresh fruit such as sliced
strawberries, kiwi, bananas, nectarines, and grapes in a parfait glass, or
fresh assorted fruit in an artistically sculpted open-faced watermelon.
The next course consists of delicious pastries such as homemade
Huckleberry muffins (huckleberry is a fantastic wild-berry that grows in
these parts, that's very popular and very habit forming), scrambled eggs
with mushrooms, shrimp and pea pods in a bed of puff pastry. Another day
they may serve delicious honey ham with huckleberry-covered crepes filled
with ricotta cheese, eggs and seasonings or cinnamon-apple French toast,
or perhaps a frittata. According to Rhonda, fresh and sophisticated foods
from the local area, including fresh fruits and vegetables, are showcased
throughout the meal. The breakfast room displays snowy white linens, Blue
Willow china, polished silver and fine cut glass.
Aside from their delectable food, The Garden Wall Inn
features a real log fire in their elegantly designed sitting room. They
burn birch and pine logs in the fireplace and serve their guests hors d’oeuvres
and sherry to complete the cozy atmosphere -- especially after a day of
skiing or snowshoeing. Fresh flowers in an antique vase are the
centerpiece in the spacious decorated room as well as several board games
and books for guests. The Glacier National Park theme is evident here with
antique photos of Glacier National Park and the Continental Divide
throughout the room. In keeping with this theme, Rhonda made sure to have
the 1st editions of the Glacier National Park guide books, hand books,
field guides, etc. always on hand.
The attractive and comfortable guestrooms have fresh
flower bouquets, down comforters, heirloom lace sheets and beautiful
antique furnishings and include an evening turndown with a Godiva
chocolate on the pillow. In the bathrooms, they place a single red rose in
a silver vase, thick plush monogrammed towels (replenished morning and
evening) and a huge claw-foot tub (with Crabtree & Evelyn bubble bath)
perfect for soaking after the day’s abundant activities.
The scenery is FANTASTIC; the accommodations are
pleasant, cozy, comfortable, and affordable; and the food and service are
exceptional! But, the greatest asset of The Garden Wall Inn is the
wonderful staff. Owners, Rhonda and Mike Fitzgerald, and the innkeeper,
Chris Schustrom, are life-long outdoor enthusiasts and gracious hosts with
exceptional people skills. Chris is a native who grew up in Glacier
National Park where his dad was a ranger, (actually living inside the park
until adulthood), and Rhonda and Mike have been exploring every aspect of
the Montana outdoors for over twenty years. B&B inn keeping is truly
their calling. Their favorite pursuits include skiing (alpine and
cross-country), hiking, fly-fishing, kayaking, and mountain biking.
They're always around when you need them, but they're never underfoot.
And, if you wish, they can help you plan your day at Glacier National
Park, Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort, or exploring town and nearby
points of interest.
This award-winning B&B is a perfect base of
operations for enjoying all that Whitefish, Montana and the surrounding
area has to offer. In summer there's hiking, biking, fly-fishing,
whitewater rafting, kayaking and other watersports, and championship golf
course. In winter there's downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating,
dog sledding, and snowshoeing. And there is also hanging out at the shops,
eateries, coffee shops, and watering holes all year round.
For a wonderfully refreshing experience and the scenery
of a lifetime, visit Whitefish, in Western Montana. And while in Whitefish
and vicinity, visit The Garden Wall Inn Bed & Breakfast where you'll
be pampered with scrumptious food, pleasant and comfortable
accommodations, and friendly and courteous staff.
For reservations contact:
The Garden Wall Inn Bed & Breakfast
504 Spokane Avenue
Whitefish, Montana 59937
Phone: 888-530-1700 or 406-862-3440
- $85-$125 per night, double occupancy
- $195 for a two-bedroom suite, per night (up to 4
- $15 per extra person in room
- Rates include full gourmet breakfast
About the Authors:
Patricia Anis is photographer and
writer covering a variety of subjects from travel to restaurants and
family recreation. You can reach Patty at PattySein@aol.com.
Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel
and technology writer with 24 books in print. Nick’s beats include snow
and water sports, and vacation destinations. Nick can be reached by email