6 Most Beautiful Lake Towns in Montana

Montana is home to many scenic towns, each with a distinct flavor, many mountainous settings, and endless state parks and national forests. These six most-beautiful towns in the state offer a real breather away from the city for a taste of lakeside living.

Polson

Polson Montana on a sunny day
Aerial view of Polson, Montana on a sunny day

Polson is set on the southern shore of the Flathead Lake at the forefront of the gorgeous Mission Mountains. Northwestern Montana's rugged beauty contrasts the jaw-dropping explosion of rouges and pinks with seasonally blooming cherry orchards around town. The glorious blaze is celebrated yearly through the Cherry Festival in summer. Polson is home to attractions for the whole family to enjoy at the peaky backdrop, like cute cafes, golf, and a popular car show. There is also the proximate National Bison Range and nearby bird sanctuaries for peaceful strolls through nature.

A scenic view of Flathead Lake from Polson,MT.with clouds over the mountains in the background
A scenic view of Flathead Lake from Polson with clouds over the mountains in the background

The town is a great base for best Lake County experiences, including water recreation and great outdoor ventures. The Flathead Lake is the epicenter of action with swimming and all-level watercraft including sailboats, canoes, speedboats, and jet-skis. Culture fans appreciate the Native American history within Flathead Indian Reservation, and many interesting museums. One must stock-up and mingle at the farmer's market to immerse in local lifestyle and learn more secrets about this gem-town.

Choteau

Aerial view of Choteau, Montana
Aerial view of Choteau, Montana

The town on a vast plain is a hot-spot destination for the naturally-beautiful world around. It is set just 20 miles east of the Rocky Mountains and one-and-only, the Glacier National Park. Choteau is made for lake-visits, hiking through the foothills, and scenic drives. The rolling hills give-way to a welcoming Main Street Street with an old-timey vibe and white Rockies peaking outside of town. Going-to-the-Sun Road winds for 50 scenic miles through the park's dramatic peaks and valley-views, making it hard to focus ahead. The Scenic Freezout Lake is incredible for recreational pursuits, and popular among bird-watchers. 

The Teton River with Ear Mountain in autumn at sunrise near Choteau, Montana, USA
The Teton River with Ear Mountain in autumn at sunrise near Choteau, Montana

Choteau is embraced by national forests and the Native American reservation with more hiking through fresh woodlands and Montana's renowned history trails. The nearby Lewis and Clark National Forest and trail offers insightful, landmarks-strewn treks, while The Dinosaur Trail is great for families on a stroll. It leads to the downtown's Old Trail Museum with intriguing local history, dinosaurs, the Old West, and more. The Egg Mountain just to south-of-town, caches Western Hemisphere's largest collection of dinosaur eggs and baby skeletons.

Fort Peck

The Teton River with Ear Mountain in autumn at sunrise near Choteau, Montana, USA
Sunrise in Fort Peck Montana

Fort Peck has a suitable name for its tiny townscape in nature's embrace. It is home to surprisingly plentiful services for a modern vacation within small-town feel. There's the incredible Fort Peck Marina's water vistas, boats, and galore of supplies and information to explore the town's scenic offerings. The Fort Peck Lake contrasts the town's size with an impressive 1,500-mile shoreline. It is a heaven for boat aficionados and fishers, where walleye, northern pike, and the prehistoric paddlefish, are plentiful.

Fort Peck Lake Beach side
Fort Peck Lake Beach side

Fort Peck is an ideal base-camp for natural adventures of all levels on a getaway from the city. The Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge offers hiking or driving around the lake with wildlife sightings like elk, pronghorn antelope, and sage grouse. The in-town is home to old-school sites and atmosphere, like the historic hotel with comfortable rooms. Its wide porch-facing sweet prairie views is great to step-out for a morning coffee in the fresh air. The delightful Fort Peck Theater hosts live performances including local thespians in a range of plays and musicals.

West Yellowstone

Madison river near West Yellowstone, Montana, USA
Madison river near West Yellowstone, Montana

The town is the ultimate escape into the endless natural ventures at the Yellowstone National Park. The small townscape atmosphere is easily accessible from two states on a getaway from the city. It is set at the border of Montana and Wyoming with best scenic drives all-around and jaw-dropping lookout points. Family's love visiting the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, and the Wild West Yellowstone Rodeo for cowboy action. The town with a laidback vibe, welcoming locals, and many museums offers fun insights into history, surrounding natural area, and its innate Native American heritage.

West Yellowstone, MT - August 8, 2022: Bullwinkle's Saloon and Eatery. One of the tourist streets in West Yellowstone, Montana.
Bullwinkle's Saloon and Eatery on one of the tourist streets in West Yellowstone, Montana

The next-door Yellowstone National Park is one of the nation's most popular and beautiful with ample seasonal pursuits. There's the world-famed Old Faithful geyser and the West Thumb Geyser Basin with epic, vivid-turquoise lake, all just a short drive east-of downtown. The active enjoy scenic fishing, boating, swimming, and kayaking at the nearby lakes. The Hebgen Lake is one of the best still-water fishing lakes in Montana, while the picturesque Yellowstone Lake calls for peaceful cruising. There are also endless hiking ops through the immense park's scenery with birdwatching along the way.  

Whitefish

Mainstreet in Whitefish still has a smalltown feel to it. The town attracts many tourists in summer and winter.
Mainstreet in Whitefish still has a smalltown feel to it

Whitefish is about an hour drive-worth to the World Heritage Site of the Glacier National Park. The classic mountain town is perched at the foot of the pristine, eponymous lake within surrounding wilderness. It is a beloved base for road-trippers and trekkers, with hiking trails through forests that extend into the peaks and valleys full-of local wildlife and breathtaking view points. Whitefish is also a destination in its own right, turning many visitors into locals with quaint streets and plentiful attractions to keep busy in the shadows of Northern Rockies.

Stock Photo ID: 1750582436  Rustic motor boats lined up in a perfect row on a wooden dock looking out onto Lake McDonald in the beautiful Glacier National Park, Montana
 Rustic motor boats lined up in a perfect row on a wooden dock looking out onto Lake McDonald in the beautiful Glacier National Park, Montana

Downtown Whitefish boasts cosmopolitan, lively vibe among flavorful dining and drinking options. Local favorites include the Loula's Cafe, Tupelo Grille for dinner, and best nightcaps at the Great Northern Bar & Grill. Whitefish is overrun in winter for world-class skiing, along with annual festivals and events like the Ski-Joring races. The nearby Whitefish Lake State Park and City Beach are must-visit during summertime vacation. There are amenities, and activities for all levels, like a campground, beach, cycling trails, kayaking, boating, and swimming. 

Bigfork

Barn and Swan Mountains Bigfork Montana
Barn and Swan Mountains in Bigfork, Montana

The small town on the northeast corner of the Flathead Lake is home to big, scenic fun at the largest freshwater lake west of Mississippi. The “Village by the Bay” along the pretty Swan River is one, big water galore. Just off-the Bigfork Bay one will find the heart of town, home to lively streets lined by art galleries, lodging, dining, and boutique shops in the shadow of the beautiful Swan Mountains. The wintertime scenery prevails with snow-covered trees and roofs, lights- and garland-adorned houses. Bigfork's traditional festivities with unique, small-town flavor win attention from the national media. Summertime brings action to Montana's best Eagle Bend golf course, attracts nation-wide creatives for the popular Bigfork Festival of the Arts in August, and respite-seekers for sunny strolls.

tourist destination in Western Montana USA
Aerial view of Bigfork, Montana

Bigfork is an artsy community inspired by rich local nature with streets-full of first-rate bronzes, carvings, paintings and other local craft for viewing delight and sale. “MyRealMontana” sells locally-made art and gifts, while the Traditions Restaurant's elk tenderloin will keep energies high for seasonal activities, like skiing in winter. There are two dozen-more establishments for gastronomic variety, including fine dining on French gourmet cuisine. Evenings call for warm-weather strolls, or watching the Bay engulf the winter's sun from a cozy room at the Inn on Bigfork Bay. The last rays cast reflections on the water until finally sizzling-out in a protesting blaze and most-magical time. The Bigfork Summer Playhouse, "theatre by the bay," hosts live performances of Northwest's finest professional talent from around the US. 

These beauties of the state offer the most magical time-spent relaxing with with friends, family, or in a peaceful one-on-one with nature. The scenic galore of activities include water-pursuits, exploring the small-town scape, and many seasonal adventures.

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