10 Best Things to Do in Polson, Montana For Ultimate Experience

Polson is a beautiful town located on the shores of Flathead Lake in Montana. It is the county seat of Lake County and offers visitors plenty of things to see and do. From boating and fishing on the lake to hiking and biking in the nearby mountains, there is something for everyone in this picturesque town. I had the chance to visit Polson last summer, and here is a list of the 10 Best Things to Do in Polson, Montana.

Things to Do in Polson, Montana

1. Take a scenic boat tour of Flathead Lake

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Polson is to take a boat tour of Flathead Lake. This natural wonder is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River and a top destination for boating and fishing. The lake is 28 miles long and up to 15 miles wide, with over 180 square miles of surface area. It’s also one of the deepest lakes in the United States, with a maximum depth of 384 feet.

There are many places to launch your boat from the shore in Polson. The Finley Point State Park is a good option for those with their own boat or rented pontoon. This launch is located on the southern tip of Flathead Lake. The state park also offers a public beach, picnic tables, and grills. You can also find public docks and boat launches at Yellow Bay State Park and Westshore State Park.

If you don’t have your own boat, don’t worry. There are plenty of places to rent one in Polson. I rented a boat from Riverside Recreation and had a blast cruising around the lake. The company offers everything from pontoon boats to jet skis.

In addition to boating, there are plenty of other things to do on Flathead Lake. The lake is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and hiking. Several trails surround the lake, offering stunning views of the water. All this makes a visit to Flathead Lake one of the best things to do in Polson.

2. Visit the Miracle of America Museum

The Miracle of America Museum is one of the top places to visit in Polson that’s perfect for history buffs. This museum is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the United States of America. It’s a great place to learn about the country’s founding fathers, the westward expansion, and the Civil War.

The museum features over 340,000 items on display, making it one of the largest collections in the country. And some of my favorite items were the vintage cars and motorcycles. I also enjoyed the hands-on exhibits, such as the one where you can try on a pair of Civil War-era clothes.

Guided tours are available, but I recommend exploring the museum on your own. It’s easy to spend several hours here, so give yourself plenty of time. One advantage of this museum is that it’s located just a short drive from downtown Polson. So, it’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon if you’re looking for the best things to do in Polson. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

3. Attend the Flathead Lake Cherry Festival

If you’re visiting Polson in July, make sure to attend the Flathead Lake Cherry Festival. This annual event celebrates the Flathead Valley’s delicious cherries with a weekend of festivities. The festival kicks off with a street dance on Friday night. Saturday features a cherry pie-eating contest, a parade, and live music. And on Sunday, there’s a cherry pit-spitting contest and more live music.

Much of the city celebration occurs at Main Street Park in Polson. This is also where you’ll find the Cherry Festival marketplace with over 100 vendor booths. This festival attracts visitors from all over Montana and the surrounding states, making it one of the best festivals in the region.

I was lucky enough to attend the Cherry Festival during my stay in Polson. I had a great time browsing the market, watching the pie-eating contest, and listening to live music. I even bought a few bottles of cherry wine to take home.

And although the Flathead Lake Cherry Festival is the biggest event of the year, it’s not the only festival in Polson. The city also hosts the Flathead Lake Art Festival, the Polson Logger Days, and the Flathead Lake Blues Festival. So no matter when you visit, there’s sure to be a festival going on.

4. Have fun at Riverside Park

Riverside Park is one of the top attractions in Polson and a great place to spend an afternoon. This city park is located on the shores of Flathead River and features several playgrounds, a picnic area, and a walking trail. The highlight of the park is definitely the roped-off swimming area. This is a great spot to cool off on a hot summer day.

There are lots of things to keep you busy at Riverside Park. In addition to swimming and picnicking, the park is also a great place to go fishing. The walking trail is perfect for a leisurely stroll or a morning jog. And the playgrounds are sure to keep the kids entertained.

After a day of adventure, relax at one of the many restaurants located near Riverside Park. The Flathead River Brewing Company is a great place to enjoy a beer after a long day. Or stop by the Lakeside Drive-In for a classic burger and fries.

All in all, Riverside Park is one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Polson. With its stunning river views and many things to do, the park is a top destination for locals and visitors alike.

5. Marvel at the Kerr Dam

Completed in 1938, the Kerr Dam is a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Flathead River. The dam is located just south of Polson and is one of the top tourist attractions in the area. The dam is over 200 feet high and 450 feet long. It produces hydroelectric power for the surrounding communities and is a top spot for recreation.

This massive dam is open to the public and offers several ranger-led tours. I highly recommend taking a tour of the dam to learn about its history and how it works. The tours are free of charge and last about an hour.

In addition to the tours, the Kerr Dam offers several other amenities. There is a visitor center with exhibits on the dam and its history. The center also has a gift shop and a viewing deck overlooking the dam.

Although the dam is opened year-round, the best time to visit is during the spring snowmelt. This is when the dam is at its fullest, and all the 14 spillway gates are opened. It’s an amazing sight to see and one of the top things to do in Polson. So whether you’re interested in the history of the dam or just want to enjoy the views, this is a great spot to spend a day.

6. Visit the Farmers Market

If you’re looking for a taste of the local flavor, then the Farmers Market is one of the best places to visit in Polson. The market is open from May to October and features a wide variety of local produce and products.

One of the highlights of the market is the fresh produce. Here you can find everything from fruits and vegetables to honey and eggs. The market also features a wide variety of artisan goods. I bought some homemade soap and candles that made great gifts for friends back home.

I didn’t have time to stay for the entire market, but I did grab a few things to take home with me. And did I mention there was live music? During my visit, a local band was playing folk music that added to the market’s relaxed atmosphere. This makes this market a great place to spend an afternoon and experience the best of what Polson has to offer.

The market is located in Downtown Polson on Main Street. It’s open from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. I would recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds and to get the best selection of produce. This is a great place to find locally grown produce and products. It’s also a great way to support the local community.

7. Explore the Wild Horse Island State Park

The Wild Horse Island State Park is another top spot for outdoor lovers visiting Polson. This 2,164-acre state park is located on an island in the middle of Flathead Lake. The island is home to bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and, as the name suggests, wild horses.

There are no public boat rides to the island, so the only way to get there is by private boat or charter. There are several charter companies in Polson that offer tours of the island. I took a tour with Boat Rentals and Rides, and they were absolutely the best and most convenient option.

Once on the island, you can explore over 4 miles of interconnected hiking trails winding through the forests and meadows. You can also go bird watching or picnicking in one of the many scenic spots. I hiked almost the entire length of the island and saw plenty of deer, rabbits, birds, and, of course, wild horses.

There are no amenities on the island except for a vault toilet. So be sure to bring everything you need for your visit. This includes food, water, and sunscreen. You should also wear sturdy hiking shoes as the trails can be rocky in places.

A visit to the Wild Horse Island State Park is one of the best things to do in Polson for nature lovers. But it’s also a great spot for history buffs. The island has a long history dating back to the Native Americans who once called it home. So be sure to allow plenty of time to explore the island and all it has to offer.

8. Take a scenic drive on Highway 35 to Bigfork

One of the most scenic drives in Montana is Highway 35 between Polson and Bigfork. This 34-mile stretch of road hugs the shoreline of Flathead Lake and passes through the Mission Mountains. The drive takes about an hour, but there are many places to stop along the way.

There are several turnout points along the way where you can get out and stretch your legs. One of the best places to do this is along the base of Mission Mountain. Here you can find several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the lake and forest. I didn’t have time to hike on this trip, but I’ve heard great things about the Trail of the Cedars.

The drive culminates in the town of Bigfork, another top destination in Montana. This quaint town is located on the shores of Flathead Lake and is known for its art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Be sure to check out the Bigfork Summer Playhouse, a top-rated theater in the state.

So whether you’re looking for a day of boating or a scenic drive, Highway 35 is a great option for things to do in Polson. It’s a great way to experience the beauty of Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains. The drive is about 45 minutes long, but you’ll want to take your time to enjoy the scenery.

9. Take a trip to Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Montana. The park is located just a short drive from Polson, making it the perfect day trip.

Glacier National Park is home to over 700 miles of hiking trails, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. I enjoyed hiking to one of the many waterfalls in the park, such as McDonald Falls or St. Mary Falls. I also took a scenic drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which offers stunning views of the mountains and valleys.

No trip to Glacier National Park is complete without taking a ride on the historic Red Bus Tours. These vintage buses have been taking visitors on tours of the park since 1936. The tour takes you on a narrated journey through the mountains, valleys, and forests of Glacier National Park.

A visit to Glacier National Park is one of the best things to do near Polson. The park offers something for everyone, from hiking and camping to scenic drives and wildlife watching.

10. Shopping and Dining in Polson

You can’t visit Polson without spending some time doing a little shopping and dining. After all, the town is known as the “Capital of Flathead Lake.” And Downtown Polson is the perfect place to start as it is home to many of the best shops and restaurants in town.

The main street, 1st Avenue East, is lined with shops and restaurants. Start your day with a cup of coffee from Blodgett Creamery Coffee Saloon. This local favorite is the perfect place to get energized for a day of shopping. After coffee, browse the unique shops in Downtown Polson. My favorites included the Three Dog down Outlet and Kalispell Center Mall.

You’re sure to work up an appetite after all that shopping. And there are plenty of great places to eat in Downtown Polson. I recommend grabbing lunch at Cherries BBQ Pit, which has delicious barbecue ribs and sandwiches. Other popular lunch spots include the Finley Point Grill, The Cove Pizza and Deli, and Betty’s Diner.

Downtown Polson is also home to many antique stores and art galleries on Main Street. I recommend visiting the Sandpiper Gallery, which features the works of local artists. The gallery has a wide selection of paintings, sculptures, and pottery which makes for a great afternoon of browsing. In addition to art, the gallery also organizes exhibitions and workshops throughout the year.

After a day of shopping and exploring, relax at one of Polson’s parks. The city has several parks with playgrounds, picnic tables, and grills. The Point Salish Park is a beautiful spot overlooking Flathead Lake. The park has walking trails, picnic areas, and a playground.

All in all, shopping and dining are some of the best things to do in Polson if you’re looking to explore the town’s vibrant downtown.

In summary

Polson is a great place to visit for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation. You can’t go wrong with spending a day on the lake or exploring the town’s shops and restaurants. Whatever you do, you’re sure to have a great time in Polson.