Summer Preview

Dining on the Deck

Warm weather means ample opportunities to eat and drink outdoors throughout the Flathead Valley

By Andy Viano
Sunset and SunRift Beer Company in downtown Kalispell. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The summer of the COVID-19 vaccine is here, and while getting a shot means you’ll be able to safely dine indoors, who wants to do that when the sun’s shining, the temperatures are rising and the days are long?

Of course, outdoor dining with beautiful views of the Flathead Valley can be found just about anywhere with the help of a cooler or a pack, but if you’re looking for someone to make you a meal or pour you a drink, these outdoor spots are a great place to start.

Boat Club Bar
1380 Wisconsin Ave., Whitefish
lodgeatwhitefishlake.com/bar-lounge

It’s hard to beat the view of Whitefish Lake from this mostly outdoor bar attached to The Lodge, located just north of downtown. The bar has its own food menu, but if you want something a little more upscale, swing through the Boat Club Dining Room — with its own gorgeous lake views — before stepping onto the patio for an after-dinner drink.

DeSoto Grill
227 First Street West, Kalispell
desotogrill.com

Eating barbecue outdoors just feels right, especially when you’re doing it just outside a historic building (The Forge) that this restaurant calls home. Meat, mac and cheese, and beer are staples, and the restaurant also hosts The Big Shindig, a hot rod cruise with live music that takes over the block every June.

The Garden Bar
451 Electric Ave., Bigfork
facebook.com/gardenbarmt

The vibe here is on the other end of the spectrum from, say, the Boat Club, but plenty of good times are there to be had at downtown Bigfork’s most popular nightspot. Dine in for some bar fare and shoot some pool before the sun goes down, then settle in on the large outdoor patio that features live music on stage throughout the summer.

Gunsight Saloon
624 Nucleus Ave., Kalispell
gunsightsaloon.com

It’s been just three years since this downtown Columbia Falls spot opened its doors, but it’s quickly become a favorite for locals and those traveling to Glacier National Park alike, especially on the cozy outdoor lawn. In addition to a beer and a bite, snag a seat at a picnic table and enjoy regular performances from the valley’s most popular acts. 

Harbor Grille
7135 U.S. Highway 93, Lakeside
flatheadharbor.com/harbor-grille

One of the most recent additions to the crowded outdoor dining field, this harbor-side (as the name implies) spot offers one of just a few dining options on the shore of Flathead Lake. The dining room is open Wednesday through Friday until 9 p.m. and the drinks keep flowing well after that.

The Raven
15321 Montana Highway 35, Bigfork
ravenbigfork.com

No list of outdoor spots would be complete without this venerable Caribbean-themed Woods Bay restaurant and bar. The two-tiered outdoor deck has jaw-dropping lake views — especially when the sun’s going down — and if you’re out on the water, just pull your boat up to the dock for some refreshments or a meal from their eclectic menu.

SunRift Beer Company
55 First Avenue WN, Kalispell
sunriftbeer.com

What started as an open-air brewery tucked away behind Kalispell’s mall is set to become one of the city’s most visible hotspots. Located right off the soon-to-be-built Parkline Trail, SunRift added a restaurant with even more outdoor space last year and has a robust lineup of live music to boot.

Sweet Peaks Ice Cream
343 S. Main St., Kalispell
sweetpeaksicecream.com

Their location in Whitefish offers some outdoor seats too, but the climb up the stairs to enjoy a cone from the roof in downtown Kalispell is a rite of passage for kids and adults alike. It’s hard to go wrong with any flavor of ice cream, but their locally sourced huckleberry is a favorite.

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