I Heart My City: Kelli’s Whitefish

Social entrepreneur and photographer Kelli Trontel isn’t afraid to pack her bags and follow her dreams. After spending time in Arizona and Tennessee, the born-and-bred Californian and her husband, Reed, decided to relocate to the resort town of Whitefish, Montana, and open up the Red Caboose, a downtown shop selling coffee and frozen yogurt. Once resistant to the idea of moving to Montana, Kelli is now happily entrenched in Big Sky country. Here are a few of her favorite things about the place she calls home.

Follow Kelli’s story on Instagram, Twitter, and her blog.

Whitefish Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them to is, of course, the Red Caboose.

Summertime is the best time to visit my city because a full day can include huckleberry picking, a few hours on the lake, and singing songs around the campfire, all before the sun goes down.

Satisfy your ice cream cravings at the Red Caboose. (Photograph by Kelli Trontel)
Satisfy your ice-cream cravings at the Red Caboose. (Photograph by Kelli Trontel)

You can see my city best from the top of “Big Mountain” at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Locals know to skip the gym and check out the great outdoors instead.

Meriwether is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like New York Knicks President Phil Jackson, professional football player Drew Bledsoe, and actress Michelle Williams have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Stumptown Historical Society because it tells the story of Whitefish and is committed to preserving the town’s railroad history and artifacts.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that there is a walking or bike trail to get you most anywhere you want to go.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Whitefish City Beach.

My city really knows how to celebrate the winter season because of the effort the community puts into decorating Whitefish’s downtown. Many wreaths, a ton of garland, and a whole lot of lights ensue!

You can tell if someone is from my city if the clothing layers begin to shed when temperatures near 50°F.

For a fancy night out, I go to Tupelo Grille.

Just outside my city, you can visit Glacier National Park and explore it by foot, by boat, or by red bus.

Hikers walk a ridge on the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. (Photograph by Tyler Metcalfe)
Hikers walk a ridge on the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. (Photograph by Tyler Metcalfe)

My city is known for being small, but it’s really lively in the summer season with more than a million visitors coming through to visit Glacier National Park.

The best outdoor market in my city is Whitefish Farmers Market.

Buffalo Cafe is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Second Street Pizza is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Arts & Entertainment section of the Flathead Beacon.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I grab my camera, a few friends, and explore around the woods and lakes.

To escape the crowds, I sit on the beach at Les Mason Park.

The dish that represents my city best is huckleberry pie, and Wheatfish Lager is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at Loula’s Cafe and Great Northern Brewing Company, respectively.

Great Northern Bar is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Casey’s.

A yeti sighting during Winter Carnival could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should explore downtown Whitefish and Central Avenue.

In the summer you should check out the alpine slide and zip-line tour at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

In the fall you should sneak in one last camping trip and sleep under the stars at Apgar in Glacier National Park.

In the winter you should ski Whitefish Mountain Resort and end the day with hot chocolate and nachos at Hellroaring Saloon.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Stumptown Art Studio.

The best books about my city are Hellroaring: Fifty Years on the Big Mountain by Jean Arthur or Stump Town to Ski Town by Betty Schafer and Mable Engelter.

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Comments

  1. Boo Boo
    July 31, 2015, 2:57 am

    It’s worth noting Kelli’s husband is from the Flathead…

  2. Jill
    cinci
    July 18, 2015, 11:56 pm

    lived there for 10 years! Love it! I miss the Fish!