2018’s Quirky Summer Adventure List!


By: Amanda Taylor


We love hiking through the Trail of Cedars with our young kids and picnicking in the gorgeous amphitheater.  And splashing at the river, dancing at Music in the Park, and practicing Parkour on the various playgrounds around town.  And who doesn’t love family barbeques, and one of the many epic fireworks shows on Fourth of July?


But we’re creatures of routine, and sometimes routine can take the amazing place you live, and make it pretty mundane.  You hike the same trails every year, visit the same museums, stir up the same recipe of huckleberry jam.  And the Flathead Valley, or anywhere else for that matter, can lose its grandeur in our over-adjusted eyes.


But as a mother of four young explorers, ready to see the world and discover all that our great backyard has to offer, and a homeschooling mother, no less, I had a lot of time to look into some new ways to freshen and breathe life into that routine with these fun, quirky adventures!


***Disclaimer*** I haven’t been able to experience all of these amazing adventures myself, as we’ve always had restrictions on time and money, but I can’t wait to do as many as I can over the next several months!  Also, none of these activities are sponsored, nor am I an affiliated with any of the locations.  I just think they sound like fun!



  1. Get locked up in an Escape Room.


If interactive brain teasers are your thing, gather up a team (it can be anywhere from 2-10) and let yourselves get locked in one of Whitefish’s Hidden Key Escape Games!  I can’t wait to try this one!  A great place to take the grandkids to keep their minds sharp through the “summer slump,” or a super fun mystery-themed date night, this sounds like an exceptionally cool place to have any kind of communication-strengthening gathering, (it’s at the top of my list of preferable locations to have future Rivercross Team Meetings).

Participants “search for clues, solve puzzles and work your way through to escape in 60 minutes!”  Unlock your inner Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon in either the Northfork Cabin, or Vigilante Escape at hiddenkeyescapegames.com.


2. Take some rock climbing lessons.


For the more physically inclined, explore some of Kalispell and Kila with Rock Climb Montana.  Whether it’s to practice your scaling skills for a bigger venture, or just to close your eyes and imagine you’re scaling the majestic Rockies, Rock Climb Montana vows to “show you the ropes,” for clients with ages ranging “from four to seventy-four.”  Another family-friendly atmosphere to take those athletic grandchildren, or a place of safe and serene reflection.


3. Play “I-Spy” in an Antique Mall.


I am completely obsessed with window shopping in Antique Malls.  Fourth Avenue by the Tracks and Outdoor Western’s downstairs are my favorites, and I could get lost in them for hours, my imagination ignited by every detail of every little trinket (and picturing a good three-quarters of them on the living room wall of my dream house)!  James and the kids though, while they enjoy browsing, are not quite as captivated as I am with imaging the lives every lamp and mason jar lead before it ended up in this beautifully arranged shop, and can get bored pretty easily waiting for Eema to finish up my lengthy perusal.

That’s when James hit on a stroke of brilliance.  The various staged cubbies of the Antique Malls reminded him of the charming arrangements of the “I-Spy” books of our childhood.  The children absolutely love playing this game, and it encourages them to take second and third looks at things they had just glanced over.  Recommended for children between ages 2 and 286 years old.


4. Spend the weekend exploring the mountains…on horseback.


“A horse is the projection of people’s dreams about themselves—strong, powerful, beautiful—and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.”

-Pam Brown


There’s nothing quite so “Montana” as an adventure on horseback. Kalispell’s Artemis Acres Paint Horse Ranch offers full-day horseback rides (picnics included), exploring and “overlooking the Flathead Valley and Swan Range of the Rocky Mountains.”  Lodge overnight in their dreamy ranch, complete with “traditional western log furniture, clean laminate flooring and western art,” and do some more horseback exploring the next day!


5. Swing by the Conrad Mansion Fourth of July Ice Cream Social in period costumes.


Our sweet, romantic little girls are obsessed with “Back Then Times.”


(Bak-Thén-Tīmz): Noun, Any time period that took place between the beginning of time, and the early 1900’s.

Ex:  “We’re going to watch a new movie?  ‘Pride and Prejudice?’  Oh, wow, I had no idea it was going to be ‘Back Then Times!’  I love it!”


Their love of “Back Then Times” is definitely fueled by the darling array of “Back Then Dresses” that James’ mom continually collects from various thrift stores, making them feel like the possibility of Cinderella, Elizabeth Bennett, and Laura Ingalls waltzing off to school together was, not only likely, but inevitable.  And the fact that they have a historical mansion-turned period museum right in their backyard, sparks their Anne Shirley imaginations to the moon!

And yes, my idea of a super fun and offbeat tradition to liven up a good, old-fashioned ice cream social at a historic mansion is to show up and dress the part!  While I still have some convincing to do on my side (James is a bit skeptical, and my 22-year-old-in-a-seven-year-old’s-body, Sarah, is not quite taken with dressing up in public), I know that my true soul twins wouldn’t hesitate to consider the awesome factor of getting together a small band and participating in the local festivities of Independence Day, “Little House on the Prairie”-style!


6. Experience the future of Hollywood and Broadway.


So maybe dressing up in public isn’t your thing.  Maybe you’re more of a sit-back-and-soak-in-the-show type.  Why not stroll down to the Theatre by the Bay for a fantastic musical pick-me-up? Did you know that Oscar-winning actor JK Simmons started his acting career in humble little Bigfork Summer Playhouse?  How incredible is that?  Watch the future celebrities in action this summer (and then you can casually tell your out-of-state friends that you saw the newest rising star live back when they were just a small-town dreamer)!

This summer’s line up looks pretty epic, too, including the shows:

The Little Mermaid

Into the Woods

Singing in the Rain

And some more!

To find out more about dates, billings, and ticket prices, visit bigforksummerplayhouse.com!


7. “Go to the Sun” with a whole new perspective.


We’ve all made that precarious journey up Glacier’s famously high gorge to explore the mountains, and though the car or trolley ride may be a bit too narrow and “gravity defying” for some (my seven year old, Sarah, squirms when it’s even mentioned), or may be too lackluster after climbing it year after year, here’s a new and extraordinary vantage to consider!

Glacier Jet Center promises “an experience comparable to a five star resort” and will fly you to your hiking place in less than 35 minutes.  Sounds pretty adventurous!  Not adventurous enough?  Well in that case…


8. Fly over Going-to-the-Sun Road!


Yep, that’s right, Glacier Jet Center also offers flying lessons!  So now, you can kick two things off your Bucket List: piloting a jet, and experiencing The Crown of the Continent the way the eagles do!


Wow, if you’re anything like me, you’re pretty thirsty for summer adventure right about now!  Is there anything that you would love to do that’s on the list?  What are some of your favorite adventures to do in the summer?