Whitefish, Montana
Credit: Witold Skrypczak / Getty Images

Picking the best mountain town in Montana is a little like naming the perfect bar or trout fly – a great way to start an argument. But it's hard to quarrel with Whitefish, the only one with a national park (million-acre Glacier is 25 miles away), a gigantic lake (sailors, sea kayakers, and trout fishermen cruise six-mile-long Whitefish Lake), and a major ski resort (Whitefish Mountain Resort is one of the west's best-kept secrets). The town is genuinely western, welcoming, and surprisingly busy given its small populace.

What to Do for Fun: The "Danny On" hiking trail is a good place to get your bearings. It snakes six miles up Big Mountain, peaking at the 7,000-foot summit, which has views into Glacier and across the border to the Canadian Rockies. Back in town, stop by the Buffalo Cafe for coffee and huevos rancheros and you’ll experience an eclectic mix among the just over 5,000 residents: wildland firefighters, an urban dropout turned sculptor, some wealthy weekenders, and a couple of world-class telemark skiers.