You don’t need a full day to see the booming metropolis that is Philipsburg, Montana.
In fact, you can enjoy the entire booming metropolis of Philipsburg, Montana in about a half of a day.
That being said, Philipsburg isn’t the one-horse town you probably think it is.
It’s more like a two-horse town...
Maybe even two horses and one sheep even.
But that's not what makes it fun.
When I was in high school, I started going to Philipsburg in the summers for Flint Creek Valley Days because it had one of the best street dances in a two-hour radius.
For those of you who don’t know what a street dance is, it’s where they block off a street, get a band and the whole town dances. Usually this is some form of swing, two-step or line dancing.
Please attend one at your earliest opportunity.
After high school, I just kept coming back because Philipsburg is a great place.
For tourists, you can get a real view of small town Montana life without the whole, isolated location, boredom thing setting in.
In fact, I still leave bigger cities in Montana to go to Philipsburg for fun.
As I walked into the brewery for pub trivia last December, my friend Ann proclaimed, “Let’s go kick some ass!”
This quote is all you need to know about the attitude of Philipsburg.
Philipsburg, is a bit like the Black Knight from Monty Python. You know the one who gets his arms and legs cut off in a sword fight but is still threatening to bite his opponent’s legs off?
Yeah, that’s Philipsburg.
Like a lot of small towns in the area, the industries that gave the town its start, mining and timber, have quieted, died or been chopped off like the Black Knight’s limbs in the past few decades, but Philipsburg is still in the fight.
Rather than closing up shop and succumbing to what seemed likely to be a slow decline into ghost town, they decided to go all Black Knight about things.
(Not biting people legs off though, just in case you were wondering)
People bought up and restored the flat-fronted buildings, recreating the beauty of the original town.
A candy shop became the new crowning glory, and I say glory because this is the type of candy shop that inspires childhood dreams and memories of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.
The Sweet Palace boasts 50 kinds of fudge, 72 types of taffy, and 20 varieties of caramels… and I don’t even know how many types of chocolate.
It’s a pre-diabetic dream.
Also, perhaps, a post-diabetic dream.
Oh, and they also have sugar-free chocolates.
Inside the Sweet Palace.
First things first, avoid Saturdays.
I know this is the day that most people travel and don't get me started on how much it annoys me to drive over there and have the candy store closed, but Saturday is when a lot of the attractions are shut down.
Why? Because many of the town's residents are 7th Day Adventists who celebrate the sabbath on Saturday.
So, head to Philipsburg any other day of the week.
You can start with a visit to the local coffee shop, Boheme, some window shopping at Whimsey and the Sapphire Gallery, eat your weight in candy at the Sweet Palace, have a soda the old fashioned soda shop and have your choice of a variety of restaurants and end the night at the adorable and highly entertaining Opera House Theatre.
If you're looking for something more outdoorsy, try Discovery Skiarea which has great mountain biking in the summer and affordable, uncrowded skiing in the winter.
There's also Georgetown Lake for fishing and boating.
Even with all that, the biggest charm of Philipsburg, Montana is that the people are really nice. And not nice in a “I’m polite because you’re a tourist” sort of way.
No. They are just genuine, kind, small town Montana people.
The only time you’ll really feel threatened is probably pub trivia.
That sort of homey atmosphere and quaint small town vibe has attracted a lot of different types of people over the years who move in and make Philipsburg their home.
Have you ever listened to the Minimalists Podcast? They lived there.
Rumor has it Scarlett Johansen got married on a ranch there.
But the really fun people are the ones you meet on a day to day basis, hitchhiking, dancing in the streets, playing pub trivia, getting your car out of a snowdrift… that type of thing.
There are less than 1,000 others that make the place what is now; entertaining, friendly and comfortably fun while not trying to be anything other than what it is – a charming place with a kick of character.
It’s cutesy, but still real.
Also, for Philipsburg, Montana is a great way to see small town Montana in a day.