8 Things To Do In and Around Philipsburg, Montana (2023)
Located in Southwest Montana, Philipsburg is a quaint tourist destination. During the 1870s and 1880s, it was a popular Montana mining town, and today it is renovated into National Historic Business District. Philipsburg is a great place to visit regardless of the time of the year. Whether you are here for a day, week or more, its scenic beauty and historic charm will captivate you forever. Philipsburg has it all in abundance, from Montana’s mining to its ghost town setup and unique gemstone collection.
Philipsburg is one great stop to rest and rewind when hustling between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. The town is a few hour’s drives from both the National Parks, via Pintler Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Highway (Highway 1) and Interstate-90. Its natural setting also provides easy access to the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the largest national forest in Montana. So, with all of these in the picture and around, why don’t you plan a visit to Philipsburg right away. And guess what? We have some great recommendations for the same. Have a look:
8 Things To Do In and Around Philipsburg, Montana
1. Begin with Mining Philipsburg Sapphires
The land of Montana is also known as the Treasure State, and Philipsburg also provides its contribution in the same. While Montana is United States‘ only region with commercial mining spaces, a few of them are in Philipsburg. The most popular amongst them is the Gem Mountain, 22 miles west of the downtown area. This facility allows visitors to sift through their gravel cache and find gemstones that they can take back along. Another is the Sapphire Gallery which is right in the downtown area. It though is a ruby and sapphire store that specializes in custom jewellery making, but they also offer in-house mining. The staff will provide you with a bag of gem-bearing gravel and a quick demo, after which you can look for your own gemstones in it. They even educate visitors about the quality of gems and plant them into fashion jewellery.
2. Visit the Granite County Museum
The Granite County Museum is inside the former Courtney Hotel on South Sansome Street. It is a local museum founded back in 1991 for exhibiting Philipsburg’s rich mining history. You can observe old mining equipment, antiques, photographs, and a grand mural inside the museum. Besides that, the museum also operates a tour-able underground mine. Visitors get a chance to walk through a realistic simulation of a mine and experience a glimpse of how life was back then. The museum keeps rotating its exhibition; thus, every next time you visit, there is something new to observe. The Granite County Museum operates from 12 pm to 4 pm throughout the summer season. Though the facility remains closed during winters, you can still visit it with appointments through private tours.
3. Spend An Afternoon At The Granite Ghost Town
The rich mining history of Montana today is left-back in the form of Ghost towns throughout the state. And one such is the Granite Ghost Town in Philipsburg, a must-visit. It is less than five minutes drive from the town and is a unit of Montana’s State Park System. It was known as “Montana’s Silver Queen” during the mining days. Back then, during the 1870s, it was home to a population of 3000 people, and today you can find remnants in the form of old structures. Because most of the buildings are in conditions beyond repair, all you will observe today are half remains. From Memorial Day through the end of September, the Granite Ghost Town is open for self-guided tours. Though most of it is a flat walk, you might find a few elevations in between. Because winter snow blocks the road, visiting here during the other half of the year becomes difficult.
4. Tour Or Catch A Show At The Historic Opera House Theatre
The oldest operating theatre in Montana, the Historic Opera House Theatre, was built in 1891. If you are finding things to do in Philipsburg, do plan a day here. A visit here allows you to explore the facility and observe historic architecture, historic stage, old-style dressing room, wrought ironwork of the balconies and fixtures. However, because of the restoration during the early 21st century, a lot of things you will observe are new and restored. Besides touring, the theatre also operates for regular shows. Performing art here includes film festivals, classic films, mainstream movies, and several live performances. Though modern technology and equipment have changed the vibes, nothing’s better than sitting in a still-operating 1800s theatre. For reaching the theatre, reach 140 S Sansome Street in Philipsburg.
5. Drive Through the Pintler Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Highway
If you plan to visit Philipsburg from the nearby Montana cities, then choose the Pintler Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Highway for the same. It is a 64-mile long route that begins from Anaconda and goes all the way long through Georgetown Lake, Philipsburg and Drummond. The highway navigates through sage-covered hills, conifer-clad mountains and endless scenic beauty. On the way, it also connects to several multi-purpose trails, ski areas, boat launches and small villages. Because you will find Georgetown Lake before reaching Philipsburg, do choose to stay here for some time. This massive water body offers several recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, boating etc. When accompanied by beautiful scenery, the fresh mountain air the breeze from the lake makes up for an experience beyond words. The lake even has a few camping sites closely settled.
6. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth At The ‘Sweet Palace.’
The Sweet Palace is a candy emporium located in downtown Philipsburg. Operating for over 20 years now, it offers over 1,000 different kinds of candies and other treats. The ones from the past, which now is difficult to find as well, are available in their store collection. The selection includes sugar-free candies, chocolates, fudge, taffy, caramels, pull taffy, wrap caramels and more. The store has shelves and glass jars full of candies for as far as you can see. The emporium operates Sunday through Friday with extended hours from June through August. Both Sweet Palace and Sapphire Gallery are next doors to each other; thus, for not visiting here, you have no excuses. The selection here deserves breaking your resolution of having no sugar.
7. Go Skiing At The Ski Discovery
Ski Discovery or the Discovery ski area is located in the range of Anaconda. It is 30 minutes south of the town and one of Philipsburg’s most popular places to visit. The ski area is home to over 2,000 skiable acres. Despite you are a beginner or an expert, you can visit here and have the best winters of your life. The facility has over 60 named trails, beginner-friendly bunny hills and challenging double-black-diamond chutes. Besides that, a café and a lodge may make up for your munching and staying back needs. The Discovery ski area isn’t alone a winter destination, but it operates during summer as well. During this time of the year, the ski runs change into designed mountain bike trails.
8. Attend a Philipsburg Festival
Even though Philipsburg is a small town with a low population, it is rich in local festivals and events. Locals of Philipsburg celebrate a number of festivals and events throughout the year. Some of the popular and must-visit amongst them include:
- Fireman’s Clam Feed (in May).
- Brewfest (in February).
- Miner’s Union Day (in September).
- Yule Night (During the holiday season).
- Flint Creek Valley Days (in July).
- Philipsburg Summer Concert (in Mid August).