Philipsburg – Montana’s Kickass Small Town

If you’re taking a day trip from Missoula, Montana, or making a halfway pit stop between your vacation in Yellowstone National Park or Glacier National Park (both about 3.5 hours away), you can’t go wrong by visiting the quaint historical town of Philipsburg, Montana. Philipsburg is a charming 19h century mining town with its beautifully restored buildings, countless activities, sights, and was once even voted as one of The Prettiest Painted Places in America!

Taking Montana Highway 1, between Anaconda, Georgetown Lake, Philipsburg, and Butte, you’ll be traversing Pintler Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Highway, which will have you passing conifer-clad mountains and sage-covered hills. If you’re in the passenger seat – you’re in luck 🙂

What to do in Philipsburg

Sapphire Mining

When mentioning Philipsburg it’s hard not to utilize the puns and metaphors about this place being a gem. It all started 120 years ago when the first sapphire deposits were discovered in this area. Though Montana is home to four sapphire deposits, Philipsburg’s Rock Creek deposit is known as the largest, hence the name “Gem Mountain.” Gem Mountain Mine reports producing over 44 tons of rough sapphire, while the second richest area the Missouri River gravel bars only report producing 11 tons.

“Philipsburg’s Gem Mountain has produced every known sapphire color as well as some colors only found in this area.”

In Philipsburg, you have a unique opportunity to mine for your own sapphires or buy sapphire gravel or other gemstone gravel as well.

Granite Ghost Town

Walk through the history as you learn about the lives of hopefuls and hardworking folk back from the 1870s and 1880s.

Local Merchants

Visiting Main Street with its colorful restored buildings is a must when in Philipsburg. Stop by the bakery, grab a bite, visit a museum, shop for antiques, or do it all in this tiny town of fewer than 1,000 inhabitants who are always happy to receive a visitor.

For someone with a very serious sweet tooth, I just can’t not mention Philipsburg’s must-see shop – The Sweet Palace! I’ll just say that all your sweet and yummy dreams will come true at that place. Just being there, my mouth salivates like crazy and my dentist is calling me with a happy grin on his face 🙂 Why say no, when it feels so good to say YES!

*Check out their Candy of the Month, where you can indulge for 6 months or all year round in their regular shipments of various candies and chocolates, straight to your Post Box!*

Breweries/Distilleries

Montana is always impressing me with the number of new breweries each and every year, so it comes as no surprise that such a small town such as Philipsburg is home to its very own brewery – Philipsburg Brewing Company, which is located in a very picturesque Sayers Building.

*Check out their Highway 1 IPA and Razzu Raspberry Wheat!*

Prison Museum

A great way to step back into history, sit in a jail cell, admire some guns, and read Sherif’s old school records at this not-so-typical museum.

How to get to Philipsburg

From Missoula, take I 90 East towards Drummond. Then MT 1 South towards Philipsburg. The driving distance is around 1:15 hours or 75 miles.

Closest Airport is Bert Mooney Airport (BTM) – 46.3 miles away or Missoula International Airport (MSO) -55.4 miles away

Places to stay near Philipsburg

There are plenty of lodges, resorts, hotels, and motels to lay your head at night, but my favorite platform to utilize during travel is Airbnb. Not only can you book a unique accommodation with them but they can also help to create a very memorable trip through its experiences. Because I’m a super host (in Bonner, Montana), first-time Airbnb guests can get a pretty sweet discount off their first trip ($50 at the time of this writing). You can also get a few bucks off your first experience ($15 off at the time of this post). If you are unfamiliar with those, this past summer I’ve joined my mom in a handful of online musical experiences, such as Cello Meditation, Lisbon’s Fado, Brazil’s Bossa Nova, and Spain’s Flamenco. Because hey, just because you can’t be somewhere or with someone, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a live performance, learn something new, and at a very affordable price.  I’ve been a user since 2014 and it’s been one of my favorite booking platforms to date.

So go on, give Airbnb accommodations or experiences a try!

Visiting Montana, the selection of small and quaint towns can be overwhelming. Visiting Philipsburg while on your way to GNP or YNP should be a no-brainer, with its sweet treats, gem mining abilities, outdoor recreation, beautiful Instagrammable buildings, spooky Ghost Town, exciting ski runs, and many, many more. Because just like the slogan on their site states: You’ll Visit Again!

Anaconda is the next town on MT 1 scenic highway, it’s only 30 miles away. If you’re debating whether to visit it or not, let me just whet your appetite with this crazy cookie find of a store!

Or browse more Montana posts to help you plan your own kickass itinerary.

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Published by Alla Ponomareva

Daejeon based portrait and travel photographer/EFL teacher with a passion for traveling on a budget and sharing her stories on her blog www.allaponomareva.com

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