The economy has evolved, expanding its focus from sustenance, to goods, to services, to now, experience. And consumers have similarly shifted their priorities. For a couple considering a truly memorable, romantic evening, of course, the product is important—be it food or a vista. And having their needs anticipated—good service—is crucial. But these are simply components of a larger system: The Experience. And you can find that experience right here in Montana. As such, though the following lovely locales vary amongst getaways, dinners and day-trips, they each provide an experience that cements itself into one’s canon of vividly romantic memories. Here are the 15 most romantic places in Montana.
Nothing screams romance like fine French fare. Head to Missoula's Pearl Cafe for white tablecloths and an impressive selection of wine. This is the perfect place to impress your significant other. The menu here is simply superb, featuring dishes like bison tenderloin (topped with porcini aioli, crispy carrot ribbons) and served with horseradish mashed Yukon gold potatoes and sautéed brussels sprouts.
A worthwhile evening eating-out isn’t just about great food. Sure, it’s necessary, and Feast has it in spades. But it’s not sufficient. This modern, local and high-quality restaurant does a great job of ensuring a great overall experience, extending beyond the amazing food, to encompass efficient and friendly service, professionally-applied decor and an overarching dedication to precision. It’s all about execution, and the front and back-of-house do a stellar job of crafting an otherwise (merely) enjoyable evening into a memorable one. And rest assured, the mostly healthy/light fare will satisfy, but not bloat.
Sometimes a romantic getaway is in order, even if only for an evening. And retreating into the scene-stealing Montanan wilderness is an easy decision. “Serene, rugged wilds” and “working cattle ranch” may not conjure images of luxury, let alone romance. But, at this resort, the opposite is the case. Soaking-in the 37,000 acres of untamed greenery, one pictures scenes from “A River Runs Through It.”There’s a welcoming serenity, a stark beauty, to the uncompromising muse of these mountains. One can’t help but feel invigorated and, yes, in the mood. Headquartered at a pristine lodge and sporting several luxury cabins, Paws Up offers all the luxurious amenities: Fine dining, picturesque massage tents, nature retreats, and first-class service.
Perhaps a less formal, less “rugged” and more relaxing jaunt is desired. Nestled equidistant from Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, and not far from Big Sky Ski Resort, the Fairmont Hot Springs offers packages melding the outdoor lover’s dream: Powder-skiing by day, dining, relaxing and reinvigorating a relationship by night. Add a little chocolate, flower petals, and a flute of champagne, and flames are guaranteed. The “Ultimate Romance Package” includes lodging, 24-hour pool access, a decent breakfast and flowers by request. The ecstasy of removing one’s boots after hours of exhilarating ski-runs, sipping an après ski drink and feeling the bones and belly both begin to warm, and slinking into a steamy mineral hot spring to melt the day away: Spirits (and relationships) are sure to enliven.
Glamping is all the rage nowadays, and in the Montana stretch of the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to top this ranch. Over the property’s history, the land has see-sawed between cattle ranching and homestead. But it’s recent incarnation as luxury couples’ getaway has received praise from the likes of Forbes Travel Guide and TripAdvisor, which raved about the scenery, amenities, and quality of accommodations and service. The expansive property boasts a fitness center, quality yoga classes and premier dining. For the those seeking some spark, the romantic retreats are singularly inspiring. The packages vary by season, but can be customized for any couple, be it activities (private chef, horseback riding, candlelit dinner excursions) or accommodations (luxury cabins, a restored, modernized barn, or the central Granite Lodge).
Built around a ranch home circa 1882, the structure endured the ages and a closing-down before being resurrected by a third-generation Montana family. This gorgeously-historic hotel oozes the romantic nostalgia of the Yellowstone West, truly transporting guests to a regretfully bygone era. It’s the best of the modern and old-West, authentic in all the important ways—the property and the decor, from lodge pole to bed frame and sconce—and embellished where it counts: A fully-loaded spa, live music at Sac’s bar, and Pompey’s, a high-end grill, crafting continental European bistro fare with Rocky Mountain ingredients. There’s no more romantic a candle-lit evening than in the rose-colored representation of the era before electricity.
As with cooking and painting, couples collaborating to create art is a singular experience. Not only does the creative act strengthen togetherness and teamwork, it can rekindle both romance and a love of the arts. Plus, one can take home some pottery. Arts on Fire provides a great, casual venue that provides all a couple needs to recreate the clay scene from “Ghost,” or at least try. Materials, paints, instruction and the kiln are all provided, so simply bring your best friend and work to mold a piece that will certainly be unique, if not beautiful.
The Lodge at Whitefish embodies the modernizing, hipper West—the glamping aesthetic of rugged, but approachable in nature without being within nature, nose-to-nose with unforgiving wilds with the assurance of a comfortable den within which to retreat. The Boat Club Restaurant, with the dual assets of rugged, glacier-cradling peaks and a conifer-lined mountain lake, provides that elegant meal with a view. An intimate, satisfying beginning to a romantic evening. It’s no surprise the temptation to extend one’s stay is commonly sated. As if the environs, accommodations and service aren’t enough to renew the spark, on certain occasions, the menu carries fresh oysters,lobster, sweets and rose petals.
It’s what one pictures of those massive Victorian mansions of the Old World—gorgeous, manicured properties, immaculate, hubris-fueled exteriors, heavy, dark-wooded railings lining a hulking staircase that creaks in that familiar way, like grandma’s house (if she were a baroness). The mansion allows couples a retreat from daily life, teleporting them into the shoes of American royalty. The home is an impeccable representation of the luxuries of western expansion, allowing guests to indeed live as railroad barons: rooms befitting a visiting dignitary of the Ottoman Empire, the gourmet dining and decor of a southern millionaire, all set against the unmatched wilderness seen in “Dances with Wolves.”
Glacier National Park deserves mention on any list involving stifling natural beauty. And this gorgeous and dangerous wilderness engenders that same alchemy found in love: The contradictory state of being the center of a world in which one is powerless. Or if esoteric language isn’t adequate, the 100-year-old Belton has beautiful, luxurious accommodations in historic settings wherein, like the motto of Glacier National Park, “the way it was, still is.” Roughly translated, a “chalet” is a beach-house or bungalow, an intimate locale where one can escape and recreate. This is just the idea at the Belton: Escape into the woods, explore the park via a guided tour, satisfy that wanderlust, and then return to warm, cozy suites, heads swimming in champagne, hearts fluttering with blissful companionship, and bellies filled with high-end cuisine (thanks to Chef Melissa Mangold).