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The Garden Wall Inn Bed & Breakfast

Whitefish, Montana

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by Patricia Perratore-Anis

While big cities continue to draw eager vacationers, there's growing interest in getting away from the traffic, pollution, and pandemonium of the city and the frenzied and energy draining routines of day-to-day urban living. A growing number of singles, couples, and families are choosing vacations in areas where family, community and nature take precedent over concrete, asphalt, towering buildings, mega shopping malls, houses on top of each other, and all the other ghastly trimmings of urban sprawl.

We're not suggesting sleeping in a tent in a remote wilderness and eating tree bark or freeze dried packet meals (been there, done that). But after discovering some awesome less traveled places, we now realize the axiom, "peace and tranquility in your life begins with getting back to basics" rings true. Interacting with nature, it seems, "naturally" heals our wounds from the stress of life and helps us to remember if some cases re-order our priorities. With that thought in mind, picture, if you will, beautiful snow-capped mountains in the spring, with their richly colored foothills and meadows blanketed with a thick velvet cover of spring foliages below, revealing a contrast that’s hard to ignore when you visit the state of Montana. Picture postcards of the area are merely a whisper compared to the striking reality of the awesome majestic mountains as you stand before them.

Beside this surreal backdrop in Western Montana is the town of Whitefish, a true four-season vacation paradise, located in the beautiful and majestic Flathead Valley, at the foot of an area the Indians call the "Backbone of the World." (The Blackfeet Indian reservation runs along the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains, bordering the eastern edge of Glacier National Park.) Whitefish is the home of the Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort, The Great Northern Brewing Company, the Whitefish Brewery, Whitefish Theatre Company, The Studio, and Whitefish Lake. It offers world-class skiing, hiking, and golfing, and is, of course, the gateway to Glacier National Park.

In the winter, there's world-class skiing at the Big Mountain Resort, which is only six miles from town. And in the spring and summer, there are lots of wonderful activities including visits to Glacier National Park and Whitefish, McDonald, and Flathead Lakes.

  • Whitefish Lake, located in Whitefish, is a 10-minute walk from downtown and about five minutes by car. The lake is six miles long and 1/2 mile across. Whitefish Lake has the beautiful Whitefish City Beach Park (where canoe rentals are available). This lake offers canoeing, fly fishing (there's a wonderful mayfly hatch that begins in mid June and moves up the lake throughout summer), and sea kayaking.
  • Lake McDonald, Glacier Park's largest lake, is 10 miles long and one mile across, and 472 feet deep. It's named for an early trapper named Duncan McDonald and is an ideal place for canoeing, motorboat rentals (10 hp), and fishing.
  • Flathead Lake also in the park, is the largest fresh-water body of water west of the Mississippi. It's 38 miles long, 11 miles across and is popular for area sailing, boating, sea kayaking, and lake trout fishing.

Whitefish only has about 5,800 year round residents, (population increases by about 1,500 in summer), but it has an impressive selection of eateries, pubs and microbreweries, shops, galleries, hotels, and bed and breakfast inns. It's a great place to spend a weekend, week or two, or lifetime.

There are about 15 restaurants in Whitefish offering fare from excellent burgers to prime rib, to Cajun specialties and sushi. Notables include burgers at the Great Northern Bar & Grill, Prime Rib at the Whitefish Lake Restaurant, Cajun at the Tupelo Grille, and Sushi at Wasabi.

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Garden Wall Inn - Summer

Garden Wall Inn - Winter

While visiting Whitefish, we were fortunate to spend several great days at an "incredibly wonderful" Bed and Breakfast (B&B), The Garden Wall Inn. Sunset Magazine rates the Garden Wall Inn "Best in the West" and after staying at this great B&B we can see why. Serving discerning travelers since 1987, the Inn was built in the 1920’s. Charming and personable owners, Rhonda and Mike Fitzgerald have impeccably restored this beautiful home and turned it into an even more beautiful B&B. It offers five luxurious and good-sized guestrooms, all double occupancy and each furnished with lovely period antiques. The Inn is open to travelers seven days a week year round and is conveniently located just one block from downtown Whitefish’s charming shops, nightspots (and yes, there are nightspots), and restaurants (and OH YES there are GREAT restaurants) such as the popular Truby’s Bistro and the famous Tupelo Grill.

In the morning, a delightful coffee or tea tray is delivered about a half-hour before breakfast to each guests’ room.

Known for their exceptional food, the scrumptious three-course breakfast, prepared by chef/owner Rhonda Fitzgerald and chef/innkeeper Chris Schustrom, begins with delicious fresh-squeezed orange juice and their own delicious blend of locally roasted fresh brewed coffee. Next comes elegantly presented fresh fruit such as sliced strawberries, kiwi, bananas, nectarines, and grapes in a parfait glass, or fresh assorted fruit in an artistically sculpted open-faced watermelon. The next course consists of delicious pastries such as homemade Huckleberry muffins (huckleberry is a fantastic wild-berry that grows in these parts, that's very popular and very habit forming), scrambled eggs with mushrooms, shrimp and pea pods in a bed of puff pastry. Another day they may serve delicious honey ham with huckleberry-covered crepes filled with ricotta cheese, eggs and seasonings or cinnamon-apple French toast, or perhaps a frittata. According to Rhonda, fresh and sophisticated foods from the local area, including fresh fruits and vegetables, are showcased throughout the meal. The breakfast room displays snowy white linens, Blue Willow china, polished silver and fine cut glass.

Aside from their delectable food, The Garden Wall Inn features a real log fire in their elegantly designed sitting room. They burn birch and pine logs in the fireplace and serve their guests hors d’oeuvres and sherry to complete the cozy atmosphere -- especially after a day of skiing or snowshoeing. Fresh flowers in an antique vase are the centerpiece in the spacious decorated room as well as several board games and books for guests. The Glacier National Park theme is evident here with antique photos of Glacier National Park and the Continental Divide throughout the room. In keeping with this theme, Rhonda made sure to have the 1st editions of the Glacier National Park guide books, hand books, field guides, etc. always on hand.

The attractive and comfortable guestrooms have fresh flower bouquets, down comforters, heirloom lace sheets and beautiful antique furnishings and include an evening turndown with a Godiva chocolate on the pillow. In the bathrooms, they place a single red rose in a silver vase, thick plush monogrammed towels (replenished morning and evening) and a huge claw-foot tub (with Crabtree & Evelyn bubble bath) perfect for soaking after the day’s abundant activities.

The scenery is FANTASTIC; the accommodations are pleasant, cozy, comfortable, and affordable; and the food and service are exceptional! But, the greatest asset of The Garden Wall Inn is the wonderful staff. Owners, Rhonda and Mike Fitzgerald, and the innkeeper, Chris Schustrom, are life-long outdoor enthusiasts and gracious hosts with exceptional people skills. Chris is a native who grew up in Glacier National Park where his dad was a ranger, (actually living inside the park until adulthood), and Rhonda and Mike have been exploring every aspect of the Montana outdoors for over twenty years. B&B inn keeping is truly their calling. Their favorite pursuits include skiing (alpine and cross-country), hiking, fly-fishing, kayaking, and mountain biking. They're always around when you need them, but they're never underfoot. And, if you wish, they can help you plan your day at Glacier National Park, Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort, or exploring town and nearby points of interest.

This award-winning B&B is a perfect base of operations for enjoying all that Whitefish, Montana and the surrounding area has to offer. In summer there's hiking, biking, fly-fishing, whitewater rafting, kayaking and other watersports, and championship golf course. In winter there's downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating, dog sledding, and snowshoeing. And there is also hanging out at the shops, eateries, coffee shops, and watering holes all year round.

For a wonderfully refreshing experience and the scenery of a lifetime, visit Whitefish, in Western Montana. And while in Whitefish and vicinity, visit The Garden Wall Inn Bed & Breakfast where you'll be pampered with scrumptious food, pleasant and comfortable accommodations, and friendly and courteous staff.

For reservations contact:

The Garden Wall Inn Bed & Breakfast
504 Spokane Avenue
Whitefish, Montana 59937

Phone: 888-530-1700 or 406-862-3440


  • $85-$125 per night, double occupancy
  • $195 for a two-bedroom suite, per night (up to 4 people)
  • $15 per extra person in room
  • Rates include full gourmet breakfast

About the Authors:

Patricia Anis is photographer and writer covering a variety of subjects from travel to restaurants and family recreation.  You can reach Patty at

Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel and technology writer with 24 books in print. Nick’s beats include snow and water sports, and vacation destinations. Nick can be reached by email at:  

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Last Revised: Friday, May 15, 2015 06:38:58 AM
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