Philipsburg is a small town with a rich and colorful history in Southwest Montana.
It’s a popular weekend destination from University City because of its fascinating backstory and nickname “Granite Ghost Town.”
Philipsburg is 75-miles from Missoula, and to reach it, you need to take the Pintler Veteran’s Memorial Scenic Highway.
Philipsburg has a rich mining history for its abundance of precious sapphire stones.
One of the main attractions in this 18th-century mining town is the self-service mining of sapphires.
However, there’s so much to discover in this town than mining sapphires.
It has a charming downtown area home to local businesses that offer unique products, while its restaurants, hotels, and bars bring life to its streets.
It’s also home to a well-known candy emporium, while adjacent stores are top-notch gemstone purveyors’ worth visiting.
Indeed, there is something for everyone in Philipsburg, Montana.
To find your next authentic experience in Montana, here are the 15 best things to do in Philipsburg, Montana:
Catch a Trout on Flint Creek
Flint Creek is one of the best places for fishing in Philipsburg.
It is known for its abundance of trout and other fish species along its stream coming from Georgetown Lake.
Flint Creek has numerous accesses throughout Philipsburg, providing anglers with many fishing spots to cast their lines.
In addition, this river also has numerous deep pools and undercut banks that serve as a habitat for brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroats.
If you’re a fishing enthusiast or an experienced angler, enjoy the experience of catching trout along its calm stream.
In addition, there are numerous tackle shops in town that you can visit if you forget to bring your fishing gear.
Treat Your Sweet Tooth at The Sweet Palace
The Sweet Palace, situated along E. Broadway St. or downtown Philipsburg is one of the top tourist destinations you need to check out.
This vast candy store that's been running for the past 25 years specializes in handmade candies and treats.
Visiting this place is reminiscent of the classic country song, Big Rock Candy Mountain by Burl Ives.
Amidst the store’s Victorian-era design, you’ll be overwhelmed by the dozens of candy flavors and assortments in the store.
More than 50 fudge flavors, 20 caramel, and dozens of dark chocolates and moose truffles are available in the store.
In addition, more than a thousand kinds of candies, treats, from typical to rare, are found in this fascinating place.
You will also enjoy watching its in-house staff making candies on the side while shopping.
Get Mesmerized with the Precious Stones at the Sapphire Gallery
Sapphire Gallery along E. Broadway St in Philipsburg is one of the numerous exhibits and stores where you can see precious stones like sapphire up close.
Since Philipsburg is known for its commercial sapphire mines, it’s a no-brainer to find lots of these precious stones in town.
At Sapphire Gallery, you’ll see the elegant and mesmerizing beauty of various sapphire stones ranging in different colors from yellows, pinks, purples, and browns.
This place is a must-visit attraction in Philipsburg because of its vast collection of sapphires mined from the mountains of Montana and various parts of the world.
You’ll also see cut and uncut pieces of sapphire stones displayed in its gallery.
In addition, you can shop for jewelry pieces in Sapphire Gallery which can be your ultimate souvenir from your Philipsburg travel adventure.
Get Entertained at the Philipsburg Theatre
The historic Philipsburg Theatre was established in 1891, making it the oldest running theater in Montana.
Until today, the Philipsburg Theatre provides the locals and visitors the top-notch entertainment such as the latest movie flicks, stage plays, and musical concerts.
As you step inside the theater’s interior, you’ll be amazed by its classic charm century-old charm.
Whether you’re a movie fan or a Broadway fan, there’s something highly entertaining waiting for you in this theater.
Visiting and local musicians regularly hold concerts there, while musicals, dramas, comedies, and straight plays keep this theater frequently packed with patrons.
In addition, the Philipsburg Theatre also hosts various community-related events, making this hidden gem even more special.
If you want to learn the history of this theater, there are guided tours available there.
Down a Mug of Craft Beer at the Philipsburg Brewing Co.
The Philipsburg Brewing Co., established in 2012, holds historical value to the town.
The building where this brewing company is operating is an 1888 historic bank known as “The Vault."
However, it is today's most popular watering hole in the town, where you can enjoy a mug of its finest, award-winning craft beer.
If you’re a fan of craft beer or a beer connoisseur, this is the best place to visit in the town.
They use top-quality malt and spring water from Montana’s mountains to brew their craft beer.
Walk through the Empty Streets of the Granite Ghost Town State Park
Uncover the mystery and the reason behind the abandonment of the Granite Ghost Town State Park, which was a former 1890s silver boomtown.
This state park is completely unique from most state parks in the United States.
Instead of forests, ponds, and trails, you’ll be greeted with the remnants of an old ghost town.
The Granite Ghost Town State Park was formerly known as the “richest silver mine worldwide” back in the 1800s.
It yielded a whopping $40-million from its silver mines while more than 3,000 miners found a home in the town.
However, the mining town’s economy and income came crashing down after the price of silver dropped drastically in the late 1800s, which forced the population to abandon it in search of greener pastures.
Today, the remnants of the old town remain standing and are a popular tourist attraction in Philipsburg.
Browse through the Granite County Museum & Cultural Center
The Granite County Museum & Cultural Center opened in 1991 as a place to witness the history and heritage of the Granite Mountain Mining industry and Philipsburg’s backstory.
This museum is situated in the Courtney Hotel along South Sansome Street.
The old hotel was converted and remodeled into a museum in 1991 which offers visitors the chance to look closer at the daily tools and wares used by townspeople, ranchers, and miners back in the day.
One of its best exhibits is the Ghost Town Hall of Fame which has a vast collection of photographs detailing the history of Montana’s ghost towns.
In addition, the exhibit features the old mining equipment used by miners back in the day, while one of its focal points is the grand mural of the Granite Ghost Town.
Spending an hour or two browsing through this museum’s astonishing exhibits offer you a great experience to learn about history.
Indulge in Delicious Food at the Silver Mill Restaurant & Saloon
The Silver Mill Restaurant & Saloon along E. Broadway St. is one of the best restaurants in Philipsburg.
It serves deliciously fresh seafood, pasta dishes, salads, soups, and a nice collection of fine wines.
Moreover, it has a cozy and rustic atmosphere with the original brick walls from 1882 still intact, along with its wooden floors and stamped copper ceiling.
The restaurant is also a walking distance of Philipsburg’s famous attractions, such as the Philipsburg Theatre, The Sweet Palace, and Broadway Hotel.
After enjoying a delicious meal, you can unwind at the Silver Mill Saloon and pour a glass of fine wine or perhaps its spirits and beer.
Stroll along E. Broadway Street
Philipsburg’s E. Broadway St. is considered the downtown area where most shops and businesses are concentrated.
Stroll along this street and discover hidden gems from local shops, boutiques, and cafes.
If you’re seeking an elegant sapphire jewelry piece, E. Broadway Street is home to Philipsburg’s three main shops.
In addition, this charming downtown area is also home to various shops that offer souvenirs, food, and other services.
Along the street, check out the Fisheye Guy Gallery, a fine art photography shop, Gizmos Toy & Novelty, Stuff & Such Antiques, and Grassroots Gifts.
There are also numerous restaurants and cafés to try local specialty dishes.
Your visit to Philipsburg won’t be complete without visiting the shops and restaurants on E. Broadway Street.
Enjoy the Ice at the Winninghoff Park Ice Rink & Arena
Philipsburg has a scenic outdoor skating rink you need to try out during the winter months.
The Winninghoff Park Ice Rink & Arena is not just your average skating rink; it offers ice skaters and hockey players a magnificent and picturesque backdrop of the town’s historic buildings.
The ice-skating rink sits in the National Historic District near the town’s famous attractions, restaurants, and lodging.
Although the skating rink is more than 40 years old, it recently got a proper upgrade by remodeling to a National Hockey League (NHL)-sized natural ice rink.
More excitingly, the ice rink is open to the public, giving you more reasons to check out this place when you’re in Philipsburg.
Overall, the Winninghoff Park Ice Rink & Arena is a fun place to skate and play hockey with locals.
Visit the Montana Law Enforcement Museum
It may sound unusual, but in Philipsburg, there’s a unique museum, the Montana Law Enforcement Museum, that's worth checking out.
It’s a one-of-a-kind museum that displays old and new police equipment, weapons, vehicle, badges, uniforms, and documents from Montana’s infamous crime stories.
In addition, there’s a small jail cell featured in the museum used back in the days to detain offenders, while a separate exhibit dedicated to honoring Ruth Garfield, the first female sheriff in Montana.
Spending time in the museum offers you a good insight into how police and law enforcers operate and get a closer look at the gear and equipment used during operations.
Hop on the Gilmer & Salisbury Stage Line Rides
Discover the old side of Philipsburg and Montana aboard the Gilmer & Salisbury Stage Line.
This one-of-a-kind narrated tour around Philipsburg is a great experience you shouldn’t miss.
You will be riding a Hendersen-made mud wagon that takes you on a 45-minute tour, giving you a different insight into Philipsburg’s rich history.
As you travel, you can relive the history of Philipsburg and Montana back in the 1800s, which is a fun experience aside from visiting typical museums.
Riding the Gilmer & Salisbury Stage Line horse-drawn carriage tour is a more immersive way to tour the town, especially if you’re bored visiting museums.
Stay at the Historic Kaiser House Lodging
The Kaiser House Lodging along E. Broadway Street has been operating since the 1880s in Philipsburg as a premier hotel.
This historic hotel features five fully-renovated rooms to stay in during your tour through the town and nearby tourist attractions.
The hotel was constructed by Philipsburg local Michael Kaiser in 1878, and it got completed in 1881.
The first floor served as a restaurant, while the second floor was the hotel back in the day.
Its basement served as a card playing area and billiard hall.
People traveling from afar stay at the hotel back in the day.
Today, it’s a historical tourist attraction and a popular accommodation for people visiting the town.
Celebrate the Town’s Festivals
Despite its quaint appeal and a small population of around a thousand residents, Philipsburg is busy celebrating numerous fun-filled festivals year-round.
With that in mind, check the town’s calendar because you might catch one of its exciting festivals celebrated by locals annually.
Philipsburg’s locals celebrate the Brewfest on February’s President’s Day weekend at the Old Fire Hall.
The Volunteer Fire Department of Philipsburg hosts the annual Fireman’s Clam Feed every May.
This annual gathering serves fresh oysters, clams, and other delicious food, with the proceeds going to charity.
On the other hand, the Philipsburg Summer Concert in Mid-August highlights outdoor musical performances from various local and regional artists to mark the end of summer.
Other festivals in Philipsburg are Flint Creek Valley Days in July, Miner’s Union Day in September, and Yule Night during the holiday season.
Cool Down at the Philipsburg Creamery
If you’re craving ice cream while touring around the town, head to the Philipsburg Creamery.
This place along W. Broadway Street is known for its delicious and flavorful artisanal homemade ice cream.
It uses locally sourced ingredients such as Montana cream, eastern Montana sugar beets, and eggs mixed together to create mouthwatering ice cream flavors.
The creamery’s huckleberry ice cream is one of their best-sellers that you should try out.
You should definitely check out the Philipsburg Creamery, especially if you bring your kids on your travel adventure.
Don’t be deceived by Philipsburg’s sleepy town appeal because there are many hidden gems; some even literal gems are waiting to be discovered.
Its history and heritage speak a lot for themselves, making this destination worth visiting.
If you want to see the other side of Montana’s beauty, Philipsburg is one of your best destinations.
Lastly, if you haven’t decided which places in Philipsburg to visit first, you can refer to this post as your reference.