West Yellowstone, MT: Why You Will Never Want to Leave

Cozy summer moments and memories to last a lifetime come standard in West Yellowstone, Montana.

West Yellowstone is the town where the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park is located. It’s a quaint mountain town that is booming in the summer. The total population of West (as the locals call it!) is about 1,500. But get this… the total daytime population is over 2,500 people! That’s over 1,000 extra people in their town every day. (Well, throughout the summer. The winter proves to be very quiet.)

Even though It’s a total tourist town it has that local charm and down-home feel that makes you feel right and home.

My parents have a cabin in Island Park, ID which is just 20 minutes over the Idaho border from West Yellowstone. So our family visits West every time we visit our cabin. Because I’ve been going there since I was a child, it’s packed full of sweet memories for me.

It’s a family tradition but also a destination that would satisfy anyone. …Especially the outdoor/mountain-town lovers.

Let me take you through West, starting with a view from our drive from the cabin…

When you arrive in town you will see that there is a definite main street with loads of adorable + unique mountain shops. Everything from toys, to homemade candy, to rocks + gemstones and of course local food.

We like to park in front of the Madison Crossing. This store used to be the local high school and they converted it into several stores. They have awesome mountain furniture, fun knick knacks and in the old gymnasium is …a little toy store. My kids love browsing the fun toys.

We like to leave our car at the toy store and just walk everywhere we need to go. The town isn’t not too big and it’s much easier to just hoof it than to find parking.

There are lots and lots of shops in West. Most of them sell tacky souvenir T-shirts, copper and turquoise jewelry, and huckleberry scented lotion. It’s stuff we usually end up not needing but it’s so fun to check it all out.

Like I said, West is one entrance to Yellowstone Park. It’s literally feet from entering the park. We usually spend a whole day in West Yellowstone and will go back to spend another day actually inside Yellowstone Park. (Which is another post altogether!)

One of our “must-do” in West is to visit the candy shop. Look at all that homemade fudge and freshly pulled taffy! (The best flavor is Huckleberry.)

We usually tell the kids they each get to pick out 10 pieces of candy from the assorted baskets…

Another “must-do” in West is a trip to the ice cream shop. Our family’s favorite is “The Arrow Leaf”. You can choose from between frozen yogurt or ice cream and them choose whatever mix-in you want. My personal favorites are fresh raspberry, heath, and butter finger. (On separate trips, of course!)

We’ve eaten lunch at several places throughout West but the one that we keep going back to is The Canyon Street Grill. It’s a fun 50’s themed diner and the food has always been really good. Hamburgers, fries, and shakes…oh my!

And last but not least, a family tradition that goes back from the time I was too little to remember is to go to a live show at The Playmill Theater. The Playmill started back in 1968 and every summer they perform 3 different live shows. I’ve seen everything from “Seven Brides to Seven Brothers to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. The cast does a phenomenal job each and every night.

The theater itself is fairly small and quaint. In fact, it only goes 9 rows back so there really isn’t a bad seat in the house! There’s an early and late show each night but be sure to order your tickets early online so they won’t be sold out on your night.

Tip: bring cash to purchase some DELICIOUS intermission treats. The owner, Heidi Merrill, makes incredible fudge and sugar cookies that you can get at intermission. (You’ll want to order some water too. 😉 )


When we took our kids through Yellowstone Park last Summer we had just finished watching the amazing Old Faithful erupt. It was truly spectacular. We looked at our kids and said, “So what do you think?!” Their reply was, “When are we going back to West?”

There you have it…West Yellowstone, MT. It will not disappoint.