Philipsburg flourished early as a mining town in the 1870s and 80s. Today, the historic town has a lot to offer visitors, from mining for Montana sapphires to exploring a ghost town. Philipsburg is located just a few minutes off of I-5, southeast of Missoula. Whether you pass through on a road trip or stop for the night, you'll find plenty of things to see and do in Philipsburg, Montana.
There's nothing like a candy store to put a big fat smile on your face. For one thing, there's all the bright colors and shiny wrappings. Then there are the delectable aromas, first chocolate then burnt-sugar caramel then something sweet and fruity. When you walk into the Sweet Palace in Philipsburg, you'll be hit by all this and more.
This candy emporium offers over 1,000 kinds of treats, specializing in individually-wrapped and hard candies. You'll find yourself exclaiming "I remember that!" and "When I was a kid..." over and over as you peruse the selection of hard-to-find nostalgia candies. Fresh handmade sweets are part of the offerings at the Sweet Palace as well. Fudge, taffy, caramels, and chocolates are all available. In fact, you'll see the cheerful staff hard at work, pulling taffy, wrapping caramels, and dipping chocolates. The Sweet Palace also has a fine selection of sugar-free treats.
The land of Montana yields a number of treasured gems and minerals, including the famous Montana sapphire. Many of these sapphires are a deep shade of cornflower blue, known as "Montana blue." But not all! Montana sapphires come in a full and magnificent range of colors, including pinks, yellows, purples, and browns.
If you want to see some of these sapphires up close and personal, stop by the Sapphire Gallery in town. They have a huge selection of sapphires from Montana and around the world, cut and uncut, loose and incorporated into jewelry. There's something for every budget, from magnificent multi-stone pieces fit for royalty to more modest pieces.
Mine Your Own Montana Sapphires
- Sapphire Gallery - Located adjacent to the Sweet Palace, the Sapphire Gallery has a whole room dedicated to gem mining. You don't have to drive any rough roads or brave the elements at this year-round operation. You'll simply purchase a bag of gem-bearing gravel and, after quick preparation by an expert staff member, you pick through the washed rocks for your very own sapphires. Staff members will evaluate the quality of your gems, letting you know which ones are worth heat treating and faceting.
- Gem Mountain - The Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine is about 20 miles outside of Philipsburg and is open during the warmer months of the year. You'll be able to enjoy the outdoors as you wash and sort through your bucket of gravel. Gem Mountain also has a store in Philipsburg, which is open all year.
- Opal Mountain Gems - This store in Philipsburg has an outdoor area where you can wash and sort a variety of different gem-bearing gravels. The shop also sells gravel and mining equipment for at-home mining as well as gifts and jewelry.
Learn About Philipsburg's Mining History
- Granite County Museum - The exhibits at this local museum provide a great overview of the silver mining operations that took place during the late 19th century. In addition to viewing real mining equipment, old photos, and a miner's cabin, you'll have a chance to walk into a realistic simulation of an actual mine. Other exhibits at Granite County Museum focus on pioneer and homestead era history.
- Granite Ghost Town - The boom-and-bust nature of mining has left Montana with many ghost towns. Located down a rough road near Philipsburg, Granite Ghost Town is now a unit of Montana's State Park System. Among the relics that remain from abandoned Granite are the Miner's Union Hall and the Granite Mine Superintendent's House. Granite Ghost Town is open during the warm months after the year after the road is cleared of winter snow.
Built in 1891, this historic theatre has been restored and now offers a variety of fun performances each summer. Some shows are suitable for kids and families, some are not. The Opera House Theatre Company specializes in comedic plays and a vaudeville-style variety show.
Special Events in Philipsburg
A number of annual festivals and special events give people yet another reason to visit Philipsburg. The Flint Creek Valley Days is a classic car show and fun run in July. In September, Miner's Union Day offers picnicking and mining competitions