Our route through Montana changed entirely once we encountered the flooding in the eastern part of the state, then wound our way through Yellowstone, down to Jackson and back up to Montana via Idaho only for the rain to follow our every twist and turn. Big Sky was out, Bozeman was too far to backtrack, Ennis was an unexpectedly delightful stop, but where to go from here? Enter: Tia to the rescue! She told us to go to Philipsburg, so go to Philipsburg we did.
Tia and I have been long-time Twitter friends, plus she’s helped me immensely with information for print stories in the past—and we finally got to meet, too, (twice!) when I was up in Glacier County—and as it just so happens, she also works for Glacier County Tourism. Talk about the perfect person to Tweet with you when you’re in a pinch in her home state.
But why Philipsburg, you ask? Well, Tia just threw out those three magic words, “the Sweet Palace,” and that’s all it took for me to leave I-90 and detour along the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Route to make sure we got to “see” Philipsburg. And by “see Philipsburg,” I clearly mean eat my way through the minute town.
Here’s the thing: I’m usually not wild about candy stores. While I love to go in and browse on occasion, they’re usually heavier on the candy than they are on the chocolate, and the latter excites me far more than the former. I lived right next to Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York for a stint and managed to pass it
every most days without so much as a second glance.
But this place! This place was two stories and had 1,024 different kind of candies. How could I not indulge?
And it wasn’t even that pricey either. I walked out with a bounty of two mixed bags and a small box of hand-crafted chocolates and it only set me back $15 (which still sounds like a lot, but compared to most candy stores? peanuts).
It was the closest I might ever come to being a cast member in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
After I rolled myself out of the Sweet Palace, I was so stuffed from fudge (complimentary at checkout!) and salted caramels that I didn’t even have the stomach capacity for an ice cream at Doe Brothers. Instead, I opted for coffee. But that’s OK, because there was hardly a meal that passed where I didn’t have a Wilcoxson’s huckleberry ice cream sandwich for dessert. Those little 99-cent delights kept me going for a good half of our trip.
There were candy-colored houses and plenty of coffee shops. There were trinket stores and gourmet food emporiums and all the cutesy storefronts you want out of such a town. Alas, it was Sunday night when we arrived—we put the pedal to the medal to make it to the Sweet Palace an hour before it closed—but most everything else in town was shuttered. So we peered in windows and vowed to come back one day.
There was even a resident circus monkey on one corner. OK, maybe not technically a monkey, but she did perform on command for a large group of tourists. They were all giving her high fives and asking her to do her polar bear and overall impressed that a six-pound dog could be so well trained (little do they know…heh).
So next time you’re in western Montana, follow suit and detour yourself! You may not find a circus dog, but I’m pretty sure the Sweet Palace isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
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