Billings in the beautiful state of Montana is a fantastic place to come if you love the great outdoors, as the natural beauty of this area is well known within the United States. Some locals say that the best outdoor pursuits in the country, like fishing and hiking are found in Montana, but this is by no means all that Billings has to offer.
For those who prefer more urban attractions, there is much to enjoy here, and visitors will find a strong local food scene as well as a relaxed cafe culture and some vibrant nightlife. With that in mind, this city offers the chance for a mix of activities, taking in some of the most picturesque local landscape in the region as well as enjoying all the perks of a rapidly developing and exciting city.
Lets explore the best things to do in Billings:
1. Pictograph Cave State Park
Located just outside of Billings, this park is known for being the home of Pictograph, Ghost, and Middle caves which have rock paintings that date back to prehistoric times. Here you can see the artwork of ancient cavemen, and there are classes and guided walks that will take you through the history and cultural significance of this area.
2. Yellowstone River
One of the main attractions in Billings is the presence of the mighty Yellowstone River, so with that in mind head to Riverfront Park where you can hire a tube and float down the river to landing spots such as the one found at Josephine Park. The river is known for its outstanding natural beauty and you can take in the Montana scenery from the water and the comfort of a tube. If you want to get active, then fly fishing is also a popular pastime here and you can rent some tackle and try to catch some of the many indigenous species found in these crystal clear waters.
3. Dan Walt Garden
Known for being some of the most delightful gardens in Billings, the Dan Walt Garden is covered in beautiful flowers as well as other local plants. To that end you can learn all about the indigenous species that grow in the gardens by following a guided tour, and there are even gardening classes that you can take to learn more about how to cultivate your own picturesque outdoor habitat.
4. Pompey’s Pillar
Pompey’s Pillar is the name of a sandstone pillar that is famous in the region for being over 200 years old. This amazing historical monument dates back to the days of pioneers Lewis and Clark who traveled through Yellowstone Valley in 1806, and Captain William Clark carved his name into the pillar as a reminder of this trip. The name can still be seen today and there are explanations not only of the pillar but also of the historical significance of this amazing area of the United States.
5. Moss Mansion Historical House
Learn more about the story of how Billings got started by visiting the home of one of this city’s founding fathers. The Moss Mansion Historical House once belonged to one of the oldest families to settle in Billings, and offers a window onto how the city was built and came to become such a powerhouse in the region. Made from iconic red sandstone and designed by the same architect as the Waldorf Astoria in New York, the home dates from 1903 and has a range of period antiques and other historical memorabilia that will take you back in time.
6. Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market
If you want some fresh food in Billings then look no further than the Yellowstone Valley Farmers Market. Held every Saturday morning the market is a great chance to check out the local produce and has a strong commitment to showcasing seasonal ingredients. As well as fruit and vegetables grown in the area, expect to find delicious goods such as bakery items, jams, and even local meats.
7. Dehler Park
For those who love sport, a trip to Dehler Park is not to be missed, as this is the home of the Mustangs, a minor league baseball team in the Montana area. The Mustangs are most active over the summer months, and the games here are fast paced and good natured, and one local quirk to look out for is the presence of the ‘beer batter’. A designated player of the team that changes at every game, if the ‘beer batter’ hits the ball then patrons can enjoy a discount on beer at the games. As well as the ‘beer batter’ promotions, you can also buy a range of typical baseball park food here to complete this all-American ball game experience.
8. Alberta Bair Theatre
For some culture in Billings, head to the Alberta Bair Theater where you will find a range of performances including some leading local talent from around the region. At the Alberta Bair Theatre you can expect classical music performances, jazz and country music concerts, opera and ballet showcases, and even other live events such as standup comedy nights. There is also a strong history of musical theatre here and throughout the summer months this is also the home of the Montana Renaissance Festival, where you can travel back in time and enjoy period events as well as snacking on turkey legs and other treats from the Renaissance era.
9. Swords Park Trail
For those looking to get active in Billings, look no further than the Swords Park Trail, which can be enjoyed right here in the city. Swords Park stretches over an impressive 60 acres and the Swords Trail runs along the edges of the park and skirts around the rim of the outskirts of Billings. As such you will get great views of the city as well as be able to take in the verdant surrounding areas. The trail was actually voted on the best in the area in recent years, so make sure not to miss it if you get the chance.
10. Yellowstone Cellars and Winery
For a wine tasting experience in Billings, head to the Yellowstone Cellars and Winery. Here you will find tours of the winery and the aforementioned cellars and you can also sample some of the blends here as well as hear all about how the winery got its start and how the wines are made. You can sample both red and white wine varieties here and there are also live music nights as well as other events to go with the wines.
11. Billings Amusement Park Drive-In
Get back to another era by enjoying a trip to an old fashioned drive-in movie theatre in Billings. This quirky drive-in has a large screen that shows two movies at a time (one on each side), and allows you to take in an evening of entertainment while also camping out under the stunning Montana night sky. The movie theatre screens the latest releases as well as themed nights and classic films, so whatever your preferences there is guaranteed to be something that takes your fancy. There are also a range of amusement park rides here and you can expect a range of delicious traditional amusement park snacks to go with the movie.
12. Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary
The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary houses indigenous animals from the Montana area that have been injured and can no longer survive in the wild. As such, visitors who come here can expect to find such species as Montana mountain lions, buffalo, and a range of birds. Visitors can make the trip to the sanctuary to see the animals up close and support their upkeep and lifelong care, and there are also special education programs that run in the summer months.
13. Little Bighorn Battlefield
Little Bighorn Battlefield is located less than an hour outside of Billings but is well worth the day trip, particularly if you are interested in the amazing history of this part of the United States. The battlefield lies to the southeast of the city and is known for being the location where indigenous groups including the Cheyenne, Lakota, and Sioux fought against the 7th Cavalry of the United States Army. Depending on when you visit, there are even period reenactments of the famous Battle of the Little Bighorn that happened in 1876, and as well as the actual battlefield itself, you can also enjoy a walk around the area. Known for its natural beauty, you can expect deep gorges, picturesque ridges, and breathtaking rugged bluffs.
14. Zoo Montana
Zoo Montana is known for having a wide range of different species from all over the world, as well as a variety of local critters that visitors can enjoy. Throughout the year there are number of events held at the zoo and there are also educational programs for children to teach them all about the animals that live here and the environment. There are also guided tours of the zoo and you can also enjoy an ‘animal encounter’ where you can get up close to the animals and take part in their feeding and care.
15. Madison River
For those who are feeling adventurous, no visit to Billings would be complete without a trip to the neighboring Madison River, a tributary of the breathtaking Missouri River. The main reason visitors flock here is to enjoy the white water rafting for which the river is famous and you can hire a guide who will help you to negotiate the rapids safely. The scenery here is said by locals to be some of the most beautiful in the entire country and so with that in mind make sure you don’t miss the chance to take it in firsthand from the vantage point of the water.