Stay in Billings, Explore Montana

When I think of Montana, I think of the quintessential outdoor destination. A place where rivers are chock full of legendary fish, the skies are endless, and a cowboy sits in every other seat. Sure, that's all part of it, but Montana--Billings specifically--has even more to offer than I ever realized. There are so many things to do in Billings, Montana; from a walkable brewery district and farm fresh restaurants, to historic sites and hiking trails on the edge of the city. Live music? Tons of it! Billings is simply an underrated destination. With a few days, and this sample itinerary, explore Billings--a city with a small town vibe.
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This article was created in partnership with the Billings Chamber of Commerce, Montana. All photos by Emily Sierra Photography.

 

BILLINGS: WHERE TO STAY?

Whether you’re in the area to drive up the famous Beartooth Highway, or to just eat your heart out, Billings is the perfect basecamp. The Northern Hotel in downtown Billings is central to everything. The hotel is modern with beautiful finishes and cozy touches, still with a nod to the building’s history. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Northern Hotel has spent well over a century in its current location. Though the hotel burned down in the early 1900’s, it was rebuilt and housed several important politicians over the years. Recent renovations ensure that the hotel maintains the level of grandeur it has always known.

BILLINGS: WHERE TO EAT?

Where not to eat? Food and beverage joints abound in Billings. Harper and Madison is a clear choice for breakfast and weekend brunch, from the homemade biscuits to the chilaquiles. Midday, stop at The Fieldhouse for brightly flavored “farm food made fresh”. In the evening, take your pick–fine dining with a Montana twist at Walkers Grill, or shared plates at Seva Kitchen. Journey through the walkable brewery district, and sample some of the state’s finest libations!

ACTIVITIES – DAY ONE

Get your bearings and hike or bike along the rimrocks at Zimmerman Park. The trails boldly look down over the Yellowstone River Valley with endless views in the distance.

Swing by the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site, the resting place of one of the American West’s most authentic characters, Yellowstone Kelly. The site is a wonderful combination of history, culture and community.

Thursday evenings in the summer are a great time to be in Billings. The Alive After 5 block party welcomes the community and travelers alike to boogie down to big-time music acts!

ACTIVITIES – DAY TWO

In the morning, it’s worth the hustle to arrive at Four Dances Recreation Area for sunrise. The soft light casts across the Yellowstone River and the valley below. After a breathtaking morning, you’ll have earned your brunch in downtown.

In the afternoon, journey out to Pictograph Cave State Park. An easy loop trail guides visitors around artifacts and over 100 pictographs!

Later in the day grab a cup of coffee before exploring the breweries, distilleries and ciderhouse that outline the historic Montana Avenue and surrounding streets.

ACTIVITIES – DAY THREE

Saturday mornings, July until October, wander through the expansive Yellowstone Valley Farmer’s Market. Not only can you grab breakfast and tasty treats, you can also appreciate local art on the streets.

In the afternoon, enjoy the country drive out to Pompey’s Pillar. The massive rock at this site proved to be an excellent scouting location for explorers Lewis and Clark during their famous expedition. Naturally, the views from the top of the rock are spectacular, and there’s another surprise for traveler’s who make the journey (you’ll have to see for yourself!).

emily-sierra-pompeys-pillar-billings-montana

If you’re continuing your Montana road trip by heading west toward Bozeman, Yellowstone National Park, or Glacier National Park, you may want to make time to stop at Tippet Rise Art Center. In 2021, visitors are welcome for self-guided hiking and biking tours. Visits to Tippet Rise Art Center to hike or bike are free, but reservations are required.

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