From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
You’ll find Billings located in southern Montana, on the scenic Yellowstone River. It’s famous for being the home of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where Lieutenant Colonel Custer died. Additionally, history buffs will love a trip to The Western Heritage Center, which displays local historical artifacts, as well as the Moss Mansion, which showcases early-20th-century interiors.
As for nature lovers, there are plenty of stunning outdoor recreational areas to enjoy, whether it’s the culturally significant Pictograph Cave State Park, Grey Cliff Prairie Dog State Park, and more.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Billings has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Billings, Montana? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Billings isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
A mere 15-minute drive from the city center is the picturesque Pictograph Cave State Park, which was once home to generations of prehistoric hunters. Here, you can view significant and famous rock paintings, known as pictographs, that are still visible in Pictograph Cave. When you’re not exploring the caves, why not try activities such as hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and photography?
Another conveniently close state park is Lake Elmo State Park, which is actually located within Billings' city limits. It features a 64-acre reservoir, making it the perfect place to enjoy a spot of fishing, swimming, boating, and paddle boarding. If the weather doesn’t quite call for you to hit the water, then you can also partake in hiking the scenic trail, bird watching, or picnicking by the water’s edge.
Looking for one of the most popular recreational areas within the state? Look no further than Cooney Reservoir State Park, which is located just 40 minutes south of Billings. It’s known for its excellent mountain views, as well as the unparalleled walleye and rainbow trout fishing. Other fun ways to pass the time here include boating, swimming, camping, and water-skiing. What’s not to love?
You’ve never seen a state park like Grey Cliff Prairie Dog State Park! You see, this 98-acre park offers a unique opportunity to observe the prairie dog community in its natural environment. You can learn about the species through interpretive displays, which tell the story of these small prairie dogs and their role in the prairie ecosystem. Other activities to enjoy include picnicking, photography, and of course, wildlife viewing.
Still need to get your nature fix? If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Billings, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.
The Four Dances Trail is a moderate-rated trail near Billings that is 4.2 kilometers in length. The loop trail is popular among both hikers and runners, and even Fido can come along too. Just be sure to keep your furry friend on a leash at all times. Locals love it due to its stunning views of the surrounding area.
For another moderately-rated hiking trail within the region, be sure to check out the Phipps Park Trail. It’s 4 kilometers in length and is best used from May to September, when the weather conditions are at their best. Enjoy the views, pack plenty of water, and don’t forget a sunhat for the unshaded parts.
If you haven’t heard of the Zimmerman Back 9 yet, you’re in for a treat. This is a popular hike among locals and visitors alike, as it can also be used for skiing during the winter months. It’s also rated as moderate and offers diverse views. It spans a length of 12.6 kilometers, so is a great way to spend several hours, or even an entire weekend, as camping opportunities are also available along the way.
Billings is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!
Looking for the home of premium steaks, fresh seafood and award-winning baby back ribs? Montana’s Rib and Chop House is the go-to destination for all of this and more, and it has been serving the Billings community since 2001. With its casual atmosphere, friendly service, and generous servings, you’re sure to be impressed.
“Hand-tossed, brick oven pizzas baked to perfection”. If that doesn’t get your mouth watering, then we don’t know what will! At Ciao Mambo, you can expect some of the best pizzas within the region, all at an excellent price range too. Enjoy the modern, yet casual setting, and don’t forget to sample their pastas and extensive Italian wine list too.
The Burger Dive has some pretty impressive accolades to share, including being featured on “Man vs. Food”, as well as being heralded the “Burger Champion” at the World Food Championships in 2016. If that hasn’t won you over, then perhaps these flavor combos will: Angus beef and Jamaican jerk sauce; smooth goat cheese, bacon, a fresh cut onion ring; and Angus beef with Huckleberry Hatch chili barbecue sauce. Delicious!
Jake's Downtown is a locally owned and operated steakhouse that was established in 1979. You’ll find them in the Historic Grand Building, which offers a stunning glimpse into the region’s architectural past. Don’t miss menu items such as the Bourbon Street Mussels, Shrimp Tacos, and Beartooth Burger!
At Cajun Phatty’s, they strive to represent Cajun culture with authenticity and stick to the family owned recipes the restaurant’s founders grew up on. They use locally sourced ingredients where possible, followed by traditional elements which are shipped in from Louisiana. Be sure to try their specialities, as you won’t be disappointed!
After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Billings’ attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
Who doesn’t love a fun day out at the zoo? ZooMontana has plenty to offer for kids and adults alike, with species such as alpacas, tigers, boa constrictors, grizzly bears, wolves, and so much more on show. They also offer special events from time-to-time, so be sure to check the zoo calendar for the latest happenings.
The aim of Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum is to engage curious, creative, and scientific minds in a playful learning environment for all children and families. Visitors get to learn through play, and as a result, are empowered to make discoveries, ask questions, and create solutions to real-world problems.
What should you do in Billings once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
At the Crystal Lounge Casino, you’ll find plenty of forms of entertainment, whether it’s nightly karaoke, their casino or poker room, or what they claim to be the lowest priced drinks in downtown. It’s the perfect place to visit post-dinner if you’re looking to keep the good times rolling!
There’s nothing quite like an escape room to get the gang together and enjoy a fun night out. With themed rooms such as “CSI: Murder Mystery”, “The Mail Room”, and “Color Quest”, there’s something for everyone at The Grand Escape Room. You’ll need quick thinking skills, fast moves, and of course, excellent communication with your teammates.
What can you do in or around Billings that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
The Western Heritage Center is open Tuesday to Saturday, and it began in 1971 as a community center displaying a private collection of western artifacts in the historic library building. Now, it features a collection of 40,000 historic artifacts and photographs, as well as outreach programs, walking tours, and both interactive and traveling exhibits. Come here to learn about the history of the region – you’re sure to be intrigued!
The Yellowstone Art Museum, otherwise known as the YAM, has been in operation since 1964. It’s one of just seven museums accredited in Montana and features the work of local and nationally known artists, as well as solo and group shows. The focus is on contemporary art, studio craft, and American material culture, and it’s certainly worth a few hours’ visit.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Billings? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Billings that won’t cost you a cent.
Pioneer Park has been dubbed the “jewel to the city of Billings”, and it sprawls across a magnificent 32 acres. At the park, you’ll find facilities such as a wading pool, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, multi-use trails, barbeque areas, and enough beautiful, open space to partake in sports such as softball, football, rugby, or soccer.
The Yellowstone County Museum was founded in 1953 and was opened to the public in 1956. At the front of the museum is the famous Paul McCormick cabin, which serves as the museum’s entrance and gift shop. Here, the exhibits are rotated regularly, but you’ll find an impressive collection of over 23,000 artifacts to learn about and admire.
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Billings has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
The Rustic Spa & Salon is a go-to for luxurious services such as massages, facials, skin treatments, manicures, hair treatments, and more. You can’t miss their Rustic Signature Massage, but we hear the full body stone massages are also quite the treat. You’ll love the wide range of scents lingering during your treatment too. It’s aromatherapy at its finest!
What is it about Sanctuary that makes it so unique? It was created back in 1998 and all team members participate in charitable outreach volunteerism as part of their employment. The kind-hearted establishment offers services to make you feel just as good, whether it’s their massages, facials, body polishes, nails, or other specialty spa treatments.
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Billings is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Yellowstone Fitness Center is locally owned and continually updated, so you know you’re in for a great time at a gym that meets all of your needs. They offer classes such as full-body cardio, spin, yoga, Pilates, boot camp, water workouts, and more, as well as amenities such as a healthy smoothie bar, kids zone, spray tanning, personal training, and more.
Black Orchid Yoga is unique in the sense that it offers classes such as yoga, aerial, shape (yoga + weights), Pilates, and cycle classes ranging from beginner to expert level. There’s something for absolutely everyone here, not to mention a salon and child care center as part of the business!
Looking to fulfill your wanderlust by heading outside of the region for a day? You could spend decades within Billings without barely scratching the surface of all there is to do in this city, but consider these day trips next time you fancy a new adventure.
If you fancy crossing the border into Wyoming, then you can visit the world-famous Yellowstone National Park. It’s less than a 4-hour drive from Billings and was the very first National Park ever formed in the country. You’ll love the wildlife viewing opportunities on offer here, as well as the incredibly stunning Old Faithful geyser and Grand Prismatic Spring. Enjoy activities here such as camping, hiking, fishing, boating, swimming, and more.
Fancy visiting another major city within Montana? Less than a 2.5-hour drive from Billings is Bozeman, which is located in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Here, you can visit the Museum of the Rockies, as well as the Siebel Dinosaur Complex, American Computer & Robotics Museum, Big Sky Resort, and so much more.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Billings that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Billings? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.