Someone recently commented on one of my photos that Montana looked like a Hallmark movie.

I think that’s the best way to describe Montana. One giant Hallmark movie.

Our family has been traveling to Montana for 15+ years. Historically, my favorite time of year to visit Big Sky country has been the summer, but after our recent January (adult only) trip, my thoughts have changed!

My uncle and dad discovered the once sleepy college town of Bozeman a couple decades ago. They were on a motorcycle trip out west and stayed in Bozeman, loved it and the rest is history.

We like making Bozeman our home base when traveling out west for many reasons.

  • The downtown is really quaint with lots of shops, restaurants and bars.
  • The airport is small and very easy to get in and out of.
  • The hiking is awesome.
  • The skiing is great.
  • Montana State is in Bozeman so it has a young, college vibe.
  • It’s driving distance to our favorite spots like Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, Livingston, and Big Sky.

So what are the MUST DO’s in Montana?

*preface: I have never been to Butte, Missoula or Helena… so I can’t speak for those areas. I really can only speak for Bozeman and the surrounding area*

  1. Yellowstone: First and foremost, if you’re going to take a trip all the way to Montana, Yellowstone has to be #1 on your list of things to see. The park is MASSIVE. We like seeing the wildlife, geysers, Old Faithful, hot springs. There is so much to do inside the park. There are hundreds of tours and adventures that await!

  2. Jackson Hole, Wyoming: This small town is absolutely amazing and feels as though it was taken right out of a western novel. We enjoy dining at The Snake River Grill, stopping into the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon, taking a picture under the antler arch and hopping around the shops. Be sure to stop by The Wort Hotel too.

  3. Grand Tetons: Jeff and I drove by the Grand Tetons on our honeymoon and stopped for a drink at the bar and a quick photo op. One of these days when the kids are little older, we will be able to enjoy the Grand Tetons a little more. They are stunning and so worth the drive. 

  4. Livingston Rodeo: If you happen to be in Montana around the 4th of July, the rodeo is something not to be missed. It was canceled last year due to COVID, but I am hopeful we will be able to see the bucking broncs when we venture out west again this July. 

  5. Museum of the Rockies: Or as my kids call it, “The Dinosaur Museum”. An extension of the Smithsonian Institute, the museum is famous for all things dinosaur related. Including eggs, skeletons, and realistic models of several species. When you visit, you can also see artifacts of the Plains American Indians, pioneer exhibits, and Tinsely House, a log cabin from the 19th century.

  6. Big Sky and Skiing: Big Sky, Montana is your best choice when it comes to skiing. One of the largest and most popular ski resorts in all of the US, Big Sky is always busy thanks to an average 400 inches of snow per year and almost 6,000 acres of skiable land. If you want something a little more manageable, I recommend Bridger Bowl Ski Area. It’s a bit less crowded and closer to Bozeman.

  7. River Float on the Madison: If you’re new to floating or don’t own any equipment, Bozeman’s Madison River has got you covered. Their Tube Trips include a deluxe tube rental, a life jacket and a shuttle to and from the Madison River. The tubes have steady handles so you can float the river with your group. You also can bring your own drinks and don’t forget your music!

  8. Downtown Bozeman: Downtown Bozeman has so much to offer! There are lots of cute shops like HeyDay and the Montana Gift Corral. Restaurants like Dave’s Sushi, Revelry and Blacksmith. Bars like Bozeman Spirits, The Crystal and Plonk. Not to mention new establishments like Shine and the very best brunch you will ever have at Jam! During the summer (pre-COVID) Main Street is shut down on Thursday nights for Music on Main. During the winter, the sunshine always makes downtown so much warmer than the temperature shows. We love exploring the downtown while in Bozeman!

  9. Hike the “M”: I took Luke to hike the “M” last summer. It’s kind of a tradition for Montana State students. The trail is moderately challenging, but the view is out of this world!

There you have it! My top 8 Must Do’s in Montana. Have you traveled to Big Sky Country? If so, what are your favorite hangs??