Finding My Way to To Montana
I lived in Montana for years and I can say, without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. People always ask me all about it and there is so much to see. So, I put together a list of the 25+ Epic Things you must do in Montana, “The Ultimate Montana Bucket List.”
Please use it in good health and enjoy!
My Montana journey began on a vacation to Yellowstone, Big Sky and Bozeman, Montana, back in the 1990’s. My husband and I hiked, fly fished, rode horses, went river rafting and took in the majestic scenery of Yellowstone National Park. Wow…what a vacation it was :))
We LOVED everything about Montana and returned home with a new vision…to move our family to Montana.
It took us a few years to “get our house in order” but we followed through and eventually made our move. Our kids were young, (6 & 4). We chose the quaint town of Bozeman, MT to relocate to. We rented a home on Cherry Drive and it was truly our little Mayberry.
In trying to be great parents, we enrolled our kids in everything under the sun. Everything from girl/boy scouts to swimming, soccer, baseball sports camp, acting camp and beyond.
You name it…our kids did it, dang it!
It was wonderful because it caused us to travel the all over state of Montana. We discovered so many fun and beautiful areas that we otherwise would have missed.
My Montana Bucket List is a compilation of all the wonderful, must see/do areas of Montana, from someone who lived there. It includes the best venues and excursions we found, the nicest hotels we found to stay in and the very best eateries we came to know and love along the way.
I know, from my heart, no matter what your interests are, you will find something in my Montana Bucket List that you will enjoy.
The Best City in Montana – Bozeman
#1. Madison River Tubing – If you visit Bozeman in the summer, a float down the Madison is a must. We would rent tubes from Big Boys Toys, as it was simply a Bozeman tradition. Watch the video below to get ALL the info you need for the perfect day of floating the Madison.
#2. Bridger Bowl Ski Area – Until I moved to Montana, I had never ski’d like this before. No crowds or long lift lines, just pure heavenly white powder and wonderful skiing. If you visit Montana in winter, and you ski, Bridger Mountain is a must.
For more interesting Bozeman, Montana area information or to check out hotel and fun excursion rates, feell free to check out this page.
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#4. Cat Eye Cafe – one of my favorite Bozeman breakfast joints is the Cat Eye Cafe so I’ve added it to my Montana Bucket List. The restaurant is on N. Tracy, just North of Main St.
They have the most delicious meatloaf and egg breakfast and their fresh roasted coffee is out of this world. If you have time, I highly recommend you stop in for breakfast. Do get their early as they tend to get crowded.
#5 Over Easy – if the Cat Eyes wait is too long, you can hop across the street to another excellent Bozeman breakfast choice, Main Street Over Easy. Their pancakes with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar are divine, as are their fresh baked cinnamon rolls. YUM!
The Main Street Over Easy restaurant is at 9 E. Main Street. It’s a teeny bit hard to find in that it’s in the back of the building, on the main floor. If you enter the building from Main Street, walk straight back and down the hall to find it. If you enter from the back of the building, it is much easier to find as you’ll be right there.
It is in the same building as the Main Street Over Easy restaurant, directly on Main. I regretfully say that I walked by this shop for years, without ever popping in. Then, one day I did and I was blown away.
First, their store is absolutely gorgeous. They have a ribbon/gift wrap area that is breath taking.
Second, they sell everything from vintage style metal signs to fragrant candles, kitchen goods, local jams and jellies, hand made jewelry and everything for baby. Their items are unique and their buying and merchandising are stupendous. Now, I visit as often as I can.
#7. Rocky Creek Farm – Visit the farm for U-Pick Berries and Apples and fresh pressed Apple Cider. This place is certainly a treat for the whole family.
Sweet strawberries kick off their season in June, followed by raspberries and aronia berries in late summer and early fall. From late August to November, they offer custom cider to order. You can bring your own apples, or pick from their trees, and they custom press your cider for you – while you watch. It’s a really fun experience and delicious too.
Be sure to check the Farm’s webpage for u-pick dates, times and seasons.
#8. White Water River Rafting – for those of you who have been, you know that river rafting is a blast. I like Montana White Water because their trips are very organized. They pick you up in town, take you to the river, supply you with everything you will need and then drop you back off in town. Love that!
#9. Ziplining – My Montana Bucket List could never be complete without a scheduled zipline tour. I recommend Montana White Water again, as they offer a zipline on either the Gallatin or Yellowstone rivers for you to choose from.
The Inn is on the 191 Hwy, just north of Bozeman, on the way to Big Sky and Yellowstone. If you blink, you will probably just miss it.
The Inn’s camp ground was established in 1955 and it sits directly on Gallatin river. Talk about magical views…
The Inn offers charming cabins, a small cafe (I believe its for guests only) and RV rental lots for those of you with rigs. It’s a charming place and as far as I’m concerned, an Ultimate Montana Bucket List “must.”
#11. Mama Mac’s Bakery & Sandwich Shop – we discovered this restaurant almost by accident and I was so glad we did.
They have wonderful soups, sandwiches, burgers and freshly made bakery goods. Note – their peach muffins are to die for but you must get there early to even think about getting one.
PRO TIP: If you call in, they will save one for you. I’ve had them do that for me many times.
#12. Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply – I realize that Murdoch’s is a supply house and not a national monument or local joint. However, every person I’ve even taken there, from out of town, has fallen in love.
So, I’m fairly sure you will enjoy it too. Therefore, it’s making my Ultimate Montana Bucket List.
Murdoch’s has something for everyone. Your wife, your husband, your kids, your dog, your horse and your parents.
The place is giant and there are now two locations in Bozeman and one in Livingston. In my opinion, the one on N. 7th in Bozeman is the best – they just seem to have a wider selection.
#13. Coffee Pot Bakery & Pottery Shop – this is a wonderful little bakery that has excellent soups, sandwiches and baked goods, and also has a pottery factory on site. Note the unique truck signage below. Everything is special about this place.
They create their own hand made pottery, serve the restaurant meals in it and offer their pieces for sale in their shop that doubles as a restaurant dining room. The pottery is really unique and gorgeous stuff.
They also have a really nice “take and bake” section where you can pick up things like a family size chicken pot pie or lasagna, etc. to take back to wherever to heat and serve. Everything is prepared from scratch and delicious.
Gorgeous Finds in Gallatin Gateway, Montana
#14. 320 Guest Ranch – If you are looking for the full “Montana Guest Ranch” experience, place #13 on my Ultimate Montana Bucket List should fit the bill. The 320 Guest Ranch is located on the 191 Hwy, in between Bozeman and Yellowstone, right on the Gallatin River.
The ranch offers cabin rentals, fly fishing, horse back riding, skiing and sleigh rides – all under the majestic and big, sky. It is the ultimate Montana retreat for one and all.
The story goes, Stacey and Phyllis Crosby bought the Old Faithful Bar from May Ping Sellards in 1963. May Ping had run the establishment since the end of prohibition in 1937. They have tried not to change a thing.
Stacey’s features mouth-watering steaks, 1/2 pound burgers and tasty sandwiches.
#16. Jake’s Horses – your vacation in Montana could never be complete without a day of horse back riding, or several, and Jake’s horses is the best.
Pack a lunch, select your favorite horse, relax and ride. Check out the beautiful and majestic views Montana has to offer in every direction. Become one with your sure footed friend.
The Wonderment of Whitehall, Montana
#17. Lewis & Clark Caverns – this is a State Park that features one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest. Access to the cave is by guided tours only, May through September.
The caves are dark and cold (and filled with bats). My kids loved it. Do bring a jacket or sweater as it can get chilly.
The Park itself also features camping and trails to hike or bike, a state-of-the-art visitor center, interpretive displays, a gift shop, food and beverage concessions, amphitheater, and interpretive events presented during the summer months. So, you can stay there – or it can be a day trip from Bozeman.
Great Discoveries of Three Forks, Montana
#18. Wheat Montana – what a magical place this is. If you head from Bozeman, to Lewis and Clark Cavern’s, Wheat Montana is literally at your mid way mark.
So, that makes Wheat Montana an excellent place to stop for a spell and grab something to eat, some steel cut oats or a loaf of the most delicious non-GMO bread in the world.
Wheat Montana is owned by the Folkvord family, who has been farming for three generations. Their operation encompasses 15,000 acres of the most productive soil in Montana.
The family says that, at 5,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest elevation grain is grown in North America. With the low rain fall, high elevation and cool nights on the farm, it results in the some of the highest quality grains in the world.
The Charming Town of West Yellowstone, Montana
The Town of West Yellowstone – is a only about 8 blocks long and it marks the West entrance to Yellowstone Park. The town streets are lined with restaurants, hotels and motels, souvenir shops, grocery stores, bars, fly shops and tour guides – ready to meet your arrival.
If you have not stayed in West Yellowstone, I highly recommend you do. It’s such a wonderful town and everyone I’ve ever met there has been noting but kind.
Here are the West Yellowstone locations that made my Ultimate Montana Bucket List.
#19. Eagles Store, Soda Fountain & Tackle Shop – this place is a nostalgic trip back in time.
The Eagle’s Store celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2008 – after 100 years at the West Entrance Gate of Yellowstone Park. While it is a wonderful store and tackle shop, it also boasts an old fashioned soda fountain that is worth checking out if you are an ice cream lover.
S. P. Eagle was the first licensed guide in Yellowstone Park and was one of the first great Yellowstone fly fishermen!
They offer fishing information and gear for camping, fishing, back packing, etc.
Oh…and they also carry bear spray, if you think you might need it. 🐻
#20. Wild West Pizzeria and Saloon – this is a favorite local hangout in West Yellowstone. And just what sort of person would I be if I didn’t tell you exactly where to get the best pizza in Montana?
Wild West Pizzeria was founded in 1999 by Aaron Hecht. It has been voted as the #1 pizza place in town year after year – but I’d say it’s the best in Montana.
Wild West makes everything fresh with dough from Wheat Montana flour and mozzarella and provolone cheeses from Wisconsin – that is grated daily, fresh from the block.
If you are looking for the best pizza you’ve ever tasted go on in to Wild West.
PRO TIP: their home made mac and cheese is worth it’s weight in gold!
#21. Imax Theater – This giant screen theater is a must-do on any trip to Montana or Yellowstone and is a favorite item on my Ultimate Montana Bucket List.
Every film I’ve there has been historically interesting and watching on that giant screen makes you it seem that much more fantastic.
The IMAX offers a full snack bar with popcorn, candy, soda, licorice, slushies and ice cream.
#22. Yellowstone Summer Bus Tours – what a way to see the entire park; the bears, bison, fox, elk, wolves and eagles of the Yellowstone. These tour buses are one of a kind as you can see from the image.
If you can only do one thing from my Ultimate Montana Bucket List, I recommend this be it.
It’s a full day in the park seeing the wildlife, various lakes, rivers, waterfalls and villages and of course the Old Faithful Geyser. I’ve been on this tour many times and it never gets old. It’s heaven!!
#23. Hybernation Station Cabins – my favorite place to stay in West Yellowstone are these cabins. The place is just very charming as heck and the cabins are clean and cozy and just how they should be.
#24. Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center – is an amazing place where you can watch live bears and wolves run, play and frolic. Watch the video below and to fall in love with these magnificent creatures, if you were not already.
Visiting the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center should be a must-do on your Ultimate Montana Bucket List. Check out their website for their different adoption programs too!
#25. Jacklin’s Fly Fishing Shop – for fly fishing ONLY (their word, not mine). If you’ve had fly fishing on your mind, and want to do it the right way, with the right gear, be sure to visit Jacklin’s Fly shop. They taught every member of our family how to fly fish and they are an amazing outfit.
Inside Yellowstone National Park
#26. Fishing bridge RV Park – I realize this is an RV park so if you don’t own one, you would have to rent one. But, I’ve added this to my Ultimate Montana Bucket List because it is well worth it.
I’ve stayed there only once but I love the nearby village and the hiking and water views (and of course the bridge) are really special.
There really is a fishing bridge too and the kids enjoyed playing there quite a while. It’s a spectacular place to stay.
#27. Old Faithful – is probably the landmark on my Ultimate Montana Bucket List that I have visited the most. It’s a must-see on any travel plan into the Yellowstone National Park.
The world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful, currently erupts around 20 times a day. These eruptions are predicted with a 90 percent confidence rate, within a 10 minute variation, based on the duration and height of the previous eruption.
You can also check this link for prediction times without ever leaving your home :))
The video below is fascinating.
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My name is Laurie Bennett and I am a blogger, entrepreneur and digital nomad.