Montana's capital city, Helena, is nestled between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Established during the Gold Rush of 1864, this charming modern city has managed to retain its history, providing visitors with an experience of the Old West. See the Montana State Capitol and the beautiful Cathedral of St. Helena, visit the Montana Historical Society Museum, the Holter Museum of Art, the Helena Historic District and other unique attractions.
1.Montana State Capitol
© Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
The Montana State Capitol
is built in a Greek neoclassical architectural style with local sandstone and granite. The dome is covered with copper and has a statue that is popularly called “Lady Liberty”. Take a tour and discover the architecture, art and history of this majestic building. There is a large rotunda with four circular paintings at the center of the capitol building.
These paintings were commissioned in 1902 and they depict the four prominent archetypes of society in early Montana.Enjoy and admire the painting of the gold miner, Native American, an explorer and fur trapper, and a cowboy.
1301 East 6th Avenue, Helena, MT, 406-444-4789
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2. Montana Historical Society Museum
© Montana Historical Society Museum
The Montana Historical Society Museum preserves, interprets and collects historical, archaeological and ethnological artifacts of Montana’s rich history and culture. With over 50,000 artifacts on display, it has been honored by the American Association of Museums. Explore the numerous long-term and temporary exhibits that highlight the diverse history of this region.
There are about 6,000 artifacts of Native American collection. Admire the early reservation era Blackfeet, Salish and Sioux materials on display. Visitors will be amazed at the collection of early immigrants’ costumes and textiles.
225 North Roberts, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT, 406-444-2694
3.Cathedral of St. Helena
© Courtesy of Gonzuller - Fotolia.com
The breathtaking building of the Cathedral of St. Helena was consecrated in 1924. It was commissioned with the generous patronage of Thomas Cruse, a local philanthropist. Built in the Gothic style, this cathedral has been rebuilt and renovated over the years. Admire the beautiful stained glass windows that were installed by F. X. Zettler Firm of Munich, Bavaria.
These incredible windows tell the story of the fall from grace of Adam and Eve. The elaborate bronze altar canopy, the gilding of the interior and the grillwork behind the altar are sure to impress visitors.
530 North Ewing Street, Helena, MT 59601, 406-442-5825
4.Mount Helena City Park
© Mount Helena City Park
Mount Helena City Park is about 5,468 feet above sea level. This is a beautiful terrain that has several well designed trails that are sure to impress the visitor. The Prairie Trail is famous for the beautiful wildflowers that bloom along the pathway, and boasts spectacular sceneries of cliffs and slopes. The 1906 Trail hugs the limestone cliff and is the easiest route to take.
The Backside Trail opens to grassy woodland of ponderosa pine, while the Hogback Trail is rather rocky and rough. Visitors may find the Prospector Shafts Trail to be challenging, but the good news is that all the trails offer panoramic sceneries.
225 Cruse Avenue, Suite A, Helena, MT 59601, 406-442-4120
5.Helena Historic District
© Courtesy of Sue Smith - Fotolia.com
The Helena Historic District was formed when gold was discovered in the Last Chance Gulch. A group of discontented miners took one last chance at finding gold at this gulch, and they were successful. Soon, it was flooded with miners who staked their claim to the land near the gulch. Last Chance was the name given to the camp.
The walking tour is the perfect way to explore this area. You may wish to visit the Pioneer Cabin and Caretaker’s House that is considered the oldest home in Helena. One can also stroll through Reeder’s Alley and the Yee Wau Cabin, Colwell Building, and California Wine House to name just a few.
6. Holter Museum of Art
© Holter Museum of Art
The Holter Museum of Art believes that art is just not for display, but it is meant to be created, interpreted, taught and preserved. They honor the uniqueness of their community by showcasing several contemporary regional artists. The permanent collection of contemporary Montana art exhibits work on themes like Winter and exhibits prints by artists such as Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, highlighting the cultural diversity.
There are tours organized for groups, and visitors are sure to be impressed with the Holter Museum Store that sells unique handmade gifts by local artists.
12 E Lawrence Street, Helena, MT 59601, 406-442-6400
7.Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts
© Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts
The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is a historic building that is located against the backdrop of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. This was founded in 1951 by brick maker Archie Bray as a place to stimulate the artistic and creative work in ceramics. The scenic setting of an old brick factory against the mountains has attracted several ceramic artists who come to the Bray to share their experiences and explore new ideas.
Famous ceramists like Val Cushing, Andrea Gill and Tre Arenz are among the 600 ceramic artists from around the world that have visited Bray.
2915 Country Club Avenue, Helena, MT 59602, 406-443-3502
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8.Helena National Forest
© Helena National Forest
The Helena National Forest has almost one million acres of distinctive terrain. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail covers 80 miles from Scapegoat to Deerlodge National Forest; Helena owes its existence to this region that is rich in mining history. Visitors can find the scenic rugged limestone canyons at the Big Belt Mountain Range.
With over 1000 miles of developed trails, take a hike, or even ride on horseback. Skiing and riding the snowmobile are popular sports in winter. There are picnic areas and campgrounds, and the adventurous can rent a rustic cabin for the night.
9.Last Chance Ranch, Helena, Montana
© Last Chance Ranch
Last Chance Ranch is a private property on 80 acres of lush forests. Bird watching, photography or hiking along the historic 1870 route are some of the activities awaiting you. Enjoy the charming beaver ponds and the panoramic views of the Helena National Forest.
The Wagon ride dinners make a memorable evening as visitors are taken back in time through the forests on horse-drawn wagons all the way to the Moose Mountain Cabin. Feast on a gourmet meal and enjoy live western music around the campfire. There are rooms on rental at the lodge with modern facilities.
2884 Grizzly Gulch, Helena, MT, 406-442-2884
10.Great Divide Ski Area
© Great Divide Ski Area
Great Divide Ski Area is a snow sports mountain park that has over 100 trails, skiing areas, glades and bowls. Covering an area of 1600 acres, this ski park stretches over three mountain peaks and three picturesque valleys.
This terrain park caters to riders of different ages and skill levels. Backyard beginners’ slope, Meadow Mountain, Wild West, and the Snow Zone have 90 fun features between them. Every Friday night, visitors can ride the features under the lights until 9:00 pm.
7385 Belmont Drive, Marysville, MT 59640, 406-447-1310
11.Great Northern Carousel, Helena, Montana
© Great Northern Carousel
Great Northern Carousel is a must-visit if you are vacationing with children. Hand carved animals by a renowned Walt Disney World carver and breathtaking stained glass artwork is sure to make this an unforgettable ride. Riders can whirl around on any of the 37 unique Montana animals such as the Mountain Goat, Grizzly Bear, Cutthroat Trout, Bobcat, Bighorn Sheep and Grey Wolf.
This is a popular venue to host birthday parties or a summer barbecue. Live music and food stalls can be found in the amphitheater on Thursdays during June, July and August, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm.
989 Carousel Way, Helena, MT 59601, 406-457-5353
© Exploration Works
Exploration Works is a science center in Helena which enables everyone to participate in many hands-on activities, and presents exhibits focused on science, technology, engineering, and math.
Kids can play at the water table, work with tubes and air pathways at the Air Maze, and have fun at the Pin Impression Board. Exhibits change three to four times per year which makes each visit a bit different from the last one. Stop at the Explore Store for gifts and projects to take home with you.
995 Carousel Way, Helena, MT 59601, 406-457-1800
13.Kindrick Legion Field, Helena, MT
© Kindrick Legion Field
The Kindrick Legion Field, built in 1932, serves as home to Helena Brewers, a minor league baseball team.
A Memorial Park lies at the west of the park, and makes for a great family environment.
The view when sitting in the park, with Mount Helena as a backdrop, is quite beautiful regardless of which team is playing. The 2,100 field seats are also angled so that everyone has a great view of the stadium.
1300 N. Ewing St., Helena, MT 59601, 406-495-0500
14.Original Governor's Mansion
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Built in 1888 by entrepreneur William Chessman to showcase his wealth and influence in Helena, the Original Governor's Mansion was constructed in the Queen Anne style. It highlights the affluent lifestyle enjoyed by the wealthy during that period. This stately brick mansion was taken over in 1913 by the State of Montana as the residence of the first official governor.
Nine Montana governors and their families have called this mansion their home. Take a tour and admire the splendors of this extravagant mansion.
304 North Ewing, Helena, MT 59620, 406-444-4789
15.Gates of the Mountains Boat Tours
© Gates of the Mountains Boat Tours
Gates of the Mountain is about 20 miles north of Helena, located between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks; this is one of Helena’s treasures. Discovered by early explorers, they saw these amazing rock formations that towered over the Missouri river from both sides of the banks. The rocks appeared like open giant gates and this name stuck for the past two centuries.
Spectacular limestone cliffs with heights of 1200 feet seem to reach into the water at each bend in the river. Visitors can take the cruise and admire the stunning wilderness and rugged beauty. 2017 boat tour dates are from May 28th to September 25.
16.Myrna Loy Center
© Myrna Loy Center
The Myrna Loy Center is a non-profit organization for theatre, music, performing arts, film, literature and dance. The centre was named after the late Montana’s First Lady of Film, Myrna Loy, who died in 1993.
The Myrna Loy Center has three major theaters and a gallery: An Auditorium, which can accommodate plays, film, concerts, conferences, and dance. A Screening Room which is a 50-seat digital projection theater ideal for speakers, intimate concerts and films. There is also the Jailhouse Gallery.
15 North Ewing Street, Helena, MT 59601, 406-443-0287
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17.Spring Meadow Lake State Park
© Spring Meadow Lake State Park
Situated on the western edge of Helena, the 30-acre Spring Meadow Lake State Park features new picnic shelters, as well as a group use shelter. It is also a popular destination for sunbathers, swimmers, and scuba divers. With numerous recorded bird species, the location is also a must-visit for bird watchers.
The park includes 8 miles of trails for country skiing, canoeing, walking, hiking, Kayaking and fishing.
Spring Meadow Lake State Park is an outstanding springtime and wintertime destination, with something for all. Visitors can stroll along the trail during winter and if it's too cold they can ice-skate on the lake. There are also special events planned periodically throughout the year.
930 Country Club Avenue, Helena, MT 59620, 406-495-3260
18.Kleffner Ranch Tours
© Kleffner Ranch Tours
Kleffner Ranch offers an adventure of a life time. It is located one mile south of East Helena on the way to Montana City. The beautiful ranch is a historical landmark which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Kleffner Ranch is not only popular as a wedding destination but also for special events such as company celebrations, family and church parties. It is renowned as a retreat and tour destination. Most visitors admire the prickly pear creek and enjoy guided tours of the burn. It is easily accessed from US Highway 12, South on Hwy 518.
305 Highway 518, East Helena, MT 59635, 406-495-9090
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19.Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop
© Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop
Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop is a premier Sapphire mine located along the banks of Lake Hauser. It was named by geologists mapping the Missouri River that flows into Helena, Montana. It is a fantastic mine that attracts many visitors who dig through the gravel tirelessly in search of sapphires.
Spokane Bar Sapphire mine has different colors of sapphires. Green – blue is the most common color. Ruby which is red in color is the most prized sapphire. Garnets and Gold are also to be found. The mine is open all year round. The sapphire mine transports sapphire gravel across the world via UPS for those who can’t travel to Montana.
5360 Castles Road, Helena, MT 59602, 406-227-8989
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20.Reeder's Alley, Helena, MT
© Reeder's Alley
Reeder’s Alley is one of the best preserved heritage districts of Helena. The buildings have not changed since 1863 and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a stroll along the pathway and admire the architecture of the houses. Visitors can rent a room to experience life in ancient times.
Other activities include attending a theater show, panning for gold, enjoying a ride on the old train and visiting the old candy store for some treats. Visitors will get an insight into the lives of early miners and the influence of the Chinese.
300 W. Wallace St, Virginia City MT 59755, 406-843-5247
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21.Lewis & Clark Brewing Company
© Lewis & Clark Brewing Company
With a passion for brewing, Max Pigman bought the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company in 2001 and changed the name to Lewis & Clark Brewing Company in 2005.
The Company is dedicated to providing hand crafted and un-pasteurized beers to drink’s enthusiasts. Also featured are delicious menus of pizzas and bratwurst.
They have a tap room that includes a mezzanine, suitable for weekly live music, a game room with a pool table, foosball, a shuffle board and a dart board table as well as comedy.
1517 Dodge Ave, Helena, MT 59601
22.Grandstreet Theatre, Helena, MT
© Grandstreet Theatre
Grandstreet Theatre is Montana’s premier Community Theatre. It has offered service to the residents of Montana and visitors for over 40 years. The Theatre boasts of a nationally recognized Grand Street Theatre School that trains over 400 students yearly and produces 10 – 12 plays and musicals.
It has a 200 seat Romanesque granite church, and a 45 black box studio. Beautifully nestled at the base of the Rocky Mountains, part ofthe theatre’s central mission is to produce a spectrum of theatre of the highest quality It also aims to provide a sequential program of educational experiences, and to join other community theatres in the spirit of mutual assistance and celebration.
325 North Park, Helena, MT, 406-442-4270
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23.Helena Civic Center
© Helena Civic Center
The Helena Civic Center is a Moorish Revival building located on Neill Avenue. Named "The Shrine Temple" when it originally opened in 1919, the building was later renamed Helena Civic Center and is now owned and managed by the City of Helena.
The Helena Civic Center hosts major conferences and conventions, trade shows, concerts, weddings, banquets and other special events.
Enjoy the 15,000 sq. ft. Ballroom exhibition hall and the 1,925 seat Auditorium Theater in the building. The ballroom offers an inimitable second floor mezzanine and a catering kitchen, while the Auditorium theatre includes two upper-level changing rooms, two stage-level changing rooms and a Green Room.
340 Neill Avenue, Helena, MT 59601, 406-447-8481
24.Helena Ice Arena, Helena, Montana
© Helena Ice Arena
Founded in 2002, Helena Ice Arena offers skate rentals, hockey skills, hockey leagues, public skating lessons and sessions for all ages. Skate rentals are $7 for adults and $5 for children. Bighorns Hockey ticket fees are $6 for students, $9 for adults and free for kids of 4 years and.
Skating is a fun activity for both the novice and experienced skaters and this is undoubtedly a great place for groups and families to enjoy a day of fun. You can also get access to food and beverages in the snack bar.
400 Lola Street, Helena, MT 59601, 406-457-2817
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25.Blackfoot River Brewing Co
© Blackfoot River Brewing Co
Blackfoot River Brewing has the reputation of having some of the finest traditionally brewed beers. They brew handcrafted beer using only the traditional ingredients that are specifically blended for each type of beer. Hops, yeasts and the traditional two row malts create the magical blends found here. Visitors can be assured that the beer served is of the highest quality.
Visit the taproom and enjoy the downtown atmosphere, and be sure to order a sampler tray if you can’t decide which beer to order.
66 South Park Avenue, Helena, MT 59601, 406-449-3005
25 Best Things to Do in Helena, Montana
- Montana State Capitol, Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com
- Montana Historical Society Museum, Photo: Montana Historical Society Museum
- Cathedral of St. Helena, Photo: Courtesy of Gonzuller - Fotolia.com
- Mount Helena City Park, Photo: Mount Helena City Park
- Helena Historic District, Photo: Courtesy of Sue Smith - Fotolia.com
- Holter Museum of Art, Photo: Holter Museum of Art
- Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Photo: Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts
- Helena National Forest, Photo: Helena National Forest
- Last Chance Ranch, Helena, Montana, Photo: Last Chance Ranch
- Great Divide Ski Area, Photo: Great Divide Ski Area
- Great Northern Carousel, Helena, Montana, Photo: Great Northern Carousel
- Exploration Works, Photo: Exploration Works
- Kindrick Legion Field, Helena, MT, Photo: Kindrick Legion Field
- Original Governor's Mansion, Photo: Courtesy of rsooll - Fotolia.com
- Gates of the Mountains Boat Tours, Photo: Gates of the Mountains Boat Tours
- Myrna Loy Center, Photo: Myrna Loy Center
- Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Photo: Spring Meadow Lake State Park
- Kleffner Ranch Tours, Photo: Kleffner Ranch Tours
- Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop, Photo: Spokane Bar Sapphire and Gold Fever Rock Shop
- Reeder's Alley, Helena, MT, Photo: Reeder's Alley
- Lewis & Clark Brewing Company, Photo: Lewis & Clark Brewing Company
- Grandstreet Theatre, Helena, MT, Photo: Grandstreet Theatre
- Helena Civic Center, Photo: Helena Civic Center
- Helena Ice Arena, Helena, Montana, Photo: Helena Ice Arena
- Blackfoot River Brewing Co, Photo: Blackfoot River Brewing Co
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Henryk Sadura - Fotolia.com