Shaped by the Yellowstone River on one side and protected by the Rims on the other, Billings, Montana, is a small busy town with a rich history, spectacular natural formations and warm people. Visit Pictograph Cave State Park to learn about the life of Montana ancestors 2,000 years ago, stroll through ZooMontana to meet the animals that live in the Rockies and bike the trails on the Rimrocks for spectacular views of Billings, MT.
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Eighty million years ago, what is today downtown Billings was the sea shore of the Western Interior Seaway that sprawled from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico. Through millions of years, sand and sediments were deposited at the shore, then compressed into the sandstone, eventually shaping into the formation we know today as the Rimrock, clearly visible above the city skyline.
The rims are natural shelves with three trails, about 18 miles total, with more than 575 feet of elevation gain. Some trails are paved, and some are steep and run close to the edge of the cliff, requiring a great deal of care. The trails are regularly frequented by local mountain bikers. Popular among Billings' adventurous kids, "Devil's Kitchen" is a deep crack in the Rimrock, above 11th Avenue North, that ends in a cave.
2.ZooMontana, Billings, Montana
The only zoo in Montana, ZooMontana is a 70-acre wildlife parkin Billings. This zoo and botanical park hosts almost 100 animals from 58 specieswho live in natural habitats that resemble those in their native environment. The park's focus is on Montana native animals, mostly those that live in the Rockies and similar environments around the world where the temperature is cold and which are located north of the 45th Parallel.
The park is divided into the Asian Region, North America Region, Discovery Center and the Barn. There are winding trails through the lush forests that are home to the animals and a number of native plants. Canyon Creek, which cuts through the park, adds to the serene, natural setting of a pleasant and very popular park.
2100 S Shiloh Rd, Billings, MT 59106, Phone: 406-652-8100
3.Pictograph Cave State Park
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Wondering through the loop trail through the Cave State Park, visitors cannot help but wonder about the lives of prehistoric Montana residents that drew colorful cave paintings or pictographs more than 2,000 years ago.
The Pictograph, Middle and Ghost caves that make up the park were a home or a camp site to a group of hunters who left more than 30,000 artifacts and animal bones in all three caves and about 100 paintings on the walls of the Pictograph cave. Most drawings depict animals. The park around the caves is great for hiking and has a pleasant picnic facility. A modern Visitors Center offers more information on the caves and their exploration.
3401 Coburn Rd, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-254-7342
4. Yellowstone Art Museum
© Yellowstone Art Museum
The Yellowstone Art Museum collects major American art with a focus on progressive contemporary art from the northern Plains and northern Rocky Mountains. It started its life in 1964 as the Yellowstone Art Center that occupied the former Yellowstone County Jail. The museum rapidly grew in reputation as a regional and national art center.
Its permanent collection, which today numbers more than 7,500 objects, art works and archival pieces, grew around the core grant from the Montana Cultural Trust as well as private donations. The defining collection of the museum is the Montana Collection, which includes nearly 2,000 works of art. In 1998, the art center changed the name to the Yellowstone Art Museum as well as revealed the new state-of-the-art building expansion.
401 N 27th St, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-256-6804
© DanWalt Gardens
DanWalt Gardens is best known as a popular venue for beautiful Billing's weddings. The gardens are magnificent throughout the growing season, with brilliant irises in the spring and multicolored hardy hibiscus,many species of roses, succulents and flowering shrubs and trees the rest of the year.
There are also thousands of brightly colored annuals and hanging baskets loaded with blooms all over the grounds. Saturdays are reserved for weddings, and Memorial Rose Garden offers the opportunity for visitors to plant a rose in memory of a loved one. The gardens also hosts science workshops for school kids of all ages. Chickens are allowed to freely roam the gardens, much to the kids' delight.
720 Washington St, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-248-4003
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6.Moss Mansion Museum
© Moss Mansion Museum
The Moss Mansion in Billings is a red stone imposing mansion built in 1903 as a luxurious home for the entrepreneur Preston B. Moss, who called it home until 1984 with his wife and six children. The mansion was designed by the renowned New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. The 28 room, three-story spectacular house has a beautiful attached glass solarium.
The luxurious decor includes high-quality wood paneling, walls threaded with gold, hand-painted ceilings and walls, many marble fireplaces, Persian carpets, artwork and Moss family objects. The house is open to visitors who want to observe the way of life of a prominent Billings family at the beginning of 20th century. Moss Mansion is listedon the National Register of Historic Places.
914 Division St, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-256-5100
7.Western Heritage Center
© Western Heritage Center
The Western Heritage Center is a Montana regional museum situated in Billings Historic District, in the historic Parmly Billings Memorial Library built in 1901. The center features a collection of more than 16,000 artifacts, and1,000 photographs documenting the architecture, history, significant events and the development of the Yellowstone River Valley.
The center offers a range of programs that include the High Noon lecture series featured once a month, a video series, school traveling trunks, teacher workshops, traveling exhibits, partnerships with other museums, and much more. The center also publishes books, videos and educational materials about regional history.
2822 Montana Ave, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-256-6809
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, From LA
© Riverfront Park
Riverfront Park is a beautiful and large underdeveloped park in Billings with spacious natural areas. Lake Josephine, Yellowstone River and Norm Schoenthal Island are major features of the park as is the lush sanctuary which features cottonwoods stands, willow trees and grassy meadows. Lake Josephine is popular for boating and kayaking in the summer and ice fishing in the winter, and there are numerous hiking trails across the park.
The area also has volleyball courts on sand and picnic sites with barbecue grills. The Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center is located across Wendell's Bridge on Norm Schoenthal Island. As beautiful as it is educational, there are several options for those looking to book the center for private events.
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Dehler Park is a popular baseball stadium in Billings, Montana. It is the home of the Montana State University Billings baseball team the Yellowjacketsand Billings Mustangs, members of the Pioneer League. Opened in 2008, the stadium can fit 6,000 people including standing room andhas an outfield terrace that allows visitors to move around the entire field.
Dehler Park replaced historic 1930s Cobb Field and includes some of the bench seating from the old stadium. The stadium is also used for plays and concerts; the most famous performers were Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp in 2010.
2611 9th Ave N, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-252-1241
10.Alberta Bair Theater
© Alberta Bair Theater
An integral part of Billings' culture for over 80 years, the Alberta Bair Theater opened its doors on November 13, 1931 as The Fox Theater. This art deco-style theater was built by the 20th Century Fox Corporation. The theater brought many live plays, musicals, and performances to the community including big names such as Ray Charles and Judy Collins. Today, the Alberta Bair Theater is one of the largest fully-equipped performing arts centers in the region.
Visitors can come enjoy the many shows in the 1,400 seat venue, which include featured musicians, dance and theater performances, professional touring companies and local performing groups. There are also many programs locals and visitors alike can participate in to learn about music and the arts.
2801 3rd Ave N, PO Box 1556, Billings, MT 59103, Phone: 406-256-6052
11.Yellowstone Cellars & Winery
© Yellowstone Cellars & Winery
Yellowstone Cellars & Winery is a boutique winery that makes wines from hand-picked premium red and white grapes from small vineyards in the Yakima Valley in Washington. The fresh grapes that are still on the stem are transported during the harvest time directly to the winery in Billings, where the grapes are crushed less than 30 hours after the harvest. The rest of the process is also done in the Billings facility such as pressing, fermentation, cellaring and bottling.
The multipurpose facility has a wine cellar, popular tasting room and an event space. The winery is a hip music venue with weekly events such as Wednesday Open Mic Night and Friday Wine Down. The menu is full of great comfort foods that pair well with the winery's excellent wines. While Malbec, inits eighth vintage, is the vineyard's signature wine, the 2010 Primitivo is among the most popular.
1335 Holiday Cir, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-281-8400
12.Yellowstone County Museum
© Yellowstone County Museum
Through a various range of educational programs and exhibits, the Yellowstone County Museum collects, preserves and researches the natural history and diverse culture of Yellowstone Valley in Montana and the Northern Plains. Visitors can get a better understanding of the pre-history of the plains and view artifacts specific to the Indian tribes, mining, transportation, military, music and lifestyles around the 1950s and before.
One of the exhibits is the Lewis and Clark Fur Trading Post Exhibit which includes trade goods, fur trader accoutrements, and examples of animals encountered along the way. Admission is free and the entire family can have an educational and fun day out at the Yellowstone County Museum.
1950 Terminal Circle, Billings MT 59105, Phone: 406-256-6811
13.Reef Indoor Water Park
© Reef Indoor Water Park
Nothing is more exciting than spending a hot summer day cooling off in the largest indoor water park in the state of Montana. Reef Indoor Water Park is bigger than a football field and has rides and slides suitable for everyone in the family - from toddlers to grandparents.
Activities include an interactive playhouse with a 250-gallon water dumping bucket, a three-story tube slide, the Tropical Twister body slide, and a 55,000 gallon wave pool with waves over three feet high. Visitors can play a round of water basketball in the activity pool or unwind in the 20-person hot tub. Amenities include locker rooms, showing areas and bathrooms, as well as a first aid station and private party rooms and patio space that can be rented out.
1801 Majestic Ln, Billings, MT 59102, Phone: 406-839-9283
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Formed by the erosion of uplifted limestone, the Pryor Mountains are ecologically, geologically, culturally and meteorologically unique as they provide visitors with an opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful landscapes in Montana. This mountain range is made up of two uplifted mountain blocks - Big Pryor Mountain and East Pryor Mountains - and lies between the Wyoming border and Montana's largest city.
The plateaus rise in the air and peak at about 8,800 feet; the surrounding area is filled with a rich variety of habitat for visitors to enjoy with nearly 1,000 species of plants and other trees that are nearly 500 years old. The scenery is spectacular and is lively with wildlife, insects, and numerous species of birds; this includes bighorn sheep, mountain lions, golden eagles and calliope hummingbirds.
15.Lake Elmo State Park
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Lake Elmo State Park is a beautiful, vast 123-acre area that is perfect for outdoor activities with the family. There's an elevation of 3,199 feet and many miles of hiking and nature trails for people to enjoy - birdwatching is a favorite for ornithology lovers. Visitors can relax on the beach on a hot summer day or go boating, canoeing, swimming, sailing or windsurfing in the 64-acre reservoir.
A walk around the waters or a stop at Roger's Pier in the south shore offers fishing and other fun activities. The fun doesn't stop during the winter - visitors can go ice fishing or ice skating on the lake. Amenities include a boat launch, a shelter for social events, playground, restrooms and shower facilities, a picnic area, and a 200squarefoot dog park.
2300 Lake Elmo Drive, Billings, MT 59105, Phone: 406-247-2940
MetraPark is a 189-acre multi-facility venue which hosts many different types of programs and events such as trade shows, entertainment, educational and athletic events and agricultural exhibits. This unique brainchild of the Billings community includes a concert and sports arena, wedding venue, trade show and convention center, rodeo grandstands and fairgrounds.
Visitors can see what's in store at MetraPark and attend a number of these events; some of the past events have included games from the Billings Wolves Indoor Football League, the BMW Motorcycle Riders of America national convention, and concerts from the likes of the Eagles, Miranda Lambert, Elton John and Chris Young.
308 6th Avenue North, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-256-2400
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© Rimrock Mall
A part of the Billings community for over 40 years, Rimrock Mall is a unique shopping experience and community gathering place. Visitors can enjoy over 600,000 square feet of retail shops, department stores, food vendors and restaurants. It's fun for the entire family as there is something for everyone; stores include White House Black Market, Dillard's, JCPenney, H&M, Francesca's, Maurice's, Buckle, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works and Herberger's, among many others.
Visitors can reenergize themselves with a quick bite at the food court or in one of the many restaurants on-site. There are numerous mall events scheduled throughout the year such as Santa's Workshop, the Easter Hunt and mall fashion shows.
300 S 24th St. W, Billings, MT 59102, Phone: 406-656-3206
18.Four Dances Recreation Area
© Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management
The Four Dances Recreation Area is bordered by stunning river cliffs and the Yellowstone River on the west boundary. Just a few miles away from downtown Billings, the recreation area is filled with flora and fauna native to the area including ponderosa pine, native sagebrush and Yellowstone River cottonwood riparian.
The site is a great place for wildlife watching, nature photography, and to promote environmental education; visitors who love to hike will enjoy the surroundings, especially the quarter mile footpath which leads to the top of a rimrock wall and offers panoramic views of Yellowstone River. Winter activities at Four Dances are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Amenities include restrooms and signage throughout the park.
Billings Field Office, 5001 Southgate Drive, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-896-5013
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19.Billings Studio Theater
© Courtesy of Jaroslav Machacek - Fotolia.com
The Billings Studio Theater started over 60 years ago as a play-reading group which took place in the homes of early members. Over the years it has become a vital part of the community, a place where strangers turn into lifelong friends. The theater is a place to read, research, rehearse, sew, build, produce, promote and perform productions that touch the soul of the patrons.
Visitors are in for a memorable performance that will have them returning year after year to the volunteer-based community theater, with plays such as Becky's New Car and Desperate Measures. Workshops are held for various skills including production, makeup, dialects, accents and various other aspects of the arts.
1500 Rimrock Road, Billings, MT 59102, Phone: 406-248-1141
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20.Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
© Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
The Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale (BSO&C) was founded in May of 1951 as the Billings Symphony Society, but no matter what it has been called, the aim has always been the same: To enrich lives through music. There are over 135 members of the BSO&C who are led by Music Director Anne Harrigan, and each year they come together to perform and share their love of music with patrons from Montana, Wyoming, and all over the US.
The annual season from September through June includes subscription concerts, chamber performances, and annual holiday favorites such as Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Ballet and a New Year's Eve concert featuring Rockapella. A fantastic BSO&C event for the family is the annual Symphony in the Park event which is going on its 44th year - the event brings together the largest concert in the area in part with “Explore Music!” and introduces people to live, symphonic music. Visitors are urged to bring blankets, lawn chairs, and enjoy the music and picnic fare under the big Montana sky.
2721 2nd Avenue North - Suite 350, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-252-3610
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21.Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center
© Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center
The Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center is an independent conservation organization that was founded in 1976. The center is dedicated to promoting the preservation and knowledge of Montana's wildlife and natural ecosystems for current and future generations to enjoy, including many of Montana's native birds.
Visitors will be able to see how the bird species thrive in their preserved natural environment through the center's many exhibits and educational programs that are suitable for people of all ages. A fun learning opportunity, a day at the Conservation Education Center will let visitors connect with nature - everything from Montana's incomparable landscapes to its diverse wildlife.
P.O. Box 595, Helena, MT 59624, Phone: 406-443-3949
22.The Burger Dive
© The Burger Dive
The Burger Dive is an acclaimed Billings burger joint, named as the city's best burger four times by The Billings Gazette. The restaurant, which was opened in 2010 by married duo Andi and Brad Halsten, has received awards at the World Food Championships for its delicious, juicy ?-pound Angus beef burger selections. Diners can enjoy scrumptious championship-winning burgers such as the I'm Your Huckleberry, which is topped with huckleberry hatch chili barbecue sauce and goat cheese, or the Date With Jim Beam and Coke, which is infused with smoked gouda and bourbon and coke barbecue sauce. Tuna and vegetarian burgers are also available, with gluten-free buns and lettuce wraps available as substitutes upon request. Nathan's Famous hot dogs are also served, along with clever fry options and desserts from Wilcoxson's Ice Cream.
114 N 27th St, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406)-281-8291
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23.Bighorn Canyon Recreational Area
© NPS photo
With over 120,000 acres to explore, the Bighorn Canyon Recreational Area offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in the wild, vast landscapes of Montana. Experiencing the wonders of the natural world and its diverse wildlife, ecosystems and human history, visitors will have a unique and fun way to spend the day, no matter their age.
Over 200,000 visitors come to Bighorn Canyon from all over the world in search of their own adventure, whether it's to explore, or to spend the day biking, boating, camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, wildlife watching or visiting historic ranches.
P.O. Box 7458, Fort Smith, MT 59035, Phone: 307-548-5406
© Billings Mustangs
No trip to Billings, Montana is complete without a visit to see Billings' minor league baseball team, the Billings Mustangs. An affiliate of the Major League Cincinnati Reds, the Billings Mustangs have been a Pioneer League Rookie since 1948 and have been affiliated with the Reds since 1974.
The team has a long history in baseball and visitors can visit the home stadium, Dehler Park, which opened in 2008 and can accommodate over 3,000 people. The stadium is multi-use and visitors can have a barbecue or a large group outing at the Picnic Pavilion. There's tons of memorabilia and exhibits available for visitors to appreciate the team and their history.
2611 9th AveNorth, Billings, MT 59101, Phone: 406-252-1241
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25.Montana Segway Tours
© Montana Segway Tours
Segways are no longer solely the transportation device for employees in large tech companies or theme parks. Montana Segway Tours (MST) are the best way to see the numerous sites that Billings has to offer - it's fun, effortless, and a great way to experience the city. The tour starts with a quick training, safety video, and helmet fitting and visitors who have never even been on a Segway will soon be gliding with ease!
They then embark on their unique adventure - MST has four popular tours, each of which last two to three hours, and includes a bottle of water, a secure place to store belongings, and bathroom breaks along the way. The four tours: Black Otter Trail, Josephine Crossing, Shiloh Adventure, and Alkali Creek take visitors through the Oasis Waterpark, Zoo Montana, or Yellowstone River and offers amazing views of Montana that can't be experienced in any other tour style. (Phone: 406-373-4929)
25 Best Things to Do in Billings, Montana
- The Rimrocks, Photo: Courtesy of granitepeaker - Fotolia.com
- ZooMontana, Billings, Montana, Photo: ZooMontana
- Pictograph Cave State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Kurtis - Fotolia.com
- Yellowstone Art Museum, Photo: Yellowstone Art Museum
- DanWalt Gardens, Photo: DanWalt Gardens
- Moss Mansion Museum, Photo: Moss Mansion Museum
- Western Heritage Center, Photo: Western Heritage Center
- Riverfront Park, Photo: Riverfront Park
- Dehler Park, Photo: Courtesy of mtsaride - Fotolia.com
- Alberta Bair Theater, Photo: Alberta Bair Theater
- Yellowstone Cellars & Winery, Photo: Yellowstone Cellars & Winery
- Yellowstone County Museum, Photo: Yellowstone County Museum
- Reef Indoor Water Park, Photo: Reef Indoor Water Park
- Pryor Mountains, Photo: Courtesy of htrnr - Fotolia.com
- Lake Elmo State Park, Photo: Courtesy of johanf - Fotolia.com
- MetraPark, Photo: MetraPark
- Rimrock Mall, Photo: Rimrock Mall
- Four Dances Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management
- Billings Studio Theater, Photo: Courtesy of Jaroslav Machacek - Fotolia.com
- Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Photo: Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
- Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center, Photo: Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center
- The Burger Dive, Photo: The Burger Dive
- Bighorn Canyon Recreational Area, Photo: NPS photo
- Billings Mustangs, Photo: Billings Mustangs
- Montana Segway Tours, Photo: Montana Segway Tours
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of cromagrickman - Fotolia.com