When you live somewhere as large as the USA there’s a lot of cool and interesting places to travel. One place I’ve been that was total eye-candy was Montana.
And yes, while you’re there there’s plenty of popular places to go like Glacier National Park & Yellow Stone. But if you’re looking for some relatively laid back activities here’s some things that I did while I was there and I quite enjoyed.
What To Pack:
Depending on when you go to Montana, make sure that you are paying attention to the weather. It typically doesn’t get too hot there, but if you go in the winter be prepared for the cold! I went in October and it was quite chilly on some of the days, and definitely at night.
It did rain on a couple of the days during my trip. So that’s something to be aware of. I only did a carry-on and a backpack.
For one week here’s what I brought (& ended up buying because I did not come prepared! lol)
*Disclaimer: some, or all, of the products in this are affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission should you choose to purchase through my links.
- 2 pairs of pants
- 2 pairs of hiking pants/leggings (one pair I wore on travel day)(Get fleece lined tights for warmth)
- 4 Sweaters (2 were for layering)
- 2 T-Shirts
- 2 long sleeved shirts
- Wool socks
- Pair of gloves
- Down jacket (Northface Down)
- Hiking shoes (or Solomon is also a pair I was going to buy)
Quick side note: The Helena airport is both a relaxed place (aka you show up during their lunch break you will be hard pressed to find any employees) and total sticklers for the liquid “rules”. Even as a person traveling from LAX I came with bottles that were technically over 3oz. But on the way back they adhere to the strict quart sized bag, no bottles over the allowed size (even if they are mostly empty). Honestly one of the most strict airports I have ever been to. Which you might not expect from such a tiny airport, but maybe it’s because they really have nothing better to do. lol
We stayed in Helena, and my boyfriend did a wonderful job at finding a car rental from Turo. Which was a really easy, affordable, and enjoyable process.
We were lucky enough this trip to be able to stay at a family cabin out in Canyon Ferry, but there are plenty of hotels or AirB&B’s that you could do.
When you arrive at the airport all the stores that you would need are right there in town. There’s Costco, Target, Superior 1 Foods, Natural Grocers, and even a Walmart. Plus, if you forgot to bring any kind of gear there’s plenty of stores around for that too.
Helena downtown area was so cute! If you like old buildings and a small city feel then you’ll love downtown. Definitely a hodge podge of old buildings. There’s a lot of little shops that you can pop into, and plenty of yummy food places. I do wish that there were less vacancies when we went, since some parts seemed a bit empty. However, in spite of that, if you take your time there’s plenty to explore.
We started at Reeder’s Ally which is really small but interesting to look at as it’s historic 19th-century miners’ residences. And tucked up in there is a tasty looking (and smelling) vietnamese restaurant called Saigon Alley. We never got the chance to eat there, but when I go back, I’m definitely going there.
From there we took our time exploring. We mostly walked up and down Last Chance Gulch, but there are a few things to see outside of that main street as well.
I really enjoyed exploring this little area, so I don’t want to give a whole lot away. But if you go to points on that map you’ll find a bunch of fun hidden gems.
Some of the places that I really enjoyed definitely include:
- Lewis & Clark Library
- Birds & Beasleys Gift Shop
- The Base Camp (saved our butts so many times this trip with gear we needed. lol)
- General Mercantile (they have a coy pond inside! And pretty delicious coffee)
- Jmacs Pottery
- Helena Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi (delicious ramen!)
In my humble opinion, you can easily spend a good amount of time here. There were also a couple of parks w/ playgrounds if you’re traveling with kids. And if you have to do any sort of computer work while you’re here, I highly recommend TopFloor Coworking right across from Hill Park. Internet was dodgy at best outside of the city.
I’m sure that it doesn’t surprise you that I’m including hiking as something fun to do, and Montana is in no short supply of beautiful hikes. I usually use my AllTrails app to find great spots, and one hike that has been absolutely beautiful and a relatively easy hike is: Missouri River Beaver Creek Trail.
There is an unattended “pay box” that you’ll have to put money into for parking if you do not have a car with Montana plates. I haven’t seen anyone giving tickets out there the few times that I’ve gone, but you never know.
There’s parking right at the beginning of the dam/bridge. Just walk across it, turn left at the T, and then you will see the trail head a little further up the hill on the left.
Canyon Ferry Lake
This is the area that we stayed in while we were there. But depending on the time of year that you go, you can rent kayaks from Kim’s marina (or potentially boats) and spend some time out on the lake. The water is always freezing IMO but I have gone swimming there in the summer.
However, if you go during winter, the marina is closed. You can still walk around the camp sites and explore though. We spend time walking the perimeter of the lake, skipping rocks, and if you bring lunch you can do a little picnic.
Shooting Range 406
As a person from California who’s not into hunting or anything, and not big on guns, I don’t have much involvement with shooting. But going to the shooting range every grand once in awhile is a fun activity. Thursday night was lady’s night so it was fairly inexpensive to rent a 22 & 9mm. Shooting the small gun was pretty fun! Shooting the 9mm was kinda scary. lol But still worth the experience.
Range 406 was a nice place. The people who worked there were really knowledgeable and friendly. No other customers were there at the time that we went, except some lady who was doing the riffle range. So it was really laid back. If this is your kind of jam, or you just want to try new things, this was a fun one.
Quick funny story: When you go to a range, as you may already know, you have to wear safety glasses. And as I was shooting the target, a shell bounced off the divider wall and right in between the side of my glasses and face. It was hot as heck and totally burned my cheek! But right as it happened my boyfriend took a picture so he caught it on camera! Like what were the chances of that?! lol
We took a day trip out to Bozeman since it was another place that neither of us have been and allegedly a cool place for millennials.
We spent the day mostly exploring Main Street. And it was cute. A lot more stores and familiar brands. But it didn’t really have the same appeal to me as downtown Helena. So I’m happy that we only day-tripped there. We also missed out on our chance to go to the hot springs which might’ve actually been pretty cool (due to indecisiveness).
But I have to say we did get some pretty damn good buffalo pizza from Bridger Brewing, and we visited a cute little coffee shop (Treeline Coffee Roasters) that had these cool outdoor greenhouses for you to enjoy your coffee in.
We also stopped by Bozeman Camera & Repair. If you need camera equipment, this is the place to buy from! They are very knowledgeable and they’ll even ship things to you so that you don’t have to worry about taking it with you on your flight.
I also have to give a shout out to the guy at Carter’s Boots and Repair who fixed my boot in less than 5 mins! He was so kind and helpful, if you have any boots that need repair or you want to purchase new boots I highly recommend this place.
To Sum it up
Montana is a MUST SEE place. The sky, the mountains, the trees, everything was so beautiful. The people are so nice and friendly. There’s plenty of things to do, and plenty of things to see.
Questions about Montana? Ask me in the comments below! Have you been here before? Was there anything that you did that is worth doing?