7 REASONS TO VISIT BILLINGS
*This post is sponsored by Visit Montana
Last month we had a chance to visit Billings, Montana. It was our first time in Billings, and we were really impressed by the vibrant scene. From breweries, tasty food, interesting history, and a great trail system, everything that Billings offered really caught us by surprise.
In this new blog post, I share some of the reasons it’s worth taking a trip to visit Billings. For our full itinerary, check out this blog post.
#1 – Billing’s Beer Scene
Whether you love a hoppy IPA, a hearty stout, a Belgian wheat, or a crisp cider, beer lovers could spend an entire weekend exploring Billing’s Walkable Brewery District. Right in the heart of downtown, you’ll find 6 breweries, two distilleries, and a cider hour (my favorite) all within a few blocks of one another. Many of them have great outdoor patios and tasty menus to boot.
My favorites were Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill for drinks and dinner. They had over 8 ciders on draft (all made in-house) ranging from very dry to super sweet. The “Flathead Cherry “and the “Full Montana” were my favorites. We also heard great things from the locals about Angry Hank’s, and Uberbrew, who won Small Brewing Company of the Year, at the 2016 Great American Beer Festival. Grab a pint and cheers to independent local brew!
Eating dinner at Last Chance Cider Pub
#2 – Billing’s Trail System
Billings has 45 miles of multi-use trails for biking, dog walking, or any other activity you might enjoy. We spent an afternoon exploring Zimmerman Park on mountain bikes and were impressed by the trail quality, views, and the lack of crowds. I imagine sunset up on these trails would also be killer.
Insider tip: If you’re visiting the area sans-bicycle look up The Spoke Shop where you can rent a bike for the afternoon. I’d suggest choosing a small SUV for your rental car so you can fit a bike or two in the back.
#3 – Lack of Crowds
Out of Montana’s 12.5 million visitors each year, an overwhelming majority are concentrated in western Montana and the areas around Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. If you prefer to get away from these types of crowds, Billings and Southeast Montana are your tickets. We couldn’t believe how easy it was to find solitude, even on the trails right in town.
#4 – The Beartooth Mountains
Billings isn’t dubbed “Montana’s Trailhead” for nothing. Billings is the gateway to the Beartooth Mountains – home to Montana’s highest peaks. Rising just over 12,800 feet, the Beartooths give alpine enthusiasts endless terrain to explore. The Beartooth Highway, which cuts through the range, typically opens in late May for the summer season. I recommend taking a drive to the top of the Pass at a minimum. The engineering that was required to build this road, which first opened in 1936, is mind-boggling. Along the road, you’ll find tons of hiking, camping, and even a SUMMER SKI RESORT called Beartooth Basin.
#5 – The Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River runs right through the heart of Billings and is the last free-flowing river in the lower 48. Right in Billings, there are many ways you can enjoy it. You can look for peregrine falcons from the top of the cliffs at Four Dances Recreation Area, fish for walleye on the river’s banks, or float the Yellowstone River in an inflatable kayak.
#6 – Western History
The Battle of Little Bighorn and Custer’s Last Stand took place right outside of Billings and is the most well known historical event that took place here. The battlefield is now a National Monument, operated by the National Park Service and is open to the public. The history of Billings goes further back to the early 1700s when the Crow Indian Tribe settled in the region. Pompey’s Pillar National Monument – a sacred Native American site on the Yellowstone River – is about 45 minutes from downtown. This is also where Captian William Clark (of Lewis and Clark) landed in 1806. For those interested in learning more about Billing’s history, check out the Western Heritage Center, a small museum in Billings.
#7 – Friendly Vibes
With tourism exploding in so many places, you don’t always find locals who welcome out-of-towners. In Billings, we found the opposite. The locals from all ages were incredibly warm – from the old-timers who have lived in Billings their entire lives to the younger generation who have flocked to Billings for its vibrant scene. We found them willing to share local knowledge—“Where to get the best cocktail in town? Where to hit the mountain biking trails? Or where to get the best sunset views?”All we had to do was ask.