Why Is Billings Worth Visiting?
Before we get into all the things to do in Billings, Montana, let’s get to know it a bit. Billings is the state’s largest city, but it’s not a place you are likely to visit on your way to somewhere else. It sits in the middle of nowhere, an unknown metropolis surrounded by sandstone, farmland and ranches.
But despite its remote location and out-of-the-way vibe, this city is a surprisingly great vacation destination. It’s the kind of place you go to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.
This town was founded as a railroad stop in the late 19th century, but Native American tribes had been living there for centuries before that. In fact, Billings sits at the heart of what was once called ‘Crow Indian country’ because so many members of the Crow tribe lived there for many years.
Today, a thriving Native American community still lives in and around Billings, with 4.4% of the city’s population reporting to be Native American on their 2010 census forms.
Many historians believe that one of Billings’ main attractions – the stunning state park with ancient cave drawings – was once used as a sacred site by Native Americans living in the area. These caves are covered in ancient paintings depicting people hunting bison and gathering food.
What Is There to See at the Pictograph Cave State Park?
The Pictograph Cave State Park is a Montana treasure, filled with natural and cultural history. The site contains a group of three caves (Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost) that have been used for over 2,000 years as shelter, storage places for food and tools, or sacred sites. They’re the only known pictograph caves in Montana, and were named a National Historic Landmark in 1964.
While many of the 30,000 artifacts found in the caves have been relocated to museums, you can still see some original pictographs painted on the cave walls – and they’re surprisingly well-preserved! The caves are located just outside of Billings in an area rich with wildlife and outdoor activities. You can visit the site every day between 8am and 8pm, and admission is just $6 per person.
Other Things to Do in Billings, Montana – Family Fun
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Billings, Montana with the kids, the zoo is the place to go. ZooMontana is home to over 50 species of mammals, birds and reptiles, with a focus on educating visitors on the natural habitats of each animal. Admission is $11 for adults and $8 for children.
For something more low-key than the zoo’s excitement, head over to Oasis. This water park is open during the summer months and has a lazy river, raft slides and a wave pool that’s sure to keep your family busy for hours. Another option is The Reef Indoor Water Park.
For those who want something more outdoorsy (and free!), head over to Rose Park for one of the many activities available there. There’s a playground for younger kids and a skate park for older ones – plus tons of picnic tables and outdoor grills, so you can spend hours enjoying the beautiful Montana scenery. Other nice parks in Billings are:
- Riverfront Park;
- Lake Elmo State Park;
- Pioneer Park;
- Hawthorne Park;
- Two Moon Park.
For younger children, the Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum is a great place to learn and play. With interactive exhibits on everything from plants and animals to the solar system, your kids will be sure to have a blast – and so will you! General admission is $5.
If the whole family is into sports, catch a game at MetraPark Arena – home to the Billings Outlaws indoor football team. The arena also hosts concerts, rodeos, and other events throughout the year, so there’s always something going on.
Things to Do in Billings, Montana for Museum Goers
If you’re visiting Billings, Montana and have a love for museums, there are many to choose from. Here are some must-see museums for the art and history buff.
Moss Mansion Museum
This 2-acre English Renaissance Revival mansion was built in 1903 and was home to Preston Boyd Moss and his family. It is now a museum that contains more than 90% of its original furniture, as well as personal items of the Moss family. Self-guided tours are $12 for adults and $8 for students.
Yellowstone County Museum
Yellowstone County Museum showcases the history of the area through interactive exhibits. Among these exhibits is a 1901 steam engine train, a collection of Plains Indian art, and the story of Joe Medicine Crow. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Yellowstone Art Museum
The Yellowstone Art Museum houses permanent collections of modern and contemporary art from over 400 artists from around the world. Exhibits include works from Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Ed Ruscha, Sol LeWitt and many more. Admission if $15 for adults and $6 for students.
Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site
The Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site is located at the park entrance along the banks of the Yellowstone River. This site offers information on William “Yellowstone” Kelly, who was a scout and guide for General Philip Sheridan during his 1873 campaign against the Sioux.
Visitors can also learn about other early explorers who traversed the area, like Lewis and Clark and Colonel John Bozeman. The site has several hiking trails, a picnic area and tours of the historic cabin that once belonged to Yellowstone Kelly.
Western Heritage Center
The Western Heritage Center is an extensive museum located in downtown Billings. The center covers a wide range of topics related to Montana’s history, including Native American culture, pioneer settlement, mining and ranching. The museum features an extensive collection of local artifacts, photographs, documents and artworks.
Ending Your Perfect Day Trip to Billings, Montana
After a day filled with adventure and relaxation, you’ll be happy to return to your comfortable room at one of the local hotels, such as the Hampton Inn, Ledgestone Hotel, or My Place Hotel. Or, try some good beer in the Brewery District if you’re not tired yet!
So, there you have it – if you’re looking for things to do in Billings, Montana, you won’t be disappointed. From indoor water parks to museums and everything in between, this city has something for everyone!
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