Top 10 Things You MUST Do When Visiting Bozeman
by Sarah Cairoli | Friday Jul. 1st, 2016
Ahhhh, summertime! If you live in Bozeman, there is a good chance you have visitors coming at some point during the summer. If you don’t live in Bozeman, welcome! Whether you are acting as host or guest this summer, there are some things you simply must do to see the best that Bozeman has to offer.
Visit the Museum of the Rockies
The Museum of the Rockies is the pride of Bozeman. The dinosaur exhibit, overseen until recently by Dr. Jack Horner of Jurassic Park fame, is unmatched. An enormous T-rex skeleton currently dominates the exhibit, but visitors can see the fossilized bones of several species, many of which were found in Montana. Kids love the Discovery Center, modeled after Yellowstone National Park, on the top floor. Admission to the historic Tinsley House is free all summer, and here you will find dedicated volunteers demonstrating what the homesteading lifestyle looked like in Montana. The Villas of Oplontis Near Pompeii is possibly the Museum’s biggest attraction this summer; it features antiquities that will only be seen in three U.S. cities this year. While you’re there, don’t forget the Planetarium.
Visit the Gallatin History Museum
The Bozeman area’s rich history is full of fascinating tales, many of which are told at the Gallatin History Museum. Exhibits include Native American history, a look at Fort Ellis, and wagon train artifacts. Located in the old jail on Main Street, the building is an exhibit in its own right. The gallows that used to hang local villains are still visible inside the building.
Soak in the Bozeman Hot Springs
Occasionally, the weather turns cool during Bozeman summers, but thanks to the Bozeman Hot Springs, you can swim no matter what temperature the thermometer reads. Recent renovations updated the locker rooms and added three outdoor pools to this facility. The new outdoor area has lounge chairs, fire pits, and a band shell, which make it easy to spend an entire day poolside. If you prefer to swim indoors, the hot springs facility has several indoor pools as well, with temperatures ranging from icy cold to almost unbearably hot and everything in between.
Hike to the ‘M’
Whether you are flying or driving into town, you will surely see the ‘M’ as you enter the Gallatin Valley. The giant letter was created in 1915 by Montana State University students, and a moderate trail meanders its way right up to the collegiate symbol. Take Bridger Canyon Road to the trailhead; a parking lot is located on the left side of the road. The trail winds for 1.7 miles through fields of wildflowers before reaching the ‘M.’ Dogs are welcome on this trail (duh, it’s Bozeman), and kids can manage the hike without difficulty. The views of Bozeman and the surrounding valley are breathtaking.
Ride the Rapids
Adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers should ride the rapids on the Gallatin River before leaving the area. Montana Whitewater and Geyser Whitewater Expeditions send guided trips down the river every day during the summer. If you are looking for intense adventure, ride through the Mad Mile during spring runoff. If you would prefer a tamer ride, let the crews of these expedition companies lead you through a quieter stretch of water. Those that would prefer not to get wet can watch the action from a trail along the river. The Gallatin Canyon is gorgeous and worth a visit whether by boat or foot.
Eat, Eat, Eat!
Bozeman may be a small town, but we have plenty of restaurants that deliver big flavor. Simply wander Main Street and let your nose lead you. Bozeman has whiskey bars, Wild-West fare, Asian cuisine, tapas bistros, sushi, and more. You can’t go wrong. For a more complete look at all there is to eat in Bozeman, check out Bozeman Magazine’s Food Scene 2016 Restaurant Guide on newsstands and online.
Dance Down Main Street
Bozeman’s Main Street closes down every Thursday night for a dance party better known as Music On Main. Local vendors sell food and drink while a different band rocks the town every week. This kid-friendly street party has something for everyone. For a complete schedule, visit downtownbozeman.org.
Browse the Emerson
Inspiration is easily found in a place like Bozeman, so it should come as no surprise that the population of local artists is thriving. The Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture is home to a wide variety of art galleries that showcase art for every preference and price range. There are many ways to find your own inspiration at the Emerson: browse the galleries, take an art class, visit with a writing group, or take a yoga class. Once your feet tire of walking around, stop at the Emerson Grill for a delicious meal and glass of wine.
Shop the Farmer’s Market
Bozeman has two farmer’s markets: one on Tuesday evenings in Bogert Park and one on Saturday mornings at the Gallatin Valley Fairgrounds. Both feature delectable, often organic, produce, fresh flowers, locally produced goat cheese, jellies, jams, and soaps, among other things. Food trucks are often onsite, turning the farmers’ produce into hearty meals. Both locations have plenty of space to enjoy a picnic, and local bands are often there to provide the background music.
Catch a Fish
It would be a crime to leave Bozeman without wetting a line in one of the many nearby blue-ribbon trout streams. If you are new to the art of fishing, the guys working at Bozeman’s oldest fly shop Troutfitters will be able to help you get started. They can help you find the gear you need, sell you a fishing license, and connect you with a guide if you would like.
People often think of Bozeman as a winter destination, but summer is where it’s at. If you are visiting the area, be sure to reserve several days to explore all Bozeman has to offer.