What’s The Best Things To Do in Billings, Montana in One Day?
Billings, despite some of the sentiment you may have heard, has a lot going on. With the Rimrocks on one end of town, the Yellowstone River on the other end, and a whole lot going on in between, it’s hard to map out the perfect day.
It’s not impossible though. If you want a real feel for what Billings is all about, I’ve put together the ultimate Billings experience for anyone new here, just visiting, or a life-long resident.
Sunrise – Walk the top of the Rimrocks
You can’t really experience Billings without getting up on top of the Rims. This unique geologic feature defines the city and provides a natural border along the north end of town.
From the top of the Rims, you see the day unfold on the valley below. Drive-up above downtown, and swing into Swords Park. The paved walking trail provides an easy surface for those of all fitness levels. Head all the way up and you can learn about Yellowstone Kelly.
Mid-morning – Discover Downtown
That morning exercise will stir your appetite. So head back into downtown Billings, and grab some java and a quick bite at one of the local coffee shops.
Rock Creek Coffee Roasters has held strong on the corner of 2nd and Broadway for decades. But there are plenty of options like The Annex, Ebon Coffee Collective, Black Dog, or City Brew.
Once you’re sufficiently jittery, a walking tour of downtown lands you in incredible boutique stores like the local clothing company Aspinwall Mountain Wear, or Liberty & Vine Country Store, or the mystical Barjon’s Books.
Noon – Find a great Restaurant
As you walk through the streets you’ll pass any number of great restaurants. Most are open for lunch and dinner, including the award-winning Burger Dive.
But if you have access to a vehicle, or want to hop in an Uber, you can zip out to the West End of town and visit some boutique eateries out that way. Places like Local Kitchen & Bar where they specialize in local ingredients and top-notch dishes. Or perhaps Midway Grill and Brews, Sophie’s Kitchen, or Commons 1882 with their amazing new menu.
Early Afternoon – Visit the River
We’ve seen Billings from above; now let’s get close to the water.
The Yellowstone River wraps around Billings, hugging the city tightly on the south. An incredible resource that not only provides recreation but also supplies all the drinking water for the city, this river is a sight to behold all year round.
There are three places to discover the Yellowstone River. Head south to Riverfront Park and visit Lake Josephine. Or head into Billings Heights, and cruise along one of the many walking trails at Two Moon Park. Finally, you could go up past the heights to the relatively new Dover Memorial Park.
Late Afternoon – Cool off in Lake Elmo or Warm up on the Rims
If it’s summer, it’s probably getting hot out. If it’s winter, hopefully, the sun is shining and it’s not frigid out.
In the summer, Lake Elmo is a man-made lake that was recently drained and overhauled. With a small beach area, it’s a relaxing place to cool off in the water, or push a paddleboard around while catching some gentle breezes.
In the winter, heading up to Zimmerman Park or out to Phipps Park will get you back onto the Rimrocks, but off the paved trail. Scramble along the rocks, or go for a trail run while you catch some views of the valley below.
Evening – It’s Four O’clock Somewhere
Montana law limits your ability to really enjoy the local breweries. But we still get from 4pm – 8pm most days to enjoy the fine craft brews the dedicated brewers are creating.
Most of Billings’ breweries are downtown and within walking distance of each other. In fact, Visit Billings has put together a great guide on how you can tour most of our breweries in a few hours.
Along the way, however, you’ll probably get a bit peckish. Fortunately, you’re walking by some awesome local restaurants.
Evening – Find another Great Restaurant
If you stick around downtown, you could head on up to the 20th floor of the Double Tree hotel, and grab a bite to eat with an amazing view of the Rimrocks, the Beartooths, or if you get the right table, both.
If heights aren’t your thing, Walkers and Jakes both receive great reviews from the majority of those who dine there.
Or, if you find yourself at Montana Brewing Company having a pint, order some of the best Mac & Cheese in town; if you’re at Überbrew you can order a bison burger; at Last Chance the menu is largely made up of the most local ingredients possible.
Nightlife – Take in a Show
Performances take place on just about any given night of the week.
The Alberta Bair Theater brings in a lot of talented actors. NOVA Center for the Performing Arts has a ton of up-and-coming actors. Billings Studio Theater hosts performances from local talent.
That’s not to mention that there is a handful of small venues where musicians play; like Thirsty Street at the Garage, Walkers, or Wild Ginger.
And of course, the Art House Cinema and Pub is a cool small theater where you can sip a glass of wine while watching a blast-from-the-past movie.
What is there to do when you visit Billings, Montana?
Billings is known as Montana’s Trailhead.
When you’re off on an adventure, you gather at the trailhead. You plan your trip, and you prepare. Then, you take a day or two and explore the area.
Coming back, you relax, and you grab a bite to eat and a pint from a great local brewery. You regale friends with stories of the trip and discuss all the fun you had.
When you want to make the most of your trip to Billings, start here and explore a bit. Then, discover what’s going on within a couple of hours in any direction.