An exotic cultural background, a happening metropolitan downtown, and an abundance of trails and scenic outdoor viewpoints are what won Billings the award of the Best Town in 2016 by Outside Magazine.
Being the largest city in the state of Montana, Billings has seen rapid growth from what was a Railroad town in 1882 to where it stands today and this has earned it the title of The Magic City. A significant Native American history, owing primarily to the Crow Nation, also makes it the perfect place for any history buffs planning to visit this town.
Interactive Map of 25 Things to Do in Billings (MT)
1. The Moss Mansion
The Moss Mansion is a red-stoned mansion designed by the famous architect Janeway Hardenbergh, built for 105,000$ in 1903 when the national average for a building a home was only 5000$.
Listed on the National Register for Historic Places, the Moss Mansion aims to portray the decorations and furniture native to the 19th Century. This features gold-threaded walls, fireplaces made with marble, and wood paneling, which all contribute to its high-end interior décor. The Moss Mansion can be explored through a variety of tours available and can also be reserved for events.
2. Zoo Montana
With an area spanning 70-acres, the ZooMontana is a zoological park, an education facility, and a certified botanical garden. Visited by over 80000 people annually, ZooMontana is the only zoo and botanical garden in all of Montana and thus, it is a destination for locals and tourists alike.
Home to nearly 100 different animals from 58 different species, ZooMontana is an animal lovers paradise. Whether that be the Siberian Tiger and the Red Panda in the Asia Region, the Grizzly Bear and a Bald Eagle in the North America Region, or the Pygmy Goats and the Rabbits in the Barn, ZooMontana has got something for everyone.
3. The Rimrocks
If you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for a good, thrilling hike or even just someone who appreciates a good view of the city from a height, the hiking trails along the top of the Rimrocks are the perfect way to spend a few hours.
You can either go for the trail through Swords Park or through Zimmerman Park, both these options lead you right to the Rimrocks formations. However, do watch out as sightings of rattlesnakes have often been reported along these trails, especially in the summer.
4. Four Dances Natural Area
The Four Dances Natural Area is named after Chief Four Dances, an important military and religious figure in the Crow Nation. The hike in this area takes you along the eastern portion of the Rimrocks, giving you scenic views of the city as well as the Yellowstone River, which is the longest free-flowing river in the United States.
If you’re someone who loves taking photos, this hike is ideally done at sunset time as the lighting is perfect to bring out all the natural colors in your surroundings. While you’re there, do visit the Sacrifice Cliff point too, for the best photo op and mesmerizing views!
5. Pioneer Park
Looking to spend some time on your feet burning a few calories? The Pioneer Park features various sports facilities including tennis courts, soccer/baseball fields, jogging trails, and even a disc golf course! The Zimmerman center is also located within the park, which can be used as a venue for social gatherings.
There’s even a wading pool present, should you be visiting the Pioneer Park with any children. It is also the perfect place to have a picnic, due to a wide variety of Bar-B-Que grills present throughout the park. There is even a waterfall located within the park, which makes for the perfect sightseeing stop.
6. Crystal Lounge Casino
If you’re in the mood to make a few extra bucks while having a great time, Crystal Lounge Casino is the place to hit up. Being the best casino in Billings, it offers karaoke every night at its bar as well as a few special entertainment events occasionally.
Crystal Lounge Casino has the best variety of poker and keno machines in town owing to the highest payback available. Plus, all casino players receive complimentary snacks and beverages as well as free parking, I mean how amazing is that? Cash Jackpot drawing also takes place every hour through which you can make some extra cash.
7. Riverfront Park
Located on the banks of the Yellowstone River along South Billings Boulevard, Riverfront Park is the largest river park in Billings. It offers several trails for jogging, scenic picnic spots, and covered seating in a few places. Lake Josephine can also be found here along with one of the walking paths.
There are three park shelters available for rent, which can be used for various recreational purposes. If you like volleyball and have people to play with, there’s even a few sand volleyball courts located in the park. The Cochran Pond is also a scenic point, accessed easily by taking the Dutcher Trail route.
What’s better than spending a day at a water park when the sun is shining bright? Oasis is the most extensive outdoor water park located in Heights, Billings. It guarantees enjoyment for all ages through a wide variety of amenities and aquatic activities for families and friends to have fun together.
Oasis has amazing rides and pools include a heated swimming pool, a rocket ride body slide, and a wave pool just to name a few. They also offer swimming lessons for beginners as well as a venue to celebrate any event that you might have planned.
9. The Grand Escape Room
Have a knack for solving mysteries or riddles? Intrigued by challenges? Well then, you’re clearly in for an exciting time at The Grand Escape Room. With 2 different scenarios to choose from i.e. CSI Murder Mystery or The Mail Room, you get to play in unique settings with your friends.
Groups of 4 to 8 people can play in a room at once and the main objective is to think outside the box by analyzing the evidence and clues in the surroundings to solve the mystery successfully. All this in just under 60 minutes will have your heart throbbing!
Built-in 1975 with an audience capacity of 12000, the MetraPark Arena is a huge complex built on 189 acres of land and has multiple facilities on sight. Also, known as First Interstate Arena because of its sponsorship, MetraPark is a center for all events in the state of Montana.
The Metra hosts events of all types including trade, sports, athletics, entertainment, and educational happenings. Having hosted legends like Johnny Cash and Metallica for numerous concerts, you should definitely check up on the schedule of the MetraPark Arena when you’re in Billings.
11. Pictograph Cave State Park
Declared as Historic National Landmark in 1964, the Pictograph Cave State Park is home to three caves – Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost cave – which were inhabited by prehistoric hunters. There are over 100 rock paintings with the oldest ones being over 2000 years old.
Pictograph Cave is the deepest one, 160 ft wide & 45 ft deep, out of the three and thus, binoculars are recommended to get a better view of the rock art. There is also a loop trail going around the park which offers amazing bird watching sites as well as various informative displays that identify the historic features along the route.
12. Wise Wonders Science & Discovery Museum
Want to make your children happy after all the days you’ve been spending in places they aren’t a fan of? Well, the Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum is an educational place with a wide variety of exhibits that children can enjoy.
They get hands-on access to a lot of playful equipment and you can even leave them here while you run other errands. This museum even conducts summer camps and weekly workshops for children, teaching them about science and a whole lot of useful educational tips and tricks.
13. Lake Elmo State Park
Set at an elevation of 3199 feet and covering an area of 123 acres, the Lake Elmo State Park is a recreational area in northeast Billings. From the 123 acres, 64 acres are occupied by a reservoir that is open to the public for activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, and birdwatch.
This park is dog friendly and there is even a whole 200 square ft. area on the west side of the park for dogs. So if you’re a dog lover, this is a must-visit place. You can even go on a 1.4-mile nature trail along the lake or go fishing south of the park at Roger’s Pier.
14. Geyser Mini Golf
Geyser Mini Golf is a fun family entertainment center, with several activities such as an 18 hole adventure mini-golf course, an arcade gaming center, and a Go Karting center. All the activities are children friendly but adults can have a pretty good time enjoying them too.
It is the perfect venue for your birthday celebrations as well since they have a number of food options available on-site, which can be specifically catered to your needs. However, it is located a bit further south of Billings and is a 45-minute drive from Billing’s Metropolitan area.
15. Yellowstone Art Museum
Opened in October 1964 in a building housing the Yellowstone County Jail, the Yellowstone Art Museum (YAM) is now the largest and most diverse contemporary art museum in Montana. A significant portion of the museum is dedicated to women artists and the struggles of women through time, which is highly appreciated by the visitors.
Awarded Montana’s Governor award for Service to the Arts in 1995, YAM now has work showcased from artists like Deborah Butterfield, Rudy Autio, and Isabelle Johnson. YAM also has an innovative space known as the Visible Vault, where the public can see the museum’s permanent collections with ease.
16. Reef Indoor Water Park
Located at the Big Horn Resort in Billings, The Reef is Montana’s largest indoor water park. With 6 different water slides, a 55000-gallon wave pool, and a play structure for kids, there’s something for everyone here at the Reef. If you’re here with a group of friends, there’s even a place to play water Basketball!
Since it is indoor and temperature-controlled, you need not worry about the temperature outside and you can enjoy any day here. There are tables and patios located within the park, allowing family gatherings and when you’re done enjoying the amenities, Shark Shack has some delicious food waiting for you.
17. Two Moon Park
Named after a Northern Cheyenne Chief who fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Two Moon park features a 1.9-mile loop trail that is suitable for all difficulty levels and is dog friendly too. The park borders the Yellowstone River in its south and features a dense forest up north, making it full of wildlife and nature.
The Weeping Wall is another point to visit downstream of the trail, where various birds can be seen as well as sheaths of snow on the cliff in winters. The north entrance has access to the Dutcher Trail as well, which is a paved trail leading further into Coulson Park.
18. Rimrock Mall
Ready for some shopping on your vacations? Rimrock Mall is the largest mall in Billings, as well as all of Montana. Being an indoor shopping mall, it provides a shopping experience independent of the weather since it can get extremely cold in the winters. It even has a movie theatre should you be in the mood to watch one of the latest movies!
Featuring over 90 shops, restaurants and department stores such as Macy’s, JC Penny, etc. the Rimrock mall has a huge variety of goods available for all your shopping needs. There’s also a children’s play area where you can drop them off, while you’re on your shopping spree.
19. Zimmerman Park
Situated within the Billings Rimrock formations, the Zimmerman park offers trails suitable for numerous activities including hiking, climbing, and mountain biking. Zimmerman trail is just one trail but many other trailheads lead to the top, offering scenic views of Billings, both during day and night.
The park is animal friendly so you can definitely bring your pets along for a walk, but do note that the trails are of an intermediate difficulty level. Also, watch out for rattlesnakes in the bushes since they have been occasionally found along these trails, especially in the summers.
20. Western Heritage Center
Previously the Parmly Billings Memorial Library, the Western Heritage Center (WHC) is now a regional museum housing many historic artifacts related to the history of the Yellowstone River Valley. The museum opened in 1971 and has since been used to tell various life stories through a series of collections, programs, and exhibits.
Awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities award in 2001, WHC is now home to 17000 artifacts which are displayed through 5 to 7 changing exhibits every year. In addition to this, they publish books, educational kits, and videos in order to promote historic awareness of the Yellowstone River Valley.
21. Billings Studio Theatre Inc.
Billings Studio Theatre (BST) is a not-for-profit volunteer community theatre that runs a variety of productions, including plays and musicals, throughout the year. The first performance held here by BST was There’s Always Juliet in 1953, which was a huge hit in town. However, they relocated to a bigger, more equipped venue in 1971, which is where they are currently based.
All the productions and plays are only made possible through the 500 people that volunteer here annually. BST even staged the full version of the famous musical Les Misérables in 2013, making it the first theatre in Montana to do so.
22. Yellowstone County Museum
Housing over 23000 artifacts in a 5000 sq. ft facility, the Yellowstone Country Museum (YCM) aims to research and display the diverse natural history and traditions of the Yellowstone Valley as well as the Northern Plains. The entrance of the museum is through the Paul McCormic cabin, which holds a majority of the artifacts and gives you a historical vibe even before you walk in.
YCM coordinates a variety of exhibits and vocational programs in order to promote the enhancement of cultural and historical knowledge in the community. Thus, the YCM is a historical treasure that must be visited by all history buffs in town.
23. DanWalt Gardens
The DanWalt Gardens has been called “Billings Best Kept Secret”, which gives you just another reason to visit it. A magnificent collection of botanical wonders including flowers, shrubs, and trees, all situated between tiny ponds and sculptures make the DanWalt Gardens a very lovely place to visit.
With both an indoor and outdoor display of botany, the gardens have an ever-changing flower exhibit which induces a sense of tranquility into all the visitors. There’s even a specially decorated pavilion where wedding ceremonies, receptions, and all sorts of events can be held in an exhilarating environment.
24. Alberta Bair Theatre
Initially known as the Fox Theatre in 1931, the Alberta Bair Theatre was renamed, after the owner’s daughter, to its current name in 1987. It has a capacity to host 1400 people and is the only fully equipped performing arts center between Spokane (WA) and Denver (CO).
Located in downtown Billings, this theatre features various famous touring companies, professional musicians, dance groups, and theatrical performances. Stars like Dizzy Gillespie, Judy Collins, and Ray Charles have performed here in the past. So next time you’re in Billings, keep an eye out on their calendar to get the chance to witness stellar performances.
25. Montana’s Rib and Chop House
Every trip should have at least one amazing local dining out experience, don’t you agree? Well, the best in Billings in Montana’s Rib and Chop House. Featuring a family-friendly and casual environment, this chophouse specializes in Black Angus steaks, seafood, and baby back ribs.
Even though it has a slightly higher price tag than the restaurants in its surroundings, it is completely worth dining here at least once while you’re in downtown Billings. With three branches in three different states, all leading in their own town, the quality of Montana’s Rib and Chop House doesn’t need any further endorsement.