Billings is a melting pot of everything that makes Montana great: the rustic Western heritage, the natural beauty, the small town charm and the big city attractions. And with so much to see and do both in the city and just outside it, it's no wonder it's known as Montana's Trailhead! Whether you're looking to enjoy the culture at a renowned museum, explore the natural environment, or you just want to chow down on burgers and beer, Billings and the surrounding region is the perfect place to do it.
Step back in time at Moss Mansion, designed by Henry Laneway Hardenbergh, the architect who planned New York's Waldorf Astoria and Plaza hotels. You'll learn about the history of Billings as told by one of its wealthiest and most fascinating families, and get to see some cool historic artifacts to boot. Or see a different side of Montana at the Yellowstone Art Museum, which focuses on progressive and contemporary art from all around the region. Their calendar of events is always filled up with fun activities, shows, and demonstrations, which make visiting an even more unique experience!
Billings is also home to ZooMontana, the state's only zoo and botanical garden, which features tons of wildlife native to the region. And when it comes to your accommodations, you'll find charm and comfort a-plenty at local hotels like Dude Rancher Lodge with quirky decor that incorporates the cattle branding symbols used by local ranchers or the Northern Hotel, which is located in a historic building in the heart of Billings.
Billings is pretty well-known for one thing in particular: their craft beer scene! Angry Hank's Micro Brewery is located in an old service station, and on nice days, they roll open the garage doors, and the beer is just as perfect as the brewery's atmosphere. Try the Head Trauma IPA! Montana Brewing Company is another Billings beer must-visit. Between their full menu and award-winning beers, it's a Billings favorite. Since you're in the area, go for Custer's Last Stout! Also stop by überbrew to enjoy some of their crazy creative beers and a sausage because nothing goes better with beer than classic German fare. You can also check out Carters Brewing to see what new and interesting brews they have on tap!
And the food in the city is just as varied and delicious as the beer! If you're craving something classic, like a juicy cheeseburger and beer-battered onion rings, then you’ll want to head to The Burger Dive. The menu is seriously mouth-watering. If you’re more in the mood for wine and charcuterie, try The Fieldhouse Cafe; they also offering an amazing brunch menu!
And since Billings is your trailhead to Montana, you should take advantage of the unique attractions just outside the city. A quick trip away is the site of one of America's most infamous battles: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. This is the site where Lieutenant Colonel Custer and the US Army's 7th Cavalry made their last stand against thousands of Sioux and Lakota in one of the last armed efforts by Native Americans to preserve their way of life. Start off at the visitor center to get some historical context for this significant battle, and then tour the Indian Memorial, the site of Custer's Last Stand, and the cemetery where many who lost their lives in the battle are buried.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is also located nearby. It's filled with wildlife and offers dramatic canyon views visible from 27 miles of trail. Enjoy fishing and boating on the Bighorn River, or visit the National Recreation Area's four historic ranches kept in pristine condition. You can learn all about dude ranching and life raising cattle on the range! Another attraction of note near Billings is Pompeys Pillar National Monument. The Pillar is a stone cliff that rises 150 feet above the prairie ... but it's most notable for its Native American pictographs and signatures from pioneers and settlers carved into the sandstone. The most famous name carved into the Pillar? William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The perfect way to cap off your trip to Montana's Trailhead is to take a hike to the top to take in the panoramic views!