Looking to visit somewhere new and different this spring or summer? Book a trip and travel to Helena, Montana for a capital city getaway in the wild west.
Growing up in the South, Montana always held a certain mystique. Big Sky Country. The Wild West. Snow and mountains and gold mining ghost towns. I never had the chance to visit, but that didn’t stop me from moving there sight unseen in 2011.
St. Helena Cathedral, Helena, Montana. Photo by Christopher Allen
My wife and I were looking for an adventure and a change of scenery, and Helena, Montana fit the bill nicely. We landed jobs, moved into a 100-year old downtown brownstone apartment building and found no trouble fitting into daily life in Montana’s capital city.
Over the course of our three years there, we fell in love with the area. The people are wonderful as is the natural beauty of the city and the surrounding communities. With fewer than 30,000 residents inside the city limits, it’s a nearly perfect mix of city life and wide open spaces.
A few things you must do in Downtown Helena:
- Beer is big in Helena. Head to Blackfoot River Brewing Company on Last Chance Gulch (Helena’s main street named for the nearby gold discovery) for a pint and a growler to take home.
- See a local production at Grandstreet Theatre, Montana’s oldest continuous community theater.
- Eat dinner at the Windbag Saloon, a restaurant located on the Walking Mall at the site of Big Dorothy’s brothel, which operated until 1973.
- Visit the St. Helena Cathedral, a beautiful historic cathedral built in 1908 that dominates the Helena skyline.
- See a professional baseball game at Kindrick Legion Field. The Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League play 38 regular-season games at the 82-year old ballpark.
- In July, Helena hosts the Last Chance Stampede & Fair – which includes live musical entertainment and a professional rodeo.
- Also, the Helena Symphony hosts the annual Symphony Under the Stars event at Carroll College, which is free to the public.
- Travel north towards Great Falls, South towards Butte and west to Missoula for post card-worthy panoramic views, follow along the Louis and Clark Historic Trail, or visit a nearby cattle ranch for that Wild West feel.
- Just outside of Helena are Canyon Ferry, Hauser Lake and Holter Lake, each of which offer recreational activities such as fishing and camping.
- You can also hunt Bigfoot in nearby Livingston, Montana, ski at Great Divide Ski Area, or take a boat ride to the Gates of the Mountains.
- From Helena, you’re also within (several hours) driving distance of Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.
There are more touristy Montana cities. But for history lovers, nature lovers, and those looking for a little adventure in Big Sky Country, consider a visit and travel to Helena and the surrounding areas.