December 3, 2022

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22 Best Things to do in Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman is a beautiful and vibrant city with much to offer. From the thriving downtown scene to outdoor adventures, there’s a little something for everyone. Here are the best things to do in Bozeman, Montana.

If you’ve ever been on a Montana or a Yellowstone vacation, then you’ve probably passed through the quiet and serene college-town of Bozeman.

But instead of just glancing at it from afar, why not make it your primary vacation spot; the chilled-out town is surrounded by incredible natural sights, scenery, and landscape, and there is something for everyone.

While many people think of Montana as a rugged place full of cowboys and cattle ranches, that’s not always the case. In fact, Montana has been known for its cultural diversity since its establishment in 1864 as a territory.

Bozeman, Montana is one of the United States’ best-kept secrets. It’s also one of the most unique small cities in the country. Bozeman has a population of around 40,000 people and offers a rich culture that ranges from art to music to food.

Watch our YouTube video of the Best Things to Do in Bozeman for a visual guide.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/UDe-binQuxE

Watch this video on YouTube.

Fun & Best Things to do in Bozeman, Montana

Let’s get into our favorite attractions and activities to do in Bozeman, Montana.

1. Get immersed in the lively and exciting downtown scene in Bozeman

Whether it’s activities or relaxation on your itinerary, you’ll almost certainly find yourself in Bozeman’s downtown area at some point. With bars, trendy shops, and lots of fantastic restaurants, the city center of Bozeman is bustling with life.

A captivating mix of contemporary city meets cowboy charm, its plethora of amenities and attractions cover a couple of blocks of historic brick buildings in the heart of downtown, with something for everyone to enjoy.

Parking is typically pretty easy in the surrounding area making it a great place to park and explore.

Spend time shopping in the local shops like the Great Rocky Mountain Toy Company, more than 20 art galleries, and tons of clothes shops. When you get hungry, take a break at one of the local restaurants like Urban Kitchen.

There are plenty of things to do in downtown Bozeman if you’re looking for something fun and interesting to do while visiting this beautiful part of Montana.

2. Shop for Outdoor Gear

Set of Outdoor Gear

Bozeman is the perfect low-key destination for lovers of the great outdoors, so you’d best get tooled up for hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, as well as winter and watersports!

You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to gear shopping on main street in Bozeman. There are great local outfitters like Montana Mountaineering or Adventure Sports Outfitters.

The best part?

You can get all the gear you need for outdoor activities whether you want to rock climb or fish in the Gallatin River.

If being active is more your thing and fitness is your ultimate goal (let’s face it- that ripped bod is everyone’s ultimate goal), there are plenty of options for that too.

There are also plenty of outdoor athletic clubs like Bozeman Trailblazers (for trail running) or the Bozeman Nordic Ski Club if cross-country skiing is more up your alley than running on roads with cars whizzing by at 60 mph.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Gardiner, Montana

3. Take in the sights at Palisade Falls

Palisade Falls

Palisade Falls is a popular tourist attraction and a great place to spend an afternoon. Plunging down a sheer cliff face, Palisade Falls makes for a dramatic sight and can be found around 30 miles from Bozeman.

The Yellowstone River drops over 60 feet at Palisade Fall, making it one of the most impressive waterfalls in Montana. The best time to visit is during summer when temperatures are warmer and families flock to swim in its cool waters beneath its misty spray.

Yellow River also offers a great rafting adventure.

In wintertime, snowshoers and skiers enjoy hiking along the trail that leads to this stunning natural phenomenon.

See Related: Best Whitewater Adventures in the World

4. Learn the region’s history at the Gallatin History Museum

The Gallatin History Museum in Bozeman, Montana was founded in 1982, and its mission is to preserve the history of the Gallatin Valley area of southwest Montana.

The Gallatin History Museum’s vision is to promote a better understanding of the region’s past through interactive programs and exhibits at their site right in the heart of Main Street.

The museum collects, preserves, presents, and interprets artifacts from every time period in the Gallatin Valley’s history as well as making them accessible for educational purposes. They also hope their visitors will learn more about this remarkable place they call home.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

5. Bask in the magnificence of the Bozeman Symphony

The Bozeman Symphony performs several times a year, including an annual spring concert and a free holiday concert at the end of December. The symphony is made up of musicians from around the valley and is led by Music Director Paul Patterson.

The orchestra performs in the Ellen Theater on Main Street in downtown Bozeman (we’ll get to that later). Many of their events are open to both ticket holders and non-ticket holders alike—so if you happen to be walking by as they’re playing, feel free to stop by!

See Related: Best Music Festivals to Attend This Summer

6. Enjoy winter sports at Big Sky Resort

Big Sky Resort is Montana’s largest ski resort. It has several thousand acres of skiable terrain, over 60 runs, and 100 trails to choose from. It’s frankly epic, making it one of the best ski destinations in the country, with a variety of beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes.

Big Sky has three areas: Moonlight Basin, Lone Peak, and Snow King Mountain.

There are four lifts servicing the summit chutes of Lone Peak; One fixed-grip quad chairlift and two detachable high-speed quads – one with a mid-station at the top (Highline Express) that serves as both an up and down lift.

Also another with a loading platform at mid-point (North Face Express); and a third lift called North Ridge Express that services intermediate terrain off North Ridge.

If you’re looking to ski at Big Sky Resort, the best way to get there is by flying into Bozeman and renting a car. From there, it’s an easy drive to the resort.

To drive to Big Sky Resort from Bozeman, take Highway 191 south for about 50 miles directly to the resort. Given some of the scenery through the mountain, the drive will take about an hour.

If you are looking for an alternative to the busy ski resorts in Colorado and Utah, Big Sky Resort is the perfect destination. With its world-class amenities and challenging terrain, the resort is a must-do for anyone crossing ski resorts in the US off their bucket list.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Billings, Montana

7. Explore the one and only Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park Landscape

You didn’t think we would miss this, did you?

Even though it is not technically a part of visiting Bozeman, you can’t have one without the other. I mean it’s called Yellowstone country for a reason, right?

Home to a staggering array of epic scenery, landscapes, and wildlife, Yellowstone National Park is a treat to explore. While most of the park lies within the northwest corner of Wyoming, other parts in Montana lie just over an hour’s drive from Bozeman. 

Founded in 1872, America’s first national park protects and preserves everything from canyons and mountains to rivers, lakes, and forests.

You may visit the park on a 4-Day Tour from Bozeman.

As it is set atop Yellowstone Caldera, it boasts a multitude of natural hot springs and mud pots, with more than 300 geysers found within the park. Also, the iconic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a must-see.

It also has an abundance of wildlife species including grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions. The park’s forests consist mainly of lodgepole pine trees which can be seen throughout the valley floor as well as whitebark pines at higher elevations.

Due to all the stunning scenery, Yellowstone is very popular to visit with Grand Prismatic Spring and the iconic ‘Old Faithful’ geyser being its most famed and photographed sights in the country.

See Related: Best Black Sand Beaches in the World

8. Spend the day doing Madison River Tubing

Madison River

Madison River Tubing offers an easy, comfortable and safe way of escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. Multiple trips with Madison River Tubing are conducted each day that include tube rentals or buses to or from Madison River and Bozeman.

Visitors are also able to rent paddleboards, floating coolers, and waterproof Bluetooth speakers. Madison River Tubing offers a group that can tubing option as a group with 8 tubes connected together for an interesting ride.

If you’re looking for a unique Montana experience, then look no further than this river-side adventure. Located 30 minutes south of Bozeman, Montana on Highway 191 is where you will find it all: beautiful scenery, exciting rapids, and friendly people!

See Related: Famous Landmarks in the Southwest

9. Learn to fly-fish

Man Fly-Fishing

Other than visiting Glacier National Park or Yellowstone National Park, the biggest reason people flock to Montana is for its famous fly fishing opportunities.

Fly-fishing is one of the best ways to get outside and enjoy nature. It’s also a great way to relax since you don’t have much to do other than cast your line and wait.

One of the best places to experience fly fishing is with Bozeman’s best – Montana Angler Fly Fishing. They offer half-day or full-day fishing tours in the Gallatin River as well as overnight float excursions and even wilderness trips via horseback.

If you have a fishing adventure in mind, I am sure they can help you realize this dream, which is why this is one of the most fun things to do in Bozeman, Montana during your visit.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities that combine a bit of relaxation and are mentally challenging, fly-fishing might be right up your alley.

See Related: Best Fishing Spots in America to Visit

10. Visit Cliff Lake for even more fishing

Cliff Lake, located in the Madison Range of Montana’s Gallatin National Forest, is a natural spring-fed lake popular for swimming and fishing—and a great place to begin your exploration of Bozeman.

To get there, head west on US Highway 191 toward Big Timber (the road turns into Bridger Canyon Road) until you reach the Cliff Lake Trailhead. From there it’s a short hike up to the lake itself where you’ll find some picnic tables and outdoor grills on an open lawn overlooking the water.

It’s also worth noting that Cliff Lake is one of Montana’s few “blue ribbon” trout streams; this means that it offers some of the best angling opportunities in all of America.

If you’re planning on fishing here during your stay in Bozeman then make sure to check out our tips for what gear to bring along with you before heading out onto the water.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US

11. Hike through Custer Gallatin National Forest

Custer River at Gallatin National Forest

The Custer Gallatin National Forest offers over 800 miles of hiking and biking trails to explore and covers over three million acres. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll through nature or an intense workout, they’ve got it all.

If you’re feeling ambitious, there’s also camping available at the trailheads so you can make a weekend out of your outdoor adventure.

The best time to hike in this national forest?

All year round! Hiking in the fall is especially beautiful because many trees change colors around this time—you won’t want to miss it! But if that’s not your cup of tea, there are other seasons where the landscape changes too.

Winter hikers can expect snowfall and freezing temperatures; spring hikes will provide gorgeous views of melting snow and blooming flowers; summer hikes are great for catching wildflowers on display, and fall hikes get a taste of all four seasons happening at once – but is famous for its blazing fall colors.

See Related: Best Things to do in Livingston, Montana

12. Get piste off at Bridger Bowl Ski Area

Bridger Bowl Ski Area

Bridger Bowl Ski Area is one of the largest ski resorts in Montana, with over 650 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical drop of 1,800 feet. The summit elevation is 10,500 feet (3,200 m), so you won’t find any shortage of snow up here.

The resort is located just 16 miles (26 km) north of Bozeman and is a great place to spend a day if you’re looking for some winter fun. Bridger Bowl Ski Area offers something for everyone, from beginner to expert, with over 60% of its terrain designated as beginner or intermediate.

So, whether you’re an experienced skier looking for a challenge or a first-timer just trying to get your feet wet (literally), Bridger Bowl Ski Area is one of the best things to do in Bozeman.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Livingston, Montana

13. Get your science on at the American Computer and Robotics Museum

Love computers and robotics?

Check out the American Computer and Robotics Museum if you’re more interested in finding out what computers can do today and could do in the past. This interactive museum will take you on a journey through the history of computing and artificial intelligence.

You’ll get to see how early computers worked, how they’ve evolved over time, and how they’re being used in today’s world. You’ll also learn about the people who made these incredible machines what they are today.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, and admission is just $5 for adults and $3 for children.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

14. Go on a Craft Brewery Tour

Montana has a long history of beer brewing, dating back to the arrival of the first settlers in the mid-1800s. For something more modern, try out one of Montana’s newer breweries—Bozeman has several craft breweries within city limits alone.

Get started at Bridger Brewing Company, Montana Ale Works, Mountains Walking Brewery, or Bozeman Brewing Company to get an idea of what’s available locally before heading south towards Livingston where you’ll find Lewis & Clark Brewing Co. and Swift Current Brewery.

Most of the breweries in Bozeman offer guided tours where you can learn about their brewing process and take home some souvenirs.

Prefer cocktails?

Check out Bozeman Spirits Distillery for an up-close look at the distilling process and to try a variety of craft cocktails.

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

15. Make a day trip to the Museum of the Rockies

Museum of the Rockies Building

A trip to the Museum of the Rockies is one of the first things you should add to your Bozeman itinerary.

One of the largest collections of dinosaur bones in the United States is housed at this museum, which is located on Montana State University’s campus. Dinosaur fossils and artifacts from long-forgotten civilizations are among the items on display.

The Museum of the Rockies is a great place to learn about Montana’s history as well as the natural history of the Rocky Mountains, making it one of the top tourist attractions in Bozeman, Montana.

The museum also has the Taylor Planetarium, where you can learn all about space and what it’s like up there. It even has a library that you could use if you want to read more about these topics later on your own time!

Finally, the Museum of the Rockies houses one of only three fossil preparation labs in North America—and it’s open for public viewing. If you love science or history (or both), this is definitely worth checking out.

See Related: Best Geysers & Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

16. Catch a movie at the Ellen Theater

The Ellen Theater is a movie theater in Bozeman, Montana. It was named after Ellen Church, who donated the land for the theater. The building was built in 1921 as a vaudeville theater and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.

The Ellen Theater is a significant example of early 20th Century theater architecture. The Ellen Theater is one of the few surviving theaters of its type in Montana. The Ellen Theater continues to operate as a movie theater and is host to a variety of live events.

See Related: Best Unkown Places to Visit in the US

17. Learn about bears at Montana Grizzly Encounter

Adult Brown Bear

Founded in 2004, Montana Grizzly Encounter is co-owned by film and TV personality Casey Anderson. The center aims to provide a sanctuary for grizzly bears that are rescued from inhumane captivity.

Montana Grizzly Encounter is a refuge center that provides housing to bears in the wild that haven’t returned to their natural habitat.

This center was founded by Casey Anderson and his wife Catherine who raised Brutus, a six-year-old grizzly when they came across him at the age of five.

You can get up very close and personal with grizzly bears at the Montana Grizzly Encounter, where you may observe them play and bathe, among other things.

If you’ve never encountered a grizzly bear in Yellowstone before, this is your best chance to encounter one. The center allows visitors to view and understand the behavior of these animals without requiring them to participate in any research or study.

See Related: Amazing Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site

18. Take a dip at Bozeman Hot Springs

The Bozeman Hot Springs is a local favorite as well as a literal hotspot for out-of-town guests. They have indoor and outdoor pools with live music occasionally as well as other events. If you happen to be in an RV or looking for camping options, this is the perfect place to stay.

Besides Bozeman Hot Springs’ many benefits, it also features twelve swimming pools, a fitness center, and a camping area. Bozeman Hot Springs is a family-friendly resort that is ideal for larger-scale parties.

Bozeman Hot Springs is located just 15 minutes from downtown Bozeman making it convenient for trips into town during your stay.

See Related: Best Camping Spots in the World

19. Go on a Llama Trekking Adventure

In South America, llamas are used to carrying your bags while you trek across trails. They can help feed and clothe families.

You may not think of llama trekking when you picture a Montana ranch but the beautiful South American camelid is a popular animal worldwide for its wool and to be kept as pets.

Montana’s love of llamas is no different.

In Bozeman, you can go on a South American-style llama trek. Alternatively, you can even buy your own alpaca from Alpacas of Montana!

No list of Montana tourist activities is complete without an overnight trip to Yellowstone National Park with llama backpacks loaded with camping gear, food, and beers!

See Related: Best Things to do near Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

20. Hike the lovely local trails

Bozeman Mountain Range

There are so many amazing hikes to do in and around Bozeman that we would have to spend months in town to try them all. Depending on what you are in the mood for and how much time you have, we can recommend a few options to get out and get some fresh air.

Our top pick for a shaded, colorful hike is the Bozeman Creek/Sourdough Canyon hike. This trail is just a short drive (about 10 minutes) outside of town but feels worlds away.

This is a 20-mile round trip hike if you go all the way to Mystic Lake, but we recommend just pottering along the creek for as far as you feel up to and then returning back the way you came.

This is our top thing to do in Bozeman Montana as you will mostly be adventuring with locals, not tourists, who are more than willing to share engrossing tales about the history of this fascinating town with you! 

But this isn’t the only option. For a short family-friendly hike that is filled with locals out walking their dogs, check out Tuckerman Park.

The aspen-lined trail follows along a bubbling creek with various sit points for the parents to chill while the kids splash and play. During the fall there is an aspen grove at the end of the trail that is beautiful!

But we left the most famous trails for last. In Bozeman, it’s hard to miss the collegiate “M” posted high onto the ridgeline of Bridger Canyon.

This 250-foot, built piece by piece by students at Montana State University in 1915, has since served as a pride point for the University and a symbol for the city.

This decorative door hanger at the mouth of Bridger Canyon is more than just aesthetically pleasing though. This is a great spot to catch the sunset over the Gallatin Canyon.

Two short hiking trails near the base encourage visitors to hike up and enjoy the view. At the trailhead, the steeper half-mile trail forks to the right, and a 1.5-mile trail begins switchbacking to the left.

Both trails gain approximately 800 feet to reach the “M” and strain the legs of most average hikers.

See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples

21. Take snaps at Bozeman Sculpture Park

Bozeman is a terrific town for art lovers. The Gallatin Art Crossing is an ongoing attempt to bring various sculptures and other artworks into Bozeman’s public spaces. The Bozeman Sculpture Park is one such space, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in town.

The park changes up its sculptures periodically, so there’s always something new to see. And if you fall in love with a particular piece, many of the sculptures are available for purchase. Bozeman is not only a great place to view art, but also to buy it!

See Related: Most Photographed Cities in the World

22. Have a picnic at Glen Lake Rotary Park

Glen Lake Rotary Park is an attractive public park in North Gallatin, opposite Interstate 90 and downtown. Glen Lake is an emblem for the park, and multicolored paddleboards and kayaks sometimes float over its surface.

The large sandy beaches along this lake attract a crowd enjoying sand volleyball, sunbathing, and picnicking on the lake. Gallatin Valley Land Trust maintains a trail system spanning the lake.

This hiking path meanders near East Gallatin River banks and has links with other beautiful walking areas such as Cherry River and other lakes.

Another segment of the path circles a lake. The Glen Lake Rotary Park is a great place to take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic lunch, or go for a swim.

See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World

Final Thoughts

Bozeman is a great town with plenty of activities and attractions to keep visitors busy.

Whether you’re interested in outdoor recreation, history, or just relaxing in a beautiful setting, Bozeman has something to offer everyone. We hope you enjoyed this list and that it gave you some ideas for things to do on your next visit.

If you’re looking for more ideas for things to do around the world, be sure to subscribe to our free travel newsletter. We’ll send you regular updates on the best places to visit, as well as travel tips and tricks to make your next trip even more enjoyable.

FAQs

What are the best things to do in Bozeman?

There is no definitive answer, but some popular activities include hiking, fishing, camping, Montana Grizzly Encounter, the Museum of the Rockies, and exploring the many historical and cultural sites in the area.

What is the best time of year to visit Bozeman, MT?

Many people find that late spring through early fall is the best time to visit Bozeman, as the weather is usually mild and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy.

What should I pack for a trip to Bozeman, MT?

This depends on what activities you plan on doing while you are here. However, we recommend bringing layers of clothing that can be easily removed or added as needed, comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a hat.

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