Top Tips for Visiting Bozeman: All the Things You Can’t Miss Doing and Seeing
Bozeman is one of the best places to visit in Montana for good reason. Beautiful Bozeman has a ton to do within its city limits, plus it’s a day trip away from one of the best things to do in Montana: Yellowstone National Park.
We are fortunate that one of our Travel Montana Now team members, Jackie, lives in Bozeman. She is sharing the top things to do in Bozeman whether you’re planning a whole vacation around the city or just want to know what to pick to see and do when driving through it on a Montana road trip.
Let’s start with one of the main draws of Bozeman: easy access to outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for skiing, hiking, river rafting, fishing…Bozeman has it nearby.
Read on for some of the best places to get out into the great outdoors.
River Activities by Bozeman
The Gallatin River flows by the eastern end of Bozeman. The road between Bozeman and Big Sky run parallel to the Gallatin River for much of the drive. Along the way on a warm day, you’ll no doubt see buses with rafts on them and fly fisherman wading out into the river.
We especially love the Gallatin River for rafting. Check out our top tips and outfitters for Gallatin River here.
Another popular place to go fly fishing is the Madison River, which flows north from Yellowstone. It’s one of the best places in the United States for fly fisherman to try their hand at catching blue-ribbon trout fishing.
New to fly fishing? Montana Anglers in downtown Bozeman can get you outfitted and even added to a guided fishing excursion.
And let’s not forget about the wondrous Yellowstone river, which flows through Livingston, just a short drive east of Bozeman. Fly fishing, rafting, kayaking, and more await you on the Yellowstone.
Ski Resorts Close to Bozeman
Bozeman is one of the best places to go in Montana if you’re looking to do some skiing while visiting the state.
Big Sky Mountain
The preeminent ski resort in Montana is Big Sky Resort and it is located just 30 miles south of Bozeman. Big Sky Resort is a massive place to ski, from the towering peaks of the runs to the breathtaking views you can see from the chairlift down across the Gallatin Valley below.
Big Sky Resort is also home to a cute little village where you can do some craft brewery tastings or grab a bite to eat.
Bridger Bowl Ski Area
Bridger Bowl Ski Area is a local favorite for those who live in Bozeman. It doesn’t have the international clout quite like Big Sky Resort does, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent place to hit the slopes.
At Bridger Bowl you’ll find fewer crowds. The runs are ideal for both skiers and snowboarders.
Downhill skiing isn’t all there is to do in Bozeman when it comes to outdoor fun. There are also great recreation areas in the region, one of which is found at Hyalite Canyon Recreation Area.
Located a short 25-minute drive south of Boston, Hyalite Canyon Recreation Area is home to a myriad of trails that are perfect for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the winter and amazing by foot or mountain bike in the summer months.
Bozeman Hot Springs
Montana is home to many relaxing hot springs, one of which is Bozeman Hot Springs.
The pools of the facility are warmed by natural hot springs. The hot springs have been in operation for over a century. While there used to be just one pool, today you’ll find twelve, all heated to various degrees that range between 59 to 106 degrees.
Bozeman Hot Springs is a family-friendly place that’s also a great spot to go after a day of skiing or snowboarding.
Museums in Bozeman
Bozeman has a number of world-class museums. We’ll start with the most famous of them all, Museum of the Rockies, and then highlight a few others we think you should check out.
Museum of the Rockies
One of the best museums in Montana and by far one of the best dinosaur museums in the world is Museum of the Rockies, located right within the Bozeman city limits.
At Museum of the Rockies, you’ll find incredible dinosaur fossils including a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and a Triceratops skeleton, plus plenty of dinosaur bones and other things left over from the Cretaceous period, many of which were found right in Montana.
In addition to dinosaur bones there is an exhibit on Native American culture and history in Montana. There’s also an exhibit on the original western frontier history of the state.
This museum is so terrific that we have an entire post dedicated to it. Click here to read our comprehensive guide to visiting the museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.
Living History Museum
If you’re visiting the Museum of Rockies between Memorial Day and Labor Day, be sure to check out the Living History Museum. Located across the road from the Museum of the Rockies, the Living History Museum is a place where the past becomes alive again.
The focal point is an old house that once belonged to the Tinsley Family who built the home after moving from Missouri to Montana and homesteading in Willow Creek, MT. The home was moved from that small town to this spot in Bozeman. The museum has been created in and around the house so it feels like a real working ranch from the turn of the 19th century.
Actors dress up in period costume from the late 1800s and interact with guests and perform daily tasks that would have been done in the homesteading era.
You can watch a blacksmith at work, see volunteers tending the onsite garden and using the vegetables to prepare meals, and other tasks around the farm that would have been done in the 1880s and 1890s.
American Computer and Robotics Museum
This small museum is big on computers…seriously, the computers on display will seem huge! Take a walk down the past (and maybe your school memories) with a look at some vintage computer desktops and monitors.
At the the American Computer and Robotics Museum, you can also learn more about where the future is headed with some interesting displays about robotics technology, artificial intelligence, and even quantum computing.
Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture
The Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture, typically referred to as just “the Emerson,” is located in a historic building in downtown Bozeman. It aims to bring the community together through art and cultural exhibits as well as a number of activities.
Visitors can walk through the three onsite exhibits or even partake in a class, such as art or yoga.
Gallatin History Museum
The Gallatin History Museum in downtown Bozeman is a fascinating and informative destination for history buffs of all ages.
The museum is housed in a historic building that was once the county jail. One of the highlights of the Gallatin History Museum is the recreated cellblock, which gives visitors a glimpse into what life was like for inmates at the old jail.
Other exhibits at the museum cover a wide range of topics related to the history of the Gallatin Valley, including early settlement, Native American culture, mining, agriculture, and transportation.
Visitors can explore the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents to gain a deeper understanding of the people and events that have shaped this region of Montana.
Montana is rapidly gaining traction in the international brewing community and it’s easy to get a taste of the craft brewery scene while in Bozeman. Here’s a short list of the most acclaimed breweries in Bozeman that you should check out if you are a beer lover:
- MAP Brewing Company (Top Pick for Atmosphere)
- Mountains Walking Brewery and Pub (Top Pick for Beer)
- Bozeman Brewing Company (locally known as the “Bozone” and the oldest craft brewery in Bozeman)
- Union Hall Brewery
- Bridger Brewing (Has great ginger beer, gluten free beer, and awesome pizza)
- Mountains Walking Brewery (gorgeous views from long floor to ceiling windows)
Can’t decide? Head to Montana Ale Works, a popular brewpub that has over 40 beers on tap. Order some of the eatery’s gourmet, handcrafted comfort food to go along with your pint.
Another delicious option is Nordic Brew Works on Bozeman’s west end that has a number of draft beers ready to be poured plus an impressive cocktail menu. Also on the menu are gastropub fare favorites. Try the dirty potatoes!
Distilleries in Bozeman
And why stop at craft beer? You can also check out a couple of the craft distilleries in Bozeman such as Wildrye Distilling and Bozeman Spirits Distillery.
The Cannery is an up and coming neighborhood in Bozeman that intermixes new business with historic architecture. You’ll find several eateries, a distillery, a Patagonia shop, and other shopping boutiques interspersed among local business offices for architecture, real estate, and yoga.
The Cannery is located just a mile and a half from Main Street, where bustling downtown Bozeman lies.
Bozeman is known for all of the outdoor activity surrounding it, but it also has a fun city scene in its downtown area, especially for foodies. Head to downtown Bozeman and you’ll find a stretch of delicious eateries and rocking bars, some of which have live music.
Downtown Bozeman is also home to some interesting art galleries. Check out Altitude Gallery for contemporary art. Montana Trails Gallery is a great place to go to see western fine art on display by local artists.
Located right along Main Street in downtown Bozeman is one of the best places to catch a live theatrical performance in Bozeman: the Ellen Theatre.
This historic theater has been remodeled and revitalized without losing any of its gilded vintage charm.
After the show, walk to one of downtown Bozeman’s many places to eat, such as…
Best Places to Dine and Drink in Downtown Bozeman
Ted’s (as in Ted Turner) is now a national chain, but it began in Montana, where Turner has a ranch. Many of the beef and bison cuts you’ll find on the menu are from Turner’s ranch. A fun item on the menu to order is the beef and bison slider plate — do a side by side comparison to see which one you like best!
A small menu equals big tastes at Blackbird, a small Italian eatery on Main Street. With an open kitchen highlighted by a woodfired pizza oven, decadent pizza and gourmet pasta with savory ingredients are on the menu each night. The atmosphere is casual yet sophisticated.
Backcountry Burger Bar
If you’re more in the mood for a laidback burger joint, it’s hard to go wrong with Backcountry Burger Bar. It’s all about the local flair with Montana raised beef and bison on making up its burger patties. Even the potatoes are sourced locally, which you can get with curry or poutine-style. Wine and local beer are also served.
Souvenir and Gift Shops
Downtown Bozeman has several shops featuring “Made in Montana” items.
Right on Main Street is the Montana Gift Corral, which is a local chain throughout Montana that has many locally made homewares, jewelry, food items, and more. Heydey on Main Street is another great option for unique gifts to remember your trip by.
A Sweet Souvenir
Whenever my sister is in town, she like to stop in at Montana Gift Corral to get one of our favorite Montana candy items: the Bozeman-based Bequet Caramels. Insider Tip: They also often have a big bag of Bequet Caramels for sale at the Bozeman Costco!
Read More: Must-Try Food and Drinks in Montana
More to Do Around Bozeman
Bozeman’s Annual Sweet Pea Festival
Jackie has one more tip for your time in Bozeman, If you’re there in summer, one of the top things to do in Bozeman is attend the Sweet Pea Festival.
The Sweet Pea Festival is a 3-day arts festival that features Shakespeare performances, a parade, live music, family-friendly activities, dance troupes, art workshops, and a beer and wine garden.
Day Trip to Yellowstone National Park
Last, but certainly not least, a stay in Bozeman puts you in driving distance for a day trip (or longer) to Yellowstone National Park. It’s about the same distance (roughly 90 minute drive) to both the north entrance in Gardiner and the west entrance in West Yellowstone, though it’s a bit faster to Gardiner.
Side note: Remember that in winter, the only entrance open to Yellowstone National Park is the north one in Gardiner.
To find out where to spend the night while in Bozeman, read our comprehensive guide to Bozeman hotels and accommodations here.
Looking for more to do during your time inBozeman? Read about our favorite day trips from Bozeman.