How to Spend Your Day in Miles City
Experience the Wild West history of Montana with a visit to Miles City. Located in Southeast Montana right off of I-90, Miles City offers gorgeous scenery of Montana’s sprawling plains alongside a vibrant town center that features some old west architecture.
Many of the top things to do in Miles City revolve around this western theme, but there’s more to see and do than just that.
Miles City isn’t too far from where our family’s farm is, so we’ve grown up visiting and hearing about this city, and it’s time you know about it, too! 🙂 It’s not on the radar of most Montana visitors, so you’ll truly be experiencing a slice of authentic Montana.
Getting to Miles City
Miles City is located in southeast Montana, about 140 miles east of Billings, which is the main airport people fly into when heading to Miles City — though Miles City does have a regional airport that may be serviced by a major air carrier in the future so worth a check if you want a shorter drive.
Bus service is also available between Billings and Miles City plus other areas around Montana via Jefferson Bus Lines.
If you need to rent a car once you arrive in Miles City, call or visit Jack’s Body Shop.
Miles City Things to Do and See
Now for all the things to do and see in Miles City that you won’t want to miss, starting with Miles City’s main street.
Miles City Main Street
The downtown area of Miles City isn’t large so you’ll want to take a bit of time to walk along the city’s picturesque Main Street, which harkens back to old frontier days when the wild west was still being won. Of course today inside these historic looking buildings you’re more likely to find shops and cafes than saloons, but it’s still fun to walk around the buildings.
Miles City Movie Theater
Built in the 1930s, this structure is still the original theater and it still shows movies! It’s official name is the Montana Theatre, and it shows blockbuster movies in a fun setting located right on Main Street.
Tongue River Winery
There aren’t many wineries in Montana — it’s more of a craft beer and distillery state — but you will find one in Miles City: the beautiful Tongue River Winery.
It has a lovely setting surrounded by fields and rolling hills. You’ll find typical red and white grape wine being poured in addition to other fruit wines. Ice wine is also made at this winery — the only one in Southeast Montana!
Vintage & Rustics in Montana: A Miles City Shopping Experience
If you love antiques — or just a cool shopping experience — don’t miss a browse through Vintage & Rustics in Montana. This unique shopping and food experience is located right off of main street in Miles City and encompasses 50,000 square feet.
Get pastries or lunch at the old Woolworth’s counter that has been refurbished to reflect a bygone era, then start your browsing — with multiple vendors selling everything from antique furniture to refurbished and upcycled goods to vintage clothing and more, you never know what you’ll find!
Livestock Auctions & the Bucking Horse Sale
Learn more about the rancher way of life by attending a livestock auction. Even if you have zero intention to buy a horse (or a place to put a horse, for that matter) or other livestock, this is still an interesting process to see that harkens back to a bygone era. My daughters would probably say it reminds them of scenes from the animated show, Spirit, about horse riding and ranching in the western plains.
Miles City was once the center of horse and livestock trading and selling for the entire country. Today, it still plays a large part in the world of livestock within Montana and surrounding areas. The livestock auction still happens weekly, while the annual Bucking Horse Sale draws rodeo people from all over the country and happens the third full weekend of May each year.
Range Riders Museum
The Range Riders Museum in Miles City is one of the preeminent western museums in the country. It was founded in 1939 and is divided up into several buildings on the museum campus, including a picturesque red log cabin. Because of the size, plan on spending a few hours here if you want to tour all the building exhibits. If short on time, start in the Wagon Depot, which is the largest building of the museum and houses some of its main attractions like antique tools and old farm tools.
Other exhibits will teach you more about the history of eastern Montana, which includes battles fought and led by General Custer and General Miles, as well as the stories and culture of Native Americans who lived on the eeastern Montana plains.
Waterworks Art Museum
This art museum is so named because it’s located in the former water treatment building of Miles City. This gives the museum a cool architectural element with a red brick and concrete exterior. The building dates back to 1910 and it provided drinking water for Miles City residents for six decades. In 1977, the building was converted into the museum and it has been a prominent museum in Montana ever since.
Inside the museum you’ll find both permanent and traveling exhibits located among the concrete walls that focus on showing local and global humanity and culture through visual arts. Of the permanent collections, a popular one for those wanting to learn more about Miles City’s past is the exhibit on vintage photographs that highlight the works of photographers from the late 1800s. The Home to Montana exhibit will teach you more about the state of Montana through a variety of artwork and photographs.
Also, don’t miss checking out the Waterworks Art Museum Gift Shop, which isn’t your run-of-the-mill museum gift shop. You’ll find unique souvenirs created by local artisans.
The Meeting of the Rivers
Miles City is where the Yellowstone River joins with the Tongue River. The Tongue River is shallower, especially near 12 Mile Dam, which makes it easier for tubing and fishing while the Yellowstone River is known for its size and being the longest un-dammed river in the continental U.S.
River activities you can do include fly fishing (more on that below), river tubing, rafting, and kayaking.
Fly Fishing Near Miles City
Miles City is known for its nearby fishing hot spots.
Bonfield Fishing Access Site is a good option for fishing while visiting Miles City. The Spotted Eagle Recreation Site also has some good fishing spots. Fly fishermen also head to the Yellowstone River to try their hand at catching a big one.
If you want to try fly fishing, but aren’t familiar with the technique, sign up for a fly fishing excursion with a guide; Outfitting Montana has 1 day to 5-day overnight trips focused around fly fishing in the Miles City area.
If you need gear, Red Rock Sporting Goods in Miles City sells fishing equipment.
Hiking Around Miles City
Miles City has many great hiking trails around the city.
The Yellowstone Jewel is an excellent hike to do near Miles City. It is located roughly seven miles outside Miles City and takes hikers past Buffalo Gap and up the side of a tall bluff for gorgeous views of the Yellowstone River Valley. From the vantage point you can also see where General Custer and the 7th Cavalry camped in 1876.
Other great places to hike in Miles City include Spotted Eagle Recreation Site, named after the Sioux Chief who was known for camping with his people in the area, and Strawberry Hill, a Recreational Area that spans 4200 acres .
Pirogue Island State Park
This is an interesting state park since the bulk of it is on an island in the middle of the Yellowstone River and can’t be accessed by foot unless the water is low enough. Even if you can’t make it over to the island, Pirogue Island State Park is still worth a visit for its scenic walking trail along the banks of the river and picnic tables.
Golfing in Miles City
Miles City is home to a semi-private golf club called the Town and Country Golf Club. I love how Montanan its logo is, with a cowboy swinging a golf club! While the golf club has memberships, it’s also open to the public if you want to play a round of golf in a serene setting while driving through Montana. Town and Country Golf Club also has an onsite restaurant and pro shop.
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Enjoy Your Time in Miles City!
Whether you choose to stick to the downtown area of Miles City or you venture into the wilderness and plains beyond, partaking in some or all of these top things to do in Miles City will leave you with wonderful memories of Miles City and Southeast Montana.