Southeast Montana has it all, from the Billings Brew Trail and Glendive history to idyllic Makoshika State Park and scenic Yellowstone River.
This itinerary at a glance: The best places to visit in Montana for heritage, fossilized treasures and natural beauty are located in the Southeast portion of the state. Discover the rich history and culture of Southeast Montana in a half dozen museums, and breathe the outdoor air along the magnificent Yellowstone River. Visit Montana’s largest state park at Makoshika, with its picturesque vistas and remnants of prehistoric residents.
Duration: 3 Days
DAY 1 in Southeast Montana
Begin your southeast Montana trip in Billings and take a guided tour of the Western Heritage Center, a Smithsonian Institute Affiliate and American Association of Museums member. The museum is dedicated to telling the stories of the Yellowstone River Valley communities.
Lunch is at Ravens Café D’art (reservation required) at the Yellowstone Art Museum for an unforgettable dining experience. As a contemporary art museum, the primary focus is on recent work by artists living or working in the Mountain West and North Plains region.
After refueling for lunch, the final stop is at Moss Mansion Museum, a red-stone residence built in 1903 by Preston Boyd Moss.
Check into your group-friendly accommodations before enjoying dinner at your choice of restaurants. Many have gained the appreciation of the locals and received national accolades. The state’s only walkable brewery trail is located in downtown Billings. The Billings Brew Trail features six breweries, two distillers and one cider house all within walking distance.
DAY 2 Starts in Billings
Start your morning with a walk above the Yellowstone River or catch the views at Swords Park. There are plenty of outdoor options before checkout and breakfast.
Dig deeper into Billings’ history with a visit to the Yellow County Museum. Learn about the 1890 Ghost Dance and other Plains Indian Art & Culture. Step back in time and see how the original Coulson City Saloon looked in its glory.
Next stop is Swanky Roots and a tour of its unique aquaponics greenhouse. Swanky Roots grows a variety of lettuce types and its greens can be found at numerous stores and a large number of area restaurants. Tours are by appointment.
A visit to ZooMontana is a must before departing Billings. This 70-acre zoological/botanical garden houses nearly 100 animals, representing 58 species in their natural habitat. It’s now time to depart for the two-hour scenic drive to Miles City.
DAY 2 Ends in Miles City
On the way to Miles City, one of the best places to visit in Montana is Pompeys Pillar National Monument. At only 51 acres, it is one of the smallest National Monuments. William Clark’s engravement cited he that climbed the sandstone pillar on July 25, 1806 during his famous Louis and Clark expedition (interlink here).
Continuing on I-94, plan a stop in Forsyth. If you missed lunch of tasty greens in Billings you might find The Joseph’s Café more to your liking, one of 24 stops on the Southeast Montana Burger Trail. If you’re a true antique seeker, make your way to Rusty Dog Antiques in Forsyth and Vintage & Rustic in Montana, just 30 miles away in Miles City. This is the home of the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, which has been held the third weekend in May since 1950.
A must stop is the WaterWorks Art Museum, which opened in 1977 and is housed in the concrete basins of the 1910 WaterWorks that supplied Miles City’s drinking water. Permanent collections of contemporary and historic selections rotate regularly along with vintage photographs of the 1800s by notable photographers. Dinner tonight is at The Historic Montana Bar. It has offered good food and good service since 1908.
DAY 3 at Makoshika State Park and Glendive
After checkout and breakfast, depart for Glendive, about an hour away. Halfway stop at the Prairie County Museum in Terry. Housed in former banks from the early 1900s the museum complex is the essence of early pioneer life.
Arrive at the visitor’s center at Makoshika State Park, Montana’s largest state park. Exhibits introduce you to the site’s geological, fossil and prehistoric stories. Hiking trails over a natural bridge are an option for exploring the Badlands landscape. Grab lunch at Bloom Coffee House & Eatery before departing for your Yellowstone River Adventures custom tour on the Yellowstone River via jet boat, or kayak. Plan to spend the night in Glendive. There’s so much more to see, including Frontier Getaway Museum, Glendive dinosaur Museum and The Gallery.
Visit Southeast Montana
Brenda Mass/Director of Marketing
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