I’ve traveled a lot of places, y’all. But never visited the state of Montana until 2019. My first experience was in Southeast Montana, in the darling town of Billings. If you are planning to Visit Montana, you should consider visiting Billings for some of the best Montana Tourist Attractions! Let’s take a look together!
This post was written in collaboration with Visit Billings. All opinions are my own!
I’m a Texan, and we like to brag often and loudly about how big our state is! Well, Montana is a really big state too, folks. There’s a good reason why it’s known as Big Sky Country. I’ve never seen a sky as big as it appears in Montana.
The largest city in Southeast Montana is Billings. This region boats so many interesting things to do!
Historic Sites in Southeast Montana
One of the most interesting sites in Southeast Montana is the Little Big Horn Battlefield and National Monument. This area memorializes the US Army’s 7th Cavalry and the Lakotas and Cheyennes in one of the Indian’s last armed efforts to preserve their way of life. Here on June 25 and 26 of 1876, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the US Army, died fighting several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. It’s a beautiful site, and I always recommend making time to listen to the Park Ranger’s presentation, offered several times a day. This is an excellent way to get an overview of the history of the site!
Another of the wonderful Historic Sites in Montana is Pompey’s Pillar National Monument. Pompey’s Pillar National Monument is the only remaining on-site physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Pompey’s Pillar is a sandstone rock outcropping that rises 200 feet above the Yellowstone River 30 miles east of Billings. In 1806 Captain William Clark carved his signature and the date in this rock. It is the only site on the trail where visible evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition may be viewed by the public.
As a Travel Blogger, I marveled at the beauty of the spot, and contemplated the idea the idea that in their own way, Lewis and Clark were like travel bloggers of their day, discovering and exploring new and interesting lands, documenting as they travelled. Not to diminish the importance of Lewis and Clark in any way, but the parallels seem to certainly be there!
Of course, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most popular places when you Visit Montana. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to visit Yellowstone National Park, but absolutely cannot pass from this earth without a trip there. I will certainly begin my visit in Billings, as Yellowstone is three hours southwest of Billings.
If you plan to Visit Montana, Billings is a wonderful city to experience! Whether you are an outdoors enthusiast, love arts and culture and museums, or simply love to shop and eat great food, Billings has it ALL! The airport is ten minutes from the city center, and there’s plenty to keep visitors busy and entertained in Billings!
Montana Tourist Attractions
Will and I always gravitate toward arts and culture and museums, no matter where we visit. We will blown away by the quality of all the arts and culture tourist attractions we experienced in Billings!
- An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Western Heritage Center brings the history of Billings and the surrounding region to life through interactive exhibits, historic artifact collections and education and outreach programs. It is housed in one of Billings’ oldest buildings, the original Parmly Billings Memorial Library.
- Constructed in 1903 and designed by renowned architect Henry Janeway Hardenburgh, the Moss Mansion influenced the culture of Billings with its inspired craftsmanship and architecture. It really is one of the most beautiful historic homes I have ever visited, anywhere in the United States!!! You must tour the beautiful home to see the inner workings of the family through archived letters and documents.
- The Yellowstone County Museum is a treasure chest of Montana’s past. Visitors enter an authentic pioneer log cabin to see more than 15,000 artifacts representing the area’s history. The museum sits on property practically on top of Logan International Airport overlooking the city of Billings and the scenic Yellowstone River Valley. If you are interested in Native American artifacts, this is a must-see museum!
- The Yellowstone Art Museum sparks imagination and curiosity through rotating exhibits and collections of art, significantly on Montana and its surrounding regions. Pick up a key to the Visible Vault for a behind-the-scenes glimpse into where and how art is stored when it’s not on display in the museum’s exhibit. Will was particularly impressed by the Will James collection of western art.
Best Restaurants in Billings, MT
All that touring around is bound to leave visitors hungry! I discovered wonderful restaurants in Billings!
- Lilac Restaurant Y’all….when I tell you this restaurant is amazing….I am understating the quality of this darling spot! So good, we ate at Lilac two nights in a row. The staff is attentive, smart, and totally focused on making your dining experience excellent. Did I mention it’s amazing??? Only open for dinner. 2515 Montana Ave, Billings, MT 59102 (406) 969-4959
- The Fieldhouse Another fantastic spot in Billings. We enjoyed lunch there, and every single dish was fantastic! Sustainable farm-to-table dishes that are simple and delicious! 2601 Minnesota Ave, Billings, MT 59101 (406) 534-2556
- Walkers The menu is a mix of international cuisine and western comfort food. A friendly professional wait staff in a casual, yet urban, dining setting. And the barkeeps are some of the finest in the region and have been classically-trained in the art of drink. Open only for dinner. 2700 1st Ave N #2307, Billings, MT 59101 (406) 245-9291
Shopping in Billings, MT
As I mentioned above, the day we planned to visit Yellowstone National Park, it was rainy and icky….so we opted to spend our day with a different activity….shopping. And, y’all know me and Will. For us, shopping means antiquing! And we hit the jackpot in Billings!!!
- Oxford Hotel Antiques If you love antiques shops that are packed FULL of a jillion treasures, RUN….don’t walk to Oxford Hotel Antiques. Will and I could have stayed for hours, as around every corner, there was a new nook of treasures to discover. And yes….we found things. And shipped things home, per usual. Fabulous shop!!!! 2411 Montana Ave, Billings, MT 59101
- Montana Vintage Clothing If you love Vintage clothes, this is a FANTASTIC shop in Billings!!!! There is a very large inventory of clothes, well organized by type and size. I, of course, made a few purchases. And then regretted a few garments I left behind, which is always a sign of a GREAT shop!!!!. 112 N. 29th Street – Billings, Montana
- Yesteryears Antique Mall This traditional Antique Mall has three floors of antique booths, bursting with every antique and vintage collectible you can imagine. 102 N 29th St, Billings, MT 59101
Where to Stay in Southeast Montana
- Northern Hotel, downtown Billings
- Double Tree Hotel by Hilton, downtown Billings
- Double Spear Ranch, Pryor MT
- Leaning Tree Lodge, Fort Smith MT
- Oakwood Lodge, Broadus, MT
If you’ve never been out to Big Sky Country, I highly recommend starting your journey in Billings, Montana!
A very special thank you to the following folks who made this visit so memorable: Kevin Kooistra, Executive Director Western Heritage Center; Terry Steiner, Director Yellowstone County Museum; Jennette Rasch, Curator Moss Mansion Museum; Michelle Williams, Executive Director and Marci Raihl, Business Manager Billings Historic Depot, and the entire staff of Visit Billings…who made our experience in their town simply wonderful!
Tags: Battle of Little Big Horn | Billings | Custer's Last Stand | Famous Mansion | Historic Home | Lewis and Clark | Montana | Moss Mansion | Pompey's Pillar | Yellowstone