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Few destinations during your travels are going to check off all the boxes of things you want to do and see. Believe it or not, a small city in Montana known as Bozeman has popped onto the travel radar recently for this very reason. From incredible excursions in the backcountry, beautiful wildlife, and world-class skiing and snowboarding, Bozeman is the kind of place that you’ll want to come back to again and again.
To help you set up your itinerary right, we have highlighted what to do in Bozeman, MT to make the most of your time. Take a look.
About Bozeman, Montana
Before we can hop into the topic of what to do in Bozeman, MT, it’s wise to learn a little bit about the city. Bozeman has been named one of the best places to live in the US for high ranking education, acres of public land, world-renowned ski resorts, culture, history, and more.
It’s a small city with a population of 53,293 people (as of 2020), but the vibe is definitely characteristic of a metropolitan zone.
Where is Bozeman in Montana?
Bozeman is located between the Gallatin, Judith Basin, Bridger, and Madison mountain ranges, near the southwestern edge of the state. The city is relatively close to the Wyoming state line (about 1 hour away) and also not too far from Idaho (about a 2 hour drive). You can reach Bozeman easily when taking I-90 either east or west, depending on where you are coming from. Interstate 90 links most of the US together, terminating in Seattle and Boston.
When is the Best Time to Visit Bozeman?
There are plenty of things to do in Bozeman, MT throughout the year, meaning that you can choose to go whenever it suits you best! Most visitors will arrive in the summer, since there is plenty of camping and outdoor activities to enjoy.
However, those same activities are just as exciting in the fall. Also, wintertime can be difficult in Montana, but if you’re willing to brave the cold, you have your pick of skiing and snowboarding trails.
Off-season in Bozeman is between November to March. Temperatures can drop to around 12°F (-11°C) in the winter, and snow falls continuously.
There are two shoulder seasons—April to May and September to October. Since crowds are thinner during these times, these months are ideal for backpacking, hiking, and exploring the national forests. Temperatures in the spring and fall are generally comfortable, too.
Peak season is between June to the end of August. Summer is short in Bozeman, but that doesn’t mean the fun is cut short. The weather is perfect for hiking mountain trails and booking a stay at a campground.
Keep in mind that, because peak season is so popular, you will need to reserve your campsite or hotel room well in advance. The Summer 2021 season was the busiest yet, and it is predicted that the following summers will drive even more tourism.
What To Do in Bozeman, MT
Here are 20 things to do in Bozeman, MT that will keep everyone in your group smiling:
1. Journey Along the College “M” Hiking Trail
In Bozeman, you can’t ignore the single massive “M” standing on a mountainside. While the letter itself isn’t as cool as seeing the Hollywood sign from afar, it’s a point of pride for the city. The M was constructed brick-by-brick by students from Montana State University in 1915 and now serves as a symbol of Bozeman.
The M is more than that, though. It’s also a marker to one of the coolest hikes in Bozeman—the M trail. There are two hikes you can take, each one relatively short and mildly challenging. At the trailhead near the M, you can choose a steep half mile hike at the right or a 1.5-mile long trail of switchbacks to the left. Both have an 800-foot elevation gain.
You can expect to feel your muscles screaming about the time you reach the top. Luckily, the view and the benches around the white stone M make up for the labor.
Of course, there are many more hiking opportunities around the M hiking trails. Consider these your introduction. Once you have experienced the M trails, go across highway 86 to the Drinking Horse Mountain trails. Another series is the Main Street to the Mountains system, which weaves all throughout the area.
2. Visit Palisade Falls
There is something about seeing waterfalls in real life that just makes everything feel good. Perhaps it’s the rush and hiss of water in your ears and the gentle spray of mist on your cheeks. Maybe it’s the grandeur of seeing water pouring down from on high. Whatever the reason you have to see waterfalls, you don’t want to miss Palisade Falls.
This stunning waterfall is located 20 miles south of the city at Palisade Mountain. The water plummets about 80 feet from the cliffs. As you can imagine, it’s a beautiful sight. There is a picnic area at the bottom of the falls, so you can relax here for a time or have a picnic.
After you have eaten a snack, it’s time to take the wheelchair-accessible trail up to the top of the waterfall. A spectacular view awaits.
3. Read at the Bozeman Public Library
Aside from the beautiful architecture of the building, the Bozeman Public Library is a wealth of knowledge. Fun fact: The library was constructed in 2005 and is still considered a world-class example of eco-architecture. Furthermore, while only 53,293 people live in Bozeman, the library receives more than 400,000 visitors a year.
Most of the resources at the library are free, meaning you can read your fill on a host of subjects. There are plenty of reading and work areas for digital nomads to spend some time here, and you can even grab a freshly brewed cup of coffee from the cafe. Children and adults alike will enjoy the discovery center, too.
The grounds around the library are also open to exploration. You will find multiple sculptures here, as well.
4. Get Educated at the Museum of the Rockies
Some of the best things to do in Bozeman, MT have nothing to do with being out in nature. In fact, one of the coolest attractions happens to be the world-renowned Museum of the Rockies. This museum deals with more than just Bozeman but the whole Rocky Mountain region. You get access to an impressive spread of dinosaur fossils unearthed from the mountains, as well as scientific outlooks for the Yellowstone region.
Be sure to stop by the Hall of Giants and Siebel Dinosaur Complex, where you can see a nearly complete T-rex skeleton. Other permanent exhibitions include the Martin Children’s Discovery Center, Paugh History Hall, and Welcome to Yellowstone Country, which is about the native cultures within the area.
You can also visit the stunning Taylor Planetarium. There are three showings throughout the day, and they are included in the price of the admission ticket. Since the museum is open throughout the year (except on the holidays), you have plenty of opportunities to learn something new.
5. See the American Computer & Robotics Museum
Do you have an interest in technology? Want to know how far humanity has advanced? Then you need to visit the American Computer & Robotics Museum. You get to see exhibitions about the first clay tablet of human writing up to details about Artificial Intelligence and everything in between.
The American Computer & Robotics Museum is located near Montana State University’s Bobcat Stadium. There are multiple rooms pertaining to various areas of science. You can peruse the exhibits, artifacts, and more. One of the popular displays happens to be one of the first Apple computers. It’s signed by Steve Wozniak.
The best part about this attraction? It’s entirely free. Donations are encouraged, however.
6. Take a Walk Through Downtown Bozeman
Without a doubt, the main lure of Bozeman is the great outdoors. However, that doesn’t mean the city itself doesn’t have some magnetism. Here is more to Bozeman than meets the eye, which is why you should spend some time prowling the streets. Bozeman is captivating. There’s an old world vibe that messes with the modern era.
Downtown Bozeman alone has over 20 art galleries, murals, public art installations, and more. You can visit boutiques, thrift shops, cultural events, and find delicious treats at bakeries and cafes.
For those who love to sip a decent spirit, there is one downtown destination you cannot pass up. The Bozeman Spirits Distillery has a high quality range of spirits made from Rocky Mountain water and locally sourced grains. You can head to the tasting room to sample some of the popular spirits and learn a little about the production process. Our recommendation? Try the famous Montana Huckleberry Mule, which uses the distillery’s own huckleberry-flavored vodka.
Not much for alcohol? No worries. Bozeman isn’t just for vodka, rum, and whiskey lovers. There are plenty of places to go in Bozeman if you’re a hungry foodie. Examples include buying handmade chocolate at La Chatelaine Chocolat Co., grabbing some Southern cooking from Roost Fried Chicken, or dining outdoors at Frescoe Cafe.
7. Hit The Slopes—All of Them
A major piece of Bozeman city culture is hitting the slopes once the snow starts to fall. There are two highly acclaimed resorts—Bridger Bowl and Big Sky—near Bozeman, making it the perfect place to find lodgings for your wintry adventures.
Big Sky Resort is about an hour south of the city, and it is an internationally renowned skiing and snowboarding destination. Trails spread across not one mountain but four, totaling up over 6,000 acres of terrain to experience. If you want to ski on nothing but the best snow and trails, Big Sky Resort is for you.
A more local option, however, would be Bridger Bowl. To the north of Bozeman, Bridger Bowl began within the community and is more down-to-earth in what it offers. That said, you still get 2,000 acres of terrain that is great for both beginner and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Eight chair lifts and two toasty lodges make Bridger Bowl a welcoming and family-friendly place on even the coldest of days.
Looking for cross country skiing? Then the Crosscut Mountain Sport Center is your dream destination. Predominantly used for cycling, hiking, and climbing in the summer, this area is transformed into a snowy wonderland in the winter. You can travel down the trails with fat-bikes, snowshoes, and skis.
8. Be Amazed By the Custer Gallatin National Forest
People flock to Bozeman for the over 3 million acres of forest to explore every year. The Custer Gallatin National Forest is divided into seven ranger districts, providing plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures throughout the year.
There are remote areas within Custer Gallatin, including the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Gallatin Canyon, and Bridger Canyon. All of these can be explored at your leisure. Closer to the city, however, are easier hiking trips, such as Storm Castle Peak. The drive is about 40-minutes long, but the scenery is absolutely breathtaking.
Spend your time hiking, skiing, backpacking, picnicking, fly-fishing, and more. Many paved roads also wind through the area, so take a scenic drive whenever you get the chance.
9. Visit the Gallatin History Museum
One look at the Gallatin History Museum’s edifice, and you know it is one of those things you have to do in Bozeman, no matter what. It just looks cool. Perhaps that is why the museum chose a renovated county jail as its home base. What makes this museum interesting?
Information about the pioneers. While we tend to learn about pioneering in middle and high school in the US, a lot of the fascinating stories go untold. Fortunately, you now have a place to learn about early Montana settlers.
There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions throughout the year. You can see a model of Fort Ellis before 1867, Native American artifacts, and a large collection of historical pictures and photographs. There is also a reconstructed pioneer cabin and the Big Horn Gun to see.
Children can visit the museum for free when accompanied by a parent or guardian.
10. See the Sunset From Peets Hill/Burke Park
Want to experience life the Bozeman way? You watch the sunset from Burke Park. This is one of those things to do in Bozeman, MT that you would never know about unless you have watched the citizens and wondered, “Where are they going?”
Burke Park is a segment of the Main Street to the Mountain collection of trails that begins at the city center. You can find the park also known as Peet’s Hill by taking the trail that starts just south of the Bozeman Public Library. The entirety of Burke Park is about 41 acres, but you can reach the ridgeline to the peak in under a mile of walking.
At the highest point of the park, you get a panoramic view of mountains, including Mount Ellis, Hyalite Peak, and the Bridgers. Around sunset, the sky is awash with color. It’s an amazing spot to take beautiful and memorable pictures of your journey.
11. Refresh Yourself at the Bozeman Hot Springs
If you want a spa-like experience while you are traveling through Bozeman, you need to stay at the Bozeman Hot Springs. Frequently rated as one of the best resorts in Montana, the Bozeman Hot Springs are ideal for solo travelers, couples, and even larger groups.
The facilities are impressive. You can choose between 12 different hot spring pools, workout at the state-of-the-art fitness facility, and pop a tent at the campground. There are also plenty of live events throughout the year, including community charity events, group fitness classes, live music, and more.
The best way to experience the hot springs is to book a single night at the campground. That way, you can soak your tired muscles then get right back on the hiking trails the next day. The best part is that every overnight guest to the hot springs gets unlimited entry into the pools.
Use that knowledge to your advantage.
12. Have a Grizzly Encounter
When visiting the Rockies, you should always be aware that bears are near. You may never set eyes on one of them, but there are so many that you’re never too far away from one. That is why the Montana Grizzly Encounter experience is so invaluable to conservation efforts.
Montana Grizzly Encounter isn’t about capturing wild bears. Rather, they adopt bears who had been born in captivity or those who had been injured and couldn’t survive on their own. They give those bears a safe haven, where they can grow up healthy. The effort began in 2002, when National Geographic Wildlife Naturist Casey Anderson adopted a bear named Brutus.
Since then, Brutus has grown from the size of a squirrel to a 900 lb, 7-foot tall grizzly. Alongside Casey and the rest of the conservation team, the bears help humans understand why they are so special and unique. There are routine demonstrations and educational workshops going on.
The best part about the sanctuary is that there are no cages. You can visit throughout the year. General admission is relatively cheap, too.
13. See a Show at Ellen Theatre
Lovers of art and theater are going to have a blast in Bozeman. Since the early 1900s, Bozeman, Montana has been graced by the Ellen Theatre, a traditional palatial playhouse that used to host all kinds of variety shows, including vaudeville.
The playhouse was designed by Fred Willson, a famous architect, and is absolutely stunning from the inside out. Why is it called the Ellen Theatre? The family that founded Bozeman had the theatre constructed for their mother, Ellen Trent.
During the 1920s, the Ellen Theatre was a popular stop for many big names, including Vivian Vance, who played Ethel on I Love Lucy. For some years, the Ellen Theatre was neglected, but it was soon revived as a community theater, which it now functions as today.
You can enjoy the gorgeous interior of this historical playhouse while watching many of the shows and performances scheduled throughout the year.
14. Immerse Yourself at the Emerson Cultural Center
At the heart of Bozeman is the Emerson Cultural Center. During lunchtime, you might notice that people come with their kids and run around the lawn. During the evening, the art studios are filled to the brim with creative souls. Crawford Theater thrums with drama and music. There’s all kinds of things going on, and you can take part in all of it, if you want.
The Emerson Cultural Center is definitely one of those unique things to do in Bozeman, MT. It’s also underrated.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, as it was originally a school building. Since 1993, the center has been giving the public a place to enjoy art, music, and performances. Popular events happen throughout the year, too, such as the annual garden tour of horticulture.
15. Snap Pictures in the Bozeman Sculpture Park
Through the efforts of Gallatin Art Crossing, many of the public spaces in Bozeman are being reimagined as pieces of art. That is why more and more installations are popping up through the city, changing its look and feel little by little.
One of those places is the Bozeman Sculpture Park, where installations and sculptures await purchase. Some of the sculptures are permanent. Visitors are welcomed to walk through the park, admire the artwork, and then visit other works of street art throughout the Downtown area.
If you love taking pictures for the ‘Gram, the Bozeman Sculpture Park is the ideal backdrop. Optionally, you can choose to attend a guided tour for just $5.
16. Take a Drive to Yellowstone National Park
Looking for a day trip away from Bozeman? Since you’re in the area, you might as well take the 80-mile drive south of Bozeman to Yellowstone National Park. It’s worth it. Yellowstone was the first designated national park in the history of the US, and at 2.2 million acres, it’s immense.
You might need more than a day to explore Yellowstone National Park to get the full effect, but even if you hit the most iconic sights, it is still a day well spent. Coming from Bozeman, use the North Entrance to the park. There, you are in the Mammoth Hot Springs region, where you can see amazing rock formations and the Boiling River.
While you’re in that area, check out the Tower-Roosevelt region. Tower Falls and the Lamar Valley are two areas that shouldn’t be missed, especially if you love petrified trees and wildlife.
17. Try Out Fly Fishing
Never tried fly fishing before? Now’s the time. Montana Angler Fly Fishing has been a family-owned and operated business for many years now. Throughout the year, you can use their service to plan out day trips to over 20 different rivers, creeks, and lakes. You can even choose how you want to fish, be it by boat or wading.
A guide joins you on the way, giving your in-depth information about the environment and how to fly fish like a champ. Montana Angler will also make recommendations about where to go based on when fish spawn and the weather. You are guaranteed to have an excellent time making memories and catching loads of fish.
18. Go Shopping at Gallatin Valley Mall
Perhaps you’re in the unlucky scenario of dealing with a rainy day. What to do in Bozeman, MT then? You go shopping. Enter the Gallatin Valley Mall, a widespread collection of over 65 stores, including popular brand names. You can find clothing, electronics, shoes, hiking gear, and anything else you might need here. Perfect for when you forget that extra pair of hiking boots at home!
Once you have spent time collecting bags of goodies, you can visit one of the many restaurants in the area. If you have children in tow, the mall occasionally has events, such as Easter and Christmas photo shoots.
19. Go River Tubing Down the Madison River
Want to know what to do in Bozeman, MT in the summer? Go river tubing. Although summers in Bozeman aren’t as sweltering as other places on the map, taking a dip in cool water is always a great activity. Head to Madison River Tubing, a family-friendly activity that puts you on a large inner tube and has you float lazy river style down the Madison River.
The company running the excursion handles everything. For one price, you get tube rental and shuttle transport to and from the river. If you want, you can also rent out floating coolers, paddle boards, Bluetooth speakers, life jackets, and more. If you’re going with a larger group or with children, the tubes can be connected together.
20. Rest and Relax at Glen Lake Rotary Park
Also home to Bozeman Beach, this gorgeous public space is open throughout the year for all kinds of outdoor activities. Glen Lake Rotary Park is perfect for picnics and kayaking in the spring and summer. You can also use the expansive sandy beach for playing a game of volleyball or sunbathing.
There are also 3 miles worth of hiking trails surrounding Glen Lake Rotary Park that are maintained by the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. The trails wind through trees and run along the East Gallatin River. You can also find connections to other hiking areas around Cherry River and beyond.
Is Bozeman Worth Visiting?
With hundreds of hiking trails, shopping opportunities, art, skiing, hot springs, and more, you don’t have to think much about what to do in Bozeman, MT. There is always something to do! Throughout the year, Bozeman has many unique events and exhibits at local museums to enjoy. The main draw, though, would be the outdoor activities, such as hiking, swimming, and skiing or snowboarding. Why aren’t you packing your bags?
1. What is Bozeman, MT known for?
Bozeman, Montana is known for a number of things, including the world-famous Big Sky Ski Resort, the Museum of the Rockies, the American Computer & Robotics Museum, and the Montana State University campus. Not only that, but Bozeman has charm and character, making it a unique destination throughout the year. Whether you love outdoor activities or want to experience a hip downtown area for shopping and cafes, Bozeman has something for everyone.
2. Is there anything to see in Bozeman, Montana?
There are plenty of things to see in Bozeman, Montana. Aside from the vistas only the M hiking trails, Glen Park lake, skiing at Big Sky and Bridger Bowl, fossils and artwork, you can also partake in incredible artwork and performing arts displays. Bozeman is a city with a small population, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. There is always something going on.
3. Is Bozeman, Montana worth visiting?
Yes, Bozeman is worth visiting. The city has a little something for everyone, including public art installations, a sculpture park, a free library, museums, galleries, dance shows, live music, distilleries and breweries, shopping, cafes, hiking, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, and so much more.