(BPT) - Billings, Montana, has your ticket to summer, including amazing concerts, outdoor festivals, sporting events and more. In addition, Billings features Montana’s only walkable brewery district and some of the best restaurants and shopping around. Voted Outside Magazine’s “Best Town Ever,” Billings boasts amazing adventure and outdoor recreation for all ages and thrill levels. Whether you want to catch a great show followed by a night on the town or head into the great outdoors, you’ll find your perfect summer playlist in Billings.
Here are the top 10 reasons you need to visit this summer.
1. Billings has your ticket to some of the best summer concerts.
Outdoor concerts are big in Billings when the weather is warm. On Thursdays, Alive After 5 concerts in historic downtown Billings and St. John’s Summer Concert Series feature amazing regional musicians. Headlining acts are making tour stops in Billings all summer long, including rock, pop, country and indie bands as well as today's top comedians. So, whatever’s on your playlist, Billings has your ticket.
2. It’s a big city with a small-town feel.
There aren’t many places where you can experience the best in urban living and small-town county fairs all in the same day. Billings hosts weekly farmers markets as well as tons of craft and food fairs, including SummerFair, an annual outdoor craft fair supporting the Yellowstone Art Museum. At MontanaFair in August, you’ll find classic rides and carnival treats, rodeo, motocross, concerts, horse racing and more. Hit the urban vibe with a stop at one of Billings' great restaurants, featuring everything from high-end, fine dining at places like TEN and Lilac to the world-champion burgers at downtown’s Burger Dive.
3. Billings boasts Montana’s only walkable brewery district.
Downtown Billings is where you’ll find some of the best local brews Montana has to offer, all within walking distance of each other. Walk to all six breweries, two distilleries and a cider house, the newest addition to the tour, while you also enjoy dozens of art galleries, local shops and museums along the way. Many of the breweries also have fantastic outdoor patios, so you can be “outdoorsy” while you relax and unwind with friends over fantastic food and drinks.
4. It’s the most beautiful route into Yellowstone National Park.
Beartooth Highway has been named “the most beautiful drive in America” by Charles Kuralt, the former On The Road television correspondent, as well as by countless publications around the world. This famous gateway to Yellowstone National Park leaves visitors speechless at Mother Nature’s stunning beauty. Just 60 minutes southwest of Billings, this scenic pass is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting, so summer is the time to take in this scenic route.
5. Billings isn’t known as Montana’s trailhead for nothing.
With nearly 26 miles of paved and gravel trails, plus bike lanes throughout the city, Billings is a friendly community for both biking and walking. Enjoy the views from Swords Rimrock Park Trail or Four Dances Natural Recreation Area, then head west to explore the wild landscape surrounding Zimmerman and Phipps Parks. Bikes are available for rent if you don’t want to bring your own.
6. History is literally at your feet.
When you walk in and around Billings, chances are you are walking right into history. Learn about the early days of Billings at the Western Heritage Museum and the Moss Mansion designed by famed architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. Celebrate a Billings icon, Yellowstone Kelly, a warrior, scout and veteran of three wars. The new Interpretive Site is right in town at Swords Rimrock Park and is scheduled to open September 2017. Venture out a bit farther and take a step back in time by exploring Pompeys Pillar, offering some of the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Not to be missed, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument will give you a glimpse into the devastating fight of Custer’s Last Stand.
7. It’s where the wild things are.
Looking for something special to do with the kids? ZooMontana is it. Spend the day exploring the zoo's 70 acres that feature regional and exotic animals such as bears, tigers, wolves, takin, red pandas, a free-flight aviary and more. If you’re looking for a true wild west experience, summer is rodeo time in Billings. Catch a night rodeo and see the area’s best ropin’ and ridin’.
8. It’s got a culture all its own.
Billings has always enjoyed a vibrant arts scene highlighting the best in Native American and Western culture. Shop and enjoy works of art at area galleries and Yellowstone Art Museum. Hit them all during Art Walk when over two dozen galleries and shops stay open late. The Annual Crow Fair Celebration Pow Wow & Rodeo includes parades, a four-day pow wow, a rodeo and horse races. The largest Native American event in Montana, and one of the biggest pow wows in the country, Crow Fair attracts more than 50,000 spectators and participants from around the world. Go even further back in time with a visit to Pictograph Cave State Park where prehistoric hunters left imprints on local caves that can still be seen today.
9. Going with the flow is easy here.
Take the family fishing, enjoy a leisurely walk, explore biking trails — Yellowstone River is a must when in Billings. The longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states is a true natural gem that begs to be explored. Head a bit further out to Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area and enjoy a day boating surrounded by breathtaking cliffs. Or, if you’re looking for a wild ride, enjoy nearby whitewater rafting. You can rent boats, rafts, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards in Billings and head out for a great day on the water.
10. You’re never too old to play outside.
Or, watch others play! Baseball lovers should check out the Billings Mustangs at Dehler Park. The Mustangs are the farm team for the Cincinnati Reds, and Dehler Park was recently awarded the Best of the Ballparks, Rookie Level, by BallparkDigest.com. Join in one of Billings' many races, including the Soaked Fun Run, Beat the Heat 5k with local law enforcement, the Yellowstone Kelly MountainMan Triathlon and the Montana Marathon. Or, watch the best in Montana take each other on in a variety of summer sports during the Big Sky State Games.