20 Towns and Cities in Montana

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Montana is famous for its stunning natural beauty as the state includes Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, two of the best outdoor destinations in the USA. Its cities form an ideal base to relax and unwind before heading out on hiking expeditions into the mountains. The cities in Montana offer a wealth of history and unique heritage.

Expect to find plenty of historical references to the Wild West and Lewis & Clark in Montana’s cities and dinosaur fossils in its natural landscapes. Montana has a range of exciting cities and towns to explore, all of which encompass a love of nature with a cosmopolitan vibe. Many of its cities are small and offer a homely small-town feel. 20 of the best cities in Montana can be found here.

Towns And Cities In Montana

20 Montana Cities And Towns To Visit

1- Missoula

aerial view of missoula
Missoula is one of the best cities in Montana for nightlife.

Missoula is completely surrounded by the Lolo National Forest, giving locals and visitors easy access to the great outdoors.

Elk are native to Montana and can be found in its many forests, national parks and wildernesses.

Learn more about this species at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, where you will uncover how local government protects these majestic creatures, discover their habitats, and learn how everyone can help with wildlife conservation.

Explore Downtown on foot on an evening to uncover Missoula’s vibrant and fun-filled nighttime scene.

Hip Strip is a must-visit street in Downtown filled with the coolest bars and restaurants.

2- Helena

aerial view of Helena
Helena is the capital city of Montana.

Helena is Montana’s capital city and was a former centre for the gold rush during the mid to late 1800s.

Uncover more about the city’s gold mining heritage at Last Chance Gulch, where the prospectors first found gold.

Today’s area is filled with statues depicting this heritage, beautiful buildings and a long-retired trolley car parked up on one of its streets.

Appreciate a variety of artistic creations for free at the Holter Museum of Art, where exhibitions frequently change, offering visitors a chance to see some of the best works of art from the modern era.

The museum regularly hosts lectures, Q&As with artists and hands-on workshops.

3- Bozeman

City park after snowfall in early spring
Bozeman is one of the best cities in Montana for access to the outdoors.

The majesty and wild landscapes of the Rocky Mountains surround Bozeman.

It’s the ideal city base for those looking to spend some time in the mountains with luxuries close at hand.

Experience the history of Montana at the Museum of the Rockies, which is filled with fossils, artefacts and dinosaur skeletons all found within the region.

Within the Hall of Giants is an almost complete T-Rex skeleton.

Learn more about the native wildlife of Montana at Montana Grizzly Encounter, a wildlife sanctuary that provides a haven for grizzly bears.

Some bears have been rescued from captivity and others that would not have survived in the wild.

Experience these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat and learn about their role within the Montana landscape.

4- Kalispell

Aerial view of Downtown Kalispell at sunset
Kalispell is a city in Montana to visit if you’re keen on exploring Glacier National Park.

Kalispell is the gateway to Glacier National Park, with access to hiking trails, rivers and mountaintop views over the city.

When visiting Kalispell in winter, a must-visit destination is the Whitefish Mountain Resort, the perfect Montana destination for skiing.

On the mountain, you can ski, snowboard and snow tube, and night skiing is available on weekends.

In the city, take the time to explore Main Street, a street filled with colourful houses and businesses, many of which date back to the 1890s when the city was founded.

5- Butte

butte city pin on the map
Butte is one of the smaller cities in Montana by population and has a rich mining history.

Butte is one of Montana’s many mining cities, with a gold and silver mining history.

The city itself is a National Historic Landmark thanks to the vast amounts of copper underneath it that led Butte to become a key destination for copper mining and production.

Uncover the vast and varied history of the city on one of its many educational walking tours.

Tours will take you to some of Butte’s most important historic buildings and sites, including the Rookwood Speakeasy.

More of Butte’s mining heritage can be discovered at World Museum of Mining, an authentic mining yard with period-appropriate buildings and exhibitions.

Don a hard had and venture underground into Orphan Girl Mine to discover what life was like for a miner.

6- Billings

billings city pin on the map
Billings is one of the best cities to visit in Montana as a gateway city to Yellowstone National Park.

Billings perfectly blends city life and outdoor adventure like most of Montana’s cities.

Take to the outdoors and explore Pictograph Cave State Park, a leafy green oasis home to a range of rock paintings from prehistoric times.

Celebrate the indigenous wildlife of the mountains at Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary, which cares for a range of wild animals that have been injured or cannot survive in the wild.

Expect to see wolves, mountain lions and buffalo.

Round up your time in Billings with a trip to Yellowstone Cellars & Winery to sample some of the best wines in the state.

Family-run since 1880, Yellowstone Cellars and Winery offers wine tastings and tours.

7- Great Falls

great falls city pin on the map
Even though it’s population is not very large, Great Falls is one of the major cities in Montana.

Immerse yourself in the journey of Lewis & Clark at the Lewis & Clark Interpretative Centre, where exhibitions describe and depict the journey the two famous explorers embarked upon and include a range of artefacts and findings from their travels.

C.M. Russell Museum is a must-visit museum in Great Falls for art lovers and creatives.

The museum is dedicated to the local artist and is set in his log cabin home and adjoining studio.

Paints, brushes, pallets, and other artistic equipment used by the artist are on display.

8- Miles City

Miles City is a small and relatively new city in Montana, founded in 1876.

The city is famed for its livestock and horse trading centre and for its rodeos.

Those looking to learn more about Miles City’s Wild West heritage should head to the Range Riders Museum.

The museum consists of 13 buildings filled with artefacts from American history, including numerous guns and arrowheads, antique vehicles and plenty of discoveries from the colonial and civil wars.

Cross the shallows of Yellowstone River to reach Pirogue Island State Park, a vibrant and leafy oasis in the centre of the river.

There are 2.8 miles (4.51 kilometres) of hiking trails, plenty of picnic benches and lots of wildlife to observe.

9- Glendive

Glendive’s history dates back to the creation of the Northern Pacific Railway and its transcontinental railroad.

Its railway heritage is seen today in its architecture, street signs and old railway bridges.

One of the most famous things in Glendive is its prehistoric history. Makoshika State Park is filled with some of the best-preserved outdoor dinosaur fossils in the Badlands.

Look out for Triceratops and T-Rex fossils within the park.

Continue your dinosaur-themed day out with a Dinosaur Digs tour, a specialised paleontological tour within the park where visitors can find and take home fossils, fossilised wood and even dinosaur bones.

10- Belgrade

Belgrade is set within miles upon miles of stunning Montana prairie land and is nicknamed Princess of the Prairies.

Sip a cold beer at Madison River Brewing, a craft brewery in the city.

The brewery tap room offers beer and lager with unique flavours like candy and citrus.

After a refreshing pint, dine at Mint Cafe and Bar.

Since opening in 1904, the cafe has served the people of Belgrade delicious steaks, pork chops and other hearty and warming dishes set in a rustic and cosy environment.

11- Dillon

Dillon is a city filled with history, and there is no better way to learn more than on one of the city’s walking tours.

Walking tours are available in small groups with knowledgeable guides or independently with an informative map at the visitor centre.

An important part of Dillon’s history is at the Big Hole Battlefield, where a fierce battle was fought during 1877 as part of the Nez Perce War.

This National Historic Landmark has guided tours available and an exhibition centre with interactive displays and archeological findings from the battlefield.

12- Havre

Havre is close to the spectacular Bear Paw Mountains and its surrounding forests.

The city is passionate about wildlife and nature, with up-close experiences available at Blaine County Wildlife Museum.

At the museum, you can meet bears and deer and learn about how they survive in the wilderness surrounding the city.

In 1904 most of Havre was destroyed in a fire, forcing many businesses to move underground.

Today some of these unusual buildings and businesses can be accessed on a Beneath the Streets tour.

Get out into nature and hike along part of the 65-mile (104.61 km) trail that runs along the banks of the Milk River.

The river flows into Fresno Reservoir, where you can take boats out onto the water or relax and have a picnic.

13- Anaconda

Anaconda is another of Montana’s mining cities specialising in copper.

Signs of the city’s mining heritage can be found throughout its streets, from the Smelter Stack to bunkers of black sand at the local golf course.

Watch a movie at the 1930s Washoe Theatre, complete with neon lights and 30s interior styling.

The theatre only has one screen, but this only adds to its unique aesthetic appeal.

If you need to relax and unwind, book into Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, a spa destination with plenty of pools warmed by underground natural hot springs.

The spa is open year-round with many visitors favouring a trip in winter as the crisp cool air contrasts with the pleasant water temperatures.

14- Livingston

Laying alongside the Yellowstone River and to the north of Yellowstone National Park, Livingston is the ideal city destination to combine culture, music and arts with nature and the outdoors.

Animal lovers will enjoy a trip to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre, where grizzly bears and wolves thrive in protected habitats.

The centre puts on a range of educational programs and lectures to help children and adults alike learn more about these majestic creatures and the impact we have on them and their habitats.

The city has a popular art scene and is filled with many galleries, most of which are free to enter.

15- Evergreen

Evergreen is in the centre of two rivers, Whitefish River to the west and Flathead River to the east.

As such, the city is a popular destination for riverside walks, kayaking and other water activities.

Trout fishing is enjoyed in the city, with licences easily available and plenty of stores renting out equipment.

One of the best destinations for trout fishing is the Flathead River, which remains relatively quiet and peaceful despite its popularity.

Evergreen is only a short drive away from the beauty of Glacier National Park and its alpine lakes.

Bring your hiking gear and enjoy one of the park’s 700 miles (1126.54 km) of trails.

16- Whitefish

Whitefish is most frequented by those heading into the mountains to ski, as it is home to Whitefish Mountain Resort.

After a day on the slopes, take some time to explore Downtown Whitefish. Every store in the area is independent and set inside traditional timber-clad buildings.

During the summer, relax in the sunshine at Whitefish City Beach on the shores of Whitefish Lake.

The sandy beach offers access to the water and spectacular views of the surrounding mountainous landscape.

Boats can be hired locally for lake trout fishing or simply exploring the lake and connecting river.

17- Laurel

Laurel is on the banks of Yellowstone River and is a popular destination for trout fishing and fly fishing.

A short drive from the centre is Canyon Creek Battlefield Monument, an important landmark in Montana’s history.

The monument commemorates those who lost their lives at the battle between the Nez Perce and the US Army in 1877.

Several self-led trails through the battlefield illustrate the cause of the battle and the aftermath.

Continue to learn about Canyon Creek by spending a moment at Chief Joseph Monument.

The statue depicts Chief Joseph, leader of the Nez Perce, who tried to protect his people from the oncoming army peacefully.

18- Gardiner

Gardiner is at the northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park and has been a favourite base camp for adventurers setting out into the park for decades.

Get outdoors and experience Mammoth Hot Springs, located just inside the national park.

The hot springs have dramatic and unique terrace formations created by a continual limestone buildup.

The hot springs can be seen close up from one of the sites boardwalks.

Enjoy hearty and filling dishes at one of Gardiner’s restaurants. The restaurants typically cater for locals and those venturing into the national park, so expect large portions.

Cowboy’s Lodge and Grill is a popular restaurant serving thick and juicy burgers, plenty of BBQ and a range of delicious sides, including Cowboy Slaw and whisky-candied bacon.

19- Sidney

Sidney is another fishing haven in Montana situated on the Yellowstone River. Expect to catch a range of fish in its waters, including trout and even giant paddlefish.

Visit the MonDak Heritage Centre to discover a range of historical artefacts, local works of art, and plenty of local history about the city and Montana.

In the evening, grab a bite to eat at Cattle-Ac Nightclub, Casino and Steakhouse.

This 3-in-1 destination has live entertainment and serves some of the best steaks.

20- Lewistown

Lewistown is in the geographical centre of Montana and is filled with traditional American heritage, prehistoric finds and stunning natural landscapes.

Visit the Central Montana Museum to learn more about the state and city, and to admire their prized position, a Torosaurus Skull.

Go on a guided tour out to Beargulch to admire ancient pictographs depicting life for the earliest humans in the area.

After a day filled with history, board the Charlier Russell Chew Choo, a special dining-car train that winds through the mountains whilst you enjoy a delicious prime rib meal.

Trains depart mid-afternoon on their 4.5-hour trip, which is perfectly timed to catch the sunset. 

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.