Billings, MT Attractions

ZooMontana – Rimrock Mall
Little Bighorn Battlefield

Billings, MT (pop. 110,323) is the chief city along I-90 and the upper Yellowstone Valley in south-central Montana. Billings is a trade, medical, and entertainment center for all of eastern Montana and the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming.

Billings is a good base from which to make forays to major attractions in the region. Yellowstone National Park, the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, and Cody, Wyoming are not far from Billings.

Billings has an unusual and unique setting, built as it is at the foot of a massive wall of rimrocks. In geologic history, the Yellowstone River cut deep into the earth creating the present day Yellowstone Valley. This action exposed the magnificent sandstone cliffs which are today the city’s landmark. From the valley floor near the river, it’s more than 460 feet to the top of the rimrocks.  A city park near the rimrocks offers fabulous views of the distant Pryor Mountains and the Rockies further to the west.

The beautiful Yellowstone River is a major landmark in Billings. The Yellowstone is one of America’s last free-flowing rivers. It is clearly a national treasure.

Billings is home to Montana State University-Billings (MSU-B). Some 4,200 students study in many fields in the arts and sciences and professional programs.

The Yellowstone County Museum is a big attraction in Billings. Near the Billings airport, this museum has all the good historical stuff. In downtown Billings, on Montana Avenue, the Western Heritage Center features super exhibits about the homesteading era in Montana.

Billings was a frontier town in 1903, but that didn’t stop P.B. Moss from building an elegant mansion that’d rival the best of Denver or Minneapolis at the time.  Today, the Moss Mansion in Billings is open to the public for daily tours.   Small fee charged to take a tour.

ZooMontana is a must see in Billings, Montana. Visitors can view wildlife in natural habitats. The zoo is proud of its waterfowl, owl, river otter, and Siberian tiger habitats. The zoo also features a Sensory Garden with native and exotic plants. At the Homestead exhibit, kids enjoy a collection of domestic animals. ZooMontana is located a few miles west of the city on Shiloh Road.

The Reef Indoor Water Park at 1801 Majestic Lane in west Billings is a good place to take the kids.  And horseback riding is a chance to feel like a real cowboy.  Bitter Creek Outfitters (406) 855-6075) offers scenic trail rides near Billings.

As the largest city in Montana, Billings entertains thousands of visitors. The huge Metra Park complex, located in the eastern part of the city, offers many events throughout the year. The annual fall rodeo at the Metra draws big-time cowboys and cowgirls. Many fun shows and sporting events are held at Metra Park. The Montana Fair is a huge draw in Billings during August.  In 2019, this event runs  August 9-17.

Some major historical sites are located near Billings. Pictograph Cave State Park is a few miles south of Billings. In prehistoric times, Native Americans camped at the cave and added some 106 primitive paintings to the cave’s sandstone walls.

The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is east of Billings on I-90, near Hardin. Before the pioneers moved west, Montana was home to thousands of Native Americans. They wanted to keep their way of life and protect the land from outsiders. The U.S. government had a different plan and sent the U.S. Army west to subdue the Native Americans.

At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, on June 25, 1876, Native Americans fought back and were victorious. Sioux and Cheyenne tribes led by Crazy Horse and others delivered a deadly blow, killing George Custer and many soldiers. The land on which this battle was waged remains largely unchanged today.

A few miles east of Billings, on I-94, visitors can see the place where William Clark, a leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, carved his name in a towering sandstone formation a few yards from the Yellowstone River in 1806. Called Pompey’s Pillar National Monument, it is administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land management.

Pompey's Pillar Montana
Spectacular rock formation by Yellowstone River near Billings.

Shopping is excellent in Billings, Montana. The first stop for many visitors is Scheels in west Billings.   Scheels sells things for outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, and hunting.  Rimrock Mall on 24th Street West has a variety of anchor stores and special shops to satisfy every taste.  The Barnes & Noble bookstore is also on 24th Street and a favorite meeting place in Billings.

Yesteryear’s Antique Mall (on 29th Street) is a destination for finding hidden treasures in Billings. Find antiques galore in this huge place.  An extra nice Starbucks coffee shop is on Grand Avenue a few block west of the downtown area.

Billings has excellent Hotels
Ledgestone Hotel(406) 259-9454
Home2 Suites by Hilton(406) 252-2255
Riversage Billings Inn(406) 252-6800
Hilltop Inn by Riversage(406) 245-5000

Bistecca at the Granary has the best food and atmosphere in Billings.  The Granary’s bar is special and a delightful place to have a seat even if you only order a Coke.  The Granary is open for lunch and evening dining and located in a quiet neighborhood on Poly Drive.   For an extra nice atmosphere and good prices dine at Jake’s restaurant downtown. For yummy seafood and ribs, try Montana’s Rib & Chop House  on Majestic Lane in the far west end of Billings.  Don’t miss  McCormick Café’s sandwiches and fresh-baked goods.  McCormick Cafe is on Montana Avenue downtown.

The 406 Kitchen & Taproom is another  popular dining spot in Billings. The restaurant has a great location on north 27th Street, not far from downtown, the airport, and area colleges. On the menu Famous 406 nachos, halibut sandwich, are many more tasty delights. Great hour of service here too.

The Burger Dive in downtown Billings is a favorite for a quick bite in casual surroundings.  Great Harvest Bread is always a another good choice.

Top Ethnic Cuisine:

    • Ciao Mambo Italian Restaurant
    • Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant
    • Shanghai Village (Chinese)
    • Umi Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar
    • Oktoberfest German Restaurant

Photo gallery of Billings.  View map of Billings.  Use two fingers to navigate on map.  View map, terrain or satellite images.


Billings weather during summer months is a pleasure to experience. In July at midday, temperatures can reach as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but relative humidity is low often at 31%. To top things off, days are mostly sunny and daylight lasts about 15 hours. Few places in the United States have beautiful summer weather like this. Is this paradise found?

Billings is a fun city to visit. Great shopping and friendly people.

Montana travel vacation
Copyright © 2019 John Sandy

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