It seems like summer just got started and now it's already winding down. If you've lived in Montana longer than a year or two, you realize the summer season is ridiculously short. According to the calendar, the official last day of summer is September 21, just over a month away. The unofficial end of the season is quickly approaching on Labor Day weekend. Pre-coronavirus, we usually cram as many fun activities as possible into three months with Alive After 5's, outdoor concerts and festivals, rodeos, and many other events. This year has certainly been a little different. I guess we can try again next year? Anyway, here are five things you should probably check off your list before summer winds down.

1. Get ice cream at Softie's. This soft-serve ice cream shack on the corner of 24th and Broadwater is busy every single day they're open in the summer months. When the season ends, Softie's closes their windows for the year. They usually stay open (at least on the weekends) into late September or early October, depending on the weather.

Credit: TSM Billings

2. Spend a day at Lake Elmo. Montana is pretty awesome, but one thing we're lacking is plentiful beaches. While some people call the state park in the Heights "Lake Smellmo," that's a bit of an exaggeration. The water isn't that bad. Kids can enjoy the fairly sandy beach areas and shallow approach for swimming, and it's a great spot to hang out, fish, barbecue or picnic and enjoy an afternoon of sunshine.

Credit: Michael Foth ~ Townsquare Media

3. Catch a movie at the Amusement Park Drive In Theater. The Amusement Park Drive In Theater has been enjoying a busy year, as other theater chains have remained closed because of COVID. There haven't been any new film releases this year, but the drive-in has been showing various classics all summer long on their two giant screens. One nice thing about the days getting shorter is that you don't have to wait so long for the movies to start when the sun sets.

Credit: ZooMontana ~ used with permission

4. Visit ZooMontana. Yes, the zoo is open year-round, but when was the last time you went to the zoo in January? Never. If it's been a few years since you've been to ZooMontana, it's seriously worth another visit. A few weeks ago they got a new sloth named Winston. They also have a new wolf pup and the bison exhibit is a relatively new addition as well.

Credit: Getty Stock/ThinkStock

5. Go camping or glamping. Camping has enjoyed a national resurgence as American's flocked in droves to outdoor areas this year. Montana is no exception, with many camping spots reserved well in advance at Forest Service campgrounds. If you're not huge on roughing it, see if you can snag a spot at Billings KOA. Many outdoor enthusiasts would scoff at the idea of staying at the world's first KOA, but if you prefer to dip a toe into camping, instead of jumping all-in, this is a great way to have some fun. It's very developed, with RV and tent spots, a cafe, ice cream socials, hot showers, and other amenities. Make a reservation ASAP to save your spot before fall.

Soak up what's left of summer around Billings, before it's too late. The snow will be here sooner than you think.

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