Consider a Weekend Trip to Helena Montana. You Won’t Regret It.
It seems like Helena gets overlooked as a quick getaway destination for many Montanans, but after a recent overnight visit to the Capitol City, I'm not sure exactly why. Our love affair with destinations like Red Lodge, Whitefish, Chico, etc. are certainly well deserved, but next time you're looking for a fun in-state getaway, you should really give Helena a look.
It was fun to visit Helena as a "tourist."
Of course, I've been to Helena a handful of times. Touring the state capitol for school, seeing relatives, and a business trip were my main reasons for previous visits. Usually, I'm just passing through on my way to somewhere "better." On a whim, my wife and I decided to spend a night in Helena to kick off a birthday weekend, and we had so much fun.
Stay in historic Last Chance Gulch and park your car for the night.
The two, nicer-caliber hotels on Last Chance Gulch are the Double Tree and the Great Northern. We stayed at the Double Tree, arriving mid-afternoon on a Thursday, and it was great to be able to park the car until we checked out the next afternoon. Everything you could want is easily walkable. The hotel was quiet and comfortable and the location was ideal.
I wish Billings had a walking mall.
The walking mall area of Last Chance Gulch is filled with dozens of shops, restaurants and breweries that occupy beautiful, historic buildings. You can almost feel the hustle and bustle of 1890's gold rush ghosts as you wander up and down the strip.
Lots of options for great food and drinks.
While my wife was in the room getting ready for dinner, I wandered out for a beer (or two) and starting scoping out some meal options. We thought we'd go to Lucca's, a well-rated Italian restaurant about a block from our hotel. The maitre d' told us they were completely booked for the night, but offered a handful of recommendations. We picked his first choice, Benny's Bistro. Don't let the unassuming exterior dissuade you, the food and service were absolutely fantastic.
A perfect spot for fans of old buildings and Montana history.
I won't bore you with the dozens of pictures I took of all the cool architecture. You'll have to see it for yourself. When the gold was flowing out of Helena, builders spared no expense on what I would say are some of the most interesting and beautiful buildings in the state. I'd love to return to explore the stories behind them.
Can't miss the carousel.
We've been to the carousel on a previous trip a few years ago with our kids, but this fun spot at the north end of Last Chance Gulch is a must-do on any visit to Helena, with or without kids. I mean... who doesn't love a carousel? It's right beside the Great Northern Hotel and there is a large children's science museum on the grounds. We rode the carousel, then had lunch at the restaurant/bar next door before we hit the road.
We honestly had so much fun on our quick overnighter in Helena, that I'm already looking forward to visiting again. There is so much to see and do that it deserves another trip. Next time you're wondering where to go for the weekend, consider Helena. You'll have a blast.
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