From Billings To Bozeman: 6 Quaint Montana Towns to Explore
If you live in southern Montana, you've probably traveled dozens of times from Billings to Bozeman, or vice-versa. Many former Bozemanites now live in the Billings area, and tons of people from Billings have connections of some sort around Bozeman too.
How often do you stop at the towns between Billings and Bozeman?
Most of the time, locals are in a hurry to make the 143-mile drive between Bozeman and Billings. Perhaps we're headed in that direction for sports, a concert, to go skiing, to visit college friends, family, whatever. Typically, we shouldn't need to stop for gas and the under-two-hour drive is short enough that hunger is rarely an issue.
Slow down and check out the towns.
The next time you're not in a hurry, do yourself a favor and stop at one (or all) of these small Montana towns between Billings and Bozeman. All are great places for a quick stretch, a bite to eat, and an Insta-worthy moment in charming Montana towns. The I-90 corridor essentially follows the Yellowstone River and each stop has a few hidden gems worth checking out, even if it's just for a minute.
Laurel gets less sleepy every year as Billings continues to expand west. Two new-ish, locally-owned restaurants in Laurel are getting tons of great reviews, The Cracked Egg and Carlton Depot. Overnight camping is available again at Riverfront Park, a popular boat launch site for rafters and boaters in the summer.
There are just four bowling alleys in Yellowstone County, and you'll find one of the best at KC's Palace and Lanes on Main Street in Laurel.
Park City, MT
Pop's Inn & Bar has been a fun stop in Park City forever. New owners are carrying on the small-town bar environment at this cozy joint, where you'll find cold beer, juicy hamburgers, a pool table, and friendly conversation.
Disregard what may be outdated information on their Facebook page(s). They currently have two and neither was completely accurate on 2/9/24. I called to confirm that Pop's Bar is open, seven days a week.
Drinkers and teetotalers alike should check out the New Atlas Bar at least once in their lives. Some have nicknamed it "the dead animal bar", an unflattering way of describing the extensive collection of taxidermy that surrounds the interior of the old bar. There's a stuffed beaver, a bear, deer of all shapes and sizes, elk, the famous two-headed calf, and more.
If taxidermy isn't your thing, you'll find a small variety of restaurants and bars in Columbus. There is a grocery store and other small retailers. Itch-Kep-Pe Park on the south edge of town is a great spot to stretch your legs along the Yellowstone River.
Reed Point, MT
Perhaps most famous for its annual sheep drive or being a main hub for the three-day Yellowstone Boat Float each summer, the short main street in tiny Reed Point, with its old wooden buildings and boardwalks, always makes us feel like we stepped back into the 1890s.
Big Timber, MT
Big Timber is right around the halfway mark between Billings and Bozeman and if we need to stop for a bathroom break, it's usually here. Sometimes we'll drive through town and check out some of the historic shops, bars, and restaurants, or grab some ice cream.
The late Jimmy Buffet released a song in 1978 called Livingston Saturday Night. The song remains popular on jukeboxes and smart speakers around Montana, despite some of the lyrics not aging well.
Hittin' on the honeys right out of high school
Yeah, fifteen may get you twenty,
But that's all right,
'Cause they be rockin and a rollin'
On a Livingston Saturday Night
Regardless of Buffet's creepy, underage girl reference, Livingston is so much fun. From fine dining, art galleries, and fly shops, to historic bars like the Murray, one could easily spend an entire day in Livingston.
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