Bozeman, Montana is on my travel wish list. It’s been on my radar since I realized how close it to Yellowstone National Park, a place I haven’t seen since I was a kid, but that I’ve been dying to get back to. Bozeman is nestled in the Rocky Mountains, with the Bridger Mountain range to the north of the city and the Spanish Peaks to the south. This a place with world class hiking, skiing and biking opportunities in every direction.
Even an uncoordinated non-skiier like me is familiar with Big Sky Resort. The Bangtail Divide Trail offers 24 miles of incredible mountain biking (and mountain views) and more than 3 million acres of trees make Custer Gallatin National Forest (which is adjacent to Yellowstone) sound like an ideal hiking spot. But that’s only one of the National Forests that surround this city. If you’re craving a little forest getaway, Bozeman is ideal.
Photo by Thugz, Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls Head Coach
These natural attractions are really well known, so they’re pretty easy for a travel writer like me to research. What’s harder is sorting through the many interesting looking shops, attractions, and food and beverage options in a city I’ve never been to. So when I realized that Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls were in town for a tournament, I asked them to be my eyes and ears. They asked the locals for tips and spent some time exploring downtown Bozeman on foot, which is always my favorite way to see a city!
Here are the spots that the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls recommend that you check out the next time you find yourself in Bozeman, Montana. If you live in Bozeman or have visited the city, feel free to chime in with your own recommendations in the comments at the bottom of the post. I love it when these reader generated stories become an ongoing dialogue.
Oh and if you to check out these ladies in action and you happen to be in Fargo this weekend, don’t miss their bout at Southwest Arena on Saturday, July 14. I’ll see you there!
Let’s see Bozeman!
“Horse and bridger mountains Bozeman, Montana, by Trace Nietert
“The scenery was beautiful, especially on the drive there, with the road winding through the mountains,” says Maulflower. (Yes, I’m using derby names/aliases, since that’s how the ladies are known in their world.) “I really enjoyed the quiet, cool mornings on the porch of our AirBnB, sipping coffee and taking in the mountain views.”
I think it’s great when people make a point to enjoy the world around them and aren’t always rushing from place to place. I think we’d all have much more relaxing travel experiences if we took a page from Maulflower’s book and made time to just sit and take things in. She stayed near the fairgrounds, with a view of the Bridger range, but the general consensus was that you could get a scenic view pretty much anywhere in town. (Coach Thugz snapped that great mountain pic at the top of the post from a vehicle, so there you go — if a mountain view is your thing, Bozeman delivers.)
“Bozeman was a lot of fun, the food and the shopping was fun and the scenery was amazing,” says Blizzard Warning (a.k.a. my best friend since I was three.) “The natural springs was a great way to relax after an exciting roller derby tournament.”
Seducci agrees. “You gotta hit up the Bozeman Hot Springs Spa!,” she adds. “We could’ve spent the whole weekend there!” (You know, except for that pesky tournament thing.)
Honestly, so could I. This place has offered medicinal hot springs since 1879 and has expanded to include 12 mineral rich pools which range in temperature from 57° to 106°, a stage where you can watch a band while you soak, group fitness classes, party areas and a steam room and dry sauna. Sign me up!
Personally, I tend to focus exclusively on breweries when I’m out and about (an occupational hazard of being a beer writer, I suppose), so of course I have a running list of craft breweries I want to check out when I’m in town. For sheer variety, Blizzard Warning recommends Montana Ale Works, which offers 40 regional craft beer tap handles, as well as locally sourced comfort food, from hand-cut steaks and Montana bison burgers to salads and a gluten free menu.
Photo by Seducci
Since I’m beer obsessed, sometimes I need a reminder that not everybody loves beer as much as I do. So I was happy to see that the ladies had non-brewery tips for me too.
“The cider is from Lockhorn Cider House in downtown Bozeman,” says Seducci. “The locals at the derby tournament told us to check it out.”
The family-owned cidery focuses on crafting all natural hard ciders without added sweetness or chemical stabilizers, so their products are dry, crisp and wine-like — definitely not overly sweet. Despite this focus, they make a variety of styles. Blizzard is a dedicated cider drinker (with a more pronounced sweet tooth than me) and she was into it.
“It was fun to try so many different flavors of cider,” she says. If Blizzard Warning is impressed with the selection, that’s more than good enough for me. The cozy tasting room, tree and wildflower lined outdoor patio and fireplace look welcoming as well.
Seducci in downtown Bozeman. Photo by Blizzard Warning.
Seducci and Blizzard spent some time checking out the art in downtown Bozeman, including some public sculptures like the one shown above. The number of Bozeman art galleries tells me that this place has a vibrant art scene, especially for a city of its size. (It’s the forth most populous city in Montana, but it hasn’t quite hit 50,000 people yet.)
If you want to check out Bozeman art in a more organized fashion, you can check out the Bozeman Art Walks, which happen on the second Friday of the month from June through September. (There’s also one in December.) The galleries and shops downtown feature artists and you’ll find free appetizers and refreshments too.
So what about shopping? “There was also a few shops downtown that were pretty cool, says Seducci. “I could spend hours in the store called Heyday.”
Me too. This place stocks lots of interesting, eye-catching gifts, jewelry, stationary and novelties that I instantly covet. Seducci also recommends The Montana Honey Bee Company because it “had all things honey and it was pretty fascinating.”
I’m also intrigued by MaYarising, which emphasizes ethically sourced apparel for both men and women. And because I look for gifts and souvenirs that are truly representative of a place, I definitely plan to check out Montana Gift Corral when I’m in town.
Pizza at MacKenzie River Pizza by LunchboxLarry
I also noticed that the original MacKenzie River Pizza joint is in Bozeman. I’ve had their pizza before, but was surprised to see that this nine state pizza chain started here.
Blizzard Warning also recommends the Fiesta Mexicana for “excellent Mexican food and margaritas” and The Nova Cafe, which is known for a particularly good breakfast. I really like that the later supports local farmers and artists as well.
“There was a Cateye Cafe downtown, but it was closed when we were there,” adds Seducci. “Not sure if there were actual cats there, but I totally would’ve checked it out if there was a possibility.
Spoiler Alert — there are not. Despite a very sassy website, the people that answer that phone at this feline-themed restaurant are very nice when you call to ask this question. The sassy/nice combo and the fact that they give 50 cents off to anyone who wears their own Cateye glasses throughout their entire meal makes me really want to take them up on their offer. If your website makes me laugh, you automatically shoot to the top of my list.
Photo by Seducci
Bozeman boasts easy access to nature, both in town and outside of it. Blizzard and Seducci discovered Bozeman Creek and Bogert Park during their strolls, which is another checkmark in the city’s favor. (Easily accessible public green spaces are a huge bonus in my book.)
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, you can also take advantage of 80 miles of Bozeman running trails. They’ll take you from the streets and parks in the city center, over creeks, though neighborhoods and along shady paths. The mountain views are your reward for your hard work.
So what are you waiting for? Get to Bozeman! If you get there before me, tell me what you think about it below.
Thanks to the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls for starting this discussing and sharing some of their favorite spots in Bozeman, Montana.
FMDG players, refs and coaches en route to Bozeman in Dickinson, North Dakota. Photo by Head Coach Thugz
What about you?
Have you visited Bozeman? Why or why not?
What intrigues you about this city?
Which of these attractions would you visit first?
Are you more of an outdoor vacationer (hiking, skiing, biking) or an indoor traveler (shopping, dining and spas)? Why?
What are your favorite spots in Bozeman?
Which places should I add to this list?
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