×

12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Bozeman, MT

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Jul 26, 2021

We may earn a commission from affiliate links ()

Stunning Rocky Mountain landscapes surround Bozeman in Southwest Montana, and it’s a city best known for its access to the outdoors. Residents and visitors enjoy world-class fishing, hiking, hot springs, and skiing depending on the time of year.

The city is also home to Montana State University, which gives the streets a charming academic appeal. The university offers other cultural and athletic resources to explore, including the Museum of the Rockies and Bobcat football games.

Staying active is one of the easiest things to do in Bozeman. From hiking the "M" trail to diving into the surrounding Custer-Gallatin National Forest, Bozeman is nothing short of a postcard waiting to be explored.

It's also the community in Bozeman, best represented on Main Street, that makes this Rocky Mountain city a fun place to visit. Between smiling faces in local storefronts and friendly people you'll meet on hiking trails, Bozeman does well to represent the inviting nature of Montana.

Choose the best places to visit on your next trip to Montana with our list of the top things to do in Bozeman.

See also: Where to Stay in Bozeman

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Hike the College "M" Hiking Trail

The “M” on Bridger Canyon
The “M” on Bridger Canyon | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

In Bozeman, it's hard to miss the collegiate "M" posted high onto the ridgeline of Bridger Canyon. This 250-foot white-rock letter was built piece by piece by students at Montana State University in 1915 and has since served as a pride point for the University and a symbol for the city. This decorative door hanger at the mouth of Bridger Canyon is more than just aesthetically pleasing though.

Two short hiking trails near the base encourage visitors to hike up and enjoy the view. At the trailhead, the steeper half-mile trail forks to the right, and a 1.5-mile trail begins switchbacking to the left. Both trails gain approximately 800 feet to reach the "M" and strain the legs of most average hikers. Benches adjacent to the “M” help ease sore leg muscles.

College
College "M" Hiking Trail | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The "M" is just an introduction to Bozeman's hiking experiences. The Gallatin Valley Land Trust oversees a large network of in-town hikes. And just across Highway 86 from the College “M” Trail, Drinking Horse Mountain is another popular trail that's a part of their Main Street to the Mountains trail system.

And the surrounding Custer Gallatin National Forest comprises several of the other best hikes near Bozeman. Within an hour’s drive in almost every direction, surreal alpine landscapes host bigger Montana adventures. Bridger Canyon, Gallatin Canyon, and Hyalite Canyon are just a few adventure avenues stemming from the city.

2. Unearth History at the Museum of the Rockies

Museum of the Rockies
Museum of the Rockies | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The world-renowned Museum of the Rockies (MOR) unearths a wide range of scientific insight on the Rocky Mountain region. The museum is near the Montana State University campus on the south side of town and is affiliated with Montana State University and the Smithsonian Institute. It’s best known for an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils but also features insight into the continuing evolution of Yellowstone Country.

One of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever recovered is within the museum’s Siebel Dinosaur Complex and aptly named Hall of Giants. Several other fossils from the region are also on display, as well as informative plaques detailing Montana’s role in paleontology.

Colorful dinosaurs at the Museum of the Rockies
Colorful dinosaurs at the Museum of the Rockies | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Other permanent exhibits include the Paugh History Hall; the Martin Children's Discovery Center; and the Welcome to Yellowstone Country exhibit, which gives a glimpse into the lives of native cultures of the region. The museum is also home to the Taylor Planetarium, featuring three shows each day included with the price of admission.

The museum also offers teen summer camps, adult lecture series. The museum is open every day of the year except major holidays, with extended hours between May and September. All admission tickets to the museum are good for a two-day span.

Address: 600 W Kagy Blvd, Bozeman, Montana

Official site: https://www.museumoftherockies.org/

3. Stroll along Main Street, Downtown Bozeman

Main Street, Downtown Bozeman
Main Street, Downtown Bozeman | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

With shops, boutiques, eateries, and art to explore, downtown Main Street exemplifies the Bozeman culture. It's not just the storefronts that keep the sidewalks busy; it's also the college culture and emphasis on local businesses that make Main Street fun to explore. Several facades on both sides of the street have an undeniable Western feel.

Among the many recommended places to eat in Bozeman, the Nova Cafe serves up some of the best breakfasts in town, only rivaled by the nearby Main Street Overeasy. A few recommended full menus to check out for lunch and dinner include Jam!, Dave's Sushi-Off Main, and Blackbird Kitchen. For pizza connoisseurs, the Mackenzie River Pizza Company serves up specialty pizzas that warrant a visit or two.

Cruising on Main Street, Bozeman
Cruising on Main Street, Bozeman | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

For unique, local specialty shops on Main Street, places like The Last Wind-Up offer new and vintage timepieces. And the homegrown Montana Honey Bee Company provides locally sourced sweetness and beekeeping supplies. Live events also often take over the street, including the popular "Music on Main" every Thursday during the summer.

4. Hit the Slopes at Big Sky Resort & Bridger Bowl Ski Area

Big Sky Resort
Big Sky Resort | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Winter alpine pursuits are a big part of the Bozeman culture, many thanks to the proximity of two powder-infused winter resorts. These two acclaimed downhill destinations are Bridger Bowl and Big Sky.

Located just an hour south of Bozeman, Big Sky Resort offers internationally acclaimed downhill skiing and snowboarding spread across four mountains. As one of the biggest resorts in the country, Big Sky encompasses nearly 6,000 acres of rideable terrain. With consistent snowfall throughout the long winter, and plenty of cold-weather events to celebrate the season, Big Sky ranks high as one of the best ski resorts in Montana.

For a more local flavor, Bridger Bowl Ski Area is within a shorter commute to the north. This grassroots ski area grew from community-driven beginnings and today provides over 2,000 skiable acres for everyone from beginners to experts. It features eight chair lifts and two lodges that provide hot meals. As the place where locals go to ride, expect to share the lifts with a host of Montana State University students and Bozeman community members.

Big Sky Resort

Bridger Bowl Ski Area

5. Dive into Custer Gallatin National Forest

Custer Gallatin National Forest
Custer Gallatin National Forest

The seven different ranger districts of the Custer Gallatin National Forest surround the city of Bozeman. Together, they provide over three million acres of forest to explore throughout the year. This ease of access to the big wilderness defines the city and the people that like to call it home.

Whether it's backpacking, fly-fishing, day hiking, ski touring, or simply enjoying a scenic drive, the national forest delivers backdoor adventures. Remote areas within Custer Gallatin, like the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, are a favorite to explore. Other areas of interest include Bridger Canyon to the north and Gallatin Canyon to the south.

For a quintessential hike close to Bozeman, Storm Castle Peak delivers on big views with a 40-minute drive. And the Palisades Falls Picnic Area is another great spot for a day trip. The forest also connects easily with another national treasure, Yellowstone National Park, whose North Entrance and Roosevelt Arch are just over an hour's drive south from Bozeman.

6. American Computer & Robotics Museum

American Computer & Robotics Museum
American Computer & Robotics Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Spanning from the first clay tablet created by chisel to the future of artificial consciousness, the American Computer & Robotics Museum has a wide range of displays detailing the evolution of technology.

Near Montana State University's Bobcat Stadium, the museum is divided between multiple rooms and distinct eras of applied science. Each room contains elaborate and informational displays alongside significant artifacts. Some of the artifacts on display include Alan Turing papers, a Gutenberg Press, and an original Apple 1 Computer signed by Steve Wozniak.

Great for the scientifically inclined and interested observer alike, the American Computer & Robotics Museum offers free admission. Donations are encouraged when visiting. The museum is open seven days a week in the summer and is only closed on Mondays throughout the winter.

Address: 2023 Stadium Dr #1A, Bozeman, Montana

Official site: http://www.compustory.com/

7. Gallatin History Museum

Gallatin History Museum
Gallatin History Museum | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Housed in a historic and long-since renovated county jail building, the Gallatin History Museum brings the region's pioneer history to the forefront of Main Street. Featuring permanent and rotating exhibits, the Gallatin History Museum provides the clearest picture of southwest Montana's rugged past.

Permanent exhibits at the Gallatin History Museum include American Indian artifacts and a model of the 1867-established Fort Ellis. And throughout the museum are artifacts, information panels, and an impressive archive of historical images.

Guided tours, family passes, and special events are also available. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday throughout the year. Accompanied children receive free admission to the museum.

Address: 317 W. Main Street, Bozeman, Montana

Official site: http://www.gallatinhistorymuseum.org/

8. Catch the Sunset at Burke Park (Peets Hill)

Burke Park
Burke Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Burke Park is part of the Main Street to the Mountains trail system and offers a signature hike at the city center. And with a high vantage point over downtown, it provides a stunning spot to catch the sunset. The park is also known as “Peets Hill,” and it begins just south of Main Street and the Bozeman Public Library.

A parking area is on South Church and Story Street. Users can also park at the back end of the library parking lot and walk through the Bozeman Sculpture Park first. Burke Park encompasses roughly 41 acres and is easy to navigate. Generally, the first direction to head is up, until reaching the ridgeline that parallels Church Avenue for less than a mile.

The route also parallels Sunset Hills Cemetery to the east, and a 360-degree view expands from the top of the park. Several mountains are in view from here on clear days, including Hyalite Peak, the Bridgers, and Mount Ellis. And come sundown, the park is often filled with people catching the changing color of the day.

9. Montana Grizzly Encounter

Montana Grizzly Encounter
Montana Grizzly Encounter | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Montana Grizzly Encounter adopts bears who were born into captivity, or who would not survive the wild, and provides a safe habitat to grow happy and healthy.

Montana Grizzly Encounter first began in 2002, when Casey Anderson, National Geographic Wildlife Naturalist, adopted Brutus from an overcrowded wildlife park. At the time, Brutus was a grizzly bear cub the size of a squirrel. Fast forward 15 years and 900 pounds later, and Brutus stands at seven feet tall, with six other grizzly bears adopted into the park besides him.

Besides maintaining a quality of the life for its bears, Montana Grizzly Encounter also strives to provide public education about cohabitating with Montana's resident wildlife. Through demonstrations, education, and an ability to view the sanctuary's denizens up close with no bars or constructions, Montana Grizzly Encounter encourages a respect for the grizzly bear's role in wildlife systems.

Montana Grizzly Encounter is free to all school groups who call ahead. Admission tickets are reasonably priced for the general public. This Grizzly Bear Rescue and Education Sanctuary operates daily throughout much of the year, with limited hours during the winter (November 1st - May 1st).

Address: 80 Bozeman Hill Road, Bozeman, Montana

Official site: http://www.grizzlyencounter.org/

10. Bozeman Hot Springs

Bozeman Hot Springs
Bozeman Hot Springs | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Near Four Corners on the west side of the city, Bozeman Hot Springs is a public resort and one of the best hot springs in Montana. And the facility offers several reasons to visit, including 12 different pools to soak in, a full fitness facility, and a campground.

Bozeman Hot Springs is family friendly and perfect for large group events. The pools are home to special events throughout the year, including live music, group fitness classes, and community charity drives. The pools range from 59 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the ultimate hot springs experience, as well as quick access to the surrounding adventurous environments, Bozeman Hot Springs also maintains a campground within its facilities. This provides an excellent overnight option to your soaking experience. Every overnight guest at the campground receives unlimited entry into the adjacent pools.

Address: 81123 Gallatin Road, Bozeman, Montana

Official site: http://bozemanhotsprings.co/

11. Picnic at Glen Lake Rotary Park

Glen Lake Rotary Park
Glen Lake Rotary Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Glen Lake Rotary Park, formerly East Gallatin Recreation Area, is an inviting public space on the city's north side, opposite Interstate-90 from downtown. Glen Lake is a beacon of the park, with multi-colored kayaks and paddleboards often dotting the surface. A large sandy beach on the lake also attracts a crowd that enjoys sand volleyball, laying out, and picnicking by the water.

The Gallatin Valley Land Trust maintains three miles of trails extending from the lake. These trails meander next to the banks of the East Gallatin River and connect to other scenic hiking areas like Cherry River. One branch of the trail also circles the lake. Picnics tables and pavilions are available at the beach and along the lakeside trail.

12. Visit Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

The first designated national park in the United States, and one of the largest, Yellowstone National Park is an 80-mile drive from Bozeman. Visitors from across the world fly into Bozeman to experience the spectacles of Yellowstone, including the several hydrothermal features that are incredibly dense and unique in the region.

Iconic spots like Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring comprise only a fraction of the best places to visit in Yellowstone. The entire park spans an incredible 2.2 million acres, lending to a surplus of roadside attractions, wildlife encounters, and hiking trails. Some of the best hiking trails in Yellowstone are just short walks and are suitable for anyone.

The closest access point to Yellowstone from Bozeman is the park's North Entrance. This entrance near the Gardiner River offers easy access to the Mammoth Hot Springs region of the park. Alongside one of the best campgrounds in Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs features eye-catching travertine terraces and the popular Boiling River roadside attraction.

Yellowstone can be enjoyed on a day trip from Bozeman. It is highly recommended, however, to mark a week off the calendar to fully explore the nation's first national park. You can visit the park at any time of year but some seasons are better than others. See our guide to the best time to visit Yellowstone for more information.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Where to Stay in Bozeman for Sightseeing

Luxury Hotels:

  • For the most decadent overnight stay in Bozeman, the Element Bozeman is reputed to be the best hotel in town and provides a modern décor with spacious rooms and suites in the heart of the city.
  • Located nine miles up the road, the Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman provides an upscale experience alongside an attached restaurant, indoor pool, and cozy rooms and suites.
  • Further north and on the outskirts of Bozeman, the Gallatin River Lodge provides luxurious accommodations with a lakeside view, and a romance package for a special occasion.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • To find that median between money spent and services offered, places like the Western Heritage Inn are a good choice. Located near many of the top tourist attractions of the city, the Heritage Inn is known for their spacious rooms and well-maintained facilities.
  • North of downtown, the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson also provides a comfortable hotel option with a complimentary breakfast buffet.
  • Across the street from the Country Inn, the Comfort Suites Bozeman couples affordable rates and spacious rooms with an indoor pool, spa, and exercise facility, making for a comfortable overnight stay.

Budget Hotels:

  • To stretch your vacation dollars elsewhere in Bozeman, the Super 8 Bozeman provides unbeatable rates alongside a long reputation of well-maintained rooms and facilities.
  • Just a few blocks from the Super 8, a few minutes north of downtown Bozeman, the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham Bozeman provides stellar value with clean and cozy rooms.
  • Closer to the shops and restaurants of downtown, the Royal 7 Budget Inn makes for an affordable stay close to the top attractions of Bozeman.

More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com

imageOther Cities in Montana: For another university city to explore in Montana, the city of Missoula is home to the University of Montana and is surrounded by seven national forests to explore. North of Missoula and near the entrance of Glacier National Park, the resort city of Whitefish also provides endless adventure throughout the year. The state capital of Montana, Helena also provides its own unique slice of culture and historic appeal.

Discover destinations, find outdoor adventures, follow the journeys of our travel writers around the world, and be inspired.

More on Montana