Unforgettable Bozeman Adventures in Yellowstone National Park that Blend the Outdoors with the College Town Culture and Local Artists in Big Sky Country
by Stefanie Michaels
Known for fly fishing, dramatic mountains for hiking, biking, rock climbing, skiing, and backcountry exploring within Yellowstone National Park, Bozeman is one of those places you can hear the mountains calling your name. And, on a recent trip to Montana, I answered that call to this college town of about 50,000 people offering up a pleasant surprise– its downtown district.
Brimming with arts and culture, I felt a bit like I was visiting Berkley in California, but Montana-style. Here are some of my favorite downtown spots to experience for yourself.
Staying at the Kimpton Armory Hotel, I found what they call “approachable luxury in Big Sky country,” a rich alternative to the glamping some may prefer around this part of the Rockies. Constructed in 1941 to house the Bozeman National Guard, the Kimpton design team made certain that its Art Deco style didn’t get lost in translation as a boutique hotel.
From the local artwork throughout to the basement speakeasy-style bar, Tune Up, hosting musical acts, dinner at Fieldings for comfort food (such as their herb-rotisserie chicken with potato purée), brown butter spinach and truffle jus, and drinking up the mountain views upon the hotel’s rooftop bar, Sky Shed, my senses shifted to mountain time well-spent.
And, spend I did at a couple of local woman-led shops. Starting at Evrgreen Clothing, where premium service and quality clothing are at the core of this local boutique, I picked up a few essentials for fitting into Bozeman’s more relaxed culture.
To feed my mind, I popped in at Montana’s largest independently owned bookstore– Country Bookshelf. Make sure to check out their podcast sharing book recommendations, reading conversations, and such– Behind the Bookshelf.
Delving into one of my new books at Wild Joe*s Coffee Spot over a shot or two of espresso made with local Red Bird Roasters coffee, it was that same Berkley vibe I kept picking up on around town. MSU students, tech entrepreneurs, novelists and outdoor enthusiasts gives the sense of community palpable.
The feeling spilled over into Revelry Plates and Pours, where they take their commitment to locally sourced ingredients to heart and celebrate Montana’s roots in reveling “in a natural and energetic habitat that livens any day” (get the Montana Lake Trout if you go).
While sourcing local products is also a thing at Feast, this neighborhood favors focus on sustainable seafood. Other quality ingredients required little coaxing other than simple preparations such as the daily ceviche, which I devoured.
To work off some of those extra bites, The Armory loaned me a bike to pedal around Bozeman. Along the way, I stopped by Montana State University’s Museum of the Rockies, which traces the area’s history, including the Siebel Dinosaur Complex featuring a collection of T. rex specimens and a planetarium.
With less than a 90-minute drive ahead of me, Yellowstone National Park continued my adventure into areas pre-dating some of those very specimens. Celebrating its 150th anniversary as a national park– history proved more than I could ever imagine.
Did you know?
You may need to learn about Bozeman dinosaurs because the area surrounding Bozeman, Montana, has been a hotbed for dinosaur discoveries and research for over a century.
The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman is home to one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaur fossils, including an enormous Tyrannosaurus rex skull ever found.
Several species of dinosaurs, such as the Triceratops and the Stegosaurus, have been discovered and named based on fossils found in the Bozeman area.
A little history:
This city in southwestern Montana has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. Indigenous peoples, including the Crow and the Shoshone, originally inhabited the area.
In the 1860s, the city was founded as a mining town, with gold and silver being the main minerals mined. The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the 1880s helped boost Bozeman’s economic and population growth.
It quickly became an important center of Montana’s commerce, education, and culture. In the early 20th century, the town experienced significant change with the establishment of Montana State University and the growth of various industries, including agriculture and tourism.