Fun Things to Do in Bozeman
City Trail System and Parks
Bozeman has an award-winning urban trail system that will eventually form a pathway across the valley from the southern mountains to the "M" in the Bridger Mountains in the north. A map of the trail system can be obtained from Bozeman City Parks and Recreation (located in Beall Park - 409 N. Bozeman Ave.). Some of the favorite trails are the Gallagator Trail which begins near the Museum of the Rockies and heads toward downtown, ending at Lindley Park. Just across the street from Bogert Park (at the corner of Church and Story Streets), another popular trail takes you up onto Peet's Hill and follows a ridgeline to the blue water tower; a great walk to take at sunset or for a beautiful view of the city. With a map and a bit of exploration, you will find a wide variety of options for trail walking or biking.
Bozeman has a good number of city parks that offer various facilities and activities. The closest to campus is Cooper Park on 8th Avenue and Story Street. Cooper Park is smaller, but has picnic tables, areas to toss a Frisbee or study under the many shade trees. Bogert Park (Church and Story) has free City Band concerts on Tuesday nights in the summer and hosts the Tuesday Evening Farmer's Market from June through mid-September. It has a nice playground for kids and ice skating in the winter. Southside Park (College and 5th Ave.) has a field for playing various sports, tennis courts, and ice skating in the winter. Lindley Park is very close to Bogart Park and is large and hilly with many beautiful, old trees. Lindley Center is a cabin that can be rented through Parks and Recreation for gatherings and parties (capacity is approx. 100 people). Beall Park (North Bozeman Avenue and Villard Street) is home to the City Recreation Department Office. The building can also be rented for events and the park has ice skating in the winter. Kirk Park is on Main Street and 20th Street with the main attractions of a skateboarding park and a baseball diamond. The Bozeman Ponds are located just west of the Gallatin Valley Mall, and are popular for a swimming, kayaking, picnicking, and sand volleyball. The East Gallatin Recreation Center, at the north edge of town has picnic shelters and a swimming beach that is off-limits to dogs. There are several other parks, but these are some of the major ones.
Intramurals are team or individual sport competitions that are organized on campus throughout the year. Competitions in badminton or table tennis or billiards might be a one-day or weekend event, while co-ed basketball or soccer might last for a 8-10 week season. Costs of participation are very minimal, and equipment is provided. Call x5000 or visit the gym to see what activities are coming up next.
One-credit HHD classes are listed in the Schedule of Classes and on the MSU website for each term. They range from billiards to snowboarding to horseback riding to aikido. They can be a great way to learn a new activity and meet people. Undergraduate students who are taking at least 12 credits won't pay extra tuition if they add one of these courses.
The MSU Recreation Center is located in the lower level of the SUB and offers inexpensive bowling, billiards and a video arcade.
The MSU Outdoor Recreation Program is found at 1401 West Lincoln Street behind the Roskie Residence Hall Complex. They rent equipment ranging from bicycles to ice skates to tents for camping at a reasonable cost. They also lead group trips that include day hikes and longer ski or boating trips over holidays and long weekends. Classes in rock climbing, avalanche awareness and other outdoor skills are taught, and the staff are excellent resources for giving information about outdoor recreation options in the area.
Forest Services Cabin Rentals are available through most of the year for about $30 per night. The cabins are located in various forests in the Bozeman area and range from small cabins that sleep only 2-4 people to larger ones that can accommodate a small group. Most must be hiked or skied into, and have woodstoves for heating and cooking. Contact the Forest Service district office at 587- 6920 for details and reservations.
Yellowstone National Park (YNP) lies just an hour and a half hours south of Bozeman and is the oldest national park in the U.S. It is a vast area that has interesting geothermal features (geysers, mudpots and hot springs), abundant wildlife and numerous hiking, biking, skiing and boating opportunities. From Bozeman, YNP can be reached by driving west to Four Corners and the south on Highway 191 to the West Yellowstone entrance or by driving east to Livingston and south on Highway 89 to the Gardiner entrance. The West Yellowstone entrance will take you to the famous Old Faithful geyser and to many other geothermal areas, such as Yellowstone Lake and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Gardiner entrance takes you to the Mammoth Hot Springs area and to a spot just within the entrance at the 45th Parallel that is known locally as the Boiling River where people enjoy soaking in the river year round (made possible by the natural hot water that mixes with the river water to a comfortable temperature).
Summer & FallTeam & Spectator Sports include American-style football in the MSU Bobcat Stadium and Women's Volleyball and Basketball in the Fieldhouse. Check the MSU Homepage under Bobcat Athletics for schedules and pick up your free tickets in advance at the Ask Us Desk. Soccer and rugby teams play in the warmer months as well, and the Intramural Office can offer some contact information for those who wish to participate.
Hiking trails can be found all over the Bozeman area. The book Day Hikes in the Bozeman Area is recommended as a good basic source of information. Hiking up to the "M" north of Bozeman is a classic (about 45 minutes up and a bit less time back) with a fine view of the valley. Other popular hikes in the Bridger Mountains are up Sypes Canyon (allow three hours roundtrip, including about half an hour of driving time) for another beautiful view, Middle Cottonwood for a creekside walk a bit further out of town, and the hike to the summit of Sacajawea Peak (allow most of a day for this trip). South of town, hiking on the Triple Tree Trail is a quick escape into the woods that ends in another pretty view (allow three hours, including driving time), Bozeman Creek takes you on a gentle uphill walk along the stream that supplies most of Bozeman's drinking water, and various hikes are possible in the Hyalite Lake area.
Biking, both on trails and on the rural roads around Bozeman, is another popular sport. For suggestions on good rides to take, try stopping by the Bangtail (Main and 5th Ave.) or Summit (Babcock and Grand Ave.) bike shops. The people in these shops would also know about bicycling races, group rides, clubs and events.
Climbing workshops are offered through the Outdoor Recreation Center, and they can also suggest good places, both outdoors and indoors for climbing.
Camping is especially popular in the summertime in Montana, but some hardy souls do go winter camping. Preparation, planning, and watching the weather reports are the key to a safe and fun experience. Stopping by the MSU Outdoor Recreation Center is suggested, if you need some suggestions for destinations or equipment. For a quick, weekend camp out, Hyalite Lake is a beautiful and convenient spot with campsites on the water that include fire rings, picnic tables and restrooms. Campgrounds usually charge a fee for staying over night. It will be hepful to research the prices (usually only $5-$15) before you head out.
Water sports such as rafting and kayaking have a large following in and around Bozeman. For a guided rafting trip, the MSU Outdoor Receation Center will be least expensive, but looking up commercial rafting companies in the Yellow Pages will yield a number of possibilities. Kayaking skills are taught in the winter at the Bozeman Swim Center and people kayak on many of the local rivers in the warmer months. Swimming in either the Bozeman Ponds near the Mall or north of town in the Gallatin Recreational Area is refreshing on a hot day.
Fishing in Montana requires a fishing license, which can be purchased at most any sporting goods store (try the Powder Horn on Main Street or Bob Ward's on 19th Ave.). These stores are also good sources of information on popular fishing spots, fishing guides, and equipment. The Bozeman area is famous for fly fishing, but many people fish in the line and bait style as well.
Winter & Spring
Team & Spectator Sports
MSU Men's Basketball can be a fun event to attend on a winter night. Up to 8,000 fans will pack the Fieldhouse, and cheerleaders and half-time entertainment keep things lively. Women's Basketball continues into the winter months and has a large group of fans cheering for them as well. Home games are held in the Fieldhouse. See game schedules by selecting Bobcat Athletics on the MSU homepage, and remember to get tickets in advance (free) at the Ask Us Desk.
Ice Dogs Hockey is a team of young, semi-professional players who play at the Haynes Pavillion Garden at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds in North Bozeman during the winter months. They have a large following of fans, whether they are having a winning or losing season. Informal hockey is played at Bogart Park under the pavilion and there are some city leagues for those who want a more structured play experience (call the Bozeman City Recreation office at 587- 4724 for contact information).
Skiing and snowboarding are in season in our area from early December through early April, depending on the snowfall. A "fun fact" to know is that the blue light atop the Baxter Hotel at Main Street and Willson Avenue flashes whenever snow is falling at Bridger Bowl. The annual Ski Swap is held in early November at the County Fair Grounds and offers some very good deals on used equipment. New equipment can be purchased from a variety of shops around town (consult the Yellow Pages of the phone book). The Outdoor Recreation Center rents cross-country ski equipment and snowshoes (and has good suggestions for where to do these sports). Cross-country skiing can be done on a large number of Forest Service trails and roads within a half-hour's drive of Bozeman, or down the Gallatin Canyon near Big Sky or in Yellowstone Park. Downhill skiing or snowboarding areas include Bridger Bowl, about one half hour north of Bozeman or Big Sky Resort about one hour south. HHD ski or snowboarding classes are one option for people who want to take lessons to improve their skill (at any level). Those who plan to ski often will probably find a season pass to be the most economical way to ski. A few times each season, both area resorts have $5 or $10 lift ticket days. A bus is available to take skiers to Bridger Bowl (call the ski area at 587-2111 for details) and another goes to Big Sky.
Ice skating is a challenging and inexpensive pastime. Skates can often be purchased used or rented at the MSU Outdoor Recreation Center. Several parks, including Southside Park at College and 5th Ave., create ice surfaces for free skating in the winter months. Some of the parks have warm-up huts. Other options are the covered pavillion at the County Fair Grounds on the north side of town or the one at Bogert Park.
Sledding on a sunny winter afternoon can be a lot of fun. Peet's Hill at Story and Church streets and the Story Hills north of town are popular sites for this activity. People use inner tubes, sheets or coasters of plastic, or wooden sleds or toboggans to race down these snowy hills.
Breaks-away Trips are sponsored by the MSU Office for Community Involvement and take place during the week of spring break in March. Groups of students sign up to do a variety of community service projects outside of the Bozeman area. Past trips have included fence building for a wildlife refuge in Arizona and working in a soup kitchen in San Francisco. Students pay a modest price for transportation, food and lodging and get to see a different part of the U.S. while making a positive contribution to a worthy project. Trips fill up quickly, so visit the Community Involvement staff on the 3rd floor of Culbertson Hall early in the spring semester to find out about the projects and sign-up procedures.
On-campus or Near Campus
ASMSU Concerts & Lectures bring in a wide variety of performances over the year. Comedians, bands, poets, etc. entertain students and community members for free or low cost admission. Announcements will be in the MSU Exponent (published every Thursday), on KGLT and on posters around campus.
Procrastinator Theater hosts very inexpensive ($) films found on the main floor in the Strand Union Building throughout the year. Check the Exponent for upcoming films.
Hollywood Theaters, Gallatin Valley Cinemas has multiple screens showing 8 to 10 newly released films.
Music Department Recitals are usually free and open to the public. Voice and instrumental programs are both presented. They are held in the Reynolds or Howard buildings and are announced in the Exponent.
Media & Theater Arts Drama Presentations are listed in the Exponent.
Exit Gallery (SUB) & MSU School of Art Exhibits are announced in the Exponent.
Shakespeare in the Parks is a troupe of professional actors who perform two different plays throughout the summer in an outdoor setting. The troupe travels to act on stages in various Montana towns, and Bozeman, the homebase for the troupe, hosts many performances. The Bozeman shows are located in a grove of trees near the duck pond at MSU, or in Lindley Park during the annual Sweet Pea Festival of the Arts. Shows are free, but donations are happily accepted.
Museum of the Rockies is a regional museum featuring permanent displays on dinosaurs, Native American culture and history of the Western United States and Montana. Special exhibits change several times each year and lectures and other presentations are frequent events. The Museum has a state-of-the-art planetarium that gives educational programs on selected astronomy topics and also hosts entertaining laser shows to music. It is located at the southern edge of the MSU campus. Call 994-2251 or 994-DINO for schedule and information or check www.museumoftherockies.org.
Vootie Productions Concerts happen throughout the year. Well-known performers to come to Bozeman in the past years include Bob Dylan, Widespread Panic, James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett, and B.B. King. Vootie's concerts are scheduled at the Emerson Cultural Center, the Willson Auditorium or the MSU Fieldhouse, and are announced via radio and in the local newspapers.
Emerson Cultural Center is housed in a former school building at Olive and Grand streets near downtown Bozeman. Artists have studios and shops at this location, and the Emerson Grill is located there. Special events occur in the center in the auditorium or Weaver Room. The information line is 587-9797.
Beall Park Art Center hosts changing displays of artwork and offers art classes. It is affiliated with the Emerson Cultural Center.
Equinox Theater is a small, black box theater located on North Seventh Avenue. The local group Broad Comedy performs there as well as plays that are performed by other acting companies. Classes in acting are available for children, teens and adults.
Bozeman Film Festival shows arthouse films, including many foreign films in a series each year. Tickets for a discount on the series can be purchased in advance, or tickets can be bought at the door of the Emerson Cultural Center where the films are shown. Showings are on Monday through Thursday nights throughout the fall and winter months.
Art Walks occur on scheduled Friday nights throughout the year at the private art galleries located along Main Street. The galleries are open during the Walks for anyone interested in enjoying the paintings, textiles, pottery, etc. on display and free refreshments are often served.
The American Computer Museum tracesback 30,000 years of modern humanity, including the history of our present computers. It is located on North Seventh Avenue, across from Murdoch's. Call 587-7545 or check www.compustory.com for details.
Pioneer Museum is located in an original jail building on Main Street next to the present day Courthouse. It is organized by the Gallatin County Historical Society and has displays related to the early history of Bozeman and the surrounding area. Admission is $5.00 for adults and free for children. Call 522-8122 for schedule and information.
Country Bookshelf, Hastings and Barnes & Noble encourage browsing in a comfortable atmosphere and often host book signings by local or regional authors. It's easy to spend a few hours on a Saturday in any of these bookstores. Most have coffeshops inside.
Popular Nightspots require ID and only serve alcohol to people 21 years old or above.
- Mixer's has live music and comedy nights.
- The Haufbrahaus ("the Hauf") is a favorite for MSU students because it's cheap and has amateur open mic nights. Regular live music is also available most evenings.
- Molly Brown is next door to the Hauf and offers cheap beer, billiards and poker.
- Zebra Bar Eurotechno with live bands, billiards and cocktail bar.
- Cat's Paw has a dance floor, restaurant, live music, slot machines and poker. Known to be rowdy.
- The 317 is a smoke-free bar with comfortable couches and seating.
- The Crystal is a blue-collar, traditional Montana type bar.
- The Rockin' R is an upscale bar with patio seating and billiards.
- Plonk! very upscale winebar with a very metro atmosphere.
- The Pour House is a sports bar with a big screen TV showing football and basketball games. Sorry, not much soccer.
Places to eat and have coffee are abundant in Bozeman. Even if you have a meal plan on campus, it's fun to try something different from time to time. Going out for a beverage or for breakfast is cheaper than going out for a full dinner, and affordable to even the tightest budget. Fast food places are located primarily on Main Street, 7th and 19th Avenues and are not listed here. Most supermarkets offer delicatessan-style foods, and many restaurants, especially pizza places, will deliver.
The restaurants listed here are coded generally as inexpensive ($ - under 8 dollars) or moderate ($$ - approximately 8-15 dollars). For a very special dinner out on the town ($$$), you might try Looie's Down Under, John Bozeman's Bistro, Boodles, or the Gallatin Gateway Inn (south of Bozeman about 10 miles).
Close to campus
- The Daily ($) - specialty coffees and teas, pastries.
- International Coffee Trader ($) - specialty coffees and teas, internet access and newspapers.
- Colombo's Pizza ($$) - homemade pizza, sandwiches and pasta dishes.
- College Street Grill ($$) - international wraps, sandwiches, burgers
- JungaJuice ($) - fresh fruit and veggie juices.
- Pickle Barrel ($$) - huge sandwiches.
- Casa Sanchez ($$) - Mexican food including burritos, enchiladas, etc.
- I-Ho's Korean Grill ($$) - Korean rice, noodle, meat and veggie dishes.
- Grandma's Donuts ($) - homemade donuts, coffee and good humor.
- The Pita Pit ($) - Pita wraps.
- Naked Noodle ($) - rice & noodles bowl.
- The Garage ($$) - mesquite grilled burgers and great soups! Outdoor dining in summer.
- Cateye Café ($$) - breakfasts, homemade dishes, American style.
- Montana Aleworks ($$) - grilled foods, salads, beer, billiards.
- McKenzie River Pizza ($$) - gourmet pizza and sandwiches.
- Main Street Over-Easy ($$) - breakfasts and lunches.
- Western Café ($$) - breakfasts and lunches.
- Rocky Mountain Roasting Company (2 locations) ($) - coffees, bakery items.
- Leaf & Bean ($) - coffees, teas, bakery items.
- Wild Joe's Organic Coffee Shop ($) - coffees, bakery items, soups.
- Sante Fe Red's (2 location) ($$) - Mexican style lunches and dinners.
- Chickpea ($$) - Mediterranean lunch and dinner cuisine.
West Main Street
- China Town ($$) - buffet lunches, Chinese dinners.
- La Parilla ($$) - Mexican wraps and tacos.
- Café Zydeco ($$) - Cajun foods.
- It's Greek to Me ($$) - lunches and dinners with a Greek flavor.
- Perkins ($) - 24 hour family restaurant.
North 7th and 19th Avenues
- Applebee's ($$) - family restaurant.
- Sante Fe Red's ($$) - Mexican style lunches and dinners.
- Johnny Carino's ($$) - Italian family restaurant.
- The Wok ($$) - Chinese style lunches and dinners.
- Fiesta Mexican ($$) - Mexican dishes
- Mongolian Barbecue ($$) - noodles, meats and veggies cooked for you.
- Bar 3 BBQ ($$) - Southern dishes
- Old Chicago ($$) - Sportsbar, pizza lunch and dinners.
- Outback Steakhouse ($$) - Austrianlian style steackhouse
- Buffalo Wild Wings ($$) - Sportsbar, pub style lunch and dinners.
Festivals & Special Events
Farmer's Market is held on Saturday mornings in the summer months at the Pavillion at the County Fairgrounds (Tamarack Street - Bozeman's North Side). Local gardeners and craftsmen sell homegrown and homemade products ranging from vegetables to honey, jewelry, and pottery. The lively atmosphere makes this worth checking out, even if you don't intend to buy anything. There is also a Tuesday night market at Bogart Park.
Sweet Pea Festival is Bozeman's annual festival of the arts held the first weekend in August each year. The purchase of a $10 button allows entrance to all of the events of the festival, held in Lindley Park on East Main Street. Friday and Saturday nights bring thousands of people to the park for outdoor music concerts. There are also plays, comedy acts, dance, smaller musical performances, races and a parade. Arts and crafts are sold as well as a variety of food.
Christmas Stroll is an evening in early December each year when Main Street is closed to traffic and people walk, shop, buy food and hot drinks from outdoor stalls and socialize. Stores decorate for the holidays. Volunteer and community groups sing carols, Santa usually appears, and if there is enough snow, a horse-pulled sleigh gives rides up and down the street. Good fun, but be sure to bundle up in warm clothing.
Favorite Road Trips
Before you go on any winter trip, it's a good idea to check out road conditions before you leave. For Montana road conditions, call 1-800-226-7623 or check out the Montana Department of Transportation Traveler Information web site.
A few items that a person should keep in the car when driving in the winter or for emergencies:
- matches and a candle
- flashlight with extra batteries
- first aid kit
- blankets or sleeping bags
- extra winter clothing (gloves, hat, scarf, socks)
- chocolate bars, granola bars or other instant foods
- some simple hand tools
- jumper cables
- Lewis & Clark Caverns
- Virginia City/Nevada City
- Hot Springs (Bozeman, Norris, Chico)
Long weekend Getaways
- Salt Lake City
Also, check out popular U.S. and Canadian destinations at the National Geographic U.S. and Canada Travel Planner website.