The serene and open spaces offer a host of free things to do in Montana. Filled with natural beauty, this state shares the longest border with Canada offering the best of both countries. It is rich in culture, heritage, and history. While much of the world only thinks about Montana as it relates to Yellowstone National Park, there is so much more to this beautiful state, especially when you are traveling on a budget.
Want to find out everything Montana has in store for budget-friendly travel? Check out the slides below:
- 1 Top 10 Free Things to do in Montana
- 1.1 Art Walks: Missoula and Bozeman
- 1.2 The Bray: Free-For-All Nonprofit Institution
- 1.3 Museums: Free Days & Historic Enigma
- 1.4 Snow Season in Montana
- 1.5 The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas: Spirituality At Its Best
- 1.6 A Walk in The Park: Free Throughout The Year
- 1.7 Virgelle Mercantile: The Great Northern Railroad
- 1.8 Big Sky Brewing Company: Beer Trail & Tour
- 1.9 Flathead Lake Cheese Creamery: Free Samples Of Pure Cheese
- 1.10 Grant-Kohrs Ranch: Carriage Rides & More!
- 2 Visiting Montana on a Budget: Best Travel Homes & Places
Top 10 Free Things to do in Montana
Art Walks: Missoula and Bozeman
Large Montana communities like Missoula and Bozeman are famous for hosting Art Walks that are free and open to the public. The Downtown Bozeman Association organizes Art Walks the second Friday of the month, June through September, and once in December. Enjoy local art and live music performances by local musicians as you are immersed in the local culture of Bozeman.
Art Walk Billings is another popular local event held in August every year. The event is designed to benefit the social as well as the economic fiber of the local talent. They are one of the most uniquely free things to do in Montana.
The Bray: Free-For-All Nonprofit Institution
Popularly known as the Bray, the Archie Bray Foundation of Ceramic Arts is a free-for-all nonprofit institution situated just 3 miles outside of downtown Helena, MT. Although the Bray is popular among connoisseurs of art and art students, the surreal beauty of this old brickyard can be appreciated by all who come here. So, if you are near Helena with a day to spare, then a trip to Bray is the perfect addition to your holiday in Montana.
Museums: Free Days & Historic Enigma
Western Heritage Museum: Yellowstone River Valley History
The Western Heritage Museum is in Billings and is the perfect place to learn about the history of the Yellowstone River Valley. The museum entry is free of charge for members. However, even if you are not a member you can enquire about free days. The fee for non-members is just $5 ($1 for children under 12 years) making it one of the most affordable museums in the region.
American Computer and Robotics Museum: From Enigma To AI
The ACRM, or the American Computer and Robotics Museum, is an excellent place for taking curious young minds to fire their thirst for knowledge. Its thought-provoking exhibits are designed to inspire all those who walk through its doors.
The museum was founded in 1990 and is currently the oldest of its kind in the world. The building records nearly 4000 years of our history including exhibits on Quantum Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Enigma Code cracking, the Space race, to name a few. While the museum attracts a reasonable fee for grownups, it is free for kids under 9 years of age.
Historical Museum at Fort Missoula: Recreated Western Town
The Fort Missoula Museum is located on one of the first military posts in Montana. Boasting 32 acres of land the Fort Missoula Museum has recreated a Western town of the late 1800s, taking visitors back the days of horse and carriage. The museum has dedicated an entire wing to the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, an experimental, all African-American military unit formed of former Buffalo Soldiers members. Additionally, there are more than 20 historic buildings and structures on site that brings history to your fingertips.
Snow Season in Montana
Montana is a hotbed of icy-cold outdoor activities. If it is a sport and can be walked, run, or played in the snow you can probably do it in Montana. Snow sledding can be one of the best free things to do in Montana in the snow season. However, if winter sports is not for you do not worry, Montana has you covered. Even in the winter season, Montana has enough attractions to keep you busy entirely free of cost. Even though most Top 10 Ski Resorts in the USA are in states like Colorado & Wyoming, Montana has enough skiing opportunities as well.
The most popular among these is Seeley Lake Winterfest. It takes place in the month of January every year and includes breathtaking snow sculptures, parades, bonfires, and much, much more.
Other than this, certain trails like the Emerald Lake Trail near Bozeman look exceptionally mesmerizing in winters. Overall, a winter holiday in this northern state is a treat for the eyes.
The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas: Spirituality At Its Best
Situated in the native American region of Arlee, the Garden of one thousand Buddhas offers peace as well as serenity to all those who visit here. The circular monument is 750 ft in height and is designed to emulate the ‘wheel of dharma’ representing the Noble Eightfold Path towards enlightenment.
Located near the Glacier National Park, the area is a botanical garden, a public park, as well as Buddhist center following the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism. The drive is also very scenic, making it one of the top Western US Road Trip Destinations.
Visitors from every corner of the world are welcome here to relax and meditate among the one thousand Buddhas. You can also avail yourself of guided tours that are offered from April through October.
A Walk in The Park: Free Throughout The Year
City parks are entirely free in Montana. Visitors are welcome to enter all throughout the year to take in nature across the 4 equally beautiful seasons. Out of these, the Pioneer Park in Billings is especially idyllic, attracting tourists from all over the country. You can pack a picnic basket and have a picnic day filled with fun and games at absolutely no additional cost to you.
Pioneer Park offers numerous activities including football, soccer, baseball, and rugby. In summer months park-goers can also enjoy the wading pool and the tennis courts. It is recommended to visit the community pages to find out about the current events so that you can attend one if you are in the region.
Virgelle Mercantile: The Great Northern Railroad
The community of Virgelle is hidden from the hustle and bustle of city life and it is often forgotten by tourists visiting Montana. So, if you plan to travel on US-87 from Fort Benton all the way to Havre then a visit to Virgelle should not be missed.
The town was settled in 1912 during the construction and operation of the Great Northern Railroad. The area is scattered with cabins and structures that are reminiscent of this once affluent town.
Out of these, the Virgelle Mercantile is the most popular structure that works as a B&B. It also has an antique store offering relics from the region. While the stay and shopping can be expensive, the browsing is completely free of cost.
Big Sky Brewing Company: Beer Trail & Tour
Montana has a brewery trail that is one of the best kept open secrets around. The boom in beer business here is recent and the region produces some of the best beer you can find anywhere. Four popular brewing companies include the Big Sky Brewing Company, Beehive Basin Brewery, Outlaw Brewing Company, and Bozeman Brewing Company.
At the Big Sky Brewing company, you can watch the brewing process in front of the mezzanine floor and according to their website if you find the Moose hidden in the tour they will give you four free samples in their taproom. It might seem a little difficult to find, but if you can make it here, the experience will be worth the effort.
Flathead Lake Cheese Creamery: Free Samples Of Pure Cheese
It is impossible to miss this bright yellow building. The Flathead Lake Cheese creamery welcomes visitors from different parts of the country. A visit here will not only provide you with detailed insights into the traditional concept of cheese making but you can also taste free samples of pure cheese. And if you crave something off the beaten path you can sample garlic cheese or chai cheese. No matter your preferred flavor you are sure to find something you will love.
Grant-Kohrs Ranch: Carriage Rides & More!
A National Historic Site, the Grant-Kohrs Ranch is open for tourists completely free of cost. If you are visiting Montana in December, then be sure to mark the Holiday Open House at the ranch. It offers free entry to all visitors and includes activities like wagon rides, children’s activities, live music, and even refreshments.
Visiting Montana on a Budget: Best Travel Homes & Places
Even if you are going on holiday for a couple of days, it is essential to have a budget. This should cover broad categories like travel costs, accommodation, sightseeing, and food. For instance, depending on your budget, you can decide whether you want to travel by air or explore more affordable options like bus and railway.
Likewise, eating every meal at a restaurant can put a severe dent in your pocket, especially if you are traveling in a group or with family. Therefore, it is advisable to pack enough snacks for the journey and replenish this stock at the local supermarkets when needed.
With all these free things to do in Montana, you can surely save on sightseeing and give yourself an actual treat. This could be a night out in the state’s capital Helena or a visit to the Glacier National Park.
With so many cool and unusual things to do, Montana should be on your bucket list. There are many ways you can help maximize your enjoyment without blowing your budget. In our opinion vacation rentals offer the maximum value for money for every visitor. These accommodations work as full-functioning homes or apartments that you can rent instead of staying at a hotel. You can cook your own meals, wash your laundry, and stay comfortable with a family or as many people as you can accommodate, giving you a chance to live like a local regardless of where you are from. Our platform RentalTrader.com allows travelers to choose from various options making it an excellent platform for finding suitable accommodation that sits well within your budget. Combining a stay in the rental accommodation along with doing any or all of these ‘10 free things to do in Montana’ can help you make your Montana trip both memorable and affordable.