One of the great things about attending travel conferences is, well, the TRAVEL! While some conferences take place in the same location every year, one thing that makes TBEX (or Travel Blog Exchange) special is the chance to visit different destinations.
I had the opportunity to visit Billings Montana to see what kinds of things this city has to offer when the travel world takes over in September. Billings blew me away with its variety of places to eat, drink, and go on adventures. So after the day’s sessions, make sure to get out, explore, and find your own Montana moment. Here are some great things to check out!
BILLINGS FOOD SCENE
One of the best parts about visiting any new city is finding the local spots to eat. Billings has no shortage of amazing food options. Here are a few of my favorites.
Walkers is the perfect combination of comfort food, and city vibe. Whether you’re just needing a cocktail or looking for some international cuisine, Walkers has it. And local favorites? They have those too. I highly recommend the Morel Mushroom Biscuits and Gravy. Sounds, weird, tastes AMAZING. And if you’re here on Sunday, they have live jazz music from 7-10 p.m.
2. The Burger Dive
Looking for a good ol’ Montana burger? The Burger Dive is hands-down the best! Seriously, they won “Best Burger” in the World Food Championship. They have unique combinations like date and coke barbecue sauce, huckleberry hatch chilis, and goat cheese. Heads up though, they’re only open Monday-Friday from 10:30-4:00 and there’s usually a line out the door so this may need to be a pre or post TBEX stop but it’s definitely worth it!
3. Brunch at The Sassy Biscuit
The Sassy Biscuit is the ultimate combination of an Instagrammable coffee shop and a farm-to-table bruncherie. They use their homemade biscuits to create pressed shortcakes, griddled cakes, and spooned cakes so whether you’re a sweet or savory breakfast eater, they’ve got you covered. And if you’re more on the sweet side I HIGHLY recommend The Shortie - Cookie Butter Waffles! Between the window nooks and wall of clocks, this is the perfect place to come write your next blog in between sessions!
3. Walk the Brew Trail
Billings has the only walkable brew trail in the state of Montana. And let’s be real, the best TBEX networking tends to take place over a cold drink at the end of the day. There are 6 breweries, 2 distilleries, and a cider house all within 1.5 miles. The beer-only locations close at 8:00 p.m. every night, but places like The Last Pub, that serve food, stay open later, so plan accordingly.
4. Doc Harper’s Martini’s
Not a beer drinker? Head to Doc Harper’s and get one of their world-class martini’s. The mixologists here are amazing and the decor and vibe here make you feel like you’re in a big city.
EXPLORE THE RIMROCKS
Swords park has a paved bikeway/walkway that runs along the Rimrocks bluffs. This is a great place to kick off your day with a morning jog. From here there are views of the city as well as the Beartooth Mountains. Along the way, you’ll also see Billings newest attraction, the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site, all about their local hero.
And, if you’re an adventure junkie (or adventure attempter) like me, the Rimrocks are the place to go. Steepworld offers climbing and rappelling lessons. This would definitely be an adventure to tack on to the beginning or end of your TBEX trip but totally worth it!
GET INTO THE MOUNTAINS
Probably the most surprising part of Billings to me was that it is so close to the Beartooth Mountains. Only an hour away, you’ll find yourself surrounded by snow-capped mountains, glacier lakes, and rolling hills of pine trees. The Beartooth Highway is one of America’s most scenic byways. It’s definitely worth staying an extra few days to explore!
And when you take a trip out here, be sure to stop in the adorable town of Red Lodge. With cute shops and restaurants, this is definitely a great day trip away! While you’re here, grab lunch at Bogarts to check out their Old Hollywood/Saloon vibe and get a margarita (or two).
GET OUTSIDE AND GO BACK IN TIME
There are lots of places to get outdoors and take in some American history surrounding Billings. Most of these only take about an hour to explore so they would make an excellent stop when you first get here or before you take off.
1.Four Dances Recreational Area
Only about 10 minutes from downtown, this is a great hiking spot that overlooks the city as well as Yellowstone River. This was my favorite view in Billings and an amazing place to see the sunrise or sunset. It’s only a quick jaunt to the top from the parking area or a 2.5-mile loop to the river and back up if you’re looking for something more challenging.
2. Pictograph Caves State Park
This park is just outside of the city and feels like another world. There are three caves to explore with pictographs, or rock art, some dating back to over 2,000 years and over 30,000 artifacts have been excavated from the area. It’s only a 1/4 mile loop around the caves so this is a great stop if you only have a couple of hours to visit.
3. Pompey’s Pillar
There is a lot of American history here in Montana and at Pompey’s Pillar, you can see the only physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark expedition. William Clark signed the rock back in 1806 and it’s on display to see. There are also a lot of Native American signatures amongst the pillar. A climb to the top will give you 360-degree views of the Montana landscape.
4. Little Bighorn Battlefield
One stop that I didn’t get the chance to make on this visit, but is a must-see for any history buffs, is the Little Bighorn Battlefield. This is the destination of General George Custer’s last stand against the Native American tribes. It was one of the most iconic battles in the Great Sioux War of 1876 and the National Monument talks about the history that took place here honoring both sides.
Billings has a lot going on so when you come for TBEX be sure to get out and explore. Between the food, adventure, and history, Montana is definitely a special place. I’ll see you all there!
Watch the full video below.
To learn more go to www.visitbillings.com