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we have a day or two on our way from Glacier park to Bozeman next week.

We want to visit some less touristical places, and get a feel of what the "real" Montana is.

We do not want food places reccomendations (we eat our own food), rather where to stay, what to see, or if there are any local events to join.

we are with small children.


Edited: 01 August 2010, 20:07
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1. Re: visiting

Just a caution that Bozeman will be very busy with the Sweet Pea Festival August 4-8, but I would assume you are talking about the week of August 8-12?

Also, will you be leaving GNP from the east side, or the west?

The larger cities in Montana (e.g., Billing, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, Kalispell, Butte, Great Falls) are becoming more and more like "small-town USA anywhere" -- especially in western Montana. The much smaller towns (say, under 1,000), especially those further east, are where you will find the old-fashioned cafes with ranchers and cowboys. Stop in one for lunch to get the flavor. Bozeman had them, oh, say, 30 or more years ago, but not really anymore.

Nevertheless, even these larger towns in Montana (and the Rockies) will have a different vibe than many small cities elsewhere in the U.S.A. People are very active and outdoorsy (hiking/hunting/skiing/kayaking/mountain biking/rock climbing, etc.) and their dress and cars and lifestyle will reflect that.

western WA
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2. Re: visiting

Butte still has lots of local charm. So do the other places if you stay out of the chain restaurants. In Bozeman, go to the Western Cafe for pie in the afternoon or sweet rolls in the morning. It has been there a very, very long time.

Look on calendar listings for a small town rodeo. Stop in the small towns you drive through to see what kind of old merchandise they still have at The Merc (Mercantile). Stop for a piece of pie and a snack at a little cafe in a tiny town. All the towns will be on the map, as in Montana even a town which is only a post office will be on that map. Don't forget to buy gas in town if you head out to the lesser known routes!

A fun way to get to Bozeman would be to go to Great Falls (check out CM Russell museum), then go over Kings Hill to White Sulphur. You can stop for a swim at The Spa Motel in natural thermal pools. It's been around for a very long time and isn't any kind of swanky. http://www.spahotsprings.com/

Read Ivan Doig's "This House of Sky" and other books in the series if you're interested. They're for you, not the kids, though.

From White Sulphur, go south alongside the Crazy Mountains to Livingston. Livingston has a cool train museum in the old depot, and an interesting downtown. It is now settled by new folks (movie stars, chefs and the like) but still has some old MT charm. From there, head west to Bozeman. Look for the Gentle Giant (get a postcard at a store to find it), the face Jesus or some other giant restful person, on the mountain skyline to the south.

Also, as you drive have the kids look for the letters on the hills. Every Montana town except Billings has a letter for the high school or college up there somewhere.

Plenty of great old time stuff to do all over the state if you look for it!

Everett, Washington
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3. Re: visiting

Between Great Falls and White Sulpher Springs on US-89 is Kings Hill Pass in the Little Belt Mts. If using this route, and timing is right, there are some national forest campgrounds that make nice picnic spots. Sometimes the most untouristy thing is to get to a quiet place off the beaten path and just experience the surroundings.

Although it sort of flies in the face of providing own food a way we like to experience a place for "real" is to have breakfast at any small town one of a kind cafe. The place where all the locals who have been up since dawn go for coffee break around 8-9am. Listening to the conversations going on all around really says a lot about life in a place.

Another thing might be to keep eye out for notices of livestock auctions and observe one if the opportunity arises. Not sure about rules for kids being around but they might enjoy seeing the animals.

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4. Re: visiting

Thanks everyone - great advices!

is there some reccomended sites/places to find info about local events?

Edited: 04 August 2010, 05:21
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5. Re: visiting

You can go to the webiste of a great weekly newspaper in our valley, www.flatheadbeacon.com and click on "Events", or try this link to get right to it: http://www.flatheadevents.net Also, if you look at the upper right hand corner you will see the link to "other areas" and you can click on Bozeman.

This is the most comprehensive collection of local events for the Flathead Valley with online listings.

The other route is to pick up a local newspaper and check there. Summertime in MT is peak season for events... loads of music venues, arts and crafts, etc. mostly geared to locals who relish the opportunity to get outdoors after a long winter. Great that you are looking for local things to do, not just the tourist attractions. Have fun! (and do let us know if you are looking for healthy-type food stores to replenish your groceries!)

6. Re: visiting

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