Billings is a great starting point for Montana vacations
by Michele Kadison
Billings, the largest city in Montana, offers the best priced flight into the state from the Billings airport, and quick access to Yellowstone National Park, Red Lodge ski resort, Yellowstone River, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.
So, thanks to Billings’ great location, Montana fishing, hiking, skiing and many more activities are within a short distance. Here you’ll also find great restaurants, Billings hotels and lodging to rest up after an exciting day in nature. Billings also has great breweries for you beer lovers.
Named after Frederick Billings, a philanthropist, lawyer, and one of the original stockholders of the Northern Pacific Railway, Billings was established in 1882. Just after the Northern Pacific Railroad was established in the area, the Quincy, Burlington, and Chicago railways made their presence known, giving a hefty boost to Billings’ already growing economy. Today Billings is a major trade center for southeastern Montana, focusing on shipping both cattle and agricultural products.
Billings defines the essence of Montana where ranches, stockyards, and farms are practically within arm’s reach of the city. Billings itself is chock full of some of the tallest buildings in Montana along with wide tree-lined avenues and some spectacular historical sites that speak of the city’s illustrious history.
Some highlights of Billings include the Yellowstone Art Museum, which was founded in 1964. With its recent $6.2 million expansion, the museum is a focal point for much of the region’s history.
The Moss Museum is another important landmark for discovering Billings’ past. The home of the Preston Boyd Moss family, the structure was built in 1903 out of red sandstone and houses original Persia carpets, antiques, and many wonderful artifacts. The seasonal exhibits are excellent and the one-hour guided tours are a must for anyone interested in turn of the century sensibility. Designed by architect Henry Janeway Hardenberg, the Moss home is listed in the National Register of Historical Places.
Another must-see is the Western Heritage Center where you can visit an interactive exhibit called “Our Place in the West: Places, Pasts and Images of the Yellowstone Valley 1880-1940.” Bring the family and discover more than you thought you knew about the old West.
For high culture, Billings is the home of the Alberta Bair Theater for the Performing Arts, the largest theater between Minneapolis and Spokane. With hundreds of productions mounted each year, you are sure to see both international and national touring companies presenting everything from Broadway musicals to ballet.
The MetraPark is Billings’ famous arena where you can catch major concerts, rodeos, and important trade shows. Surrounded by fairgrounds, a horserace track, and a super-barn complex, MetraPark also includes the New Expo Center and Pavilion buildings along with the beautiful lake park that invites picnics and strolls.
And then there’s the surrounding nature… Hike, fish, or simply lose yourself in the magnificence of all this big nature! In addition to Yellowstone National Park, Red Lodge ski resort you’ll find Yellowstone River, Bighorn National Recreation Area, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness nearby. In Billings you get the best of all worlds: history, culture, the plains, the mountains, and everything in between.
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