Tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, Bigfork remains an ever-constant Montana gem. The small town is located right on the shores of stunning Flathead Lake and is certainly defined by its location. The town seems to rest at the foothills of 360 degrees of mountains that engulf the skyline. This place certainly has a “Lake-town” attitude, where things move a little slower and the people are all a little kinder. Spend the day hanging on the doc of The Raven, grab a cocktail at the Garden Bar, peruse the many art galleries, grab a coffee from Vessel, or head outdoors. Whether you’re paddle boarding in the middle of Flathead Lake or hitting the 15,349 acres of wilderness, 27 lakes and nearly 50 miles of hike-only trails of Jewel Basin, there are endless adventures to be had!
Bozeman often referred to by locals as BozeAngeles, has well earned its nickname over the past few years. It’s the fastest growing city of its size in the nation, but its growth is particularly unique. While towns expand through the addition of large chains like Chile’s, department stores and other box big stores, Bozeman instead ups the local anti. Main Street, the city’s central strip, is dappled in farm-to-table restaurants, artisan coffee shops, local boutiques, and art galleries. But don’t let all the amenities fool you—this is very much still a mountain time. There’s no inch of the horizon that’s not swallowed up by mountain peaks, rolling pastures in the middle of town, even the occasional horseback cowboy trotting down the road shoulder.
As one of the most popular entrances into the great Yellowstone National Park, Gardiner is a special little town. It serves as a true basecamp to adventure while hosting travelers from all over the world who have come to Montana to enter the park. Founded in 1880, the town is home to only 875 residents and boasts a certain “end of the road” atmosphere as it sits on the outskirts of Yellowstone. Stopping here means getting a taste of a true western town. It’s devoid of result culture that so often accompanies attractions like Yellowstone and is instead a loveable one-horse town—the quaint dot on the map before the park.
If the word leaks out about Bozeman a little more each day, then Livingston seems to be the new best-kept secret in the Gallatin Valley. Just 30 minutes down the pass from Bozeman, Livingston is a dream of a small town. It sits right off the interstate that will take you into Yellowstone but still feels like more of a getaway than buzzing Bozeman. It’s a bit of the best of all worlds. Want one of the greatest cups of coffee in the state? Pop into Coffee Crossing’s corner shop. Looking for great local conversations in a café that’s filled with pillows, old couches, and window seats? Hit Chadz. Artisan lunch is just down the road at Gill’s or Mustang Café, while authentic Thai cuisine waits at Big Sky Thai. All of this activity takes place within just a few quiet blocks, made up mostly of old buildings and old souls.