Things to do in Montana with Kids

Kristin Shaw Avatar

Hiker looking over Lava Lake in the Custer Galatin National Forest, one of the things to do in Big Sky Montana
A three-mile hike from U.S. 191 north of Big Sky with a gentle elevation gain takes you to hidden Lava Lake in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area in the Custer Galatin National Forest. Photo credit: Visit Big Sky

Even if you haven’t been to Montana, you’ve probably heard of the gorgeous vistas and incredible expanses of nature the Big Sky state has to offer. From the ski resorts of Whitefish to year-round sights at Glacier National Park and west Yellowstone, there are many fun things to do in Montana with kids. Plus, the towns of Bozeman, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula offer many must-see activities and sights.

You and your kids will thrive in the wide open spaces of this beautiful state. There are plenty of options for families who are sporty, artsy, nature lovers or all of the above. Fun and breathtaking learning opportunities are available for the whole family in Montana. Where to begin? We have all the information you need to plan a vacation in Big Sky country at any time of year that you and your kids will love. Here’s our list of the best things to do in Montana with kids.

Explore the Great Outdoors

There are several incredible national parks in Montana, including Big Hole National Battlefield, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Glacier National Park, Grant-Kohs Ranch National Historic Site, Little Bighorn Battlefield, Nez Perce and Yellowstone National Park. On top of that, Montana supports 55 state parks sprinkled throughout the state.

Things to Do in Montana With Kids

Discover Culture in Montana

If your ideal vacation includes museums, live music and education, Montana has all of that to offer, too.

Bozeman

Make sure to check out the Museum of the Rockies, which earned an esteemed designation as a Smithsonian Institute. Except for four national holidays, the museum is open year round, making it an easy stop on your family trip no matter when you go. Famous for an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils and rotating exhibitions, the Museum of the Rockies is guaranteed to have something for everyone in your family. The cost is $18 per ticket for adults and $12 for kids 5-17 (children under 5 are admitted free) and the price includes exhibits and planetarium shows for the entire day. Bring your AAA card or military ID for a 10% discount!

Great Falls

Families with younger kids will love the Children’s Museum of Montana in Great Falls. The facility offers hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) camps all year for kids 5-12, and that’s a fantastic opportunity to give the kids something to do for a few hours while you have time to yourself. What’s a vacation without a little me time? Win-win. Kids under 2 get free admission every day and adults pay $10 ($7 for seniors).

In addition, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is free for kids 15 and younger. Overall, this is inexpensive family fun at only $8 for adults.

Next, immerse yourselves in Montana’s only zoo and botanical park – the 70-acre wildlife habitat of ZooMontana. Kids 2 and under get in free, age 3-15 will cost $9 each, and adult tickets are $12. Seniors pay $10 and military personnel can flash their ID for an additional $2 off. You’ll find unique animals at ZooMontana like a pair of Amur Tigers, a pack of grey wolves, two grizzly bears, red pandas, and a laughing kookaburra.

Unique Must-See Stops in Montana

Northwest of West Yellowstone, head to Virginia City to see a bona fide ghost town. Once the capital of Montana, this town was abandoned in the late 1800s. It was built into a tourist town starting in the 1940s. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and offers a glimpse into the wild west.

Plan a day trip from Missoula to the ghost town of Garnet, an incredibly well-preserved village from the mining boom of a century ago. Hikers will enjoy the three trails. You can also rent a cabin or pitch a tent, go fishing or tackle up to 30 miles of mountain biking trails.

In addition, drive from Helena to Butte, between Glacier National Park and West Yellowstone. There, you’ll find the 90-foot Our Lady of the Rockies statue, the Ridge Waters waterpark and an old-fashioned drive-in movie at the Silver Bow. For more family fun, check out the Spooks and Spirits haunted tour, a Butte trolley tour and other attractions.

More Unique Things to do in Montana With Kids

There are many hot springs sites across Montana. There’s actually a town called Hot Springs located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Or, you can find pools of bliss in Bozeman, Helena, Gardiner and several other cities. Hot springs are known for their healing, medicinal qualities. Don’t miss them!

A Carousel for Missoula is a hand-carved community effort started by a local cabinet maker and adopted by the community. Schedule your family vacation to stop in Missoula and take a ride on this restored antique for some good old-fashioned fun.

Montana’s Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is unique and wonderful. Here, you and your family can observe and learn about animals in their natural habitat in west Yellowstone. The bears don’t hibernate at this wildlife center, because they’re fed year round! Simulated waterfalls and streams give the animals plenty of water and play areas, and the otters are delightful.

Kristin Shaw is a freelance writer, adventurer, and motorsports competitor with bylines at Popular Science, Edmunds, The Drive, Motor1, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Forbes Wheels, U.S. News and World Report, GearJunkie, and more. Her work on parenting and relationships has been featured often at The Washington Post and the TODAY show site. Follow Kristin on these channels: Instagram Facebook LinkedIn TikTok
Read full bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *