What to do in Bozeman, Montana: 6+ Days in Summer

hiking in bozeman, montana

Summary: This is a post that details how to spend 6+ days in Bozeman Montana in summer.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means I receive a small commission if you book or buy from them and I can keep providing free travel itineraries and guides like this one!

I lived in Bozeman for two years and while I was there, I found myself Googling this phrase a lot: What to do in Bozeman, Montana. After spending quite a bit of time exploring Bozeman and Montana, I wanted to write an article to help out other new residents or people visiting the area!

I always say that Bozeman is the perfect hub spot to see so much of Montana and some of Wyoming, too. It’s only 1.5 hours from Yellowstone National Park, 3 hours from Helena, 4-4.5 hours from Grand Teton National Park, and 5 hours from Glacier National Park. Let’s not forget that Bozeman is an awesome city as well! There’s a lot to do all year round and if you’re visiting for any number of days, this itinerary should help you figure out what to do.

If you’re flying into Bozeman, you’ll want to rent a car or truck to get around. Uber is available, but you’ll want your own transportation for a few of the days I describe below!

Let’s get to it! Here’s what to do in Bozeman, Montana from a local’s perspective:

Day 1: Arrive in Bozeman + Check out Downtown

Of course, I don’t know exactly what time you’ll arrive in Bozeman, but when you do, check into your hotel or Airbnb and get settled in! There are a few prominent hotels right downtown including Lewis and Clark Motel (the fanciest motel I’ve ever seen).

There are also a couple of unique Airbnbs in the area. The first one is called the Blue Barn on Over Yonder Farm if you’re interested in more of a farm stay. This next one isn’t in Bozeman. It’s in the next town over, Livingston, but it’s so cool that I’m going to mention it anyway. The Centennial Inn is an old train car that was converted into a place to sleep!

Once you check in, walk or drive to downtown Bozeman. There are so many boutiques, outdoor shops, book stores, antique stores and more that line main street. Walk around for the afternoon! There are also plenty of coffee shops and restaurants if you get tired or hungry. Since you’re visiting in the summer, Genuine Ice Cream will have their Air Stream stand setup on main street. I highly recommend trying their ice cream!

For dinner, I’d recommend either Daves Sushi or Montana Ale Works depending on what kind of food you’re looking for. If you’re interested in a wine bar, Plonk is also a great place for wine and food!

Day 2: Sunrise hike + Hot Air Balloon Ride

You can’t visit Bozeman in summer and not go hiking! There are too many incredible views that you’d pass up. I’d suggest getting up early and heading out on a hike first thing in the morning. I like to use the AllTrails app to find hikes where I’m at.

A few of my favorites in Bozeman are the “M” trail that takes you up to the big, white “M” in the side of the mountain, or Drinking Horse Mountain Trail. Both of these will take you up to pretty high elevation to get views of the entire Bozeman area on a clear day.

You’re hike will probably take 2-3 hours in the morning, but after that, you’re going to be doing something VERY exciting: a hot air balloon ride! When living in Bozeman, I would always see hot air balloons floating around – even in winter! Most of these are with Endeavor Ballooning, a company that does hot air balloon and airplane tours in Gallatin County.

You’ll want to book pretty far in advance for this, but I’d highly consider adding this once-in-a-lifetime experience to your itinerary!

Once you’re done with the hot air balloon, it’ll likely be late afternoon, and you’ll probably be tired. Take it easy the rest of the afternoon. For dinner tonight, I’d head to Red Tractor Pizza. They have some of the best pizza in town (remember, I used to live in Chicago!) and everything is farm-to-table. You can order their pizza for delivery, or go in and sit down to eat.

Day 3: Rent ATVs

Your third day in Bozeman is going to be just as adventurous as your second! I’d get up early and get a good breakfast in. The Western Cafe is a great place to go for delicious breakfast food, so stop in before heading to pick up your ATVs.

There are a few places to rent ATVs or side by sides in Bozeman – the two I’d recommend trying are Summit All Terain Rentals or Big Boy’s Toys. Both of these places really only do rentals. The thing to keep in mind with this is that you need to have a truck or some kind of vehicle that can tow the ATVs (the rental companies will supply the trailer). You’ll need to tow them to wherever you’ll be riding.

You’ll probably be getting back to Bozeman late tonight, so I’d suggest just grabbing something quick for dinner and then heading to bed.

Day 4: Scenic Drive + Montana Grizzly Encounter

Since the last two days were filled with adventure, day 4 will be a bit slower. You’ll start with a scenic drive starting in Bozeman. You’ll drive from Bozeman, through the Gallatin Canyon, and stop in Big Sky. There are several pull over spots to stop, take photos, and take in the scenery.

After Big Sky, you’ll continue on to Hebgen Lake where you can stop for a picnic lunch. After some time at Hebgen Lake, you’ll come to Earthquake Lake which was formed by an earthquake back in 1959. The next town you’ll come to is Ennis where you can stop at Norris Hot Springs if you have some extra time.

For more information and exactly what to do at each spot, check out this post that tells you exactly what you’ll need to know about this scenic drive.

Depending on how long you spend at each spot, you’ll likely get back to Bozeman sometime in the afternoon. If you’re up for one more activity, head over to the Montana Grizzly Encounter. This is a grizzly bear rescue and education sanctuary. You can learn about the grizzlies here and see the bears that have been rescued.

River in Gallatin National Forest
River in Gallatin National Forest

Day 5: Museum Day

Bozeman has a few Museums that are definitely worth visiting when you’re in town. The most popular and largest of them is the Museum of the Rockies. You’ll find an entire dinosaur exhibit which will teach you about the types of dinosaurs that were in the area and where their remains were found. You’ll also find more exhibits about Native Americans, pioneers, and early live along the Rocky Mountains. If you only have time for one museum in Bozeman, this is the one I would recommend.

If you’re looking for history about southwest Montana, specifically, I’d also check out the Gallatin History Museum. This museum actually used to be a jail house and a few of the cells are still up! Now, the entire building offers a glimpse into the past of Gallatin County.

If art is more your thing, Bozeman also has several art galleries around town. There are two right on main street and I’d recommend visiting Old Main Gallery which features photography and paintings by local artists. Most of these are also of local scenery. It’s amazing to see Montana through the eyes of a local artist!

Museum of the Rockies
Exhibit in Museum of the Rockies

Day 6+: Yellowstone National Park

This wouldn’t be a post about what to do in Bozeman, Montana without mentioning Yellowstone. If you have a few more days in Bozeman, I’d recommend spending one or two days exploring Yellowstone National Park! The northern entrance is about an hour and a half away, so it’ll make for a long day, but it’s possible to see a lot of the park in addition to driving to and from Bozeman.

If you just have one day to see Yellowstone, I’d venture around the northern loop and see Mammoth Hot Springs, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and a few stops in between. If you have more than one day, then I’d also spend some time in the southern loop to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful, and more!

I have an entire post dedicated to showing exactly how to spend a weekend exploring Yellowstone and how to make the most of your time. You can check that out here!

If you’re more comfortable with a tour to explore Yellowstone, Get Your Guide has a lot of great tour and activity options to choose from.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Yellowstone national park
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in YNP

What are you most excited for?

I’m so excited that you’re going to be visiting Bozeman, Montana! I’m so happy I got to call this city home for a short time, and I know you’re going to love it. Let me know in the comments what you’re most excited for!

Leave a Comment

The Comments

  • Tjasa
    March 17, 2021

    Such a great list! Hope to explore it one day as it look so gorgeous 🙂

  • Shelley
    March 17, 2021

    WOW, i had no idea there was so much to do — and such gorgeous nature — in bozeman! that photo of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone has officially put bozeman on the top of my bucket list. thanks for a thorough post & a great itinerary.

  • Julia
    March 18, 2021

    I have loved every place I’ve been in Montana but haven’t spent any time in Bozeman…. the scenery alone makes it worth the journey!! And how fortunate to be so close to some of the best national parks in the country!

  • Travelling Tam
    March 19, 2021

    Hot air balloon ride and hiking in the Yellowstone National Park please!! Bozeman looks like an awesome place for a vacation!

  • Natalie
    March 20, 2021

    This is such a good itinerary! I’ve passed through Bozeman while going to ski at Big Sky, but I’d love to explore it in the summertime. And especially the surrounding areas! The hot air ballooning seems sooo amazing!

  • Jamie Yates
    March 20, 2021

    You live in such a beautiful place! I loved my time in Montana and will definitely go back. Your suggestions are so helpful, especially because at first glance, you’re right, it seems like there isn’t much to do, but there is A LOT!

  • Elena Pappalardo
    March 20, 2021

    Wow, Montana looks so beautiful in the summer! I’d love to do that hot air balloon ride and enjoy all this natural beauty!

  • Kate
    March 20, 2021

    So fun! I’ve been going to Bozeman every summer for the past few years, and I had no idea about the hot air balloon rides! That sounds like such a blast!

  • Deb
    March 20, 2021

    We were supposed to go last summer and then everything shut down. Hopefully this summer is possible for a visit. So many incredible sights and natural beauty!

  • Agnes
    March 20, 2021

    The Museum of the Rockies was such a pleasant surprise for us! We also stumbled on the American Computer & Robotics Museum, which is this weird little place inside of what essentially looks like a townhome…but once inside they have all kinds of things to nerd out over!

  • Krista
    March 21, 2021

    I’ve always wanted to try out a hot air balloon ride! This looks like the perfect area to try it out because the landscape is stunning.

  • Emily
    March 21, 2021

    Montana is so far away from I where live but it looks pretty great! Gorgeous images 🙂

  • Jamie Sharpe
    March 21, 2021

    Bozeman sounds amazing! I’ve wanted to ski Big Sky country for a while and maybe I’ll add this to the itinerary.

  • Mariah Zingarelli
    August 22, 2021

    Thank you for this!! We are visiting next week on w him!

    • saraharnstein
      > Mariah Zingarelli
      August 23, 2021

      Of course! I hope you have a great time!