Free Family Fun
Taking the whole crew somewhere fun can get expensive! But Montana is one big outdoor playground and much of it is free. Having a good time in Montana does not have to pinch your wallet. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Josephine Crossing summer concert series, Billings
Every summer this Smart Growth community invites everyone to its adorable neighborhood filled with front porches and parks. A stage is set up facing one of the pocket parks where neighbors and visitors can roll out blankets or set up camp chairs to visit and watch the show. A large tent is pitched and local restaurant, The Soup Place, caters each event with menu items like pulled-pork sandwiches and tacos. This is where parents can find adult beverages if they are so inclined. Each concert is a fundraiser for local charities too! Unlike other concert series, this particular one is very much a family event. The parks have playground equipment and the line to the snow-cone shack seems never-ending!
Hiking, throughout Montana
Montana boasts 15,000 miles of hiking trails. This means regardless of your level of fitness or how much time you have to hit the trail, you'll have an overwhelming variety of choices. Not only is this family activity free, hiking takes you and your family to glacier mountain lakes, waterfalls and views you won't see from the road. You might also see wildlife you've never seen before, but don't let the stories of bears, wolves and mountain lions keep you from hiking! Each trailhead has a sign that describes the types of wildlife you might encounter and what you should do. For example, if you happen upon a grove of mouthwatering mountain huckleberries, just be sure the neighborhood bear isn't there having her breakfast! Countless resources exist to prepare and educate you before you go on a hike, but the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks website has very specific information about wildlife and weather. So do a little research, go for that hike with the family and bring back pictures no one else will have from their family vacation!
City parks, throughout Montana
For as rural of a state as Montana may be, it has an impressive network of municipal parks. A family could spend several months arranging activities and play-dates at a number of different city destinations. In Billings, for example, kids can play in the splash area at Pioneer or North Park. You and your family can walk the Rims and marvel at the spectacular views by visiting Swords Park. Take the family for a nature walk on Norm's Island. A walking bridge takes you to the island, which skirts the Yellowstone River with incredible views of the Beartooth Mountains. When you come off the island, you can keep walking to Norm Island's sister park, Riverfront, where the kids can feed the ducks and geese. No matter how small or large the town in Montana is, you're likely to find several city parks each with different, but free, amenities.
Water activites, throughout Montana
Locals know Montana to be a state of rivers and creeks. In the summer, find the closest waterway and choose your activity. Whether your family wants to spend the day fishing, barbequing by the water, boating, kayaking, inner-tubing, swimming or just wading, hours of free fun are just out your front door. All of Montana's rivers and streams provide something to do in the winter too, as river wildlife is abundant.
Image courtesy of McCall Homes Josephine Crossings