Kid Friendly Activities

 

Visit one of the most popular venues for live events in downtown Billings, the beautiful Alberta Bair Theater. Located in the heart of the city for over 80 years, it was originally dubbed The Fox Theater in 1931, complete with a parade for the opening and the debut of “Merely Mary Ann” featuring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Now, named after Alberta M. Bair, the historic theater still boasts art deco designs, graceful chandeliers and luxe dressing rooms behind the grand stage.

20th Century Fox bought the property from Charles Bair, and happily showcased the traditional art deco style designed by Robert C. Reamer. For more than 50 years, the theater has been home to the Billings Community Concerts Organization, and also hosts the Billings Symphony and Chorale.

A Family Affair

The Bair family home was located adjacent to the theater, on what’s now Broadway and Third Avenue North. Charles and his daughter, Alberta, were community leaders and theater lovers. Today, the theater remains a premium performing arts center for everyone in the Northern Rockies.

Check the calendar to see what’s on the agenda for your trip to Billings. From Beatlemania to the Michael Jackson HIStory show and symphony performances, there’s something for everyone at this family-friendly venue.

 

September is Motocross season in Billings with the BMC Fall Classic Motocross kicking off on September 9 at 9 a.m. Head to the Billings Motorcycle Club at 3630 Old Blue Creek Road and check out the world-famous 2-mile Yellowstone River Forest Track nearby. Whip-fast and featuring options to snag plenty of air time for double and triple jumps, you’ll be treated to woops, table tops and sand/deep loam berm corners.

From the hairpin turns to the rhythm sections and sand sections all the way through the downhill and uphill jumps, it’s guaranteed to be an adrenaline-pumping good time. There are plenty of spectator viewing areas that let you catch all the action as the contenders take on a prepped track featuring the latest sprinkler systems and designed for heavy equipment.

The Race is On

Drag Races take place throughout the month at the Yellowstone Drag Strip, including the Menholt Classic. Catch a race September 2, 3, 16, 17 and don’t miss the Flat Track #5 Under the Lights on September 23. This high-speed motorcycle event boasts a 3/8 mile course with packed bleachers and plenty of concessions.

You’ll see some of the fastest bikes in the world on this flat track, which draws athletes from around the country. New and vintage bikes alike take on each other to finish first. All events are family-friendly.

 

A vacation in Billings is music to many tourist’s ears, and with the help of the Billings Symphony, Orchestra & Chorale that’s a literal definition! Created in 1951 with a mission to enrich lives via music, the BSO&C is currently directed by Anne Harrigan and features over 135 members. Ranging from the classic Nutcracker during the holidays to free Symphony in the Park series each summer, the troupe performs for thousands of fans throughout the state.

A music education and community engagement program helps everyone get in touch with their musical leanings. Currently, BSO&C is undertaking a four-year plan, re-committing to performing only the best music in the region while tapping broader audiences via the Explore Music outreach program. As a community resource, a commitment to engage and maintain supporters while increasing visibility is a top priority.

Music Magic

You can Explore Music at the annual family concerts, featuring a guest artist at every event. Free at the Alberta Bair Theater, family-friendly ticket prices make this series a smash hit. Pioneer Park is where the free outdoor summer concerts are held with pop-style music blended with classical. An “instrument petting zoo” makes this a favorite for little ones.

Working with local schools, the BSO&C offers Conductor in Schools programs and internships for area bands. The Conductor in the Community program is for local bands, and Master Classes along with the Musicians in the Schools program ensure children have all they need to follow their musical dreams.

 

 

It takes a serious fireworks show to rival the incredible skies of Montana, but Billings and nearby Laurel make a mighty try of it! It’s a full day of fun-filled family activities, with many Billings visitors heading 15 miles west to Lauren for a gathering of 30,000 patriotic revelers. The Thomson Park Parade kicks off the day’s celebrations, and it’s non-stop action until the dusk fireworks show.

Arrive early for a pancake breakfast from 6 – 11 a.m. at Fireman’s Park. It’s just $6 for adults and $4 for kids 12 and under (those under six eat for free). The Chief Joseph Run at 7 a.m. is a great option to take to the streets and trails for a fun run. The Kiddie Parade at 10 a.m. is a sweet gathering at Western Security Bank with no registration required—bring your little ones and join the action.

Grand Traditions

With a new Grand Parade Route, thousands head to the streets to check out the impressive floats, marching bands and classic cars. After the parade, the Food and Craft Fair keeps going until 9 p.m. where you can check out food, craft and beverage vendors.

There’s plenty of entertainment and countless activities throughout the fair, all leading up to the fireworks show at dusk. It’s the biggest extravaganza in Montana. Will you be there?

 

 

After winding down the country road with sagebrush, junipers and mountain mahogany flanking you, you’ll reach Lockhart Ranch—a sheer oasis that makes you feel miles from Billings. When Caroline Lockhart bought the ranch in 1926, she envisioned 160 acres of an escape for leasing and homesteading. Soon, she owned 6,034 acres and saw her vision come true.

There’s a two-room cabin, old sheds and 20 acres of well-kept grounds. Otherwise, this is purely wild territory. Lockhart modestly added to the landscaping over the years, planting irises, cottonwood trees and hollyhocks. Fences, stone walkways, corrals and an irrigation system give the region some semblance of a homesteading lifestyle.

Go Wild

Today, there’s a blacksmith shop, coops, storage sheds and a garage in the northern part of Cottonwood Creek. The main house, cellar, springhouse, guest cabin and bunkhouses are tucked onto the south side. Known as the Cattle Queen, Lockhart planted ample gardens and cared for a variety of livestock.

Though she relocated to Wyoming in her 80s, the Lockhart Ranch remains with the buildings largely intact. Visitors get a glimpse into the past and Lockhart’s unique lifestyle. Experience the Dryhead Frontier architecture, and start your own hiking, biking or horseback-riding adventure at this National Park destination.

 

 

Located at Monad Road and South 19th, Sacajawea is a 10-acre park in a gorgeous destination that’s perfect for family fun and picnics. May is idyllic weather in Billings, and the temptation to spend the afternoon on the playground, playing on the softball field or engaging in a little basketball pick-up is strong. There’s plenty of field space for soccer, rugby and more. You’ll also find the Sacajawea Crafthouse on site, a shaded area designed for gatherings.

Swing by one of the many local restaurants and grocers for a picnic lunch or dinner, and enjoy the great outdoors in Billings. Business travelers often plan corporate events in parks like Sacajawea, and you can reserve a shelter through the city of Billings.

Taking Shelter

Picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis but can also be reserved in advance. Reservations are available 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. at most parks. However, the crafthouse isn’t available for online reservations. You can reserve this special place in person at the city offices for a $100 refundable fee.

You can also secure an alcohol permit for parties at some shelters and parks including Coulson, Riverfront and Swords. However, alcohol permit applications require an in-person process and a $75 fee. Visit the city offices at 390 North 23rd Street, call 406-657-8371 for reservations, or simply stop by Sacajawea Park and discover one of the most popular parks in the region.

 

 

At the Western Heritage Center, you’ll be treated to traveling exhibits, workshops and lectures, permanent galleries and special events. Personal stories and cultural histories are archived in this beautiful destination, telling the stories of the people of the Northern High Plains, from the Crow to the Northern Cheyenne tribes.. As a tool of understanding and education, free archive access is available to all.

Oral history features include the American Indian Tribal Histories Project, Echoes of Eastern Montana, Yellowstone River Cultural Inventory, and the High Noon Speaker Series. Visit the historic and contemporary photo gallery, and discover a wide range of collections. The photographs collection boasts over 6,000 images from transportation to farming, American Indian culture to public buildings and more.

Plan Your Visit

With new additions and exhibitions, no two visits to the Heritage Center are the same. Discover the Native American Collections Cecil Dunn Collection, highlighting Northern Arapaho beadwork from 1910 – 1926. Regional Native American items showcase clothing, keepsakes and beadwork from a number of local tribes.

Don’t miss the Regional Western Art Collection with original paintings by Billings artists, architectural drawings by famed 20th century architects, firefighting equipment and clothing, and textiles from historical regional collections. Guns and the Harry Frahm Collection featuring an 1831 69 caliber Harper’s Ferry musket is just one gem you need to see.

 

Discover Merriment @ the Moss on December 1, where carolers, live music, raffle prizes and beer and wine are poured to complement the season and kick off the holidays. Tickets are available at the Moss Mansion website, and the party goes ‘til 10 p.m. Forever Plaid is also hosting Plaid Tidings on December 1, a special holiday performance at the Billings Studio Theatre.

Visit the Winterfair at Yellowstone Art Museum December 2, a special holiday shopping expedition where you can gain entry for just one dollar. They have handmade jewelry and treats galore, with over 20 artists and the Ravens Café d’Art offering seasonal specialties.

A White Christmas

The Christmas Cabaret offers performances throughout the month, with a wonderful mix of everyone’s favorite tunes from classic to contemporary. Hosted at the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts, shows start throughout the day, making it easy to squeeze this holiday must into your schedule.

On December 10, head to the Black Sheep HDFC MM “Christmas & Chrome” Benefit Dinner where giveaways, silent auctions, and a delectable holiday dinner is served. Bike and leather clothes are on display and for sale from the local Harley shop, and proceeds benefit the Billings Friendship House.

 

 

You might think Billings is the go-to spot for steakhouses and American fare (and you’d be right!), but it’s also Montana’s best city for Thai cuisine. Discover authentic flavors at Cham Thai & Cuisine, famous for their Mongolian beef and array of side dishes with customizable spice levels to suit your threshold. At Siam Thai, it’s the massaman curry that takes the cake along with the homemade spring rolls.

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Tao New Asian offers chicken and shrimp shumai along with BBQ pork buns as their most beloved of appetizers. Next, try their signature dishes including the Thai curry with steamed or fried rice and your choice of protein. Lobster in a Thai ginger sauce, snow strawberry jumbo shrimp, and a selection of sushi, sashimi, teriyaki dishes, and a kids menu are always fine choices.

Top of the Thai

Fancy Sushi Asian Fusion is aptly named and well-known for their bento box lunches, where you can get the orange chicken, sushi/sashimi, tempura lunch box and more. Wok fried rice, egg noodle lo mein, fresh pineapple fried rice, and the Thai basil lunch are all popular picks.

You’ll also want to explore the dishes at LemonGrass, where the pad see ew is “life changing,” according to reviews, and the dessert menu demands that you save room.

The Billings night sky is always ablaze with some of the best stargazing in the country, but the Fourth of July really brightens things up! The annual Harvest Church fireworks display takes place at dusk at the Castle Rock Park in Billings Heights. Live entertainment, food vendors, and plenty of space to spread out with a blanket or lawn chairs to watch the show is a local tradition. A family-friendly event, it’s the kind of quaint festival that pairs perfectly with patriotism.

As always, the Laurel’s annual Fourth of July event takes place on the third, a day early, so you can squeeze in as much partying and as many parades as you can! The street dance on First Street is hosted by Jaycees and is open to all ages. Make 2016 a full weekend of experiencing Independence Day the Billings way.

Light Up the Night

The Chief Joseph Run begins at 6am on July Fourth to make sure the weather is cool enough for everyone to enjoy. It’s followed by a pancake breakfast which ends at 9am, and all are welcome to swing by the downtown event for an old fashioned breakfast.

Check out the food and craft fair downtown also on July Fourth, followed by the parade at noon. The Thomson Park fireworks display starts at dusk and is the ideal conclusion to a day of dressing up, indulging and spending time with family.