Billings Blog

 

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.

 

 

Who wants to hang out in a garage during their vacation? Everyone in Billings, because it’s where the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. throws the best parties, events, and acoustic jam sessions. Located in downtown, this sprawling brewery-turned-hotspot has tennis courts as part of the play, tour, sip, dine approach. Whether you want to play a game, take a tour of the brewery, or just sip on a cold handcrafted pint at the state’s official Tennis Racquet Garage of Fame inside the brewery, you can design your perfect day.

Why tennis? The city has a number of gorgeous courts, and many were in disrepair. Some were so lacking in maintenance that they had all but disappeared. Yellowstone took on the challenge of renovating the courts in 2015, turning them into club and community courts.

More on Yellowstone Valley Brewing

At First Ferkin Friday, tapping starts at 6 p.m. Guests can try the special cask-conditioned ale that’s only tapped once a month. However, it’s a bit of a secret treasure. You might need to specifically ask brewers Jeff Grissom or Andre Brown for the First Ferkin—otherwise, word might get out and there won’t be enough ferkins to go around!

Located on 1st Avenue, the brewery is a major landmark in Billings and a must for any beer (or tennis!) lover. Special events happen most weekend nights, so stop by for a cold one and get to know this truly fusion-rich brewery that could.

 

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.

 

 

Give the dad in your life a Father’s Day he’ll never forget at the Montana Brewing Company. Award-winning beer includes the Fat Belly Amber, Sandbagger Gold, Whitetail Wheat and Sharptail Pale Ale. Don’t forget the classic Custer’s Last Stout. You’ll find the perfect pint to pair with some of the best and biggest gourmet fare in Billings.

Established in 1994, the company quickly became one of the most popular restaurants in Billings for locals and visitors alike. Their Wood Fired Nachos have been voted as the best in Billings, covered with a blend of cheeses, black beans, olives, green onions, salsa and sour cream. Add chicken for extra juiciness, and get the roasted garlic and brie if you’re still craving more cheesiness.

What to Order

The Brew Chip is a must for a starter; which is Montana-style poutine with fries smothered in bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions and sour cream. Local favorites include the Chicken Strip Basket and cod Fish ‘n’ Chips. A separate mac ‘n’ cheese menu is sure to satisfy, from the Bayou Mac to the Rocky Crab Mac.

A big burger, pasta and sandwich menu offers all the comfort food you can manage. Check out the Pub Burger with green chili jalapeño pesto and pepper jack or the Hickory Burger with BBQ sauce, cheddar and bacon. Montana Brewing Company is the ultimate destination for every dad. Which brew will you try first?

 

 

Billings might bring to mind classic American meat and potato dishes, but sometimes those meat (and meat alternative) and potato favorites use a tandoori oven! There’s only one Indian restaurant in the entire city, which means they’re serious about representing the oldest cuisine on the planet—and they do so with gusto.

India Grill is a staple in Billings, with a party room perfect for special occasions and corporate gatherings. Catering off-site is also available, and even though this destination is famed for home-cooked, authentic fare, there’s also an American menu to suit every diner. Try the rice specials, like biryani, or the baked to order bread whether naan, roti or paratha is your preferred carb love.

The Spice of Montana

Dinner specials include the India Grill Special for one or two people with papadam, a crispy appetizer, followed by a samosa and tandoori chicken. Next up is the seekh kabob, rice naan and one or two entrees (depending on the number of diners), and your choice of dessert.

Lamb is the star of many dishes, including the Lamb Coconut featuring tender cubes of lamb simmered in a spicy sauce with grated coconut. The Bhuna Ghost Lamb is only for the bravest of diners, extra spicy with ground onions, ginger, yogurt, garlic and a blend of spices.

 

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.

 

 

Montana is known for prime cuts and great steaks, so is it any surprise that it’s also a burger mecca? Start your journey at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries and Shakes, a local chain with delectable vegetarian options, too. The Iceburger is a low carb option, the Black Bean burger is a favorite for vegetarians and meat lovers alike, and the classic Mooyah burger is an American staple that’s made the chain “semi-famous” as they claim!

The Burger Dive is a retro destination with checkered floors and an innovative menu. You’ll want to try the “I’m Your Huckleberry” burger with huckleberry chili sauce, bacon, goat cheese, arugula, and roasted red pepper mayo on a Grains of Montana bun. It just won the World Burger Championship for 2016.

Burger Delights

King’s Hat is a favorite local drive through known for fish sandwiches, Sloppy Joes, and of course burgers. Don’t forget to try their malted milkshakes with scratch-made ingredients. It’s a slight spin on the traditional burger drive through, but well worth checking out.

The Rendezvous Casino and Burger Grill is located within the casino and offers home cooked goodness to increase your odds with Lady Luck. Burgers are just $4, but you may also want to try the chicken fried steak, fried chicken sandwich, or the delicious fish sandwich. In Billings, options are limitless. Where will you fill ‘er up?