Every summer millions around the country head out on a summer vacation (I try to avoid the Chevy Chase versions). Many are families; others part of a social club or group of friends. My summer road trip this year included a family reunion and a return to childhood memories.
Montana is vast in every sense so advance planning is necessary. The obvious stops are Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky, and the Lewis and Clark Trail (parks, caverns, etc…). Here is my short list from this past trip:
Blackbird Kitchen. A must if you are in the area. Fresh pasta and local purveyors are well appointed on a small but well thought out menu. Wine menu should satisfy most.
Nova Café (@novacafe). Breakfast is not the same without a stop at Nova. They do everything in house including the orange juice. Breakfast burritos are mammoth and delicious! Family friendly including toys and book bins for kids in the back seating area.
I-Ho’s Korean Grill (1216 W. Lincoln, Bozeman, MT). Fantastic selection of Korean dishes simply prepared and with very fresh ingredients. Noodle bowls are the best! Very large portions and reasonably priced.
Bozeman Community Food Co-op (@bozemanfoodcoop). With two locations on Main Street this is a great place to shop for groceries and a quick lunch. Rotating menu at both locations, including a fantastic Indian menu on Thursdays.
The Club Tavern & Grill. I had not been here since the renovation and it is visibly quite different. Slightly improved however in need of a few more regular tables for people to dine at (versus bar stool tables). The food however is still fantastic. The Black & Blue Burger was full of flavor and cooked exactly as I had ordered. The Classic Cobb also was very good and very fresh including the avocado. A huge selection of local and regional beers on tap/bottle including Salmon Fly Honey Rye (Madison River Brewing Co, Belgrade), Nut Brown Ale (Bitterroot Brewery, Hamilton) and Pyramid Haywire Hefeweizen (Pyramid Brewery, Seattle), worth some time to enjoy.
NOTE: Check out the beer of Madison River Brewing Company. Their Salmon Fly Honey Rye is a fantastic easy drinking summer beer, great with a bison burger. I grew up with Missoula’s Big Sky Brewing CompanyMoose Drool and their summer beer is Summer Honey, an equally delicious option. The IPA brew is nice, with a heavy citrus finish. These and other great locally made brews are served at many locations throughout Montana.
There are many hotel/motel options in Bozeman. If you are looking for quick and easy stop over, look for hotels on Seventh or 19th Avenue. These are all a short drive from downtown and quick access to interstates and restocking (fuel, groceries, and liquor).
Museum of the Rockies. Small but amazing collection of dinosaurs, western living memorabilia, and rotating exhibits. Also a great children’s area upstairs.
Yesterday’s Soda Fountain (124 Main Street, Ennis, inside Ennis Pharmacy). Great place for sandwiches and milkshakes.
NOTE: There are great spots to setup a grill and camp out in the area. Stop in at the Madison Foods grocery store for a fantastic meat and seafood department (size is no matter here) and beer/wine selection.
Riverside Motel & Cabins. This is a fantastic location in Ennis, within walking distance to the downtown area (full of restaurants, shopping, and art galleries) as well as next door to the Lions Club Park which boasts a lovely child’s fishing pond. Cabins are equipped with mini fridges and microwaves, and some have small kitchenettes. Comfortable and a well priced option. They also have RV spots in the back.
Ennis Lion’s Club Park (US-287, Ennis, MT). Beautiful park next to the Madison River with walking paths throughout which also connect to the Ennis State Park/Fishing Access. Park has a small child’s fishing pond and playground, pavilion and grills.
Virginia City. A short drive from Ennis, this is a must at any age. I have fond memories as a child, and after a much needed grant from the government, they have really presented an accurate and interesting glimpse into life as it was 100+ years ago. Lots of options to stop for huckleberry ice cream.
Seeley Lake / Condon Area
I will be honest here. I didn’t leave our family cabin on Lindbergh Lake very often. With amazing views in every direction, a full size kitchen and stocked supplies of bubbles, beer and wine, I was quite satisfied taking a week off from the world. A few places I did stop by:
The Ice Cream Place (3196 Mt Highway 83 N, Seeley Lake). One of the BEST huckleberry milkshakes I have ever had. Arrive early as the line can be long for much of the day. Big selection of ice cream treats as well as burgers, hot dogs and tacos.
Hungry Bear Steakhouse (6287 Highway 83, Condon MT). A place for steaks and hearty appetites. Great options for families and hungry bears.
Double Arrow Resort. Great option if you want the outdoors and golf.
There are many options for cabin rentals along the many lakes that scatter the area from Seeley Lake and north to Flathead Lake. I suggest flying into the Missoula airport for quickest access to the region. This is a beautiful area of the country and I highly recommend that you stay a week to really take in all that it has to offer.
A final note. Please do not leave Montana without trying huckleberries. A native to Idaho and Montana, I would describe as a very intense blueberry. Sold in many forms, I prefer the syrup and jam varieties.