Bozeman Montana

We just love direct flights! So much so that we Google direct flights from Philadelphia to seek our next adventure. Our most recent search brought up all the usual suspects, but then we found the word “Bozeman.” What the heck is a Bozeman?

We looked up Bozeman and learned that it was a city in southwest Montana. This town happens to be the closest major airport to Yellowstone Park. Bozeman is 4800 feet above sea level, and there is a two-hour time difference from EST.

The wild west sounded great to us, but Yellowstone Park conjured up images of long lines of traffic and millions of tourists crawling around. SO, we decided to visit Bozeman on one agreement, that we would NOT visit Yellowstone National Park. Surely there must be a million unspoiled parks around, and we could spend lots of time exploring a cute little wild west town.

Day 1, we fly into Bozeman on a Thursday for a long weekend. The flight takes a little over four hours. We took a short uber ride to The Lark, a retro boutique hotel right in the center of town. After checking in we put on our walking shoes and decided to get the lay of the land. We discovered the Main Street is lined with quaint shops, restaurants, and bars. (rating 6/10 possible points)

Our first stop was The Beer Sanctuary where we enjoyed a couple pints upstairs overlooking Main Street. We were getting a little hungry because they don’t feed you on the airplane anymore. So, we walked down the street and strolled into Blackbird Kitchen, best known for their pizzas and pastas. We enjoyed the beet and goat cheese salad (yum), meatball appetizer and a woodfired pizza. Oh and did I forget the red wine? (Rating 8/10 possible points)

Day 2, After a massage, we hit a local walking trail called Pete’s Hill. It’s a short 30-minute walk, with a fantastic view of the town. For lunch, we hit up a Tanoshii, a Japanese Comfort food joint. On the outdoor patio we sampled shishito peppers, pork ramen, and a scallion/zucchini Waffle &Chicken. The streetside view was great but, the shishitos were covered in an unnecessary aioli, and the Ramen broth lacked depth. The waffle was pre-cooked and deep fried. (Rating 4/10 possible points)

For dinner that night, we decided to put our “boots-on-the-ground” and go find something. Walking down a back alley for some reason, we heard live music coming from Ted’s Montana Grill. Enticed, we settled in on the back porch for drinks and music. After a couple rounds, we decided to stay for dinner and settle in.  Since we are in Montana, we decided to try out the Bison ribeye.  The meat was tender and buttery even though it was cooked rarer than we specified. This restaurant had an authentic Montana feel to it, strong drinks and reasonably priced. (Rating 8/10 possible points)

Day 3, We ordered a Turo rent-a-car for two days to explore the outer layers of Bozeman. We heard good things about Hyalite Reservoir, we headed over to check it out.  The “Hyalite” was a dried-out reservoir with nondescript walking trails. (Rating 4/10 possible points).

The next stop was a town called Livingston for lunch. There we stopped in Katabatic Brewing for some local brew (rating 7/10 possible points). Next, we went next door for some chili rellenos, pork chili verde, and margaritas. (rating 6/10 possible points). Later that night we ended up on the porch of Teds for outdoor music. Over cocktails we cooked up some plans for the next day. We decided to go to Yellowstone!

Day 4, Up early armed with bear spray and a cup of coffee, we headed out on the 90 min drive to Yellowstone Park. We decided upon the North Entrance since folks mentioned the West Entrance would be crowded. When we arrived, it was about 8:30am, and get in quickly. What’s all this talk about traffic in Yellowstone?

First stop was Mammoth Hot springs, a series of cascading geothermal springs with rocks a white marble appearance.  Nearby there were elk grazing as us tourist looked on. Great photo opportunity!

Next, we drove south through the scenic park for about 30 miles until we reached Norris Geyser Basin, the largest of its kind in the world. It felt like we were on the surface of the moon, surrounded by hissing and fizzing geysers.

As we were cruising along encountering very little traffic, so we said “what the heck,” let go see Old Faithful. Along the way we stopped to snap a pic a bison munching grass in the field. We were now approaching the West Entrance to the park, known for its proximity to Old Faithful, and its traffic. It was now about 11:00 am and things started to get busy. We got stuck in a long line of cars heading towards Old Faithful. After 15 minuets of stand still we realized we had seen enough, and it could have taken all day to get to Old Faithful. We turned around and headed home!

We exited through the west entrance through the town of West Yellowstone- a cheesey tourist town.  The drive back to Bozeman was deserted so we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. So we decided on MTNs Walking brew pub in Bozeman. It was one of the best brew pubs we have ever been to- and we’ve been to a few! 25 beers on tap and a phenomenal caesar salad and a very serviceable pizza (Rating 10/10 possible points!).

That evening we had cocktails at the rooftop bar at the top of the hotel Kimpton (rating 8/10 possible points!). For dinner, we chose The Revelry for some wine and homemade pasta (rating 10/10 possible points!). The next morning we flew back to Philly. A nice little trip!