12 Best Things to do in Helena, Montana

Martina Rosado
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Holter Museum of Art

Built to resemble a Gothic castle, this grandiose ensemble functions as an art gallery and local historical museum. The Holter Museum of Art houses permanent and rotating collections of original artworks dating from the Renaissance to the 21st century. Helena‪s most popular museum is also a cultivated garden and hosts the Helena Art Council Annual Juried Show in May.

Parrot Confectionery

Located in the city’s Warehouse District, the Parrot Confectionery Factory is a highly interactive plant that produces elite ConAgra’s Gevalia coffee.

The tour is a great way to learn about the coffee roasting process and how the factory uses coffee beans to create a variety of sweet treats.

This tour is of moderate length and can accommodate a large group. You’ll have the chance to sample some of the treats created at the factory and to learn about the history of coffee.

Before the tour starts, you’ll go through a short history of coffee and learn about its history. Parrot Confectionery Factory

This tour will show you how the factory creates the cones and then cools each one in a specialty cart.

You’ll also see the roasting process and the enzymes that are used to adjust coffee in the factory.

You’ll learn about the different types of roasting and about the various processes that take place in this part of the factory.

This tour is very educational and will be sure to leave you with a deep appreciation for the creation of sweet treats.

Original Governor’s Mansion

A museum dedicated to telling the history of Montana (and to a lesser extent, a curator).

Inside you will see exhibits showing how Montana was settled by hunters and trappers looking for a new life in the west. The nature of the fur trade caused the trade to be monopolized by a few major players in the late 19th century. The size of these operations, including the setting of the Canadian border, the Northern Pacific railroad, and the spread of ranches and farms in the state, resulted in various international trade disputes that span throughout Montana’s modern history.

The northern prairie was especially shaped and influenced by the Native American culture on the reservations there. The Native Americans had used the landscape for hunting, travel, and trade for as long as there had been humans on the plains.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, Thursday and Sundays from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM.

Visit a Brewery

Visit a micro-brewery; they are fun to explore. Some of them are housed in old buildings and have a lot of character. They are also a unique experience with unique menus…and unique beer.

Music Festival

Music festivals, such as the Montana Folk Festival, are held at different Montana locations each year. Most featured bands, as well as multiple areas of Montana culture and entertainment.

Great Art

There is a lot of great art in Montana. In the Helena area, there is a fantastic public art museum, the Helena Art Center, where you can see paintings of Helena’s founders and gorgeously textured abstract art.

Read

If you love to read, you will love the Montana State University Library and Research Center. Its collection includes over a million volumes, many of them rare and out-of-print.

Go Fishing

Fishing and the outdoors part of Montana all start on the banks of the Missouri River. Head to Montana to partake in the state’s favorite pastime.

Climb

Bridger’s Pass in Bozeman area provides the perfect Montana climbing experience. During the winter months, its ski area is closed but when it is open, the pass is the place to catch the most snow in the state.

Historic Downtown Pedestrian Mall

The Historic Downtown Pedestrian Mall is the main street in Downtown Helena. This area is packed with shops and businesses. You can find anything you need, including restaurants, banks, grocery stores, medical facilities, and much more.

There are always things to do in Historic downtown with several festivals, drum circles, and celebrations throughout the year. You can visit the Montana Historical Museum and walk through the historical exhibits. Sports fans will love the Discovery Sports Museum.

The New Moon Splash Bash is a great way to go splash in the warm water by the famous old steamboat, the Monitor. This fun event is held on the first Saturday of each month and is both free and open to the public.

If you are ready for a little fun and an adventure, then you need to check out the Tour of Champions bicycle race. This family-friendly event takes place in City Park and runs from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through the Wednesday of the following weekend. You can enjoy the music and festivities while watching the cycling champions compete in the road cycling race.

If you like to fish, you will find plenty to catch in the park’s pond, which is stocked regularly. You can even bring you boat along with you!

Historical Society Museum

This 1887 one-story brick building is home to a historical society that offers hands-on activities for children of all ages and educational programs for the whole family. The museum includes interactive exhibits, like a rare-book library, a collection of vintage Montana books, a life-size Montana ranch house, and paper-maché birds that fly around the ceiling of the museum. Free (schedule an appointment). 309 Couch St.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

If you ever want to try something new in Montana and you’re not afraid of heights, head to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park for an exciting adventure.

This cavern is the longest cave in the state and is more than 10,000 years old. It’s 38 acres large and offers a 1.5 mile tour through three different chambers.

The cavern includes a large chamber that’s over 100 feet wide and 150 feet tall, and the visitor center contains a multimedia show on the cave’s history and history of the state of Montana.

Do you have a fear of heights? If so, stop reading right now and don’t go to this cavern!

To make a tour of the cavern truly amazing, you can choose from two options. The first tour is a 45-minute, on-your-own experience with headlamps and flashlights.

The second tour, which is a three-hour walking experience with a ranger, offers you the opportunity to explore the dark and eerie caves as well as some of the surface scenes in Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.

From trails to tours to possible eye-popping views, you won’t be disappointed by the adventure that awaits you at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park.

Reeder’s Alley

Reeder’s Alley is a public art and history display that has been a fixture on Main Street for generations. The alley is peaceful and delightful. It’s kind of like a time capsule you can experience firsthand and it’s fun for the whole family.

Its three historic buildings are located at Main Street and Valley Drive. The oldest building, the Visitor Information Center, is a gift shop and exhibit hall that features artifacts and information on what it was like for the town during the late 19th century.

The other two buildings are artist studios and the Visitors’ Center. The studios are open to the public during the summer months. There they can experience the creative process firsthand and meet the artists who create the art on display in the Visitors’ Center.

For children, Reeder’s Alley is a wonderful place to shop while learning about the many types of artwork in the displays and in the storefronts. If you’re lucky you might even get to step into one of the studios to view the artists at work.

Reeder’s Alley is a wonderful place to stop and experience. There you can shop, dine, or just enjoy a moment of peace and quiet.

Mount Helena City Park

Take a leisurely walk through the park and appreciate the trees, gardens, and wildlife. Enjoy the stunning views of the Helena National Forest and the Ochre Mountains.

The spring fed Ochre Creek is the lifeblood of Helena and supplies approximately 135,000 gallons of water to the city of Helena every day.

Helena City Park is filled with a wide variety of trees and is a perfect place to stop while enjoying Helena’s trail system.

Montana State Capitol

This impressive building stands in the center of Helena, Montana. Completed in 1882, it’s the oldest state government building in the United States. The upper floors are still used by government agencies and is home to several art museums and exhibit halls. The building houses several excellent pieces of art, most notably the Jack Holm bronze “Montana Lodge” statue, the Indian head buffalo, the original 1906 set of bronze elevator doors, and several large murals.

You will need to buy a ticket to go inside the Montana State Capitol building. But the first floor is completely free of charge, so you can walk around and take a look at the structure without having to pay anything …

You may have seen this building in the film “The Fugitive”, a popular movie in which Harrison Ford escapes from the fictional town of “Cheyenne” in Montana.

There was also a remake with Tommy Lee Jones and that movie was filmed in Helena.

If the Capitol building isn’t enough to draw you to the state, then the wildlife should have you wanting to stay. This area is prime habitat for moose and elk. On any given day, you could see a family of elk grazing nearby.

Cathedral of St. Helena

Located in St. Helena, the cathedral is the city’s original church and was once a mission church for the nearby city of Missoula. The church was expanded in the 1950s, but it still retains some of the older details at the entrance, such as the bell tower and a Spanish bell.

The cathedral was constructed of pink sandstone hauled over the Great Plains and redwood from forests in Bozeman and Sandcreek.

The cathedral is named after Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who established a church in the area now known as Helena. In the 1850’s, the first church was built in the then small community. Since then, it has been completely remodeled several times.

The cathedral contains a stained glass window by Louise Emmons and an altar that was carved and executed in France by a monk from the Chartreuse.

In the basement is a fireplace and some of the original pews from the 1850’s.

Visiting hours are:

Monday – Friday: 8:00am to 4:00pm

Saturday: 9:00am to 1:00pm

Sunday: Closed

The Cathedral of St. Helena is located at 405 Lake Street, St. Helena, MT 59860.

Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Also known at the Gates of the Mountains, this art museum in Helena, Montana features the work of renowned artists from all over the world. It has a permanent collection of more than 18,000 pieces from Native American, Asian, African American, and European artists.

The museum is housed in the old Montana School of Mines, an Art Deco building constructed in 1931. On the surface, the building looks beautiful, like it could be in Paris or New York. As you walk through the museum, however, you realize that this is an art museum subsidized by Montana taxpayers.

It’s a great place to take visitors to if you want to expose them to the beauty of the West.