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A Guide to the 10 Best Family Towns in Montana

It’s hard to dispute that Montana is a great state to live in. With small towns, plenty of recreational activities, good schools, and a thriving economy, it really is the perfect place for families to live and visit.

We can’t say enough good things about the Big Sky state. As in other states, there are some communities that are just better for families. We set out to find the best family towns in Montana.

Our list are the 10 communities that have amenities that cater to families, both those that live there and those that are just visiting.

10 Best Family Towns in Montana

  1. Four Corners
  2. Kalispell
  3. Libby
  4. Bozeman
  5. Butte
  6. Whitefish
  7. Helena
  8. Missoula
  9. Dillon
  10. Livingston

1. Four Corners

Four Corners is a small community just west of Bozeman. It is a quaint community that feels suburban thanks to the proximity to Bozeman but is still quite rural and peaceful.

The community sits at the base of the Bridger Mountains and along the Gallatin River. The proximity to both the mountains and the river makes this town a great place for outdoor recreation in both the summer and winter.

Hiking trails turn to snowmobiling and cross-country ski trails. In the summer the Gallatin River provides opportunities for fly-fishing, rafting, and other water sports.

Four Corners is also a reasonable one-and-a-half-hour drive to Yellowstone National Park, making it a great base camp for travelers and residents alike, who want to experience the opportunities the Park has to offer.

Only a 20-minute drive from Bozeman, residents in Four Corners have access to Montana State University, the Museum of the Rockies, and high-quality hospitals and health care. Schools in Four Corners are some of the highest-rated in the State.

2. Kalispell

kallispel

Sitting in the Flathead Valley, Kalispell is considered the gateway to Glacier National Park. This community is teeming with activities that are perfect for adults and kids alike.

Kalispel is a vibrant town surrounded by mountains and farmland. It is home to approximately 23,000 people. It is one of the larger cities in western Montana, but it has a very small-town feel. Kalispel has a charming downtown area that boasts an up-and-coming culinary scene, breweries, and coffee shops.

Kalispel also has an abundance of parks, making it a perfect place for families. The median home price in Kalispel is lower than in other places in Montana, so it is an affordable place to live for young families. Kalispel schools are highly rated, and the town has a local community college as well.

Family-friendly activities in Kalispel include three golf courses, a water park, and museums. The area is also home to two world-class ski resorts for family-friendly winter fun. Herron Park and Lone Pine State Park are close to town and provide a variety of summer and winter recreational activities.

Additionally, the proximity of Kalispell to Glacier National Park means that there are ample opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.

3. Libby

libby

Libby, Montana is a small town located along the Kootenai River and at the base of the Cabinet Mountains. The town is spread out across both sides of the river, so it feels a bit larger than it actually is.

Though the community only has around 3,000 residents, it is a bustling community with plenty of organized activities, not to mention the ample number of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The town has a long history as a mining town, so look for plenty of opportunities to experience the local history and mining culture.

Within a short drive from town, families can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in the Kootenai National Forest. The Kootenai River provides opportunities for fly-fishing, rafting, and other summer water activities.

4. Bozeman

bozeman

Bozeman is one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation. Home to Montana State University it is an energized community filled with college students, young families, and plenty of things to keep you busy.

Some of the amazing opportunities for families in Bozeman include the Museum of the Rockies, which houses a huge collection of fossils and the largest T-Rex skull in the world.

The University provides plenty of opportunities for art, music, and family-friendly entertainment. And the Town has plenty of parks, golf courses, and recreation facilities. The University also provides college sporting events all year round.

Families that like to get outdoors can enjoy hiking, skiing, and mountain biking in the Rocky Mountains that serve as a backdrop to the city. Yellowstone National Park is also a great option for families as it is only a couple hours’ drive away.

For families that live in Bozeman, there are great schools, housing prices are affordable, and the town has some of the best health care facilities in the state. What more could you want when looking for the best small towns in Montana?

5. Butte

butte silver bow montana

Butte, Montana started out as a small silver and gold mining camp. But it was the discovery of copper that brought men and women from all over the world to settle on this remote hill. Butte was the first major city in Montana and was once called the “Richest Hill on Earth”.

In the early 1900s, Butte was the largest city between San Francisco and Chicago. Today, the copper mining remains, and the community is smaller, but the City of Butte is still going strong.

Butte is a perfect place for history buffs, outdoor enthusiasts, and families. While one of the larger communities in Montana, Butte has a quaint, small-town feel. It is easy to access from the interstate, but the real charm of the community lies off the highway, in the historic district.

Butte is home to one of the largest historic districts in the United States, with over 4,000 structures listed on the national historic register. In the summer the Butte Trolley tour is a can’t-miss offering.

Families in Butte can enjoy a number of museums that showcase the community’s history and heritage. The city has numerous festivals for families to enjoy throughout the year, and they boast one of the largest Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US.

Butte sits between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, so a great central hub for exploring the state. Families can enjoy plenty of outdoor activities including hiking, skiing, and mountain biking, with just a short drive out of town.

6. Whitefish

whitefish

Whitefish is a quaint community nestled at the base of the jagged Rocky Mountains and serves as one of the gateway communities to Glacier National Park.

Whitefish has been named one of the best ski towns in the world by National Geographic, so families here get to enjoy some of the best skiing in the world. However, that is not the only reason that Whitefish is a great community for families.

Despite being a resort town, Whitefish is often overlooked by tourists. This town has affordable homes, reasonably priced lodging, and a tight-knit community that is welcoming to new residents and visitors alike.

Families here can, of course, enjoy the world-class skiing in the winter. But there are tons of other things for families to do in Whitefish. Glacier National Park is a short 15-minute drive from downtown.

The area has plenty of hiking, mountain biking, and snowmobile trails to explore. And Whitefish Lake provides plenty of recreational activities all year long, including boating, swimming, and fishing.

7. Helena

helena

Helena may be one of the most family-friendly places in Montana. It started out as a small gold mining camp, today, it is the Montana state capital. However, Helena isn’t your typical state capital. With a population of approximately 32,000 residents, you’ll get to enjoy a small-town atmosphere in Helena.

Situated along I-15, Helena is perfectly situated between the state’s two national parks and is just a short drive from some of Montana’s other great communities.

Helena is proud of its rich mining history; however, you don’t have to be rich to live in or visit Helena. It boasts affordable housing, lodging, and a vibrant economy with plenty of small businesses.

Families can enjoy lots of history in Helena, with a beautiful historic downtown area and museums that pay tribute to the city’s mining history. Carroll College provides the community with plenty of arts and entertainment. And you can’t visit here without experiencing the outdoor activities.

Helena has 75 miles of trails that start in the downtown area, and there are plenty more if drive. If outdoor activities aren’t your family’s thing, check out the Great Northern Carousel, ExplorationWorks, and the Last Chance Tour Train.

8. Missoula

missoula

Missoula, Montana might just be the best deal in the state, for families. Tucked deep in the Rockies and surrounded by five mountain ranges and national forests, Missoula feels like another world, and definitely doesn’t feel like the second-largest city in Montana.

Home to the University of Montana, Missoula has everything you could ask for in a family-friendly community. Great restaurants, a thriving art, and cultural scene, live music, museums, parks, and sports.

Missoula has all the conveniences of a larger community, including a park and recreation department that provides family-friendly activities. Missoula is also home to one of the most well-known children’s theater companies in the country, which is the foundation of the Missoula Center for the Performing Arts.

Missoula has a booming economy, and there is plenty of family-friendly and affordable lodging and housing within the community. As one of the larger cities in Montana, there are plenty of places to shop, including big box stores and small boutiques.

Outdoor recreation abounds in Missoula. Just outside of town you’ll find some of the best winter recreations in the world. In the summer winter, snowmobile trails become amazing hiking trails. There is world-class fishing in the Bitterroot River and Clark Fork River which wind around town.

9. Dillion

dillon
Image: Dillon

Dillion, Montana has been a focal point for activities in southwest Montana for hundreds of years. The sweeping valley that Dillion sits in, welcomed the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1805, where they stocked supplies at Camp Fortunate. Today, Dillion continues to be a hub for activities in Montana.

As a convergence point of several major highways, Dillion is a perfect starting point for visitors to the State. The valley is home to the Beaverhead River, a blue-ribbon trout stream that draws expert fly fishers from around the world.

The valley was also home to the State’s first gold strike, so history buffs will love the Beaverhead County Museum or Bannack State Park which showcases the mining history of Dillion and is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns in the state.

Despite being small, with a population of only about 4,000 people, Dillion is home to Montana Western University. The university provides the community with cultural and sporting activities. The town has a number of parks for families to enjoy.

Dillion’s location at the meeting point of major highways provides a stable economy for the area. The schools in Dillion are good, and families will find plenty of affordable lodging or housing.

10. Livingston

livingston

If you are looking for a family friendly place in Montana that prides itself on its tight-knit community, Livingston is the place for you. Founded in 1882, Livingston is all the things you associate with the old west, but you’ll be surprised to find that Livingston has a thriving art community as well.

Livingston has a long history that includes cowboys, the railroad, and even a little Hollywood glitz. Sitting along the Yellowstone River, Livingston is the original gateway to Yellowstone National Park and is an easy 30-minute drive from Bozeman, MT.

Today, families come to Livingston before they head into the park and are able to enjoy some of the best food in the US, and some of the best fly fishing in the world.

Despite being a popular destination for some Hollywood elite, Livingston holds strong to its agricultural roots. Most residents rely on tourism or agriculture to make a living, though the community is also home to a number of well-known writers and artists.

The cost of living in Livingston is slightly higher than in other parts of Montana, but there is still plenty of affordable lodging and housing to be found for families.

The community has a few museums that are not to be missed. Families will enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities including skiing at Bridger Bowl, mountain biking, hiking, and snowmobiling.

Livingston is just a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, so it is a good place for families visiting the park that want a quieter experience, and fewer tourists.

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