Family Vacations in Montana: Where to Go, What to Do (&Tips)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 23rd, 2024

It’s safe to say that Montana is severely underrated as a family vacation spot. 

Many people simply associate the state with cowboys, ranches, and swathes of empty land. 

However, there is so much more! 

With its expansive wilderness, stunning towns and resorts, and rich history, Montana is the perfect place to take your family for a trip. 

To help you plan your next Montana family vacation, we have broken down everything you need to know, including:

  • Things to do in Montana with kids
  • Where to stay 
  • Insider tips for booking a vacation in Montana 
  • A sample itinerary.

Let’s get into it!

Things to do with kids in Montana

Despite being known for its great outdoors, Montana is actually a great place to visit with kids and is filled with family-friendly activities for your next vacation. 

Here are some of the best things to do with kids while staying in Montana:

Garnet Ghost Town

garnet ghost town
Image: John Manard
  • Location:  RMG7+PF, Garnet, MT 59832, United States
  • Price: $3 for those 16+ 
  • Activity level: Low

Getting young children engaged with history can be difficult without some sort of interactive feature, which is why the Garnet Ghost Town is the perfect place to take them next time you’re visiting Montana!

As Montana’s best-preserved Ghost Town, you and your family can step back in time and truly experience what it was like during the gold rush. 

Located just outside of Missoula, the town features various buildings and cabins that have been lovingly restored and preserved with full furnishings so that they appear in their original 19th-century condition. 

Plus, fees are only charged for those over the age of 16 – making this an affordable outing for a younger family. 

Glacier National Park

glacier national park

  • Location: Northwestern Montana,
  • Price: $35 per vehicle
  • Activity level: High 

If you want your children to experience everything the Montana wilderness offers, we highly recommend taking them to the Glacier National Park!

Located in the Montana Rocky Mountains, the park is an array of glaciers, peaks, valleys, and lakes that will dazzle those of all ages. 

This is the perfect place to take your kids for a dose of the outdoors as you can customize your trip here based on their needs and abilities. 

Whether you choose to go on a day trip and hike some of the 700 miles of trails within the park or decide to participate in the full experience and camp overnight within the park, your children are sure to make memories that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. 

Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

history grizzly & wolf discovery center

  • Location: 201 S Canyon St, West Yellowstone, MT 59758, United States
  • Price:  Adults (13 and older) $16.50, Children (5 – 12) $11.50, 
  • Activity Level: Low 

Montana is home to some incredible wildlife. However, much of it is too dangerous to engage without in the wilderness! 

The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center allows you and your children to get up close and personal with some of the most iconic animals that Montana is known for in a safe and controlled setting. 

From grizzly bears, wolves, otters, and various birds of prey, your little ones will get to see it all at this discovery center. 

Not only will they see the animals, but they will also get to learn all about them and how they fit into Montana’s unique ecosystem.

If you’re looking for an activity that is both fun and educational, then you can’t go wrong with this one! 

Ticket prices start at $11.50 for ages 5-12, and $16.50 for ages 13+, and there’s even free entry for children who are four years old and under.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

little bighorn battlefield
Image: 1025wil
  • Location: Interstate 90, Battlefield Tour Rd, Crow Agency, MT 59022, United States
  • Price: Free 
  • Activity level: Moderate

It is important that our children are well educated about our nation’s history, which is why it is always a good idea to take them to famous landmarks and monuments such as this one!

The Little Bighorn Battlefield monument marks one of the most important and well-known battles in American History and commemorates those who participated. 

Located in southeast Montana, this monument is a little bit out of the way. However, it makes for a great day trip from Billings!

The drive to the monument is very scenic and allows visitors to see all that Montana’s landscape has to offer. Plus, it is a completely free activity, which makes it a budget-friendly option for your vacation. 


Image: ZooMontana
  • Location: 2100 Shiloh Rd, Billings, MT 59106, United States
  • Price: Children 2-15: $9, Adults: #=$12 
  • Activity level: Light/moderate 

Zoo Montana is a botanical and zoological garden that is dedicated to preserving the wildlife of Montana. 

It also places a strong focus on education, which means this is the perfect place for curious minds! 

The zoo features all kinds of incredible animals, including snakes, big cats, reptiles, and aquatic species, as well as local wildlife such as bears and foxes.

The zoo is conveniently located in the most populous city in Montana, (Billings), which means it is easily accessible for those using Billings as their vacation base.  

Admission is very reasonable considering you could spend a full day here, with an adult ticket setting you back $12 while children aged 2-15 cost only $9. 

This is the perfect place for a fun family outing where both the kids and the adults walk away with newfound knowledge!

Best Places to Stay in Montana For Families

Hampton Inn & Suites, Whitefish

hampton inn and suites
Image: Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Location: 6340 U.S. 93 S, Whitefish, MT 59937, United States
  • Phone: +1 406-730-8901
  • Amenities: Gym, hot tub, indoor saltwater pool, laundry, complimentary breakfast 

Whitefish is a stunning resort town in northwestern Montana, located right by the Glacier National Park. 

If you are planning a trip to Montana, we highly recommend you visit Whitefish and stay at the Hampton Inn and Suites1 

The Hampton Inn and Suites is the ideal family destination as it has everything you and your little ones need. 

The rooms are simple but furnished with comfortable beds and modern appliances, including a microwave and coffee makers.

Guests also have access to the indoor pool, gym, and hot tub, which allow you to relax and unwind on your family vacation!

To make things even simpler for families, a complimentary breakfast is also included in the hotel price – a bonus from both an ease and a budget point of view. 

Plus, the hotel is family-oriented – meaning there will be plenty of similar groups staying at the same time as you!

If you are looking for a budget and family-friendly hotel in Whitefish, we could not recommend the Hilton Inn more highly. 

Residence Inn by Marriott, Big Sky

residence inn
Image: Residence Inn
  • Location: 145 Town Center Ave, Big Sky, MT 59716, United States
  • Phone: +1 406-995-9000
  • Amenities:  Outdoor pool, gym, onsite bar and restaurant, hot tub, barbeques, complimentary breakfast,  laundry.

Another highly popular place to stay in Montana is  Big Sky, a resort town in southern Montana that is a skier and downhill cyclist’s paradise.

Due to its popularity, many of the hotels here can be on the more expensive side (especially for a family). 

However, the Residence Inn by Marriott is an affordable luxurious option for you and your clan!

The hotel features just about every amenity you could ever wish for, like a pool, gym, onsite bar and restaurant, hot tub, barbeques, and laundry. There is also a complimentary breakfast each morning for all guests. 

Furthermore, all guests have free access to bike rentals – which means it is all too easy to get the family out for a ride in the stunning landscape that surrounds the hotel. 

Plus, the location of this hotel is stunning as it is situated right in the Rocky Mountains. If you and your family want to create some truly special memories, this is the hotel for you!

Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park

many glacier hotel
Image: Glacier National Park Lodges
  • Location: 1147 Rte 3, Browning, MT 59417, United States
  • Phone: +1 303-265-7010
  • Amenities: Pool, gym, restaurant, private beach, snack shop, onsite tours 

Glacier National Park is a must-see location when visiting Montana – and what better way to see it than to stay in it? 

The Many Glacier Hotel is a majestic hotel located within the national park that is the ideal stay for your next vacation!

The hotel is technically a chalet that dates back to 1915, and it is set on Swiftcurrent Lake, which means it offers some of the best views in Montana. 

The rooms are simple with just the necessities, however, you won’t spend much time in your room here. 

Between the amazing hotel amenities such as the pool, upscale restaurant, private beach, and snack shop, and the proximity to the national park, you will barely have time to sleep! 

Additionally, the hotel organizes all kinds of tours and expeditions into the park every day to make it easy for you and the family to see all of the local sites. 

This is a truly immersive Montana experience and one of the best ways to explore Glacier National Park, so it should be high on your list when looking for family accommodation in the state!

Big Horn Resort, Billings 

Big Horn Resort
Image: Big Horn Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection
  • Location: 1801 Majestic Ln, Billings, MT 59102, United States
  • Phone: +1 406-839-9300
  • Amenities: Waterpark, exercise room, day spa, in-room tubs, complimentary breakfast, complimentary coffee

As Montana’s largest town, Billings is a great place to stay during a visit to Montana as it serves as an excellent base for seeing other sites in the nearby area. 

Big Horn Resort is one of the best hotels to choose if you’re staying in Billings with your family for one specific reason: there is an onsite waterpark!

Yes – there really is an onsite indoor/outdoor waterpark complete with some amazing slides to keep the children entertained for hours at a time (and give the adults a chance to relax!) 

As well as access to an entire waterpark, guests also have access to premium rooms kitted out with flat-screen TVs and in-room whirlpool tubs. 

There’s also a complimentary hot breakfast for all guests at the hotel, as well as all-day coffee. 

Plus, an onsite day spa and exercise room are available just in case you need something else to do!

This is truly one of the best family-friendly hotels in the state, and it should be at the top of your list if you are considering staying in Billings. 

The convenient location is surrounded by shops and restaurants and has easy access to the highway to make day trips and other travel very easy.

Tips For Planning a Family Vacation to Montana

While planning a family vacation to Montana is relatively easy, there are some tips and tricks to keep in mind to make the process a whole lot smoother. 

Here are some of our top tips to help you book the best family vacation possible!

  • Consider which time of year you visit: The time of year you choose to visit Montana will largely dictate your entire vacation. 

    Montana weather changes a lot from season to season, which means that some experiences and activities aren’t available year-round!If you want to make the most of  Montana’s skiing and winter sports, then a late-winter visit in February or even March might suit you and your family best.

    Plus, this is well outside of the high season for tourism – which means prices are slightly lower.

    However, if you want to hike and bike while on vacation, then a summer visit is much better as the thick snow makes these activities impossible during the winter (especially for children)

  • Rent a car: While some vacation destinations allow you to get around on foot or public transport, the best way to get around in Montana is by car! 

    Towns and hotspots within the state are extremely spread out, and by renting a car you can travel wherever you wish when you want to.Plus: driving is an amazing way to see some of the backcountry and wilderness that the less populated parts of the state have to offer!

    Renting a car also means you are not confined to one place and can see as much of the state as possible during your visit

  • Pack for the seasons: Successful packing for a Montana trip will require you to considerately pack for the seasons. 

    If you are coming during the summer, don’t underestimate the power of the sun here!Make sure you and your family all have hats, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen – especially if you are spending lots of time outdoors.

    If you’re coming in the winter, then we recommend you pack plenty of light but warm layers that you can adjust accordingly as the day goes on.

    Additionally, no matter which season you’re coming in, make sure each family member has a pair of comfortable and durable walking shoes that they can wear at all times, as you will be doing plenty of walking on your Montana vacation!

Sample Itinerary for a Family Vacation in Montana

With all the accommodation and activity options we have listed above, you might be a bit overwhelmed with what to choose for your family vacation to Montana!

To help you out, we have put together a small itinerary that you can use as inspiration for your vacation:

Day 1: Big Sky

  • Morning: Arrive at Big Sky Resort and check into your hotel. Spending the morning exploring the surrounding area
  • Afternoon: Visit the nearby Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
  • Evening: Enjoy a lovely family dinner at a local restaurant such as Westward Social

Day 2: Big Sky

  • Morning/afternoon: Explore the nearby Yellowstone National Park. You can check out the visitor center to find out which hikes/ bike trails suit your family best 
  • Evening: After a long day in the national park, enjoy a hearty family meal at a local joint such as Chet’s Bar and Grill

Day 3: Billings 

  • Morning: Wake up early to begin the 3-4 hour drive to Billings. Enjoy the stunning scenery along the way before checking into your hotel
  • Afternoon: Take a day trip to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument for a dose of history 
  • Evening: Enjoy a relaxing family meal at one of the fantastic restaurants that Billings has to offer. We recommend Stacked for their burgers!

Day 4:  Billings

  • Morning: Spend a fun morning together at ZooMontana
  • Afternoon: Go for an urban walk and check out downtown Billings
  • Evening: Spontaneously find a restaurant to visit while on your walk

Day 5: Journey to Whitefish

  • Morning: Begin the 7-hour drive to Whitefish Resort, taking in the views and sights along the way
  • Afternoon: Break up your drive with a brief detour to the Garnet Ghost Town, before reaching Whitefish and settling into your hotel
  • Evening: Enjoy a superb dinner at Tupelo Grille for some outstanding Cajun-style cuisine that the whole family will love

Day 6-8: Glacier National Park

Use Whitefish as a base to explore the Glacier National Park. Depending on what time of year it is, you could be hiking, biking, boating, skiing, or swimming. Check out the visitor centers as well as your hotel’s reception to get a better idea of the activities on offer

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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