With a classic American Main Street and a comfortable suburban feel, Lewistown, Montana is a small town that packs a big punch. For its diminutive size, there is a lot to do for visitors without the traffic and bustle of some of Montana’s major metropolises.
Whether you’re visiting to retrace the Lewis and Clark Trail or to catch your first paddlefish, there’s a lot more to do while you’re in town that you may have overlooked. Lewistown is also known for its well-curated boutiques, unique attractions, and those unforgettable big Montana skies.
In this article, we will look at the best things to do in Lewistown, including free events, to ensure you get the most out of your next visit.
14 Best Things To Do In Lewistown, Montana
1. The Lewistown Art Center
The Lewistown Art Center has an incredibly robust arts program for being in such a small town. Though they have regularly rotating exhibitions, visitors are guaranteed to find something unique, delightful, and often educational on display.
Their focus is on displaying the work of premier Montanan artists, so the displays here offer a true glimpse into the culture of the region. They also have a robust calendar of events, ranging from evening soirees to arts education classes, so be sure to check their calendar before you go.
2. Central Montana Museum
With exhibits and displays that relate the history of the Judith Basin from pre-history until today, the Central Montana Museum is a consistent hit for adults and kids alike.
Through artifacts, fossils, and interpretive displays, the exhibits cover the geology of the region and the ramifications of the homesteading act. Their prized display is a replica Torosaurus skull that was found about 65 miles away.
3. Big Springs Trout Hatchery
Far more than just a fisheries facility, the Big Springs Trout Hatchery also incorporates a picnic area, shelters, and even sports fields. There are numerous opportunities to view wildlife right on the grounds, especially deer and a wide variety of birds. If you want, you can even buy a handful of fish food and feed the trout yourself.
4. Beargulch Pictographs
This privately owned recreational facility is absolutely beloved by tourists to the area. An absolute must-see while visiting Lewiston and the rest of Central Montana.
This guided tour to see ancient pictographs will also include a plethora of information about the geology of the region, the various indigenous people who once lived there, and the preservation efforts of contemporary Montanans.
5. Charlie Russell Chew Choo
This iconic 56-mile trip through the mountains and valleys of Central Montana is also a dinner train. You’ll get to enjoy a hearty prime rib dinner while enjoying the enchanting scenery of Central Montana at sunset.
The train travels down a historic route to Denton, Montana, and back, passing across two trellises and through a half-mile-long tunnel. It is likely you’ll see a variety of wildlife: it is common to find eagles, antelope, hawks, and deer abound in the area adjacent to the track.
6. Judith Theatre
The Judith Theater is a historical movie theater on Main Street in Downtown Lewistown. As well as showing first-run movies, they also screen classic films at deeply discounted prices.
Lewiston is subject to intense storms in the winter, so this may be the perfect spot to escape the cold.
7. Snowy Lanes
Beloved by adults and kids alike, Snowy Lanes is Central Montana’s favorite bowling alley. Though it has a clear vintage vibe with lots of original details, the facility has been completely updated with an electronic scoring system, refinished lanes, and even cosmic bowling every Friday at 8 pm!
They have prices reasonable enough to bring the whole family, and they
8. Enjoy the Food & Drink
A mix of historic bars and quaint diners dot Lewistown’s Main Street and are scattered around Downtown. They offer a mix of favorite local meals, classic American dishes, and a few surprises here and there.
Local bars are known for lively discussions, so be prepared to make a few new friends.
Mint Bar & Grill
Tucked away on 4th ave S, the Mint Bar and Grill is just one of several historic Montana bars to bear this moniker: the name ‘Mint’ became a popular name for multi-purpose bars during the Gold Rush and the constructions of the railroads to entice workers to cash their paychecks there – and in turn, spend them while saddled at the bar. Lewistown’s Mint still has this old west spirit in spades, and plenty of Montanan brews to choose from.
Voted Lewistown’s best restaurant, the 406 Cafe serves up both hearty breakfasts and lunches. Part coffee shop, part diner, this is a true take-all-kinds type of place that doesn’t skimp on portions.
Originally opened in 1951, this drive-through-only burger joint is patently iconic to Lewistown, and is a must-visit while you’re in town. While they don’t have a dining room at all, there are several picnic tables outside where you can enjoy your meal on a nice day.
While the menu might be small – a selection of burgers, fries, shakes, and sodas – it’s rare for someone to leave the Dash Inn disappointed.
9. Buy Some Gifts and Souvenirs
There are a plethora of unique shopping opportunities in Lewistown ranging from handcraft boutiques to high-end saddleries. You may not have time to visit them all, so here are a few unique places to put on your to-do list.
Way more than just a simple florist shop, this comprehensive flower farm has sprawling gardens you can stroll through to choose your own flowers for a personalized bouquet.
This family-run flower farm is committed to using zero pesticides or chemicals to grow an impressive variety of flowering plants. Keep in mind that they have limited hours, and reservations are recommended.
Selling a mix of high-quality basics, locally-printed tees, and a few surprises, Blue Stone Boutique is going to be your go-to if you need to pick up a few extra pieces while you’re in town.
Bonus: you can be assured that everything is more than appropriate for the sometimes harsh Montana weather.
Meticulously curated, the vintage and antique furniture and home accessory offerings at C+V Home might be the best in Central Montana. If you feel inspired to redecorate your home after your visit, you’re in luck: they also offer interior design services.
10. Check out the Lewistown Historic Districts
Doing a walking tour of downtown Lewistown’s historic districts is the best way to check out the many buildings in the town on the National Register of Historic Sites.
This is a ‘must-do’ when in the vicinity for anyone with even a passing interest in the region. Here are some of the main historic points of interest around downtown Lewistown:
- The Silk Stocking District covers four acres in all and contains some of the best-looking historic homes you are likely to encounter. Some are built in the Roman Revival and Georgian styles dating back to the early 20th century when Lewistown was booming due to its mining industry’s success.
- The Central Business District dates back to about the same time, although while the Silk Stocking District is all historic homes, the Central Business District relates to former businesses and markets that once operated here. The markedly high-quality stonemasonry work was apparently carried out by Croatian stonemasons who came to Montana. Check out the Mackey Building (pictured), the Armory Hall, and a few other prominent spots down Main Street.
- Judith Place is a formerly middle-class neighborhood located north of Main Street that dates back to the early 1900s. It was considered somewhat ground-breaking at the time and the Craftsman-style homes are still impressive.
- Courthouse Square is where you’ll find the historic and grand-looking Fergus County Courthouse and a few other similar-styled government-type buildings. City Hall is nearby, as is the striking sandstone Lewistown Carnegie Library with its notable displays of fine and historic architecture.
11. Visit the Hutterite Colony Ranch
Most people know little or nothing about the Hutterite customs and culture, but here is an opportunity to put that one to bed. A highly-informative guide walks visitors through all aspects of communal Hutterite life and answers questions.
At the end of the tour, you can purchase some of the unique, hand-crafted items on display, and even go out to a field designated as the exact geographic center of the state.
This is certainly something a bit different for most people when they find out about the self-sufficient farming community.
12. Fish or Paddle on Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake is actually located about an hour outside of Lewistown. It takes you into the vicinity of the Big Snowy Mountains and ample opportunity for swimming, fishing, and other water-based activities.
The lake is surrounded by various trails with great views ideal for photos, and there is also a forest service-operated campground with restrooms and a picnic area.
The escalating temperatures of the summer months present the ideal opportunity for a spot of paddling on this scenic lake. Energetic types may even opt for the 8-mile out-and-back hike to the Grandview Trail Lookout.
The trailhead can be reached on the lake’s southern tip, and from here you’ll certainly be privy to some of the best views of Crystal Lake. The landscape stretches as far as the eye can see and beyond the nearby Judith and Little Belt Mountain ranges.
To get to the lake from Lewistown head onto US Highway 87 going north. After 8.7 miles you’ll see a Forest Access sign for Crystal Lake Road where you turn left and then follow the signs to an intersection where you bear left and keep going for around 4 miles.
When you see the Recreation Area sign you take another left and continue along Crystal Lake Road for just over 12 miles to the campground. There are some dirt roads involved in the route but the last stretch is paved.
13. Indulge in a Few Rounds of Golf
Pine Meadows Golf Course offers a golfing experience in Lewistown that is unlike any other in the vicinity.
The scenic yet challenging 9-hole course caters to golfers of any skill level and the relocated tee markers and tee boxes add to a different back nine experience.
Pine Meadows is known for its relaxing and open backdrops and enough space and varied terrain to allow you to test multiple facets of your game. Here you’ll encounter trees, rolling hills, and sand traps which all add to the quality of the experience along with the service and atmosphere at the club.
14. Practise Steadying Your Shooting Hand
The Central Montana Shooting Complex (CMSC) is all about promoting organized, professional, and safe shooting sports in Lewistown and Central Montana.
The operation has set up various ranges teaching and promoting the safe use of firearms to young people and novice shooters. Various types of competitive shooting events are also organized along with the instruction.
Shooting holds immense recreational potential for the Central Montana area and youth education programs related to safe and ethical hunting practices are a huge part of the philosophy. Participants in the Hunters Safety programs get free use of the CMSC ranges.
Whether this is up your street or not may also depend on the frequency of your visits or proximity to Lewistown as a $40.00 annual license is a requirement for accessing the complex, but if you are in the area for a while it will at least enable some quality shooting practice.
Free Things To Do In Lewistown, Montana
15. St. Leo the Great Catholic Church
A Lewistown landmark, St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was originally established back in 1888, with its current location, the grand Romanesque Revival building on West Broadway, officially opened in 1916.
The crowning glory of this impressive piece of architecture is the stained glass window depicting the patron saint of Lewiston: St. Leo himself.
16. Lewistown Carnegie Public Library
In 1905, the city of Lewistown was given a $10,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie to construct a proper town library. The result was this quaint but architecturally impressive building, even though it nearly bankrupted the city during its construction.
Nonetheless, their foresight in wanting to create a monument to civic pride eventually paid off, resulting in what is still the current Lewistown Carnegie Public Library.
17. Missouri Breaks
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is actually a vast tract of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Near Lewiston, it encompasses some of the portions of the Lewis and Clark trail.
Of course, you would expect to be able to see highlights from the Lewis and Clark Trail near Meriwether Lewis’ eponymous town, and one of the best places in The Breaks to get a glimpse of this history is the Judith Landing Recreation Site, a campground and boat ramp about an hour north of Lewiston.
Here you can retrace parts of the actual route that Lewis and Clark were led along by their Lemhi Shoshone guide and interpreter, Sacagawea.
18. Fred Robinson Bridge
Just north of Lewistown, the Fred Robinson Bridge is a steel-girder bridge that spans the Missouri River. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012 and is a popular spot for photos in Central Montana.
Just below it is a legendary spot to catch paddlefish; if you’re in town during the right season, you can join in on the fun.