With its many natural wonders, Montana is a dream destination for travelers of any age. When you’re visiting with children, in particular, there are several things to see and do that will keep the whole family entertained.
Plus, many of Montana’s child-friendly destinations are also incredibly educational, from the captivating science centers to the state’s national parks.
Below, we’ve curated a list of the top things to do in Montana with kids. They’re located right across the state and suit every kind of traveler, whether you prefer to get active outdoors or stay in and learn about the fascinating history of the state.
If you’re looking for something to do with kids in Montana, the Children’s Museum of Montana is a no-brainer. The museum maintains a special focus on inspiring learning and promoting the creative education of children, so a visit is sure to be enriching as well as entertaining.
The largest and oldest children’s museum in the state, the museum boasts several colorful and interactive exhibits that give guests under 12 the chance to learn about the world.
They’re open 9:30 a.m. through 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and admission is $10, while children under 23 months can enter for free.
Yellowstone National Park needs no introduction. One of the world’s most famous national parks, this sprawling wilderness recreation area that spans three states is an exciting place for guests of any age.
Within the park, children will see geothermal landmarks like the spurting Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Grand Prismatic Spring. They will also have plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun in the form of hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
For a full list of the operating hours and seasons, which may vary due to weather, please see the official park website. There is also a range of passes available, from seven-day passes to annual tickets.
A Carousel for Missoula will transport families back to an earlier and simpler time. The charming hand-carved carousel lies on the banks of the Clark Fork River in Caras Park in Downtown Missoula and was specifically built to bring about a sense of old-fashioned fun for the kids of today.
Throughout the year, the Carousel runs several exciting events and specials, including a Kid’s Day where children ride free on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, and a Fairytale and Superhero Festival in July. There are also free rides offered on Halloween and Thanksgiving.
There is a gift shop located in the Carousel building where you can buy carousel-themed souvenirs, including hand-crafted ponies and other goodies made by local artisans.
The Carousel is currently open seven days a week, staff permitting, from 11 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. Children under 11 can ride the Carousel for $1 while guests aged 12 and older can ride for $2.
Much of Montana’s legacy is rooted in the wildlife roaming the plains and mountains. While it’s not safe for kids to get up close and personal with wild animals, they can learn about two of the state’s signature animals—wolves and bears—at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.
Guests will be given a chance to see live bears and wolves while also learning about these magnificent animals and the efforts to conserve them in the wild. The center features both indoor and outdoor exhibits and is also home to a few river otters.
The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is open year-round, as the grizzly bears at the center don’t hibernate. They are open seven days, from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m., though this may change throughout the seasons, and are located just a block from Yellowstone National Park’s West Entrance.
General admission is $15 for adults 13 years and older.
Even kids who think they don’t like learning will have a ball at the Montana Science Center in Bozeman. The center features a range of interactive and educational exhibits, including a live aquarium and a bubble wall.
The nonprofit institution teaches many areas of science, from geology and topography to light, optics, and photonics, to physics. They also run day camps, summer camps, and youth programs for kids who can’t get enough out of just one visit!
The center is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday (except Wednesdays, when it’s closed for field trips), and 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $9, and children under two can enter for free.
For families with kids, Montana’s largest water park is a must in summer. There are 10 water slides at Big Sky Waterpark, plus a whirlpool and a kid’s activity pool.
The park also offers water balloon battles, plus a range of non-aquatic activities, including bumper cars, a climbing wall, and miniature golf.
You’ll find barbecues and picnic areas at the waterpark, plus gift shops, concession stands, and even beach volleyball. Don’t be surprised if the kids want to come back the next day for more fun!
A full-day pass is $27.99 for adults and $22.99 for children and seniors. There are discounts on twilight passes, which can be used from 3 p.m.
For a full list of ticket options, including season passes, see the official website.
Montana is lucky enough to be blessed with two national parks, and they’re both worth exploring with the kids. Guests of all ages will fall in love with the stunning scenery on offer in Glacier National Park, located in the state’s northwest near the Canadian border.
In the park, families can explore the 700 miles of hiking trails and enjoy a multitude of other recreational activities, from cycling and backpacking to camping and wildlife viewing. There are also fun aquatic activities available at Lake MacDonald, the biggest lake in the park.
A museum featuring an array of thrilling exhibits, Helena’s ExplorationWorks is a great place for fun and learning. Most exhibits are interactive, allowing children of all ages to discover the wonders of science for themselves.
At the museum, kids will have the chance to learn about the physics of water, life in Big Sky Country, and the ins and outs of civil engineering. The museum runs several programs and events during the year, including classes and camps, and even hosts children’s birthday parties!
ExplorationWorks is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. General admission is $7.50 per person for ages two and up, and is free for members.
Though Montana is famous for its wildlife, ZooMontana is the state’s top destination for children to learn about animals in a safe and controlled environment.
This educational facility is home to a variety of native and foreign animals, including red pandas, miniature donkeys, alpacas, tigers, bison, golden eagles, and snakes.
ZooMontana runs fun programs that kids can take part in throughout the year, including Zooschool, and events for Halloween and Christmas. The zoo also hosts children’s birthday parties and other private events.
Entrance is just $11 for adults, with discounts available, and children under two enter for free. The zoo is open from 10 a.m. every day, closing at 2 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and at 4 p.m. on the weekend.
There’s nothing like a city beach to keep the kids entertained. Whitefish’s City Beach is located along Whitefish Lake, a seven-mile glacial lake. Along with the sandy beach, you can enjoy a shaded grass area, docks, gazebos, and picnic tables.
The beach boasts a designated swimming area, and kayak and paddleboard rentals are available during the summer months. There’s also a refreshment stand to keep the whole family energized throughout the day, plus a public boat dock.
City Beach is free to visit, though there is a fee to use the boat dock of $10 per day, or $50 for the season. When the weather is fine, this is one of the best and most affordable activities for the whole family in Montana!