The small city of Great Falls sits perfectly in between Yellowstone and the Glacier National Park. It only takes a few hours to reach either park from the city, so many use it as either a base for short trips or a quick overnight stop.
Named for the famous waterfalls in the area, Great Falls has been dubbed the ‘Electric City’ thanks to the five hydroelectric dams on the Missouri River. Many people come to visit just to see the dams!
The best areas to stay in Great Falls:
- Best base for an overnight pitstop: East or downtown Great Falls is ideal for those just passing through. Many people travel through Great Falls on the way from one National Park to another, and these areas are close to the highway and the main street through town. Downtown has more choice in hotels, but there is a good variety in Airbnbs to the east.
- Best neighborhood for things to do: Downtown has the most activities and ‘things to do’. You have the museums, shops and breweries, as well as a water park and the beautiful Gibson Park. There’s plenty to keep you occupied for a few days.
- Staying in Great Falls on a budget: Northwest Great Falls has some great budget options, as does downtown. As is often the case in the cities of Montana, you will find that most areas are affordable.
- Best area for families: Southwest Great Falls is perfect for families. It’s a very safe area, largely residential, with a number of parks and spaces for children to play. It’s close to downtown and the city’s trailheads, while still being far away enough to ensure peace and quiet. East Great Falls is another fantastic option.
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Downtown is the bustling center of Great Falls, where most of the city’s impressive collection of museums are located, as well as its best parks, bars and restaurants.
Great Falls has the most museums in Montana, and the C.M. Russell Museum, Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art, Children’s Museum of Montana and the History Museum are all to be found in, or close to, downtown.
There’s more than enough to keep you entertained for a few days – and for those who don’t enjoy museums, there are plenty of other activities to try. The Electric City Water Park is perfect for families, while the Anaconda Hills Golf Course offers a more serene escape. For any fervent shoppers, the Holiday Village Mall isn’t far away; it’s where you will find many recognizable brands. Downtown also has a number of locally-owned independent stores, selling everything from candy and pottery to designer fashion.
Great Falls has some great micro-breweries: Stein Haus, Mighty Mo Brewing Co., MT Pints and the Broadwater Coffee Brewing Company are all nearby. The city is a bit limited in terms of nightlife, but there are a few bars and live music venues to visit.
You can join the famous River’s Edge Trail in downtown, and wander along the river to see the breathtaking Black Eagle Dam. If nature and the great outdoors are your bread and butter, you will love Great Falls’ most beautiful park, Gibson Park. Here you can enjoy colorful flower beds, a duck pond, playgrounds and a historic cabin.
Best Hotels in Downtown:
($$$) • Best Western Plus Riverfront Hotel and Suites • 3.2 miles from Great Falls International Airport
($$) • Extended Stay America Suites – Great Falls – Missouri River • Close to the Mansfield Theater
($) • Mid Town Motel • 1 mile away from the C. M. Russell Museum
Best Airbnbs in Downtown:
($$$) • NEW! Updated Great Falls House w/ Fire Pit & Yard! • 0.8 miles from Black Eagle Dam
($$) • A Vintage Heart with Modern Appeal • Within walking distance of the C. M. Russell Museum
($) • Cute, Cozy, and Clean Studio • Located a few blocks from historic downtown
2. Southwest Great Falls
Follow the Missouri River down to Southwest Great Falls, one of the city’s most upmarket neighborhoods.
The houses are pretty, the streets filled with greenery, and a family-friendly park is never too far away. Montana Park, Fox Hollow Park and Grande Vista Park are just a few of these lovely open spaces – the Grande Vista Park has a children’s play area, making it a popular spot for local families. The Meadowlark Country Club is the largest of these green spaces, and has a private golf course for members – or those willing to pay an upfront fee.
The area has a few restaurants and shops, and is close to the start of the River’s Edge Trail. Great Falls International Airport is also located in this part of the city – Southwest Great Falls is a great all-rounder in terms of utilities and amenities. You can expect a laid-back and uneventful stay for your time here.
Best Hotels in Southwest Great Falls:
($$$) • Hilton Garden Inn Great Falls • A short drive from the Electric City Waterpark
($$) • Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites – Great Falls • 10 miles away from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
($) • Comfort Inn & Suites Market – Airport • 1.2 miles from Great Falls International Airport
Best Airbnbs in Southwest Great Falls:
($$$) • Castle Accommodations (Private lower level) • 7 minutes from Great Falls International Airport
($$) • Room J Castle Accommodations • Shops, restaurants and entertainment within 5 minutes driving
($) • Quiet room in quiet neighborhood • Very close to Great Falls International Airport
3. Northwest Great Falls
Hop over the Missouri River from downtown and you will arrive at the northwest corner of Great Falls. Like downtown, this area is home to many of the city’s historic buildings; some have survived from the town’s conception in the 19th century.
You will find this a common theme throughout Great Falls, but this is an area filled with parks and greenery. You can test your golfing skills at the beginner-friendly Hickory Swing Golf Course, or travel a little further out to Wadsworth Park and give a few water sports a try. If hiking is more your speed, the northside of the River’s Edge Trail runs all the way to the incredible Black Eagle Dam. Northwest Great Falls is a great location for sporty, outdoorsy types.
But there are alternatives to physical exercise for those less inclined. The Montana Expo Park is a multi-purpose fairground, with a horse racing track, grandstands, and the Four Seasons Arena. You could witness anything from rodeos and concerts to basketball games in this versatile venue.
Northwest Great Falls is a lovely area, with long boulevards lined with trees and many picturesque, historic buildings dotted around the neighborhood. It’s also only a short trip over the bridge to downtown, so the breweries, museums and shops are mostly within walking distance.
Best Hotels in Northwest Great Falls:
($$$) • Staybridge Suites Great Falls, an IHG Hotel • 1.2 miles from Emerald Green Golf Club
($$) • Days Inn by Wyndham Great Falls • 3.7 miles from Great Falls International Airport
($) • Central Motel • A 15 minute walk from the Children’s Museum of Montana
Best Airbnbs in Northwest Great Falls:
($$$) • One Great place to stay • Within walking distance of downtown
($$) • Montana Twin’s Airbnb • Quiet area a short drive from downtown
($) • Shed with a Bed • 2 miles away from the Montana Expo Park & Fairgrounds
4. East Great Falls
The eastern side of the city is probably the most peaceful. The streets are mostly residential – except for the main road through town – and the best parks and trails of Great Falls are right on your doorstep.
You’ll find a quiet serenity in this corner of Great Falls, with many residents choosing to raise their families in the area. The residential streets are interspersed with parks, the largest of which belongs to the Eagle Falls Golf Club. You can access a number of great hiking trails in East Great Falls.
The most famous is, of course, the River’s Edge Trail. Crossing the wooden bridge towards Ryan Dam is a real highlight. Giant Springs State Park is a few miles up the Missouri River, and is a beautiful mix of tumbling waterfalls and huge cottonwood trees. There’s miles of trails to explore – if you venture past Rainbow Dam, it’s more than enough for a full day out.
The popular Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center can also be found in this area. The iconic museum gives you the chance to follow in the footsteps of the great adventurers, and learn fascinating new facts about their epic expedition.
While the streets of East Great Falls are quieter, they’re not completely bereft of life. You can find coffee shops, restaurants and the occasional shop as you wander through the neighborhood.
Best Hotels in East Great Falls:
Best Airbnbs in East Great Falls:
($$$) • BRAND NEW! Bright and cheerful brick home • Five minutes from military base and downtown
($$) • Outdoor Getaway < 3 Miles to Giant Springs Park! • 2.2 miles from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
($) • Cozy and Comfortable, Home away from Home • A few minutes drive from downtown
A quick roundup of the best hotels and Airbnbs in Great Falls:
- Best Budget Hotel in Great Falls – Mid Town Motel
- Best Riverfront Hotel in Great Falls – Staybridge Suites Great Falls, an IHG Hotel
- Best Family Airbnb in Great Falls – BRAND NEW! Bright and cheerful brick home
- Best Airbnb for large groups in Great Falls – NEW! Updated Great Falls House w/ Fire Pit & Yard!