Winner of Outside Magazine's 2016 "Best Towns" poll, Montana's most populous city sits along the Yellowstone River between the Rockies and the prairie, charming visitors with big views, ambitious eateries, and city comforts.
Outdoor gear and fashion seem to stretch for miles at Scheels, a new megastore with a 65-foot indoor Ferris wheel, a 16,000-gallon saltwater tropical fish tank, and two bowling lanes.
With bison from Bozeman, lamb from Helena, and produce from the plains, chef Travis Stimpson serves Montana flavors at Local Kitchen and Bar, which opened in fall 2015. Creamy bison sausage hash sweetened with candied red peppers makes an especially satisfying finish to a chilly day.
At Zimmerman Park, hiking trails crisscross amid boulders, pines, and yucas atop sandstone cliffs. On a clear day, the view stretches past the Yellowstone Valley to three mountain ranges: the Beartooths, Pryors, and Bighorns.