20 Best Things to Do in Helena, MT

Helena, MT skyline
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Helena is a beautiful capital city in Montana.

Situated near the Missouri River, it is an underrated gem in the United States.

Looking at the historical perspective, Helena was recalled as "Queen of the Rockies."

The name was given after considering the gold strike that happened in 1864.

It was a prosperous city, both economically and culturally.

Today, Helena stands out as a gorgeous city with innumerable historical monuments, a 24/7 downtown life, natural retreat spots, and so much more.

It is a heaven for every traveler and consists of every element a wanderer would look for in a perfect place.

Since it has many places to explore and a plethora of things to do, here's a list of the best things to do in Helena, Montana:

Light a Candle at the Cathedral of St. Helena

Cathedral of St. Helena
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The historic hub of Montana, Helena, has a lot of historical places to explore and admire.

The Cathedral of St. Helena is the oldest and finest example of intricate historical monuments in the city.

The architecture is carved out of Geometric Gothic patterns.

It contains specific sacred elements such as stained glass windows, marble altars, and valuable marble statues.

Exterior of Cathedral of St. Helena
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The place appears magical, and the atmosphere is serene.

The interiors are vibrant and beautiful.

You may stay for an hour or so, light a candle at the altar, and take in the quiet.

The Cathedral is a great spot to start your trip around Helena.

Details of Cathedral of St. Helena's ceiling
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Tour the Montana State Capitol

Aerial view of Montana State Capitol
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Helena is the capital of Montana State, so touring the State Capitol building is essential.

The building in itself is a must-visit spot because of its architectural significance.

You may opt for a building tour to learn essential facts about the city.

The architecture and murals are mesmerizing.

Interior of Montana State Capitol
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It is a traditional building that preserves the history of Helena.

You can take your sweet time to explore the interiors.

The property also has a lush green lawn to laze around.

In short, the tour will make for a good plan for your afternoons.

Explore the Trails at Mount Helena City Park

Mount Helena City Park
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Enjoying in nature's arms is never a bad idea, and Mount Helena City Park is ready to take you in its embrace.

It is the perfect spot for your nature retreat plans.

The park also offers alluring views of Helena.

There are almost 12 trails with different routes leading to various destinations; some venture deep into the woods.

This park will offer a tranquil atmosphere amid the bustling city.

The hike is strenuous but makes for quite an experience.

Viewing the city from a high altitude will be a worthy reward for your efforts!

Go Back in Time at the Montana Historical Society Museum

Montana Historical Society Museum
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The Montana Historical Society Museum is a pathway to Montana's older times and lifestyle.

The museum has successfully preserved many historical artifacts, art, and everything associated with Helena's history and rich culture.

The displays date back to the '50s and '60s eras.

You can hire a local tour guide who can offer great insights about the place and tell historical stories.

You will have to spend a couple of hours understanding and seeing the whole site.

It will be a worthwhile trip for all the history buffs and those who want to learn about the bygone era.

Admire Art at the Holter Museum Museum of Art

Holter Museum Museum of Art has fabulous artworks on display from contemporary to fine arts.

While most pieces are the work of local artists, the museum also has a few renowned art pieces.

It'd be a blissful place with an insight into art.

The museum is small and easy to navigate, so you won't have to take out too much time out of your itinerary for your visit.

They also provide refreshments if you spend a lot of time inside.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at The Parrot Confectionery

The Parrot Confectionery is the oldest sweet shop in town.

They serve gooey soft candies and pastries.

They also sell old candies and chocolates that aren't available anywhere else in the city.

Oh, and the shop comes with its own classic soda fountain!

This is a nostalgic place that will take you back in time.

The ambiance is vintage and friendly.

The owner will suggest the best candies for you.

The shop is located in the heart of the city, so it is easily accessible.

Even though it's been around for a long time, its popularity hasn't waned one bit, and the locals visit it often.

Bask in the Beauty of Nature at the Helena National Forest

Helena National Forest
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The Helena National Forest covers a vast area of land and is a natural habitat for the region's unique flora and fauna.

The forest is spectacular and surrounded by mammoth canopies and canyons.

There's also a rivulet that flows through the forest that acts as an oasis for animals.

You can drive right up to the forest and spend a whole day in the vicinity.

Body of water at Helena National Forest
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

There are several guided tours too.

Note that you should not make much noise, as it may scare away the animals.

It is a scenic place to meet nature at its most intimate.

Venture into the forest early in the morning as the atmosphere is pleasant and birds are chirping.

It is an excellent place for a family trip as well!

Cliffs at Helena National Forest
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Snap Instagrammable Pictures at Reeder's Alley

Brick walls along Reeder's Alley
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Located in the downtown region of Helena, Reeder's Alley is an aesthetic place to snap pictures.

Covered by red walls, it emanates vintage energy.

It was initially used as a mining service center but is now used as an office for non-profit organizations.

Convention center of Reeder's Alley
Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

The architecture is preserved well and still looks the same as it was.

The history is evident in the architecture, and the street is quirky and a suitable place for great pictures.

It is an excellent place for old-school souls and those fond of old-fashioned streets.

Visit the area in the evening for a comforting atmosphere so you can click pictures in abundance.

Red brick houses along Reeder's Alley
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Retreat at the Gates of the Mountains

Gates of the Mountain
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Losing yourself in the wilderness always makes for a pleasant experience.

The Gates of the Mountain is a gorgeous place.

It is a great spot to spend your afternoons.

There are a lot of activities that you can do in the area, with the highlight for many being the boat ride.

Scenic view of the Gates of the Mountains
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You can row your own boats and explore the mountains and the swift river.

There are guides to accompany you as well so that you have a good experience.

The surroundings are serene.

Tourists love it here as this place is raw and natural.

You get to see the best of the natural landscape that Helena has to offer right here.

Trees on Gates of the Mountains
Cheri Alguire / Shutterstock.com

Sip Beer at Lewis & Clark Brewing

Are you looking for a delicious dinner with a pint of beer?

You've got Lewis and Clark at your service!

This is the best restaurant in town that brews smooth beers and serves various delectable food.

They have an industrial ambiance that is too unique.

They also have an outdoor patio if you want to sit out in the cold breeze.

Their pizza is the chef's specialty, and people love it.

So make sure you try one of their pizzas along with fine beer.

The ambiance is lively, and visitors often strike a conversation with locals here.

Make sure you reserve one night for dinner plans here!

Have a Rejuvenating Time at Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness

If you want to loosen up your tense muscles, Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness is the best option for you.

Their services are of premium quality, and the waters are enriched with minerals that are good for your skin.

After a day-long excursion, this place will feel comforting and homely.

Their charges are nominal, and you can make a booking for an evening session here.

A session is for an hour or an hour and a half.

It is suitable for every age group.

After the session, you will feel rejuvenated and a lot better.

It is almost therapeutic.

Channel Your Inner Scientist at ExplorationWorks

ExplorationWorks is a science exhibit in Helena.

It is a fun place where you can gain a lot of knowledge.

It is primarily an exhibition showcasing various aspects of science.

With a volunteer's help, you can tour the property and get to know some amazing facts about science.

Acquiring knowledge never goes to waste, and learning innovative facts in a foreign land is undoubtedly productive.

Along with the tour, they also offer different activities and experiments to try for the visitors.

You get hands-on experience while performing distinctive experiments.

It is suitable for kids and adults alike.

You can choose any activity that interests you and complete it under the guidance of the volunteer.

Do not worry about safety; they take precautions before taking up any activity.

Stroll Helena's Downtown Area

Ritalo bar in Downtown Helena
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Downtown Helena is a quaint and historic area.

The streets are vibrant and showcase medieval architecture.

Cute cafes, roadside shops, and antique shops frequently appear on the road.

You can shop local products from here.

The items are largely affordable, and the area has a cheerful vibe.

Bookstore along Helena's Downtown Area
Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

You may stop by a local cafe and try out the state's cuisine.

They serve delicious food with a personal touch.

The architecture is preserved perfectly, and you would love to admire it for hours.

In the evening, there is live music being played in the area.

You will thoroughly enjoy your evening here and will get a glimpse of the local lifestyle of Helena.

Establishments at Helena's Downtown Area
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Gawk at Ceramic Arts at the Archie Bray Foundation

The Archie Bray foundation houses the finest products in ceramic arts.

The sculptures are cautiously curated and are perfect.

You'd be amazed by the craft.

The art is modern with a tint of medieval-style etched to it.

You can walk the area and marvel at those precious artworks.

It is an offbeat destination, so it is less crowded.

It is a hidden gem in the city of Helena.

It would help if you visited it to know more about the rich culture of Helena.

Tour the Original Governor's Mansion

Exterior of Original Governor's Mansion
Parkerdr, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At 304 North Ewing Street, just north of downtown Helena, you'll find Montana's Original Governor's Mansion, a historic home museum.

William Chessman, a wealthy entrepreneur in Helena, was behind the construction of the bright red building in 1888.

The mansion's outside has a gorgeous wraparound porch and some exquisite Queen Anne-style architecture, with its interior showcasing massive fireplaces, fantastic vintage furnishings, and a plethora of antiques.

There is a strong focus on the wealthy's opulent lifestyle during this period.

Details of Original Governor's Mansion
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In 1913, the state of Montana took over this brick home as the official residence of its first governor.

The well-preserved brick home and its attractive period rooms have become a famous tourist destination after nearly half a century as the residence of the state's governors.

This house has been the residence of nine Montana governors and their families.

Take a look around and be amazed by the luxury of this opulent estate.

Go Birdwatching at Last Chance Ranch

Last Chance Ranch is a secluded sanctuary located on 80 acres of pristine wilderness.

You may go birdwatching, take pictures, or trek along the historic 1870 route, to name a few options.

Experience breathtaking vistas of the Helena National Forest and its beautiful beaver ponds on this hike in Helena.

You will be transported back in time on horse-drawn carts to the Moose Mountain Cabin for the Wagon ride dinner events.

Around the campfire, listen to live western music as you enjoy a gourmet dinner.

The lodge offers rental rooms with all the latest conveniences.

Founder of the Great Northern Town Center, Alan Nicholson, has a passion for carousels.

His idea of what Helena's downtown might look like included a carousel for residents and visitors to ride on.

In 2002, he realized his lifelong desire and built the Great Northern Carousel.

A famous Walt Disney World carver carved 37 creatures for this masterpiece, along with 14 Helena beautiful rounded boards and stained glass art.

The National Carousel Association has declared it one of the world's greatest carousels.

Bighorn sheep, cutthroat trout, buffalo, grizzly bears, otter bobcats, and mountain goats are just a few of the creatures you may ride on here.

After a thrilling ride, reward yourself with some of Montana's best ice cream!

Catch a Game at Kindrick Legion Field

The Helena Brewers, a minor league baseball team, call Kindrick Legion Field home.

The stadium was constructed in 1932 and can accommodate 2,100 spectators.

Previously known as Legion Park and then Memorial Park Field, Kindrick Legion Field was renamed in honor of veteran American Legion fan Ace Kindrick in the 1970s.

Memorial Park, located to the west of the park, is an excellent place for families to spend time together.

The field also provides a stunning vista with Mount Helena as a background.

The stadium's 2,100 field seats provide an excellent perspective for everyone at an angle.

You can also purchase beer and wine from the concession stand in the stadium's souvenir store, full of Helena-themed caps, t-shirts, and sweatshirts.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Skiing at Great Divide

Skiing in the snow is a dream for almost all of us.

It is an exciting activity to take up.

It is an excellent place for family outings as well.

Great Divide offers long stretches for skiing—and equipment for it, too.

The terrain is smooth and available for snowboarding.

The area is vast, so you can ski for as far and as long as you want.

Even kids enjoy it a lot.

If you do not know how to ski, there are instructors on the spot who will teach you the basics.

You will have the time of your life here.

Final Thoughts

Helena, Montana is the perfect setting for your next vacation since it wonderfully captures the essence of the west.

Helena is a one-stop shop for exploring art, history, and the great outdoors, all within a single day's drive.

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