5 Summer Activities in Helena, MT That Will be Fun for the Whole Family
Updated: May 18, 2018
Storytelling by Whitney Mitchell
Believe it or not, one of these days snow won’t be in the extended forecast and instead we’ll be looking at sunshine and temps crawling up to the 70’s and 80’s. Snow storms in mid-April will be nothing but a distant memory, but for now I think we can all agree that cabin fever is setting in and some day dreaming is in order.
Summertime in Helena is a beautiful time of year: camping in the mountains, water sports on any of the three nearby lakes, or spending a day in town visiting the breweries and local shops. There's a variety of fun things to do in Helena, MT, including activities for all tastes and interests.
Walking Mall Shops Located in Downtown Helena and Last Chance Gulch, the Walking Mall is home to custom art galleries, locally owned clothing boutiques, unique gifts shops, dining and micro-breweries, wine bars, and coffee shops. It’s a pedestrian friendly area to spend an afternoon on a park bench, sipping on an iced latte, or nibbling on gourmet candies from The Parrott. As for the history of the area, the Walking Mall isn’t located far from where four gold miners, who were on their way home and down on their luck, decided to try their hands one more time and struck gold. Eventually Last Chance Gulch become the second biggest placer gold deposit in Montana, producing nearly $19 million worth of gold in just four years.
Gates of the Mountains Tour A short 20 miles northwest of Helena, the Gates of the Mountains is an optical illusion nestled in a Missouri River canyon. Riverboat tours have been going on in this area for 125 years and is currently owned and operated by Gates of the Mountains Inc., whose goal is to protect, educate, and allow visitors to see the same natural rock formations Meriwether Lewis documented 200+ years ago. Tour goers are treated to engaging tour guides, who point out wildlife, limestone cliffs looming 1,000 feet overhead, and ancient Native American pictographs.
Fun fact: Montana Governor Steve Bullock was a guide for the Gates of the Mountains over 25 years ago during his college summer breaks. He still gives tours for very special occasions.
Mount Helena City Park Although you won’t find any playground equipment at this city park, with 620 acres to explore it won’t take long until you forget about that. At the heart of the park is Mount Helena, which has a summit 5,468 feet above sea level. There are six trails leading to the top, some of which connect to Helena National Forest. There’s also a cave nicknamed "Devil's Kitchen", and a big letter "H" on the side of the mountain overlooking the city that you’ll pass by while on a few of the trails. The park is free of admission and a cool place to spend a hot summer afternoon.
Last Chance Tour Train Whether you’ve lived in Helena for years, or you’re here on vacation, the Last Chance Tour Train & Trolley is a wonderful way to learn about Helena’s rich history. Step aboard open-air trains, or a climate-controlled trolley and roll through the historical mansion district, past the Cathedral of St. Helena, see the Montana governor’s home, and much more. Not only are you taking in beautiful views of the city and neighborhoods, you’re also being entertained by a tour guide who will expertly detail the lives of those walking these streets more than a hundred years ago.
Helena Farmer’s Market Starting the last weekend of April and ending the Saturday before Christmas, Helena’s Farmer’s Market is the longest running farmer’s market in Montana. The Helena Farmer’s Market is located on Fuller Avenue, in Downtown Helena, between Neil Avenue and Lawrence Street from April to November, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. If you go, you can expect to see only vendors providing Montana agricultural products and hand crafted items locally produced or manufactured.
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