At the head of Lewis and Clark County sits Helena— a popular Montana town that was founded at the heights of the Montana Gold Rush. There are hundreds of things to do and see, but few match up to the history museums that are rife with historic facts, storytelling tour guides, and original antiques.
Over the course of 24 years, miners and prospectors discovered over 3 billion dollars in gold and other treasured gemstones. While Helena is enough of an attraction town, the city serves as a halfway point for travelers to Yellowstone National Park or Glacier National Park. The architecture in Helena is gorgeous and historic, with nods to Queen Anne décor.
There are over 116 restaurants in Helena, with infusions of American, Old Southern, Creole, and fresh Seafood cuisines
Bad Betty BBQ is one of the most popular restaurant options in Helena. Situated on Front Street, the eatery serves up lunch and dinner, with homemade dishes and northwestern charms. The sauces are house-made and delicious, the customer service is superb, and the interior décor is both comfortable and casual.
Menu-wise, some of the best-loved meal options include homemade coleslaw and corn bread, tri-tip sandwiches, BBQ pulled pork, and the 'three meat sampler platter'. Homemade banana pudding is a must-have here.
Looking for magnifico Italian Cuisine?
Head over to Lucca's at 56 N. Last Chance Gulch and try something different than spaghetti. Though it's quite good, try the Gnocchi Alla Campagna. It's served on a bed of spinach and the scrumptious potato dumpling is sauteed with pine nuts, grape tomatoes, and asparagus. Or, go for the Seared Scallops and White Shrimp served with delicate angel hair pasta. It's paired with Cremini mushrooms bathed in a light citrus cream sauce and zucchini. You'll also find Veal Scallopini, Coho Salmon, Lamb, Steak, and other great entrees on the menu.
Perhaps you prefer Mediterranean or Greek food?
Ranked in the top five restaurants in Helena, visit the Mediterranean Grill at 42 S. Park Avenue. If you enjoy sampling food, spring for the Antipasto Misso. This unique dish includes a variety of fresh grilled veggies and artichokes accentuated by Sicilian Capanata made with eggplant, capers, olives, pine nuts and tomato relish. Or, try the regional dish 'Izmir Kofte', named after Turkey's third largest city. Baked in a wood stone oven, the entree is made with seasoned meatballs, tomatoes, peppers— both red and green, red onions, and are served with baby red potatoes. If you typically go for Baklava for dessert, try the Kunefe instead. Another Turkish dish and served hot, this tasty treat is masterfully made with phyllo pastry that is shredded. The dessert also contains walnuts, butter, kasseri and marscapone cheese, pistachios, and is drizzled with honey lemon syrup.
Other notable best Helena restaurants include Steve's Cafe, On Broadway, Brewhouse Pub and Grill, and Silver Star Steak Company. Try several while you're here!
There are many fun things to do in Helena!
For nature lovers to Helena, Spring Meadow Lake State Park on Country Club Avenue is a well-loved outdoor adventure destination. There are 61 acres of nature trails, both nature-made and man-made lakes and ponds, fishing holes, hiking paths, and lakeside beaches.
Families love to bring their children to swim here in the summertime, and wintertime brings ice fishermen to the frozen-over swimming holes. The park is robust with natural beauty, from mountain ranges and grassy hillsides, to cliffs, small canyons, and flower-filled valleys. There are trails galore for dog walkers, hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclers.
The Holter Museum of Art is a great place for art lovers to converge for an afternoon of local artisans and arts scenes. The museum showcases loads of northwestern artworks from local Helena artists. While some of the exhibits are permanent tributes to Helena artisans, several exhibits change with the seasons, offering locals a chance to showcase their artworks. Or, if you want to create and purchase your own artwork, take a trip to Jmacs Pottery. The local shop provides artist hopefuls with lots of family-friendly fun in the form of handcrafted dinnerware and DIY gifts.
For history buffs, the Cathedral of Saint Helena is a Roman Catholic church for the Diocese of Helena. The architecture is Gothic Revival from 1908, with fantastic restorations from the last few decades. There are regular church services on a weekly schedule, with a live choir for holiday performances. You can take a tour of the church on your own. Or, ask a local for a tour through the cathedral, as many of the natives are knowledgeable in local history. Be sure to admire the early 20th-century stained-glass windows.
There are hundreds of reasons to stay in Helena for a few nights. Many of the top-ranked hotels are within the Helena city limits, with a few on the outskirts nearer to the mountains.
Check out one of the best hotels in Helena!
The Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel
The Best Western Premier Helena Great Northern Hotel has been top-voted as one of the best hotels in Helena, Montana. Family-friendly, and actually ranked as a romantic hotel option for newlyweds and honeymooners, this hotel provides homey, comfy accommodations that meet travelers’ needs. Each room is well-equipped with essentials, like bathroom toiletries, fluffed and clean towels, and fresh linens.
Other accommodations include plump king-size or queen-size beds in spacious one to two-bedroom suites, an on-site restaurant and lounge area, a tennis court, swimming pool, and hot tub, and free daily breakfasts. Guests also have access to shuttle bus services, airport transportation services, self-serve laundry facilities, a beautiful banquet room, room services, and a business center with meeting and conference rooms. Take a walk to Carousel Way for a stroll on historic sidewalks and a ride on the Great Northern Carousel.
Baymont Inn & Suites
Baymont Inn & Suites is high-ranked the fourth best hotel in Helena out of 21 hotels. Located on North Fee Street, the hotel presents a sophisticated atmosphere that older couples and business professionals love. Prices are reasonable year-round, customer service is both helpful and courteous, and the rooms are well-decorated, clean, and comfortably furnished.
Guests love the offerings of fresh-baked cookies and fresh-brewed coffee at check-in. Other amenities include free daily breakfasts of hot and cold breakfast favorites, an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub, free high-speed internet, and a well-equipped fitness center.
Hungry? Catch a shuttle service to Melaque Mexican Restaurant for happy hour margaritas with an appetizer of homemade salsa and chips.
La Quinta Inn & Suites
La Quinta Inn & Suites on North Washington Street is a Helena must-stay with high rankings from past guests via both TripAdvisor and Google. Some of the highlighted amenities for this hotel include free parking for guests, free daily breakfasts, a fitness center, free high-speed internet, an outdoor swimming pool, and dry-cleaning services. There is also a business center for business professionals, with conference facilities and meeting rooms for corporate events. Take a 20-minute drive to the Canyon Ferry Reservoir for beautiful views of Helena’s understated natural sceneries. Launch a boat from the seaside, camp out next to the Missouri River, and hike the nature trails.
Comfort Suites - Airport
Known for fresh-baked cookies, knowledgeable and polite staff, and clean, comfortable, well-furnished rooms, Comfort Suites is a pleasant place to stay for a weekend of exploration in Helena. Notable accommodations include a fitness center with modern workout equipment, free shuttle bus services, free high-speed wireless internet, an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub, a business center with internet access and conference facilities, and free continental breakfasts with grab-and-go favorites.
Entertainment-wise, you should check out the Montana Historical Society Museum for educational walk-through exhibits on western artworks, Native Americans, and Montana histories.
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