Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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Teacher perks. Honestly, teaching is the absolute best and as much as I love every single day filled with the best students, co-workers, and teaching my favorite subjects, nothing is better than spring semester when every six weeks of work is met with a week of play! Hello February break! J and I have spent the last few years embarking on trips of a lifetime over February break and this year was no different. The day after Valentine’s day, J and I packed the bags, dropped off the pups and headed to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson to embark on the ultimate winter vacation! Bringing you my favorite travel guide yet at gracefulandfree, your ultimate long weekend – a winter in Bozeman!
Flights to Bozeman can be limited in winter, with flights to Bozeman typically falling on Saturdays and flights home either Wednesday or Friday. Fortunately, as of more recently, more and more flights to Bozeman from Atlanta are becoming more and more popular and in fact you can fly pretty cheap one-stop flights via Frontier. We flew out Saturday afternoon and after a quick 3-hour flight where I finally caught up on Frozen II (so good by the way!) we easily obtained a Lyft and rode the quick twenty minute drive to downtown Bozeman.
While we usually prepare significantly before any of our trips, we were much more care-free in regards to our trip preparations for Bozeman! Originally, we planned to stay in Bozeman all four nights and just finding transportation to Big Sky and Yellowstone, but a couple of weeks prior to our trip, we found a great deal in Big Sky and altered our accommodations! And I am SO glad we did! If you are planning any trip to Bozeman, absolutely be sure to add a couple of nights in Big Sky, especially if Yellowstone is on your list. It will make things SO much easier! More on the logistics and transportation tips later (another post coming full of all the details!)
If you are heading to Bozeman, and I strongly recommend that you do because it is AMAZING and you will love it, I also strongly recommend that you stay at the Lark. This hotel is located in a prime location, directly in the heart of downtown, within walking distance to the major eats and hot spots within Bozeman. Decorated in style, with rooms that are trendy and chic, with a warm cozy outdoor fire place, unlimited coffee and tea in the lobby 24 hours a day, and big & comfy king size beds. This place is a Montana traveler’s dream!
We actually only stayed at the Lark one night, we spent our second night at another hotel where we were completely unimpressed! J and I both discussed in depth on our stay in Bozeman how much we had wished we were staying at the Lark the whole time as it was seriously that good! So please, take my word of advice and stay at the Lark, plus it is definitely in the affordable price range!
Additionally, other pretty sweet kicks the Lark has include an online coffee roaster (one of Montana’s best coffee brewers) Treeline Coffee. Definitely try the seasonal gingerbread latte. We spent the sweetest and slowest morning sipping coffee, reading the New York Times and watching snow fall all from the comfort of this sweet cafe. Plus, Treeline Coffee has the sweetest little gifts, we brought home the perfect Yellowstone coffee table book and I am so happy to have a piece of our trip home with us!
Bozeman is known for fantastic EATS. From brunch, to lunch, and dinner, rest assured, you will have pretty tasty meals while traveling to Bozeman. Therefore, I encourage you to split meals when you can to help save more room in your stomach for all the fantastic options!
Must-have breakfast in Bozeman, JAM. JAM, the top-rated brunch joint in Bozeman is absolutely delicious, open from 7AM – 3:30AM perfect for both the early risers or the late-morning seekers! The menu is legit, and so are there mimosas. Order the mimosa with elderberry ~ so, SO good! J and I both ordered the huevos racheros and they were delicious! Side note, does anyone else end up ordering the same thing as their honey at restaurants, lol, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, it always happens! But, yes, JAM is a must!
One of my personal favorite things about travel is the ability to enjoy local cuisine and fresh, locally sourced foods. Backcountry Burger Bar serves amazing appetizers, fantastic draft pours, and the best burgers with Montana-raised beef or bison.
Must-have dinner in Bozeman, Blackbird. Blackbird is a romantic Italian pizzeria, full of an extensive wine list, delicate pizzas, and scrumptious pasta dishes. Definitely ask the waiter for help in interrupting the menu to not miss out on the delicious pasta dishes, I had a lasagna that was THAT good! We made reservations for 9 on our first night there, but ended up arriving an hour early (long travel day, plus very hungry!) and they were able to seat us right away!
A local favorite, Dave’s Sushi is off of Main Street, in the heart of downtown Bozeman, serving the city’s greatest sushi! Absolutely delicious and cozy. Dave’s was absolutely packed! Fortunately, we were able to call ahead and avoided a lengthy wait and enjoyed the best sushi!
This would not be a Gracefulandfree Travel Guide without sharing all the best places to grab a drink in Bozeman. Bozeman is known throughout the United States as a beer lover’s haven and for good reason! And while Bozeman is not known for the iconic New England style hops that J and I love the most, we were definitely impressed with the local favorites.
One of Bozeman’s newest breweries to open on directly on Main Street, Union Hall is a great place to enjoy a drink and appetizer. We stumbled upon it, as it is located directly across the street from the Lark, and managed to order a drink minutes before the bar closed. A great aesthetic and a decent beer selection, we were thoroughly impressed with our stop at Union Hall.
MAP Brewery, one of Montana’s absolute finest establishments in the beer scene, MAP has a view unlike anything else. Situated in front of snowy mountains, the views to see while enjoying the brews at MAP are unlike anything in this country! A fabulous food menu, including tasty poutine, as well as a stellar draft beer list, we absolutely loved our time in this rustic, winter-lodge feel brewery! Did I mention the views are outstanding?! Definitely worth a visit on your Ultimate Long Weekend, winter getaway to Bozeman, Montana.
Kombucha Bar. Anyone else a big kombucha fan, or is it just me!? I LOVE Kombucha. And while there are so many different fun kombucha bars around the country, we decided to make it a gracefulandfree first and visit our first hard kombucha bar in Bozeman and man it was delicious! Not to mention we walked here, in the middle of a crazy, snowy winter, which made the experience even more fun!
The last Bozeman drink hub that I am going to rave about is this sweet and unexpected find we discovered while looking for a post-dinner drink! Shine Beer Sanctuary is a super fun place to hang out and enjoy a delicious pour from their pretty impressive tap selection. With many different varieties as well, Shine is a lovely place to spend some time in Bozeman.
Now that we have all the food and drinks out of the way, let us dive into the real MVPs of Bozeman, the absolute must-dos while visiting this traveler’s oasis! Bozeman is truly unlike any other city we have visited before. We had SO much fun exploring the city covered in snow and already cannot wait to book another trip to explore the city in a different season! However, when you do find yourself in Bozeman in Winter, here are the essentials you must do!
A quick fifteen minute Lyft ride from the heart of downtown, Bozeman Hot Springs is a spa/gym like facility featuring pools filled with Bozeman’s own mineral, rich water. Real quick disclaimer, there are so many other cool and rustic hot springs that are fully in nature around Bozeman, most which are over an hour drive away, if we had rented our own car we would have definitely explored more natural hot springs, however for times sack and for the purpose of my Albion Fit collaboration, Bozeman Hot Springs worked for us. (And was still a lovely way to enjoy nature’s elements!). However, if you want the more rustic experience, here is a link to natural hot springs around Bozeman!
A little less than an hour away distance from Bozeman sits the winter wonder’s heaven, Big Sky! This ski city is close to the big Montana sky and holds some of the country’s absolute best ski slopes! Whether you are a beginner or expert skier, Big Sky is a place for you! Big Sky is a quick bus ride or expensive Lyft ride away from Bozeman, but the drive is one that will stun you with beauty!
We stayed at the gorgeous Wilson Hotel, which is fairly new in Big Sky’s town center. This Residence Inn property is absolutely gorgeous and sits in the middle of complete mountain-capped views on all sides. Visiting in winter, we were able to enjoy complete snow-covered sceneries that truly were breath-taking. With an outdoor heated pool + hot tub, impressive gym, and game center, as well as fabulous dining options nearby, I strongly, strongly recommend that you stay at The Wilson while you visit Big Sky. I cannot explain enough how amazing our experience at the Wilson was!
Just a quick fifteen minute drive on the hotel shuttle from the Wilson are the slopes at the Big Sky resort. J and I had been “skiing” once before in Stowe, Vermont (that was quite an experience if I do say) and we really did not know what to expect at Big Sky other than hearing over and over again from the local Bozites how amazing Big Sky was. Well, let me just tell you, Big Sky is the best! The views are unlike anything I have ever seen before. Riding the chair lift up to the slopes took us before away with overwhelming peace and beauty! And the slopes were so open, stunningly gorgeous (and equally terrifying for this moderately conservative skier)
But, skiing at Big Sky was incredible. And despite tumbling and splitting a hole in my ski pants, we had the absolute best time. Additionally, the Big Sky resort is beautiful and has so many fun options for dining. We enjoyed a mid-ski break at Yeti’s Dogs and enjoyed a tasty hot dog (all while sitting at an outdoor picnic table in the pouring snow!) Memories, though!
For those who are making more of a long weekend to Bozeman and Big Sky, I strongly encourage you to purchase the beginner package as this is a great way to save money and still experience the glory and wonder of Big Sky!
If you only take one piece of advice or one recommendation from this entire devoted blog post, please, please, PLEASE follow me here! You must go snowmobiling in Yellowstone. You absolutely have to. This day is one of my most favorite days of my entire life! Yes, that good! We took a charter bus with Karst Stage carriages to Yellowstone on our last full day in Montana. We arrived at Two Top Snowmobiles (a fantastic company by the way) and checked in and were fitted for our winter weather gear! *You can rent winter weather gear as part of your package to help ensure that you are the most properly dressed for this (VERY COLD) excursion!
Our snowmobile tour began at 9AM and we left (on snowmobiles and our group of 10 others) and embarked on the greatest adventure of our life! Driving and riding (we rented a double, Justin drove the first part of the day, and I took control of the reigns the last few hours and might I add, driving a snowmobile is SO MUCH FUN!!! There is nothing quite like feeling the cold air pierce your insides as you drive through literally heaven!
There is so much beauty everywhere in Yellowstone. From rivers, waterfalls, snow-covered views as far as the eye can seen, and so many bison! It was incredible being so close to such a majestic animal. Truly magnificent and magical this whole day was! Our tour included a stop for lunch near Old Faithful and another once-in a lifetime, American tradition, watching the beloved geyser erupt! And if you want to see it yourself, the video footage from our experience is live on the Montana story highlights on my Instagram. This experience was incredible, I strongly, strongly encourage you to see Yellowstone National Park this way as it was the absolute best!
Honestly, J and I wish we had a few more days for this entire trip. We would have loved another full day to explore Bozeman and another full day to explore the area within Big Sky! While we were in Big Sky, though, we were impressed with the food options all within the Town Center. Located directly next to the Wilson is Roxy’s Market (a local grocery store full of fun finds), Beehive Basin Brewery, a local brewery to Big Sky that is also located directly next to the Wilson.
Also located within walking distance from the Wilson are so many different restaurants, cocktail bars, wine bars and shops! We enjoyed take-out from Ousel & Spur Pizza Co. their Hawaiian pizza is delicious! We also would have loved to been able to dine at the nearby and highly-rated Mexican restaurant, Alberto’s.
Also inside the Wilson is the Copper, a Montana whiskey bar with amazing happy hour specials and delicious eats. We stayed in and enjoyed dinner here our last night in Montana and we were so glad that we did! Such a gem, and located directly inside the Wilson!
Our getaway to Big Sky ended with the most delicious coffee and waffle in the sweetest and coziest coffee + breakfast shop, Toast. Less than a five minute walk from The Wilson, Toast is the place to enjoy a slow cup of coffee, all while waiting to get your day started. The perfect way to end our ultimate long weekend in Bozeman.
Well friends, that is it and a lot. If you made it all the way to this point, thank you so much for reading my words and stories. I only hope that this post encourages you to take a trip and enjoy time well spent with your favorite people. J and I always say, we want to enjoy our moments now, travel now, because the future is never certain! I hope you find yourself spending a long, winter weekend in Bozeman soon and I would love to hear about your adventures and your travels in the comments below! Did you go to Bozeman, what did YOU enjoy?! Or where are you favorite travel destinations. Leave in comments below, I can’t wait to respond! 🙂
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