Great Falls (Montana)
Great Falls is a city in central Montana. It has a population of approximately 60,000 people.
Great Falls International Airport (IATA: GTF) has non-stop service on Alaska Airlines to Helena and Seattle, Allegiant Air to Las Vegas and Phoenix, Delta to Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, and United to Denver. Frontier Airlines has seasonal service to Denver.
Interstate 15 goes through the outskirts of Great Falls. Either the Central Ave. exit or the 10th Ave. S exit will go to the center of the city. The road from Helena to Great Falls, hugging the long curves of the Missouri river, is one of the finest stretches of interstate in the country.
There is an Amtrak station located approximately 90 miles north of Great Falls in the small town of Shelby. The Empire Builder, which runs from Seattle to Chicago makes stops daily. There are rental cars available near the station.
Montana is huge, keep in mind that most residents think nothing of driving in what most of the world consider long distances, so with that in mind like most of Montana, you're going to need a car. Although Great Falls does have a bus system, it's limited to the city proper. Another option for seeing the area is by bicycle. In an area with so many sparsely traveled roads, there is plenty to be seen on a road bike. Throughout most of the year the "Trolley Lady" give sightseeing tours of Great Falls. Airport Shuttle Express of Calgary Canada offers year-round charter van service between Great Falls and Calgary, Banff & Lake Louise.
Great Falls Transit (+1 406-727-0382) operates bus service in Great Falls. Fare is $1.00. Buy a day pass for $4 for unlimited rides. A pass good for 11 rides is $10. Buy passes from the bus driver or the transit office at 3905 North Star Blvd.
- Lewis and Clark National Interpretive Center. The explorers had unexpected difficulty portaging the falls here.
- Giant Springs State Park, ☎ +1 406 454-5840. One of the largest naturally occurring springs in the world. Located on the banks of the Missouri River adjacent to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Giant Springs State Park is a popular local destination, especially in the hot summer months. Walk the river paths along the shore of the Missouri to a superb view of Rainbow Dam. Visit the fish hatchery and feed the trout and watch the feeding frenzy that ensues as soon as the food hits the water. While you're there, don't forget to slake that thirst with a bottle of the spring water itself.
- Ryan Dam. Visit Ryan Dam and witness the spectacle of a hydro-electric dam. Hike the trails for alternating beautiful views. Lounge in the shady park and enjoy a picnic with the family. Fully upkept facilities available for parties or gatherings. Keep an eye out for wildlife, there has even been a bear spotted roaming the grounds recently.
There are also two Albertsons grocery store locations.
- Holiday Village Mall, 10th Avenue South.
You can find pretty much any fast food places/chains (McDonalds, Burger King, Applebees, etc...) you're looking either for on 10th Ave South, the Northwest Bypass, or Smelter Ave. The exit signs on I-15 will indicate which exit you should take if that's what you're looking for.
For those looking for something different than the same old fare here are a few local restaurant suggestions:
- Bar S, 5100 North Star Blvd, ☎ +1 406 761-9550. Simple decor, mind-blowing prime rib. If you're lucky, the waitress will show you a picture of the 6'6" gentleman who orders the "Double Bar-S cut," Which if the picture tells the story, stands about four full inches tall. $20-50.
- Big Mouth BBQ, 1008 20th St SE. Easily the best BBQ in town. All of the meat is Pit Smoked and comes out fall off the bone tender and incredibly flavorful. Several choices of sauce that should suit everyone in your party. You have your standard fare, ribs, brisquette, chicken, sausage, etc... But you could also try one of Big Mouth's specialty items Try the Cowboy Cocktail: pulled pork, beans, coleslaw and sauce in a cup. Feeling daring? Take one of the Big Mouth Challenges. Could you finish the Ultimate Chicken Fried Steak Samich? Three Chicken Fried Steaks with Gravy sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches accompanied by a pound of Chilli Cheese Fries. How about a turbo charged Cowboy Cocktail? Four pounds of Pulled Pork, brisquette, chicken, and sausage over backed beans, topped with potato salad, cole slaw, and six cherry peppers. Highly recommended by locals and guests alike.
- Eddie's Supper Club, 3725 2nd Ave. N., ☎ +1 406-453-1616. Eddies is a coffeeshop and steakhouse established in 1944 and not redecorated since. The place has fabulous steaks and cheap liquor. A great place to go for an old time steakhouse experience.
- Taco Treat/Amigo Lounge, 1200 7th Street S. A good Mexican place if you're looking for that option in Great Falls. Keep in mind you're in Montana, so if you're looking for fully authentic Mexican food, you might want to wait until you get home. What you will get is outsanding American syle Mexican food with a local twist. The food is satisfying, the portions large, and the prices good. What more could you ask for?
- The MacKenzie River Pizza Company. A franchise restaurant with locations all around Montana. The Great Falls location is next to the Missouri River, and it's very child-friendly. Specializes in gourmet pizzas, but does have more conventional options for those with unadventrous pallets or small children. Be wanrned, this restaurant is extremely popular and gets crowded quickly most every night. So if it looks packed, it is, but there's a reason for that. Don't worry about a wait, service is quick and friendly and you shouldn't have to wait that long to be seated.
- Borries, 1800 Smelter Ave NE, Black Eagle, MT 59414, ☎ +1 406 761-0300. Located in the adjoining town of Black Eagle, Borries has been a Great Falls Establishment since 1938. Probably the best Italian food in town, although there aren't all that many options on the menu Italian wise. Fantastic steaks, Tuesday is Prime Rib Night (Get an early reservation or it will be gone), and quite arguably some of the best Minestrone in existence. A local favorite, definitely one of the higher end restaurants in Great Falls, so be prepared, it gets crowded and service can be a bit slow on especially busy nights. Don't let that scare you away, absolutely fantastic food. $$.
- Montana Sub Shop, 701 9TH St S (Take the 10th Ave South Exit, follow 10th Ave South to 9th St S, make a left onto 9th St S, Montana Sub Shop is three Blocks down on the right.), ☎ +1 406 454-0651. This little locally-owned sandwich shop is known for its large portions, high-quality ingredients, and just plain old awesome subs. Quick, friendly service even when it's busy; there isn't a large dining area so it can get a little crowded. Even if you're just passing through Great Falls around lunch time, definitely one of your best healthy grab and go options. $.
- Cattleman's Cut Supper Club, 388 Vaughn S Frontage Rd (about 8 miles north of Great Falls), ☎ +1 406 452-0702. Cattleman's cut is pretty unapologetic for what it is. As you pull into the gravel parking lot full of pick up trucks and approach a building that looks more like a prefabricated barn as opposed to what it is, a local favorite and one of the best restaurants in the city, you may be wondering what you're getting yourself into. Take a second and remind yourself that you're in Great Falls, Montana. Cattleman's Cut is a restaurant where you go for a good steak. An extensive selection of cuts of beef, all cooked to order, a fairly extensive selection of seafood (remember the being in Great Falls Montana thing, though), and probably the best salad bar in the city await you. Call ahead, it really doesn't matter what day of the week it is, this place gets packed.
- Howard's Pizza, multiple locations in Great falls. Specializes in thin-crust pizza. A local favorite.
As is common with most cities in Montana, Montanans love to whet their whistles after a long hard day of work, if you're not within walking distance of a bar in Great Falls you're probably not within the city limits. If you're looking to get your drink on you have pretty wide assortment of options. From dance clubs to hole in the wall dive bars there is something to suit almost anyone's taste, heck most of the gas stations in Great Falls have Casinos attached to them for your drinking/gambling pleasure while you fill'er up.
Great Falls is not that populous, but it is fairly spread out, so depending on which part of the city you're in you're probably close to one of the main drags and it's plethora of drinking venues. 10th Ave South has the most bars by a long shot, it is the main street in the city and stretches on for about 8 Miles with dry stretches few and far between. You'll also find plenty of bars on Central Avenue and it's surrounding streets in the downtown area of Great Falls. Smelter Avenue/The Northwest Bypass possesses many options for those visiting the Northern portion of Great Falls. For those located out towards Malmstrom Air Force Base 57th St, River Road, and the Eastern End of 10th Avenue South provide your best options to find some libations with friends. Suffice it to say, no matter where you are in Great Falls a frosty cold one is never far away.
- Club Cigar. Although not as famous as the Sip N Dip lounge, Club Cigar is one of the best bars in Great Falls. Friendly people, Karaoke on Wednesday nights, Open Mic night on Tuesday, and Pabst on tap. You can count on Club Cigar to be crowded almost every night of the week.
- Sip n Dip. World Famous. Must-do stop at the Tiki-themed bar in downtown Great Falls located in the O'Haire Motor Inn. Get a fish bowl, check out the Mermaid, and designate a driver!
- Tap House Lounge. Great downtown stop for drink. Ice cold beer. Nice ice rail!
- Steinhaus, 709 1st Avenue North, ☎ +1 406 727-8183. Newly remodeled bar located in Downtown Great Falls, Fireplace, Pool tables, and now 21 different micro-brews on tap. $.
- The Sting Sports Bar, 1121 5th Street South, ☎ +1 406 727-7972. Voted the 2010 Best Bar in Great Falls, the Sting is also one of the largest sports bars in town. Located just off of 10th Avenue South, the Sting is known for their large selection beers, excellent pizza, and the Sting Beer Gardens, an outdoor concert venue/beer garden open during the summer months, and is also available for rental to the public to host events, weather permitting. Friendly staff that never lets you empty your mug unless you're done for the night.
- Ryan's Station, 721 6th Street Southwest, ☎ +1 406 761-0057. Known more for it's food than it's night life, Ryan's Station is a good place to grab something tasty along with getting a few cold ones with friends. Located just off of 10th Avenue South, Ryan's Station is one of the more upscale establishments in Great Falls. Don't forget to try the Cuban Sandwich!
- The Other Place, 1200 9th Street South, ☎ +1 406 761-1694. Known affectionately to the locals as the "OP", the Other Place is located just off of 10th Avenue South next to the Holiday Village Mall. The Other Place has a large selection of domestic and micro brews and gets pretty crowded on the weekends.
- The It'll Do, 1807 3rd Street Northwest, ☎ +1 406 727-0388. Fun little bar with pool, shuffle board, and great prices on drinks. Fun, friendly, and attentive staff. Located in the soon to be demolished remnants of the West Gate Mall, the It'll Do will likely be relocated in the near future, so go while it's still open!
- The Halftime Sports Bar, 1101 Northwest Byp, ☎ +1 406 727-8053. The Halftime is the largest Sports Bar in Great Falls. Located on the Northwest Bypass near the edge of the city, the Halftime is the place to be if you're looking to grab a drink and watch the game in good company. Also serves tradition pub fare.
- The Beacon Ice House, 1349 13th Avenue Southwest, ☎ +1 406 727-1449. Out of the way, but worth the trouble of finding. Has theme nights most nights of the week with a live DJ, pool, firendly staff, and cheap booze.
- The Hi-Ho Tavern, 2600 10th Avenue South, ☎ +1 406 761-6183. Popular with the college crowd, mostly due to it's close proximity to two of the universities located in Great Falls. Classified as a hole in the wall, the Hi-Ho has pool, internet juke box, and an eclectic mix of micro brews and college affordable domestics on tap. Fun place to go, listen to some good music and challenge new friends to pool.
- The Classice 50's Card Room and Casino, 1800 14th Street Southwest, ☎ +1 406 453-0136. Whether you feel like playing pool or trying your hand at some Texas-Hold-Em, the Classic 50's has a little bit of something for everyone. It also has the good fortune of housing one of the locally popular Howard's Pizza locations so you can get your grub on while you ponder your hand.
- Bowser's Brewing, 1826 Tenth Avenue South.
- The Front Brewing Company, 215 3rd St NW.
- Best Western Heritage Inn, 1700 Fox Farm Rd, ☎ +1 406 761-1900, toll-free: +1-800-548-8256, fax: +1 406 761-0136.
- Fairfield Inn Great Falls, 1000 9th Avenue South, ☎ +1 406 454-3000, fax: +1 406 454-3000.
- Holiday Inn, 400 10th Ave South, ☎ +1 406 727-7200.
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 1801 Market Place Dr, ☎ +1 406 455-1000.
- La Quinta, 600 River Drive South, ☎ +1 406 761-2600, fax: +1 406 761-2267. The hotel has an indoor pool and hot tub, both open 24 hours. There's a small "business center" with high-speed Internet, available for free. It's a very short walk to the MacKenzie River Pizza Company, Applebee's, and the Children's Museum of Montana. There are riverside rooms available for about $10 more. The city's well-managed riverside paths run right behind the hotel. Very friendly management!
- Motel 6, 2 Treasure State Dr, ☎ +1 406 453-1602, fax: +1 406 727-3234.
- Glacier National Park - Widely considered one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Located approximately 3 hours northwest of Great Falls, Glacier is at the very least an absolute must do day trip. See incredible mountain peaks, dramatic valleys carved by glaciers, isolated alpine lakes, raging waterfalls, active glaciers, and more wild life than you ever imagined. Camp at one of the many campgrounds and spend some time just soaking in the natural beauty of one of North America's Crown Jewels.
- Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park - Approximately 4 1/2 hours south on US 89, Yellowstone is arguably the most famous National Park in the US. See thermodynamics at work in nature! Visit Old Faithful, hike to breath taking Yellowstone Falls, see wolves, bear, and bison in their natural habitat, see the spectacular vistas of the Grand Tetons. Yellowstone pretty much explains itself. While it would be a difficult day trip, there's doubt that anyone would only want to spend a single day in one of the most incredible places in the world. Warning, Yellowstone gets incredibly crowded during the summer months as it is a world wide tourist destination.
- Fort Benton - Approximately 45 Miles North of Great Falls on Highway 87. A Nationally Registered Historic Landmark. Fort Benton's claim to fame is that it was as far west as Steam Ships could go on the Missouri River and thus became a vitally important to the expansion of the United States into the western territories. Once gold was discovered in Montana, Fort Benton became a primary destination for goldminers as they expanded into the western US and Canada in search of gold. Visit the still intact actual Fort. Walk along the levee and see an actual steam-ship. Visit the museums and learn about the history of one the Wild West's Wildest towns.
- The Highwood Mountains - From Great Falls, go east on US 89 6 miles, east 13 miles on MT-228, 16 miles east on County Road 121, then 2 miles east on Forest Road 8840. The latter are dirt & gravel. Want to get out of the city and into the Montana wilderness? The Highwood Mountains are a mountain range located approximately 40 miles from Great Falls. Get out, hike some trails, camp out at Thain Creek Campground and get away from it all. Always remember safety, know where you're going, let people know where you're going, dress appropriately, take plenty of food and water as you can become isolated, never leave food out in the open as you may attract wild life, if you're staying over night make sure to take shelter with you, and take a sleeping bag as it can get chilly at night, especially in the spring and fall. Camping in the winter in Montana is not recommended for the inexperienced as conditions can become extremely harsh.
|Routes through Great Falls|
|Lethbridge ← Becomes ← Shelby ←||N S||→ Helena → Butte|
|END ← Havre ←||NE SE||→ Lewistown → Billings|
|Fort Macleod ← Browning ←||N S||→ Livingston → Yellowstone National Park|