6 free or low-cost fun places to take your family this summer in Montana - TAI News
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The entrance to the Museum Of The Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. (Wikimedia Commons)

Looking for fun things to do with your family this summer and fall that won’t break the bank? Here are some ideas for entertaining activities across the state of Montana that are either free or under $25 a person. 

Take a guided tour of the State Capitol

The Montana State Capitol building in Helena is open daily and offers free guided and self-guided tours. Kids can even take part in a free scavenger hunt inside the beautiful building, which is home to much of the state’s government. https://mhs.mt.gov/education/capitoltours 

Explore museums

The MBMG Mineral Museum in Butte displays about 1,000 rocks and minerals from the state, around the world, and outer space. Located on the Montana Tech campus; admission is free. https://www.mbmg.mtech.edu/MineralMuseum/ 

The Moss Mansion in Billings, built in 1903, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Guided tours are $15 per person; self-guided tours are $12 for adults, $8 for students ages 6-18, and free for kids 5 and under. https://mossmansion.com/museum/

The Missoula Art Museum has more than 2,000 pieces in its collection, including hundreds created by Native American artists. Admission is free. https://missoulaartmuseum.org/

In Browning, the Museum of the Plains Indian includes artworks, clothing, toys, and horse gear made by members of Northern Plains tribes. Open Tuesday through Saturday, admission from June to September is $6 for adults, $2 for kids ages 6-16, and free for children under 6. Free for Blackfeet Nation members with ID. There is no charge for admission between October and May. https://www.doi.gov/iacb/museum-plains-indian

Want to see an active fossil site? Visit the Montana Dinosaur Center in Bynum, Wednesdays through Sundays. Museum admission is $5 for adults 13 and up, $3 for kids 4-12, and free for infants under age 4. https://tmdinosaurcenter.org/ 

Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies features exhibits about dinosaurs, farms, and Yellowstone County. Admission is $20 for adults, $12 for youths 5-17, and free for kids 4 and under. A planetarium show is an additional $4 per person. https://museumoftherockies.org/ 

Meet the animals

The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center wildlife park in West Yellowstone is home to bears, gray wolves, otters, and other animals. Admission is $16.50 for adults age 13 and up, $11.50 for kids 5-12, and free for children 4 and under. https://www.grizzlydiscoveryctr.org/ 

In Billings, ZooMontana is one of USA Today’s top 10 zoos in the nation. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for kids 3-15, and free for children 2 and under. https://www.zoomontana.org/ 

Learn about history

Learn about the history of ranching with a visit to Grant-Kohrs Ranch, a national historic site southeast of Missoula. You can explore the historic buildings on the property, where cowboys have lived since 1870, take a wagon tour, and participate in demonstrations at the ranch’s blacksmith shop. Entry to the ranch is free, but tickets are required for guided tours and can be obtained on the day of your visit. https://www.nps.gov/grko/index.htm 

Step back in time at Bannack State Park, the site of Montana’s first territorial capital and the state’s first major gold discovery in 1862. Tours of Bannack, which is now a state-preserved ghost town, take place from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is included with Montana’s annual $9 state parks fee for residents. https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/bannack-state-park 

Swim or slide

Thrill-seekers can head to the Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster in Lakeside. The 4,000-foot track is the only alpine coaster in Montana. Tickets for single riders ages 13 and older cost $18, while those for children 12 and under cost $13. Riders must be over 38 inches tall and over age 3. https://www.flatheadlakealpinecoaster.com/ 

For those looking to cool off, Montana has a number of affordable water parks. 

Splash Montana in Missoula offers water slides, pools, a lazy river, and floating play structures. Tickets start at $5.50 for kids ages 2-6, and max out at $8.50 for adults over 18. https://www.ci.missoula.mt.us/169/Splash-Montana 

Reef Indoor Water Park in Billings is the largest indoor water park in the state and includes water slides and plunge and wave pools. Tickets are $18 per day for visitors 48 inches and taller. https://www.thereefindoors.com/ 

Ridge Waters in Butte has water slides, a lazy river, playgrounds and tennis courts. Tickets are $7 and under. https://co.silverbow.mt.us/2092/Ridge-Waters-Waterpark 

Explore a state park

Explore the wealth of state parks in Montana for just a $9 annual vehicle registration fee for residents. 

For water sport aficionados, head to Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the western United States. Sea Me Paddle offers boat rentals and tours starting at $25 per hour during the summer months at a few areas around the sprawling lake. https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/flathead-lake 

Wild Horse Island, the largest island on Flathead Lake, is perfect for those looking to explore wildlife. Boats are required to access the island, which is home to wild horses, bears, bighorn sheep, and bald eagles, among other animals. https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/wild-horse-island 

Adventurers can travel down into the caves at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Whitehall. Cave tours are offered from May through September, and cost $15 for adults, $10 for kids ages 5-14, and are free for children under 4. https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/lewis-and-clark-caverns 

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