1. No, It’s Not A Tall Tail, Mermaids Are Amongst Us In The Big Sky State
After you’ve had a few drinks, you might ask yourself whether or not you did see what looked like a mermaid swim by at the Sip ‘N’ Dip Tiki Lounge in Great Falls.
Outfitted in the type of décor that you’d hope to see in a tiki lounge—bamboo and strings of lights included—this bar also has a window into an adjoining swimming pool where “mermaids” swim by.
Take a seat at the bar, enjoy the umbrella in your order, and don’t second-guess yourself when you spot an unusual-looking swimmer.
2. We Give This Natural Wonder A Ringing Endorsement
Leave your drumsticks at home, and bring a hammer instead, when you visit the Ringing Rocks outside Butte. This natural phenomenon of stacked boulders gives off the sound of a chime when lightly tapped. The exact reason for this hasn’t been scientifically proven, but it’s fun nevertheless.
3. Have A Drink At A Literal Watering Hole
The Montana Tavern in Lewistown takes the term “watering hole” seriously. This bar runs above Spring Creek, which can be seen through a window in the floor. The original owner used to fish from that easy access to the water, but it’s now locked. Why?
If you’re looking for more of an adventure, you can actually float under the town, sometimes in pitch-black darkness. Some people used to do this and, allegedly, steal alcohol from the hole into the tavern.
4. Montana Zen Begins At This Breathtaking Monument
Surrounded by the rolling hills in the Jocko Valley outside Arlee, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a Western pilgrimage in the making.
Construction is underway to complete as many Buddhas as are in the name of this 10-acre circular monument. You can visit what currently stands, which is a series of white concrete Buddhas surrounding the multi-colored “Great Mother,” Yum Chenmo.
And even if you don’t see this monument’s representation of life, death, and rebirth, you can still appreciate its beauty.
5. It Takes A Whole Lot Of Balls To Put On A Festival Like This
If you’re over 21, there’s a festival in Clinton known for its eyebrow-raising name and wild parties: The “Testical Festival,” or the “Testy Festy,” is an annual summertime event at Rock Creek Lodge.
People can participate in contests, dance to live music, or chow down on deep-fried bull testicles with beers. Yes, you read that last part correctly.
6. Montana Is Home To The Original Upper Decker
We just had to include this in the “number two” spot…
Created by the remains of surrounding ghost towns, Nevada City is comprised of authentic Wild West buildings that transport visitors to the Gold Rush era.
But apart from the penny arcade and boardwalk, you can also find a two-story outhouse. You’ll love technology even more after seeing that.
7. Garnet Is A Hidden Gem Of A Ghostly Nature
Set about an hour from Missoula, the town of Garnet stands abandoned. At the end of the 19th century, this was a bustling mining town of about a thousand residents who sought riches in the untouched soil of this newly inhabited land.
Although wealth was found, the fickle appearance of gold in the Garnet Mountains made residents appear and disappear for decades after the turn of the century. Since Garnet is isolated, its storefronts and homes feel removed from the outside world.
8. This Counts As A River By Only A Sliver
If you want to feel like a cowboy that’s seen a thing or two, head over to the Roe River near Great Falls, which is otherwise known as the shortest river on the globe.
Spanning just over 200 feet, this Guinness World Record holder flows between the Missouri River and Great Springs—and you can walk the full length of it in just a couple of minutes.
9. Step Back, And Down Into Time With This Underground Frontier City
After a fire in June 1904 destroyed whole city blocks of downtown Havre, the community decided to do something a bit out of the box.
Instead of waiting for construction to rebuild what was lost, many businesses decided to move underground—thus creating a series of tunnels within a six-block radius.
Purple stairs mark where the turn-of-the-century community could enter this underground town square, where places like a saloon, drug store, and laundromat were busy with customers.
In fact, this area was known for its Wild West antics, and later, Prohibition bootlegging. Tours take place so that you can see it all as it once was.
10. Montana Is A Real Jungle
Did you know that Montana is home to a rainforest? High in the state’s northwest corner, the Yaak Valley is home to a family of trees—like cedar, spruce, alpine fir, and hemlock—that benefit from the area’s low elevation and high chances of rain.
Get on a hiking trail here, and expect to see wildlife. Wolverines, grizzly bears, falcons, and moose are just some of the animals that wander through this landscape.
11. For A Unique Gambling Experience, Place Your Bets On Some Speedy Swine
The Bearcreek Saloon and Steakhouse serves up a hefty menu, including an 18-ounce T-bone, but that’s not the only reason why plenty of people stop here for dinner in the summer. After dinner, wages are set on the property’s racetrack, which features bandana-clad pigs running in a circle. Place a bet on your favorite one, and cheer for it to win. All proceeds go to a local scholarship fund.
12. We Have No Reservations About Declaring Big Lodge Espresso The Best Coffee In The State
Need a pick-me-up when in Browning? Get your caffeine fix at the Big Lodge Espresso Tipi, which is located on an Indian reservation. The small, concrete building fashioned like a traditional tipi isn’t your average coffeehouse.
13. If The Shoe Fits… Call The Folks At The Guinness Book Of World Records!
Stop by Al’s Bootery and Repair Shop in Billings to see a sight that fits in, given the surrounding scenery, but also stands alone.
Set in an oversized case, the size-32 shoe of Robert P. Wadlow, who is theatrically known as the “World’s Tallest Man,” sits on display. Wadlow was nearly nine-feet tall and almost 500 pounds when he died in 1940 at 22-years-old.
14. Montana Or Mordor… We’ll Let You Decide
Built in 1919 and closed in 1981, the Anaconda Smelter Stack is a remnant of Montana’s booming industrial history. The stack is 585-feet, which is argued to be the tallest on the planet, and you can see it from miles around. But since the land around it is toxic, you can’t get close.
Did we miss anything? Tell us your favorite secret spot in Montana? Tell us in the comments below!