Big Sky Country is a common nickname for Montana. The capital of the state is the city of Helena, featuring wide open areas where kids can have fun in the sunshine. However, this town of just under thirty thousand is not just an outdoor park. Entertainment and education experiences abound, from minor league baseball to museums. Helena is in western Montana, just under four hours from the state’s biggest city, which is Billings.
ExplorationWorks is an experience that can help kids learn complicated subjects in a lively fashion, like air pressure, hydrology, or even the laws of physics proposed by Isaac Newton. A handful of permanent exhibits are there in addition to a garden outside and musical and artistic activities for early childhood kids. Witness fifty thousand heritage items of state history at Montana’s Museum. This facility, operated by the Montana Historical Society, includes thousands of costumes and Native American artifacts and pieces. Kids ages 3 through 7 can take part in one-day workshops all year round at the Holter Museum of Art. There are days dedicated to whole-family activities as well. Learn about the state government by visiting the Montana State Capital building. For more information on these options check out explorationworks.org, montanahistoricalsociety.org, holtermuseum.org, and visit-the-capitol.mt.gov.
Quality Outdoors Time
Grab a sack lunch and get into the woods. Helena has a number of recreational parks and outdoor areas. Of primary interest should be the Helena National Forest, spanning six counties and over a million total acres, surrounding the city of Helena in every direction. Hiking, swimming, and fishing are all options. Spring Meadow Lake State Park is a great family vacation spot almost any time of year, with a beach and swimming in warmer months and ice skating in the colder ones. For more information on these possibilities, visit fs.fed.us or fwp.mt.gov.
Nine Innings Of America’s Pastime
You won’t find a Major League team anywhere in the state of Montana, but you can see rising stars on their way to the major leagues. The Milwaukee Brewers have a Pioneer League squad here for advanced rookie development, called the Helena Brewers. In the summer months, the team plays at Kindrick Legion Field. Former players to come through here included Gary Sheffield and Ryne Sandberg. Kids promotions occur regularly, and on Sundays, kids 13 and under can run the bases after the game. Find out more at helena.brewers.milb.com.
A Wild Ride
For kids that love carousels, a visit to the Great Northern Carousel is a good idea. It sports a chariot, as well as more than three dozen animals that are hand-carved, including a grizzly bear and a buffalo. The site’s pavilion offers homemade Great Northern Ice Cream Company sweets for sale, and further information is available at gncarousel.com.