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Blue Gem Mine - Most Popular Things To Try When In Helena

11 Most Popular Things To Try When In Helena (2023)

The delightful city of Helena sits right between the Glacier National Park and the Yellowstone National Park. Also known as the ‘Queen City of the Rockies,’ Helena is known for its magnificent mountains lurking in its backdrop, history flowing into its veins, along with wealth and elegance in its heart. Even if your interests are over four-wall closed attractions, you still have so many options in this city. From kids to adults and the elderly, Helena offers several meaningful and engaging things to try.

For western Montana residents and tourists, Helena is one famous tourism destination. Even though it is a little smaller with a population of no more than 33,000, deep inside, it makes up a fun location with tons of great day trip and weekend trip options. Regardless of the season, you will always have days full of destinations, indeed the enjoyable ones in Helena.

11 Most Popular Things To Try When In Helena

So why wait? Join us for the virtual journey of Helena’s best things to do. You may get some great options for your Helena itinerary as well.

1. Spend Some Time In The Helena Walking Mall

The Helena Walking Mall is a fantastic part of downtown and a staple for locals and tourists. Whether you love window shopping, eating, live music, or a simple stroll, you are going to love this place. There are multiple eateries lining the Walking Mall for hanging out in summers and snows yet enjoying the weather. They have breweries, confectionaries, food trucks, etc., throughout the day. Or upon strolling down the streets, a variety of art exhibitions and installations. There are stops that draw art lovers, including the Ghost Art Gallery to the 1 + 1 = 1 and the Holter Art Museum. Besides that, during the evening hours, especially weekends, local artists gather around the mall area playing live music. Watching it is free and fun indeed.

Lastly, the most promising feature of this landmark is the human-made creek. It runs right through the center of the street, ending ultimately at the Miner Fountain.

Helena Walking Mall

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2. Find Your Sapphire At The Blue Gem Mine

The Blue Gem Mine is located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains right at the Eldorado Bar. It operates from Mid-April through November end of the season’s first snowfall. It is an ideal place for spending some time mining the beautiful Sapphire stones. Participants don’t have t particularly dig in the underground mines but search your gem from huge gravel buckets. For a quick demo and six screened 5-gallon buckets, they charge $100, which is indeed a fair deal. From small grain sizes to big Sapphire stones, participants can find a variety and are free to take it all back home. Upon finding any gem, the staff here even educate and label about its weight, carat, and value.

Whether you are a kid or an adult, stone digging at the Blue Gem Mine is a must-try thing for you in Helena. Though remember, they take fees only in cash.

3. Go, Brewery Hopping

The city of Helena houses some of the most excellent micro-breweries. And if you are into trying different beverages, visiting here is a must-thing to do in Helena for you. Every mug you lift is bustling with flavors and has a thick layer of foam above them. Start your brewery hopping journey from the Ten Mile Creek Brewery and Blackfoot River Brewing Company, the ones downtown. In addition to the beer options, they are famous for their authentic downtown vibe. Further move towards the more prominent Lewis and Clark Brewing Company, a state-of-the-art brewing facility. From Thursday through Saturday, the place stays lively with music, food, beer, and events. Besides sampling local handcrafted beer, these destinations also teach the making process of beers.

4. Go On The Last Chance Tour Train

Last Chance Tour Train is a popular summer activity in Helena. It is by far the best way of exploring the city’s history, art, and architecture. The tour operates on open-air, multi-car trains taking the travelers through the major tourist landmarks. It lasts for about an hour with guided narration, endless stories, and tales of past and present. Not only adults but kids too love being a part of this fun train ride; regardless they are interested in the outdoor or not. The ride will pass past the Cathedral of St. Helena, State Capitol Building, Historic Walking Mall, Helena’s Governer’s Mansion, Old Fire Tower, and other notable landmarks. Beginning from 11 am they go through the evening with the last tour at 6:30 pm.

5. Hike to the Summit of Mt. Helena

Close to downtown Helena lies Mount Helena City Park, a gateway to the astounding summit. Though the city park is rich with hiking trails, viewpoints, and delightful forests, its primary draw is the summit of Mt. Helena. From the top of the summit, hikers can capture the most phenomenal views of the entire Helena city and its surroundings. Leading towards the summit, there are six trails to choose from. The list includes the Backside trail, Prairie Trail, 1906 trail, the West End Trail, the Prospector Shafts Trail, and more. Hikers can choose any of them considering their skill level and adventure, as a few of them are full of wildlife. The best time for hiking the summit of Mt. Helena is from April to May the September to November (Weather perspective).

6. Swim or Kayak at the Canyon Ferry Lake

Helena summers are hot and dry, making it the best time to enjoy in a Lake. And for that lies the Canyon Ferry Lake, 30 minutes east of the city, a water body in the Missouri River. It is the best place for swimming, kayaking, boating, waterskiing, and fishing. Or in case you wish to stay back, there are several waterfront campgrounds available. Another lake option with waterfront camping is the mesmerizing Holter Lake. The list of options does not end here but goes all the way to Hauser Lake, a 3,200-acre reservoir, and a popular boating spot. Besides that, Park Lake and Lake Helena too are great for day use and spending some leisurely time.

7. Spend A Day Relaxing In The Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum

Located in the heart of the Elkhorn Mountains, the Tizer Botanic Gardens and Arboretum are towards the south of Helena. This incredible natural oasis offers a great experience to its visitors. The Tizer botanic garden is divided into various sections. A list for the same includes a perennial garden, a fairy garden, a gnome garden—a children’s garden, a small yet charming natural trail, and so much more. Visitors can either go for a self-guided pace or choose a guided tour. Upon crossing the paths, you will encounter thousands of high-altitude plants, trees, and vegetation. There are upside-down trees that surprise and engage kids the most. Or one can escape into the secret garden and soak into the tranquility of the nature around. The entire space has numerous tables and chairs around where guest can enjoy their own brought lunch. For escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city, there isn’t a better place than this in Montana.

8. Take Kids To The Montana Wild Complex

The Montana Wild complex is a 5 acres facility overlooking the Spring Meadow Lake State Park. It is an educational center where one can learn about Montana’s wildlife and participate in several interactive activities. Upon walking inside the facility, you will come across several exhibits and videos about Montana’s wildlife and wild landscapes. You will also come across a large aquarium with native fish, a native plant garden, etc. Kids can participate in a scavenger hunt program which is fun. Even though the Montana Wild Complex is small, it leaves no chance to impress the visitors.

Other Popular Things To Do In Helena

9. Watch a Local Rodeo

(Rodeo is a widespread culture of Montana, and you can see its fine examples in Helena. Throughout the summer, the city operates multiple Rodeo shows and events. The East Helena Rodeo is the finest amongst them, with an entry fee of just $6. Or go for the Weekend night shows and enjoy seeing cute little cowboys and cowgirls).

10. Photograph the Helena Wild

(From spring to summer season, Helena’s exterior wild space blooms beautiful wildflowers. They aren’t just visually appealing and an excellent stop for photography enthusiasts. And if you are one of them, do plan a visit to Helena for the same).

11. Visit Ranches in Helena

(Helena is home to a few ranches, and one of their must-visit is the Summer Star Ranch. It is an excellent place for enjoying horse riding, observing breathtaking majestic mountain views, and learning about the old ranch stories).

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