December in Montana: Great Falls

Hello friends! It’s been a minute.

We’ve been hit with an ice storm, so our little world is essentially shut down. Last night we lost power for about 6 hours, so we hauled out the board games, candles, and heavy blankets. It was fun, almost an adventure – though I’m thankful to the power company for getting us back online quickly. If you’re dealing with winter weather, hope you stay safe, warm, and cheerful!

I know, I know. I promised Montana pictures. They’re coming!

Back in December I had the amazing good fortune of traveling to Montana for a week for work. We were terrified, because in the weeks before we left, the weather was hovering around -10 degrees. Wouldn’t you know, the week we were there, it was actually warmer in Montana than in Tennessee? It was absolutely gorgeous weather, with no snow in sight. Sad, but ultimately nice for driving. Which we did a lot of.

We flew into Bozeman, then drove 3 hours to Great Falls. We spent 2 days in Great Falls, then drove to Fort Benton. Then we drove all the way back to Bozeman. Lots of driving.

Montana is one of those places that I think I could move to. I loved Utah, and Montana has Utah beat by a long shot. It’s so amazingly beautiful and peaceful. The food is to die for, the beer is excellent, and the people are genuinely nice. (Not nice like Southerners, who typically have an ulterior motive, but genuinely actually nice.) And because it’s so massive, there aren’t a ton of people on top of you. I think the lack of traffic is one of the things I miss most, honestly.

Three places + three sets of pictures = three posts. Let’s do Great Falls first.

from the Great Falls website

from the Great Falls website; click the picture to go there!

Great Falls is in the north-central part of the state, about an hour and a half north of Helena. It’s one of the larger cities in the state, but that’s relative. It’s got about 60 thousand people. If you’re ever in the city, the streets are laid out in a grid. All the “streets” run one direction and the “avenues” another. I want to say streets are north to south, and avenues east to west, but don’t quote me on that. We didn’t find this out until our last day there, and I wish we’d known sooner. Basically, there’s 10th Avenue, and that is the main road you need to know in order to find anything.

We stayed at both the Holiday Inn and the Best Western. They were both nice, and I’d stay in each of them again, no issue. One perk to the Best Western was the breakfast – it was included, and was delicious.

Best Western Great Falls breakfastI actually didn’t take any pictures of Great Falls that weren’t food. Go figure. To be honest, though, we didn’t have a whole lot of time since we were working. I’ll be back in May and will try to remedy that. There’s a little river walk park area that was pretty, and looked like it would be good for kayaking in the summer. The MacKenzie River Pizza Company sits right along the river. This is a place you absolutely MUST go while in Montana. It originated in Bozeman, but they’re all over. I’m really really REALLY excited about going back there.

Mackenzi River Pizza Co - Great FallsI had a salad with weird crouton things…it looked like really fine granola. It was a bit too crunchy for me, so I’d skip that if you go. But the pizza….oh man the pizza. And just to be clear, while I like pizza, I’m not generally an “OMG I LOVE PIZZA” person. But this pizza? Yeah, I loved it.

YUM

YUM

I got the MacKenzie River Pizza, which has an olive oil and garlic base and is topped with spinach, roasted zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and mozzarella, and is dusted with feta. Heaven. Absolute Heaven.

When you’re done drooling over that one…..I also recommend the Celtic Cowboy. Not going to lie, we picked this place mainly because of the name. It’s “Downtown” and has a great little atmosphere. I had the Bangers and Mash.

Celtic Cowboy Great Falls

Bangers and Mash at Celtic CowboyThe last restaurant we tried was Umami, which got rave reviews as the best sushi in Great Falls. I’m not a huge sushi fan, but I was craving something light, so I got the caterpillar roll. I loved the fact that it looked like a caterpillar. Honestly, though, it wasn’t great. I’ve had better. Our guess was that of all the sushi in Great Falls, it probably WAS the best…but Great Falls is probably not a place to get sushi. Make sense?

Umami - Great Falls - Caterpiller RollI swear we did more than eat in Great Falls.

I mean, come on. We drank.

Montana has something like 30-odd craft breweries. Three are in Great Falls, so we hit two of them. Mighty Mo was first.

Mighty Mo - Great FallsMighty Mo was a cute little brewery. They served our beer flight (which was $6!!!) in a fish tray, which was cool.

Flight at Mighty MoI wasn’t super impressed with their beer, sadly. The Lip Ripper IPA was my favorite, though I wouldn’t go back for it. The Rising Trout Pale was ok, the Dam Fog Hefe was disappointing, and the Smoke Jumper Scottish just wasn’t my style. I did really like their decor though:

Mighty Mo InsideAfter Mighty Mo we headed to The Front, where we were kind of struck dumb by the selection.

The Front Beer List - Great FallsWe did flights here, and I tried every IPA. They were all good, but nothing even came close to the River Water IPA. It’s unfiltered, and one of the few they can. Delicious. They also had a really fun Christmas Tree.

The Front - Great FallsSo lots of eating and drinking in Great Falls. I’m sure there’s more to do there, and maybe in May I’ll get a chance to find some of it. We spent a very quick two days, then headed up to Fort Benton, about 40 miles away……..to be continued!