Big Sky shoulder season

shoul·der sea·son
noun
a travel period between peak and off-peak seasons.
Before moving to Montana I did not know what shoulder season was. So, I figured I would give you the definition.
Now, shoulder season is exactly what the area where I live is experiencing. The Bozeman/Big Sky area is a very popular summer tourist destination. Both places are located very close to Yellowstone National Park. I know that Bozeman sees about 5.2 million visitors in the summer months.
Things don’t really pick up until June. Sometimes not being surrounded by tourists is nice, and that is why I decided to do an overnight in Big Sky this weekend.
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Big Sky Resort closes basically for the month of May to prepare for the summer. So, a lot of the restaurants and shops in the Town Center and Meadow Village aren’t open.
Don’t let that discourage you! There is something spectacular about having Big Sky to yourself!
Since, the resort is closed during this time I just used Air Bnb to find a place to stay.
(Even in the off-season Bg Sky is still pricey, so just be aware.)
One of the restaurants that does stay open is Ousel & Spur. This is Italian cuisine. They have excellent pizza! We usually get a pizza and a salad and have never been disappointed!
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Another place that is open is Lotus Pad. If you like Thai food this place is a must! Here we usually get Green Curry and Drunken noodles. I have never heard anyone complain about their meal at Lotus Pad, so I would definitely check it out if you get the chance.
During peak season it is almost impossible to get into Lotus Pad, so another great reason to go now!
Be sure to stop in and get a brew at Beehive Basin. This brewery has more of a local feel to it, and I am a fan of the Green Bridge IPA.
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There is also plenty of hiking around Big Sky. You will need to be aware that there is still a lot of snow covering the trails this time of year, but just talk to the locals and they will point you in the right direction. I recommend Ousel Falls if your looking for an easy hike. The views are great, so perfect photo-op.
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Also in the area is Lava Lake which is very popular as well as Storm Castle Peak.
When the Gallatin River isn’t raging and blown out like it is now there is primo fishing in the area. With the crazy snow pack we had this year, fishing is unfortunately not an option.
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However, another great activity in the area is mountain biking. If you don’t have a bike don’t worry head to Grizzly Outfitters. They rent them out!
If being outdoors isn’t your thing some of the shops remain open now, including my favorite Montana Supply. Plus these stores have a lot of stuff marked down to 50% off. Who doesn’t love a good sale ?!
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I absolutely love Big Sky, and it is a place you can enjoy year round… even during shoulder season.
*Note shoulder season will end in Big Sky on June 8th
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Last minute MDW trips

Memorial Day Weekend is 24 hours away, and for those of you still trying to figure out some ideas…don’t sweat I got you covered.

I love MDW. Growing up my mom always threw a big party and it truly is the kick off to summer. So, here are my ideas for some last minute getaways. This will really only help my Bozemanites, as they are all an hour or less away!

  1. Yellowstone National Park 
    This is a no brainer in my book. This is a great time of year to head to the park. Everything is open now, so if you head in from the Gardiner entrance you can get to Old Faithful and all of the other awesome attractions that are normally closed in the winter. Plus, it’s still early in the Summer season, so you won’t be dealing with the insane crowds. For more on how to plan this trip I will refer you to my previous post about a weekend getaway to YNPS. 
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  2. Camp at the Pine Creek Lodge
    The Pine Creek Lodge is located in the AMAZING Paradise Valley. This funky little place has campsites along with cabins. There is also a restaurant, bar, and outdoor music venue. It is rumored that John Mayor will sometimes stop by and play his music for those lucky enough to be there that evening! This weekend the lodge has live music on Friday night starting at 7:00 pm. On Saturday and Sunday they will feature artists during Brunch. Also close by is a hike in the Pine Creek Recreation Area if you would like to get outdoors during your stay.

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  3. Virginia City & Nevada City
    For those history junkies, Virginia City would be a great overnight trip! Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the ghost town’s season. Virginia City is also about a mile away from Nevada City, another one of Montana’s first mining cities.

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    You can ride the train to get between the two, which I highly recommend if you have kiddos with you. There are a few restaurants in both Virginia and Nevada City. For a fancier fare head to the Wells Fargo Steak House. There is not a bad thing on the menu! You’ll find great nightlife at the Bale of Hay Saloon. And for breakfast you will want to hit the Star Bakery! There is so much to do in these two ghost towns that I definitely recommend an overnight trip!
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    (You can also pan for gold!)
    You can stay at the Historic Fairweather Inn. If you are feeling adventurous ask to stay in the haunted room! Since it is opening weekend there are plenty of special events happening too!
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  4. Hot springs day trips
    Finally, if you aren’t feeling an overnight and just want a fun daytime activity you can easily hit the hot springs. The first option would be to head to Chico Hot Springs in Pray. For a day soak it will cost you $8.50. There is also a bar and restaurant by the pool. I recommend bringing your own towels. They will charge extra for that!

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    Another great hot spring is Norris Hot Springs (also known as Water of the Gods). Norris is SUPER funky, but sooo much fun! To soak at Norris it will cost $7 for the day. There is also live music every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Live music begins at 7:00 pm and will cost you an extra $2.

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No matter what you decide take this weekend to get out and explore! I would love to see your adventure pictures, so use the hashtag!

#keepwandering

Weekend Getaway to Yellowstone

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I am lucky enough to only live an hour away from one of the country’s best national parks. There are days when I just drive down to Yellowstone for a day trip.
But, a weekend getaway can be necessary and there is no better place than our first National Park.

You can’t beat going to Yellowstone. You can check out the wildlife, plan a day hike, or walk around the hot springs. No matter what you do the park will not disappoint.

Now depending on the time of year you plan your trip the entire park may not be open, but don’t let that stop you!

In the winter months there are still plenty of fun activities you can do like, cross country skiing! Not to mention you essentially have the park to yourself!

The time of year also depends what entrance to the park is open to vehicles. The good thing to know is the North Entrance or the entrance in Gardiner is open year round.

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Which leads to the fabulous little hotel that is a great place to stay to ensure you have enough time in the park.

The Park Hotel Yellowstone, is little apartments that range from family sized rooms to your standard two Queen Beds. The rooms are decorated with rustic Yellowstone decor to make your stay feel special.

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The rooms are priced right! Our room was only $89 a night!

(Prices will go up in the summer during tourists season.)

Gardiner also has a great new restaurant called the Wonderland Cafe & Lodge. They have everything from coffee and pastries to packed lunches for your trip into the park and an awesome dinner menu!

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On the weekends the Wonderland has also started a brunch!
I highly recommend getting a bison burger while you’re there 😋

This can be a fairly inexpensive trip if you plan ahead. Pack lunches for days in the park and shop around for the best hotel deal! I like to remind my fellow Montanans that people pay thousands of dollars to visit our backyard! So, take advantage of it! ❤

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Pendleton Yellowstone National Park boots

 

#Keepwandering

 

{park fees, hotel prices, and local restaurant menus all linked in article}

Off the beaten path in San Diego…

I recently traveled to L.A. and San Diego for a quick little spring break trip that was so so so necessary.

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Now, of course I did the touristy things like go to the zoo, and check out the seals at Children’s Pool, but no matter where I vacation I also like checking out the less touristy things.

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So, on this trip we stayed in La Jolla, which was originally just a surfer town, but has developed quite a bit over the years. However, the part of La Jolla where we stayed there were two things I absolutely loved.

First the boutique scene was out of this world. Everything was so cute and trendy, but also very reasonable.

In addition to the boutique scene I found two great places to get beverages. Almost every morning we walked down to Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Yes, it was very strange that we were walking everywhere, but you can’t take the New Yorker out of me. I love to walk…Sorry Cali.

Anyways…The cold brew there was great, so was the Americano, and the Iced Chai.

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Multiple places around La Jolla sell their coffee, and I highly suggest that’s where you get your caffeine fix.

The second place is for my juice and smoothie lovers. Turquoise Juice Bar just opened on Turquoise Street (hence the name). The place is super funky and has a feminist theme going on. You can literally order a smoothie called the feminist. For the health conscious that know juices and smoothies can contain a ton of sugar and calories opt for the Alien Princess or the Dancing Queen. Those two drinks are mostly spinach and kale based.

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I definitely dug the scene in La Jolla. Along with all these places there was great access to the beach, some great brunch spots, and they had a indoor cycling studio so, I was set.

Thanks for a great time La Jolla! We will definitely be back! ❤

#keepwandering

Microbreweries…a Montana way of life

One of my favorite things about Montana is the brewery scene. I was first introduced to craft beers in college. We enjoyed Devil’s Backbone…often, but I never really appreciated the microbrewery culture until I moved to Montana.

I love breweries for two reasons. First, the atmosphere. I feel like each brewery I go to in Montana has its own unique feel. Two, checking out different breweries has become somewhat of a tradition for me and Bryn (my boyfriend, for those of you who don’t know him).

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We have visited quite a few breweries in the two years we have been together. I think I speak for the both of us when I say that our favorite will probably always be the Mighty Mo in Great Falls. For the two of us it just feels like home!

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However, Dillon’s Beaverhead Brewing Company has lately been a favorite of mine. First of all, Dillon overall as a small town… you absolutely rock! The downtown is adorable, everyone is super friendly, and this New Yorker still gets pretty excited when she sees a real cowboy!

Beaverhead Brewing really captures the charm of Dillon. It’s a new brewery that knows how to make an IPA, but it feels like it has been a staple in the town forever.

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The cozy fireplace, super friendly staff, awesome swag (I have a shirt from there that I would wear everyday if I could), and good beer is why I am writing about this place.

I think anyone traveling to Dillon anytime soon should most deffinitely try their Beaverslide IPA or the famous Poindexter Pilsner ( I think it’s famous because Governor Bullock is caught on camera having one).

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Now, this post is not just about promoting beer. It’s about Montana’s awesome small businesses, so tonight, or this weekend I challenge you to go and support a small business. Whether it is in a small town like Dillon, or in one of our major cities like Bozeman. Snap a pic while you’re there and share it with me on Facebook or Instagram, or you can even post it right here in the comments.

I can’t wait to learn about all of your favorite small businesses!

#keepwandering

Snowshoeing in high heels

This post is exactly as it sounds. This weekend I did one of my favorite winter activities….snowshoeing! So, for those of you who don’t know what snowshoeing is, it’s basically strapping tennis rackets to your feet and going on a walk.

Well, when we decided to go snowshoeing this weekend I was very unprepared in that I did not have my snow boots. I only had these SUPER CUTE wedge booties by ESPRIT.

tj-maxx-Black-Lace-Up-Wedge-Boots $40 @ T.J. MAXX

Well, as I am sure you can imagine they are not waterproof and are meant to be stylish and not for outdoor snow activities. But, the group was determined to get outside and being the sassy person I am I strapped those snowshoes to the wedges and did 3 miles!

As, I was marching around Silver Crest Trail in my stylish snowshoes I thought wow if I can snowshoe in wedges, I can do anything. Which, maybe a little much, but this is a shout out to every woman and girl ( and guys too) who romp around in heels all day taking on whatever is thrown at them.

Take a second to pat yourself on the back and the next time you put on your wedges, pumps, or stilettos remember you are fierce and can do anything!

P.S. If you have not tried snowshoeing I highly recommend it! If you are in Montana the Forest Service will rent you snowshoes for free!

 

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#keepwandering