When the fourth Thursday in November rolls around, many folks think about turkey and pie. Others gear up for a big game or an all-out shopping campaign. Some simply want to get outside and enjoy all there is under the Big Sky. Have a happy Thanksgiving this year with these 9 awesome ways to celebrate.
The night before Thanksgiving is when many folks kick off the holiday season with an early happy hour—that often goes long into the evening. If you're in Southwest Montana, slide on your party boots and head to the Pony Bar. It's the one bar in a one-horse town, but it's a popular drinking destination for people who are looking for a party. Just make plans to get home safely.
There are many awesome bakeries beneath the Big Sky, and the Coffee Pot Bakery Café in Bozeman is one of the finest. Whether you want to grab a few mixed slices or order a whole pie to finish off your Thanksgiving dinner, they'll take care of you. They even have gluten-free pies.
Pick up a fresh turkey, ham, or roast for your holiday feast. The Meat Palace is an old-fashioned, family-owned butcher shop that has kept Billings' carnivores happy for over 30 years. Each November, they stock up on fresh turkeys for Thanksgiving, so get yours before they run out.
There’s no better way to prepare for a holiday meal than burning off some calories beforehand… right? If you believe in Thanksgiving Day runs, the Burn the Bird 5K/10K is for you. You can get out at 8 a.m. and build up a little caloric deficit before sitting down and stuffing yourself silly.
Every year, on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving, the Downtown Billings Alliance hosts a themed parade to usher in the holiday season. More than 100 floats, decorated according to the theme, glide through among the downtown buildings of Billings as throngs of festive onlookers cheer them along.
There are plenty of fine shopping centers in Montana—Billings, Great Falls, Bozeman, Big Sky, Missoula, e.g.—but if you’re seeking a different kind of shopping, head up to the Shops at Station 8 in Columbia Falls. There you’ll find antiques, vintage goods, and all other manner of merchandise in an old Great Northern Railway depot.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on the nature of the relationship between settlers to North America and its natives. And few places are better for such contemplation than the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, where perception of the history of the nation’s connection with Native Americans is rich.
One way to show gratitude for all you have is to give back to less fortunate people. Volunteering at a place like the Billings Food Bank helps them deliver much-needed services to the community. Montana is big, but there are many similar organizations throughout the state, all of which need volunteers. Find one near you and build up some good karma this holiday season.
If throwing your weight into full-force into the belly of consumerism before the leftovers are even cold isn't your thing, get out under that Big Sky and enjoy all that Montana offers. Grab your hiking boots (or snowshoes or skis) and head out to Lost Creek or any of the other beautiful state parks in the system. Breathe the air, work off the pie, and give a little bit of thanks that you're in Montana.