Helena Tourist Information and Tourism

(Helena, Montana - MT, USA)

As one of the smallest of all America's state capitals, Helena resides part-way between the Yellowstone National Park (southeast) and the Glacier National Park (northwest). The city manages to boast an attractive, rather modest small-town charm and an understated tourism appeal. Politicians and local businessmen add a further dimension to the city, while for tourists, there are a number of interesting attractions, many of which are free to visit.

Helena has its origins in the 1860s, following something of a mini-gold rush, and rapidly grew to become the capital of the Montana territory the following decade. The Montana State Capitol Building dates from the turn of the 20th century and graces the cityscape, with its towering dome and elegant architecture. Cruse Avenue is where the Helena Visitors Center is to be found, with its extensive tourist information, and a further tourist outlet is available on Cedar Street (summer only).

The summer months of Helena are reliably warm and sunny, meaning that day trips and excursions are possible. During the winter months, outlying recreational offerings change from hiking and biking, to cross-country skiing around the nearby Great Divide Ski Area, close to the Continental Divide.

Helena Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

Even though Helena is far from being a big city, especially when compared to Montana's largest city of Billings, there are still plenty of tourist attractions and worthy distractions, particularly during the appealing summer season. The pedestrianized Downtown Helena Walking Mall is a good place to begin your exploration of the city, with its meandering stream loosely following the original route of the springs that accompanied the small ravine known locally as the 'Last Chance Gulch'. Guided tours onboard a trolley bus and tourist land train come recommended and take you past many of the city's principal sights, such as the renovated miners' village named Reeder's Alley and the rather upmarket Mansion District, where a number of former Governor's residences reside. The summers can be quite hot and families frequently find that the best way to cool down is to spend an afternoon at the popular Last Chance Splash Waterpark complex, with its tube slides and lazy river.

Those who particularly like to get out and about will find an impressive choice of hiking trails, the best of which include those of the Big Log Gulch, Blackfoot Meadows, Casey Peak, the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area and Hidden Lake. Anglers will enjoy fishing for native trout whilst following in the footsteps of the famous early 19th-century Lewis and Clark Expedition. After a day of sightseeing, evening entertainment comes in the form of both the Grandstreet Theater and also the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts. More information about Helena Tourist Attractions.

Close to the Montana State Capitol Building on East 6th Avenue are numerous important buildings and state landmarks. Roughly 15 minutes away by foot, the twin towers of the Cathedral of Saint Helena dominate North Ewing Street, with this huge Roman Catholic edifice being built here in the early years of the 20th century. Also standing on North Ewing Street is the stately Original Governor's Mansion, with its beautiful Queen Anne-style facade, which dates from the late 1880s and is now open to members of the general public. Of particular historical importance is the Fire Tower on South Cruse Street. This iconic wooden tower stands upon Tower Hill and is now something of a symbol of the city, with its superb panoramas of downtown Helena being a good reason to visit. More information about Helena Landmarks and Monuments.

Although there aren't many museums within Helena, those located in the city are more than decent offerings. The Montana Historical Society and Museum on North Roberts Street boasts an array of old publications, artifacts, weapons and items from past cattle ranches. There is also much information relating to the Native American Indians, including the Blackfeet, Salish and Sioux peoples. A reliable rainy day attraction is the very hands-on ExplorationWorks, as is the Grand Lodge of Montana Museum and Library. Standing within downtown Helena, on East Lawrence Street, the Holter Museum of Art showcases some impressive examples of contemporary art and with free admission, really is something of a must-see. More information about Helena Museums and Helena Art Galleries.

Helena sits on the western side of Montana, in between Butte and Great Falls. There are plenty of opportunities for day trips suiting those on holiday in the state capital, thanks to Interstate I-15 (north to south) and Highway US-12 (east to west), amongst other prominent roads. The Spring Meadow Lake State Park lies on the westerly suburbs, while Lake Helena is to the northeast and Montana City to the south. Day trips to the town of Butte, to the southwest, are always popular, with the Irish-themed celebrations on St. Patrick's Day and during the summer Ri Ra Festival being quite the tourist magnet. When the winter snows come along, many choose to head to Anaconda, where the appealing cross-country skiing trails and beautiful mountainous scenery within the Discovery Ski Area contribute greatly to the local tourism industry. Close by, the intriguing ghost town of Marysville offers something quite memorable and was once an integral part of the gold mining scene in Montana. More information about Helena Attractions Nearby.

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