Day Three was spent exclusively in Billings, Montana, so if you’re looking for some things to do in that area, you’ve come to the right post! We split this day in half; before lunch was dedicated to the great outdoors and after lunch was dedicated to food and shopping.
Fabian was dying to get to Yellowstone River as soon as we entered Billings, so our first stop was at Riverfront Park! We were hoping to enjoy some of the trails, and get close to the riverbank. Unfortunately, we ended up cutting our time here short. By short, I mean that we weren’t out of the car for more than three minutes before we headed back. The mosquitos were crazy, even with bug spray. I don’t know the status of these tiny critters during other parts of the year, but between the constant swatting and the boys’ insufferable whining, this stop was so not worth it.
Four Dances Recreation Area
After bailing on Riverfront Park, Fabian, Skyler, and I headed to another spot that was highly spoken of in several Billings city guides. We hiked the upward trail first to get a bird’s eye view of the city, and then continued on a downward path that was supposed to lead to river access.
The first path we took was pretty easy, and the incline was only moderate. The view from the top of the cliff was nice because it allowed us to see the Yellowstone River and much of Billings. The only downside was that we weren’t able to go to the cliff’s edge. There were guidelines posted at the top of the trail that requested hikers stay away from the edge in order to respect the birds of prey that often nest in the area during this time of year. As much as I wanted to see not only the city, but also the birds, we kept our distance. If you complete this hike, please be aware of and respect any wildlife that might be present on the trail!
Afterwards, we started on another path. The way down was easy, but we knew during the descent that it would be a workout coming back up! In exchange for that challenge, we were granted some lovely views. We got very far down before we ran into some still water, too wide to cross without any help. Fabian was very determined, so he built a makeshift bridge with some logs. We crossed, and were met with even more obstacles. We never did make it to the river.
In you’re looking for a sure thing, head up! But if your luck is anything like ours, don’t count on getting to the water. Either way, have fun and good luck!
By this time, Fabian was highly committed to getting down to Yellowstone River. Our final stop on that mission led us to Coulson Park, which we had spotted at some point after we arrived in Billings. The area is quaint, complete with a few modest trails for walking and biking. The trek to the river was easy as pie.
At the water’s edge, we were blessed to see several forms of wildlife. Skyler is super big on that type of thing, so it was his lucky day! He got to observe toads, tadpoles, dragonflies, and dragonfly nymphs. Most of those things were new to him, so Coulson Park served as a wonderful outdoor classroom during this part of our trip.
After a long morning of hiking, the three of us returned to Vegas Hotel to wash up and change. We then headed to Rimrock Mall to do some souvenir shopping before dinner. I was itching to go somewhere with more local flare, like the downtown shopping area, but it was late in the afternoon and we didn’t want to deal with any downtown traffic. That being said, most of the stores were part of chains, which was to be expected. We were hoping for a children’s play area so Skyler could run around a bit before we sat down for dinner, but the one they had was for very small children. Huge bummer for him because he was too big to play and huge bummer for me because I didn’t get any real shopping done. Next time!
Since Skyler came into our care, Fabian and I haven’t had the opportunity to eat at many nice restaurants because, well, they just aren’t suitable for young children. It’s something I miss a lot, because I love exploring new places to eat, and trying new foods. This Italian restaurant is such a gem because it provides the best of both worlds in terms of fine dining and family-friendly dining. Ciao Mambo has a very classy atmosphere, and the menu sports many food options that would certainly appeal to a mature palate. In addition to these perks, the restaurant also has a basic kid menu, and provides paper table cloths to keep kids busy with coloring. I’ll admit that I am usually the last person to complain about wait times (it just doesn’t bother me to wait if everything else is up to par), so I can’t comment on the timeliness of service. However, Skyler didn’t get antsy at all, so it couldn’t have been that long! Our server was personable and attentive, the food we were served (personal pepperoni pizza for Skyler, chicken/artichoke pizza for me and Fabian, and a cannoli for dessert) was delicious, and we made some great foodie memories in Billings, MT thanks to this restaurant!
In sum, if you’re looking for a restaurant with a date-night feel that’ll still cater to littles, this is your place!
If you have any questions about or experiences with these spots in Billings, feel free to share them below! And don’t forget to check out our adventures from Day Four, coming soon!
Safety disclaimer: When hiking, always be aware of the wildlife that could be present on a trail, and take the necessary precautions. Just because I haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that you won’t see it! Additionally, make sure to follow all safety protocols as outlined by the recreation departments in charge of each site you choose to visit. Be safe and prepared.
Medical disclaimer: As always, consult a physician before you and/or your child begin an exercise regimen or engage in rigorous outdoor activity. The general information above is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional. If you experience any problems or have concerns when engaging in physical activity, stop and contact a doctor before proceeding with additional workouts.