We took a little family getaway to Billings, Montana over the weekend to get away from the cold and sadness of winter trying to sneak in. Our original plan had been to head southeast for a night in Bismarck, but they had a blizzard, so instead we went southwest to Billings where it was sunny and 60 and NOT snowing. And it was an amazing time! Here’s 7 tips for 24 hours in Billings with 5 kids!
1. Be prepared to fib about how many children you have. This is important. You may end up sleeping in your car otherwise. Jk. But for real. We stayed at the Best Western Kelly Inn and Suites. I called to make my reservations and after telling the lady the room I wanted, she was happily chatting about my motivations for coming to Billings (they have a staying for pleasure discount!) she took my credit card info, and theeeen asked how many children. I knew this might be a problem. Granted, many hotels don’t care. I like being honest, so I said “5, but one’s a baby who has a pack n play, and we have travel cots.” She said “I’m sorry, hotel policy, you would need to book two rooms.” Well, I’m sorry, we are not spending $340 for a night at a hotel so I could sleep in a whole room alone with my baby in a pack n play. I said I’d find somewhere else and I hung up a bit annoyed. 10 minutes later, she called back. Apologized that she hadn’t realized she’d already charged my card and then laughing, says she wont mention the extra child. Much appreciated. Still not impressed. But we took it because the kids love this hotel.
2. Eat dinner at Fiesta Mexicana. Even picky kids will like it! It’s brightly colored, cheerful, and they have amazing food. Choose your timing wisely. Whenever we eat out with all the kids, we avoid peak dinner times. Things go a lot smoother!
3. To keep morale at a good high, take a run into Target. Buy a couple snacks for at the hotel after swimming, maybe a few bribery items. Let them get a small treat. The girls used their allowance to buy themselves these things called Petooties (tiny pets in a box) which replaced their desire for a real cat… hahaaa. The boys used theirs for some Marvel figures. Guess who whines while we drive from destination to destination? Nobody. They’re busy playing with their new purchases!
*note: go to the Target on the east side of Billings. It’s always quieter and a bit nicer than the west side!
4. Get coffee at City Brew Coffee. It’s our fav drive thru when traveling in Montana! I think in our 24 hour trip, we went there 3 times. On the way, after breakfast, and on the way home. I told my husband on this trip I only drive if I have coffee (😆) , so that was our switch seats point.
5. Eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. Call ahead to make reservations! We hadn’t planned on eating there so we didn’t and had to wait 20 minutes for a table. Plus side is we just waited in our car because they have an intercom to announce tables ready. No way kids would have handled waiting inside. Especially because they have an adorable store attached to the restaurant with the cutest toys and decorations. Very vintagey style.
I had their Sourdough French toast, kids had eggs, pancakes, and bacon, and my husband had a large selection of many items. It was a delicious breakfast!
Also, don’t forget to take your keys in with you instead of leaving them in the ignition so your car doesn’t die. If your car battery does indeed die, look for anyone with a cowboy hat on. They will help you. Also, be sure to check your gas tank levels periodically while driving around. It’s no fun to be relieved after getting the dead battery started, only to notice the light on your dash says 0 miles to E. Thank goodness Holiday gas stations are in abundance in Billings.
6. Ride the Ferris wheel at Scheels. And enjoy tons of other attractions there! I honestly couldn’t believe how cool this place was. A huge Ferris wheel that only costs $1 per person to ride, little aquarium, a kid play area upstairs, all kinds of stuffed real animals, and even a cafe! This was my first time on a Ferris wheel. Actually all of ours! But I oddly am the only one who was scared out of my mind. That’s why I’ve never been on one until now, my 30th year of life. My husband took our 3 year old up with him first while we waited, then I took my two oldest girls. Youngest was too little to ride and my 6 year old son was actually too nervous to try it out.
Our first round, as it’s going up, I was honestly willing myself to not have a panic attack. You know that feeling like your hearts going to explode or you’ll pass out. I’ve never passed out, just assuming it would feel that way. I pushed through. And then the Ferris wheel stopped. Right at the top. For like 2 minutes. I was getting really irritated wondering why it was taking somebody so long to get on. Or did the Ferris wheel just die and we were stuck forever. I said to the girls “just close your eyes!” And they’re both eagerly looking over the edge 100 stories down, and my oldest says “why would we close our eyes? Then we can’t see!” Right. That’s right. I was just advising myself.
I’m glad I went on anyway, one fear conquered! And I’m so happy my kids had the time of their lives! This is a serious must see in Billings! And plus, there’s a City Brew right by it.
7. Get ice cream at Big Dipper Ice Cream. Cutest shop, delicious ice cream, unique flavors, and was completely empty at 3 in the afternoon on a Sunday. Win win win. The youngest fell asleep right before we got there so that was another win! I just got to sit down and enjoy it while I held her. Also, my husband likes to make not normal faces in pics. Always. Everybody got huckleberry ice cream besides me and my oldest. She wanted whatever I got and I got cardamom. I love cardamom so I had to try it. It was so good. My husband and I traded a scoop and it was even better with huckleberry mixed in.
That completed our trip to Billings! We wanted to go check out the Pictograph Caves State Park but they had just closed when we got there. Next time! Hope you enjoyed reading!