12 Unforgettable Things to do in Livingston MT
If you’re spending time in Montana’s renowned Paradise Valley and looking for things to do in Livingston MT or things to do near Yellowstone, you’re in the right place.
Livingston is the epitome of small but mighty, a distinctly only-in-Montana town embodying a perfect combination of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, Wild Wild West history, a well-established arts scene, and unique things to do, see, eat, and drink.
Oh, and it’s just 20 minutes south of Bozeman and less than an hour from the Yellowstone north entrance in Gardiner.
Find out what makes this town so unique and why you should add at least a few of these things to do in Livingston MT to your Montana itinerary.
Wondering about what’s open in Yellowstone National Park and nearby? The article linked just above gives a ton of details about all the things you can do in the park (more than you think!), as well as other things to do near Yellowstone. NPS also continuously updates this Flood Recovery & Operations page.
Best Things to do in Livingston MT
From river recreation and waterfalls to art walks and shopping, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Livingston MT.
Whether you simply take in the views or do something a bit more active, spending time at Sacajawea Park is one of the best things to do in Livingston MT. The postcard-perfect park sits right on the banks of the Yellowstone River with head-on views of prominent Livingston Peak and the Absaroka Mountains.
Stop into The Gourmet Cellar for fancy charcuterie goodies and fresh baked goods from the Livingston Community Bakery for a picnic. At Sacajawea, find a bench overlooking the river, enjoy the lagoon, or hike a section of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail.
On Wednesday evenings in the summer, the park also hosts the Livingston Farmers Market, another great option for things to do near Yellowstone.
The Yellowstone River is one of just a handful of officially-designated Blue Ribbon Trout Rivers in the U.S. (there are actually only seven states total that have Blue Ribbon fisheries!). Perhaps that’s why A River Runs Through It was filmed on this stretch of river!
It’s no surprise that fly fishing the Yellowstone is one of the best and most popular things to do in Livingston. In fact, the Livingston section of the river is considered especially great for fishing, consistently producing large trout of several species.
You can wade right into the river to fish and there are several access points around and even within Livingston. Carters Bridge is one of the most popular, but there are also countless unnamed spots along Highway 89.
If you’d prefer to take a drift boat out, we recommend hiring a local fly fishing guide like Long Outfitting or Dan Bailey’s. They’ll know all the best spots and allow you to focus solely on honing your cast and catching fish.
Float or Kayak the Yellowstone River
You’ll quickly see how Paradise Valley earned its nickname when you get on the river here. This uber-scenic, fairly calm stretch of the Yellowstone, the longest undammed river in the Lower 48, is spectacular.
Whether you bring your own inflatable kayak or take a guided rafting trip, spending time on the river is one of the best things to do in Livingston MT. A couple of great local outfitters include Rowdy River Guides and Paradise Scenic River Tours.
Shop Main Street
Nowhere do you see how very Montana Livingston is than on Main Street. Long-established businesses with well-preserved neon signs sit alongside modern breweries and gourmet kitchen shops, and there are fly fishing shops and antique stores sprinkled in.
This dichotomy — old and new, artsy yet decidedly western — is precisely what gives Livingston its unique energy. In our humble opinion, experiencing this uniqueness in itself is one of the best things to do near Yellowstone!
A few local favorite shops include Elk River Books, Cactus Blossom Collective, Dangling Doodads, Mary’s Decor to Adore, and The Alchemy Exchange.
Built by the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1902, stopping into the historic Livingston Depot is one of the best things to do near Yellowstone. In fact, the depot’s original purpose was to bring visitors from the east to the national park (it welcomed passengers until 1979)!
Today, the depot is impressively preserved and maintained. Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can stop in to tour the museum exhibits or enjoy one of the many community events the depot hosts, including art exhibits and chuckwagon dinners.
Hike Pine Creek Falls
Just outside Livingston on the way to Yellowstone National Park, Pine Creek Falls is a relatively easy waterfall hike with a tremendous payoff.
The 2.5-mile roundtrip hike starts from Pine Creek Campground, an excellent, beautiful site for car camping. The trail is mostly shaded, very well marked, and gains only moderate, gradual elevation — manageable for just about anyone.
Insider tip: once you get to the waterfall itself, cross the bridge and go just a bit further for a second cascade! This view is hidden from the front side, so it’s easy to miss.
You can also continue on to Pine Creek Lake, which is another four miles one way. While the high-alpine lake is absolutely spectacular, know that in those four miles, you gain a staggering 3,000 feet of elevation. It’s not for the casual hiker!
Note that because of its accessibility, this hike (and campground) is one of the most popular things to do near Yellowstone, Livingston, and even Bozeman. Don’t plan to have the trail to yourself, but you can avoid the bulk of the crowds by starting extra early or a bit later in the day.
Also, be sure to stop at Pine Creek Lodge before or after your hike for a beer, casual bite, and live music!
Soak in Natural Hot Springs
South of Livingston just off Highway 89, there are two excellent hot springs resorts: Yellowstone Hot Springs and Chico Hot Springs.
Both offer a variety of developed hot springs pools and other amenities, such as overnight accommodations (camping at Yellowstone Hot Springs, cabins and unique glamping options including a covered Conestoga wagon and repurposed train caboose at Chico).
This relaxing activity is one of the best things to do near Yellowstone, less than 30 miles from the Gardiner entrances!
Experience Livingston’s Art Scene
With its eclectic, laid-back vibes and stunning surrounding scenery, it’s no wonder that Livingston has always been a hub for artists, authors, and other creatives.
Visiting some of the 14 art galleries — an impressive number for such a small town! — is one of the best things to do in Livingston MT. Parks Reece and many other renowned living artists have galleries in town, and look for work by the late Russell Chatham and other influential western artists. You’ll also find frequently-rotating exhibits at Livingston museums and galleries.
You don’t necessarily need to step foot inside a gallery to really immerse yourself in Livingston’s art scene, though. There are several large-scale murals and sculptures placed throughout town, offering the perfect reason to take a DIY walking tour. On Fridays in the summer (and once during the holidays), don’t miss the Livingston Gallery Association Art Walk.
Catch a Live Music Performance
It seems there are always at least one or two bands playing in Livingston, further adding to its funky, artsy atmosphere. Local restaurants and breweries often host bands, and you can count on several awesome shows each month at The Attic, an appropriately-named upstairs venue on Main Street.
A bit south of town, some of the best things to do near Yellowstone are catch shows (or at least have a drink!) at either the Old Saloon or Pine Creek Lodge. Both venues are outdoors and very, very casual, serving cheap drinks and pub fare.
If you’re a fan of artists such as Tyler Childers, Whiskey Myers, and Zach Bryan — the type of music often showcased on the Yellowstone TV show — definitely catch a show at either.
Murray Hotel & Bar
A downtown staple since 1904, grabbing a cocktail at the Murray Bar or — better yet — spending a night at the Murray Hotel is one of the quintessential things to do in Livingston MT.
The Murray occasionally has live music, and it’s not at all uncommon to spot celebrities. If you’re hungry, book a table at the fantastic Second Street Bistro or order from Gil’s Goods or Stella’s Gourmet Kitchen, all part of what’s known as “the Murray Block.”
The late great Anthony Bourdain repeatedly named the Murray Hotel among his top 10 in the entire world, and once publicly called the Murray Bar “one of the world’s finest saloons.”
Sample Livingston’s Foodie Scene
For a small Montana town, Livingston has a surprisingly diverse food scene. A few local favorites include:
- Neptune’s Taphouse for a fun tiki bar vibe, cocktails, and…sushi. Really! Not to be confused with Neptune’s Brewery, which is also great, Neptune’s Taphouse has a killer rooftop deck.
- 2nd Street Bistro (in the Murray Block) for French-inspired, made-from-scratch everything and a really cool lively atmosphere.
- Pinky’s Cafe for farmhouse-style breakfast and phenomenal, friendly service.
- Tru North Cafe for your morning coffee (get one of the “Storm Cloud” drinks and thank us later) and a light breakfast or lunch
Visit Yellowstone National Park
Finally, no list of the best things to do in Livingston MT is complete without mentioning a Yellowstone National Park day trip!
While you can’t currently (as of August 2022) drive through Yellowstone’s north entrance, you can still visit the park! You have a couple of options:
You can head to Gardiner, park your vehicle outside park boundaries, and then hike or bike about 1.5 miles in on your own. There’s also great access to fishing in the Gardner River here.
Alternatively, you can go into the park with any number of Gardiner-based outfitters and tours. Some highlights include e-biking with Big Sky E-Bikes, horseback riding, and guided wildlife photography tours. And while it’s not technically inside the park, the ONLY place you can experience whitewater rafting near Yellowstone is in Gardiner!
Find all the details in our complete guide to visiting the north entrance, linked at the beginning of this article and down below!
We hope this guide to the best things to do in Livingston MT is helpful! Be sure to save it on Pinterest for planning the details of your visit later!