Our stay in Bozeman didn’t turn out as planned. It was week two of Highland Family Summer Vacation 2018 with Javen (17) and Silas (14). We had just come from beautiful West Yellowstone, with a one-night stop in Gallatin National Forest.
We planned on adventuring in the Bozeman area like we normally do, but unexpected family news caused us to refocus and quickly change our travel plans.
We stayed in Bozeman from June 24-29, 2018.
Our RV Campground in Bozeman
Originally, Bozeman was a 6-night stop-over as we made our way to an exciting destination: Glacier National Park. I looked at dry camping spots first, but wasn’t able to find anything nearish the city with reliable cell coverage.
So we turned to RV park options, and learned the area infrastructure doesn’t match the demand from all the RVers passing through. Sunrise Campground was full during our dates. Bear Canyon Campground had one site left (arriving Sunday instead of Saturday like we wanted). After brief discussion, we snatched it up.
This was our first time with hookups of any kind, not to mention full hookups, in more than four weeks! It was tough to pay up. You really get used to dry camping free after a while.
The sites were gravel and quite close together. There were some amenities, including a nice swimming pool heated to 84 degrees, but we didn’t use any of them. My favorite aspect of the campground was its proximity to town (only 8 minutes to main street). Bozeman was big city living compared to what we were used to!
Suddenly Changing Our Travel Plans
The day we arrived, Eric received some troubling news from a family member regarding his mother’s health. I won’t go into too much detail out of respect for everyone’s privacy. But there was no question we needed to go to Seattle as soon as possible to see her.
Last-minute RV travel to Seattle in the summer? Fuhgeddaboudit. For our 2016 visit, we made our reservation 9 months in advance. And there aren’t actually any RV parks in Seattle proper. We were in Issaquah in 2016, and that was the closest we could get with an RV our size.
All that to say, making arrangements took pretty much our whole week in Bozeman. Not literally every moment, but between that and work, our thoughts were consumed. We were so distracted that we paid more than $200 to stay at a fairground outside Seattle, and forgot to cancel and get our money back when we didn’t end up staying there. /facepalm
So What DID We Do in Bozeman?
I had every intention of cooking nice dinners for the family at home. But with the stress and busy-ness, our Bozeman exploration took the form of eating out. Highlight reel below!
The U Burgers and Shakes
The U Burgers & Shakes has our heart! The burger creations here are 100% original and 100% genius. Need an example? On my first visit, I had the Portland burger with jalapeño, peanut butter, bacon, onion, and house sauce. Everything is beyond good, including the milkshakes and onion rings.
U Burgers, thank you for your hospitality and generosity! We loved our meals and all your wonderful suggestions for hiking in Glacier National Park and the Bozeman area. (Follow @mountain_insta_hike on Instagram for a local’s expertise.)
815 W. College St. – Website
Roost Fried Chicken
If you can’t eat a burger for every meal (I’m pretty sure Eric could), then make your way to Roost Fried Chicken. We’ve had some incredible fried chicken–some of the best being Old Country Store in Lorman, MS, the original Gus’s in Memphis, and Top Notch in Austin. But Roost Fried Chicken in Bozeman is right up there.
At some places like Gus’s, the chicken is awesome, but the sides are only so-so. At Roost, everything is fabulous. We ordered the family meal for our table of five, and filled every square inch with smashed potatoes, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, Southern fried chicken, and sweet tea. We took home two large styrofoam containers of leftovers.
On another visit, Eric said the chicken sandwich was the best he’d ever had. This place was seriously a stand-out. One of the places we’d put on a “best food in the country” list.
1520 W. Main St. – Website
We tried a couple of local coffee shops before finding a favorite. Zocalo Coffee on main street was hip–the kind of scene that makes me feel a bit old. But the coffee was solid and the scone above average (Caspian and I are scone connoisseurs).
Wild Joe’s Coffee–also on main–has tons of seating. Coffee and scone were good. But the scene was too quiet for a toddler, with people taking business calls, working on their laptops, and having adult conversation. The ambiance seemed like it should be kid-friendly, but I felt really uncomfortable.
Three times was the charm when we hit Wild Crumb. Wow. If I wasn’t already developing mad respect for Bozeman’s culinary delights, then Wild Crumb was the clincher. This place was all kinds of sophisticated, with some of the most delicious artisan pastry items around. Yet it was still down-to-earth enough for me to slap Caspian down in a high chair and ask to borrow a sharp knife so I could cut apple slices for him. There were mornings when we would hang out for a good 45 minutes. I miss this place.
600 N. Wallace Ave. #6 – Website
I hadn’t been to Bozeman since I was a kid, and it was interesting to hear my dad’s memories of our visit. Obviously a lot has changed in the past two decades. No longer rural or small town, Bozeman is developing an attractive culture with community events, breweries, and excellent food. Given its prime location south of Glacier, on a thoroughfare across the northern part of the country, I expect continued growth.
Don’t miss the main street shops, especially Schnee’s for outdoor clothing and gear.
And if for some reason this applies to you, the Bozeman airport is super cute and easy to navigate. Parking is free for 30 minutes right up front. You can walk upstairs to the gate to greet loved ones. I’m really glad we flew Javen and Silas in here. If only we had known they wouldn’t be flying out of Bozeman like we expected…