Montana’s tagline may be “The Last Best Place,” but in the last few years, word’s gotten out. Big-city folk are taking notice of the state’s beauty (Chicago and Atlanta have both added seasonal direct flights to Montana airports this year, and Helena has daily directs to Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis), and along with the influx of tourists comes a wave of local entrepreneurs opening up shop. Nowhere is this truer than in the capital city of Helena, which is adding serious substance to its captivating backdrop.
Embracing a slower pace of life may be a welcome respite for meetings here, though the area attracts many outdoor-focused groups looking for adventure—for obvious reasons. One must-do is a boat tour through the Gates of the Mountains on Holter Lake, a 15-minute drive from downtown. Dinner cruises and private charters also can be arranged. For an interactive teambuilding experience that sends attendees on an outdoor treasure hunt all over town, plan an afternoon of geocaching (it’s so popular here, the city launched an app to guide visitors around). Celebrate the victors at the new Ten Mile Creek Brewery, the city’s third brewery; Triple Divide Spirits, a recently opened vodka distillery; or The Hawthorn Bottle Shop & Tasting Room, owned by a New York-transplant sommelier.
Helena’s meeting facilities are well suited (and affordable) for medium-size groups. The largest of the city’s convention hotels, the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, recently got a face-lift that revamped its entrance and all of its 148 guest rooms. Helena Great Northern Hotel, a Best Western Premier property, has more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space, 100 rooms and a swanky on-site restaurant, Silver Star Steak Company (if you’re hosting a dessert reception, make sure its signature Berrymisu is on the menu). The property’s prime downtown location in Great Northern Town Center gives attendees exploration options, including local shops, restaurants, Lewis & Clark Interpretive Experience, ExplorationWorks science center and even a carousel, entertaining for both adults and kids.