Everyone loves small-town charm, right?

You know the type of place I'm talking about, a place where everyone knows everyone and you get to hear the latest gossip at the beauty or barbershop.  A town where the hardware store is the place to be on a Saturday, and the waitresses at the local diner know your favorite flavor of pie.

Here in Montana, we have several of those types of towns to choose from, and if you ask me, that's where you'll find the real Montana. Don't get me wrong, the bigger towns certainly have their perks, but if you're looking for real Montana values with real Montana folks, you'll certainly find them in the small towns.

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So, which small town in Montana is the best?

Of course, when you ask a question like that you need to be prepared for several opinions. However, Travel and Leisure recently released a list that includes 9 different towns in Montana. So which 9 towns made the list?  Let's take a look.

  • Whitefish
  • Hamilton
  • Stevensville
  • Livingston
  • West Yellowstone
  • Ennis
  • Virginia City
  • Red Lodge
  • Glendive

With the exception of Red Lodge, I've been to every one of the towns on their list and I would have to agree with almost all of their suggestions, with the exception of a couple.


My absolute favorite town in Montana is Livingston, and I make no bones about it.  Livingston is such a cool town and the folks there are more than kind.  So, if I was voting on this, I would vote for Livingston.

Having said that, I also love Hamilton. In fact, I love the Bitterroot Valley, so I'm going to throw Stevensville in there as well.

Recently, I spent the weekend in Ennis with family and had the chance to not only spend time in their downtown area, but spend the day in Virginia City as well. I'm a big fan of Ennis; in fact, I wrote about my experience with Big Mama. Virginia City was so much fun, but I kind of think of it more as a tourist thing and I'm not sure how much goes on outside of tourist season.

Credit: Derek Wolf
Credit: Derek Wolf

Speaking of tourists, I did mention that there were a couple towns that I wouldn't add to the list and let me just say it has nothing to do with them not being great towns.  However, both Whitefish and West Yellowstone can be viewed as typical tourist towns where things are mass-produced and overpriced.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about owning stuff with "Montana" written all over it, but maybe a little bit of the small town charm is lost in all of that—is that just me? Either way, what is your favorite small town in Montana?

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With several different buildings to tour and friendly folks to guide you through your visit, as well as tell you the stories of the times, Nevada City is not only educational but fun for the whole family.

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