It's no secret that Bozeman is growing by the minute, bringing incredible new businesses, from day spas, to the perfect brunch spot, to swanky cocktail lounges. And while these new establishments are exciting and draw many people to our little mountain town, there are also those who are looking to have the authentic Bozeman experience — the kind that still resembles something of the Old West, relishing the sweet, simple culture of Bozeman's roots. With a city history that goes back as far as 1864, many of Bozeman's buildings and businesses have been preserved for generations. If nothing else, the Bozeman lifestyle has certainly carried on.
If you happen to be looking for an authentic Bozeman experience, look no further. We've gathered together our favorite mainstays for you to enjoy while you're here.
Stepping into the Western Café is a bit like stepping back in time. Old pine paneling lines the walls, surrounding an ever-bustling room of hungry patrons and hard-working servers. Old-timers sit propped on barstools along the breakfast counter, intent on eating their breakfast at a pace that says they don’t have anywhere to rush off to. The servers, on the other hand, are constantly on the move. Hardworking men and women with pens tucked behind their ears work the cash register, greet guests and refill hot, black coffee.
The menu is just as no-frill as the business inside. You won’t find the words gluten-free or vegan here. Instead, come for healthy helpings of hash browns, thick slices of bacon, and the cinnamon roll French toast. The business, which is located in one of Bozeman's oldest buildings and has been serving this community for nearly a century, prides itself on the kind of simplicity reminiscent of the whole state—simple food, simple environment, simple comforts. Just know that if you’re looking to pop in on a weekend, be prepared to wait.
The Crystal Bar is what dive dreams are made of. Located directly on Historic Downtown Main Street, you can’t miss the glowing red image of a steer that hangs above the entryway, beckoning you in. Once inside, you’re greeted by a barrage of unwavering character from floor to ceiling. Everywhere you look is a detail that seems to have been there so long it’s become a part of the infrastructure itself. Marvel at the wall of bras, where bright pink and lacey undergarments hang aplenty for your viewing. Pick a song on the jukebox and dance on the old wood floor under a ceiling of old rock posters and cardboard cutouts.
The atmosphere of the Crystal encapsulates the no-nonsense attitude that’s common across our great state. If you’re looking for straight-up drinks (no fancy mixologists here) that are good and stiff, some colorful locals, and a downright good time, you’re in the right spot.
Head West Boutique is located on Main Street in Downtown Bozeman, tucked between two other local establishments—The Country Bookshelf and Wild Joe’s. If you’re looking for tried and true Montana attire, this is where you pause your Main Street stroll and duck in for a bit. Inside is stacked with authentic western wear—from vests, to boots, cowboy hats, belt buckles and more. But this isn’t some dusty old roundup. Each piece is crafted with the finest leather, hide, or sterling silver. Hand-sewn pieces from artisans local and abroad fill their beautiful shop. If you’re interested in finding something with a little more vintage charm, be sure to head downstairs. It’s easy to miss the little door that leads to the basement, so look out. You don’t want to miss this.
Setting foot in the Baxter Hotel for any reason is to step back in time. The historical building is a bit of a north star on our Main Street. Inside, patrons can turn right towards Ted’s Montana Grill, or meander into the Bacchus. Crossing the threshold feels something like time traveling, as you find yourself surrounded by an ancient old bar top, original floors, and intricate wood carvings in the ceiling rafters.
Originally founded in the 1960’s, the pub serves typical pub fare and food. The staff is as warm as the atmosphere created by the low tabletops and tight corner pew seats, always ready to greet you with a friendly demeanor of Montana familiarity. We highly recommend you try their famous curry fries—we promise you won’t regret it.
Schnee's has everything you need to be a true, Bozeman outdoorsman (or woman), with everything from top-of-the-line boots and apparel to camping and hunting gear. Serving the city's adventurers since 1946, Schnee's is a Bozeman staple for locals and regular visitors. Even if you're not interested in doing any shopping, it's worth stopping in the store to check out its impressive collection of taxidermy of local Montana animals like moose, elk, pronghorn and mountain lions. Hunting, fishing and doing all things outdoors are an essential part of the Bozeman lifestyle, and Schnee's is a great way to get a feel for it while downtown.
When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay for your authentic Bozeman experience, VRBozeman Vacation Rentals offer a gateway to exploring Bozeman's Historic Downtown Main Street. Stay in historic buildings that have been thoughtful restored to provide modern luxury, while still within walking distance of all the best things in Bozeman. Check out our suites and rates to find your perfect match!