Providing Guests with a Montana Experience

February 2019

With a touch of embarrassment, Akvilina admits her love for Montana was not at first sight. She grew up in a metropolitan area and, at first, found the “hustle and bustle of traffic and dance clubs more appealing than the solitude of secluded mountains with more cows per square foot than people.” For a while, she says she would, “Try to talk friends out of visiting us out of fear they might be bored in our small town.”

One day, a dear childhood friend from London announced her plans to travel to Billings to see the Riegers and this is when “Our traveling tastes changed for good.”

After going into panic mode, “I started talking to locals, asking questions, and researching things to do in Montana.” Once she began to create an itinerary of activities, the list was endless. “I realized that attractions are not the only things that are fun to experience while traveling, but also absorbing local life in the area.” This includes food and other activities exclusive to our state.

Here’s a breakdown of her itinerary in providing guests with a...


1. Sightseeing:
  • Beartooth Highway is a must-see. “There is nothing like it! It’s a jewel of our state, and I have yet to meet a guest who was not left breathless over the views.”
  • Yellowstone National Park is well recognized around the world. Akvilina recommends spending at least one night at the KOA in West Yellowstone. “Nature and rustic cabins are the perfect combination for a true Montana experience. We often forget the treat that clear, starry nights are for people who live in big cities.”
  • Hot Springs, sapphire mining, ghost towns, Lewis and Clark Caverns, skiing, and Glacier National Park are just a few of her recommendations. “Think unique.”
  • Hiking is always high on her list as, “There are a lot of picturesque hikes geared for all levels of hikers.” Sioux Charlie Lake is a breathtaking hike for intermediate hikers.
  • Fishing, “Because in Montana, we have the options of either fly fishing or regular fishing. You can even get out on a boat and combine fishing and boating.” As an added bonus, Akvilina recommends showing your guests the movie filmed in Montana: A River Runs Through It.
  • Shooting Range. “A fun bucket-list experience for visitors.” Try the Billings Rod and Gun Club.
2. Food:
  • Eating In. Akvilina suggests jotting down a menu to use while guests are visiting. “I enjoy feeding my guests, and I believe trying out local foods is a hugely important part of the experience.” Carefully plan meals unique to Montanans. “Fish and wild game brought home by my husband and guests are usually a staple.” Akvilina adds, “Spread out preparation and do as much as possible ahead of time. Freezing meals beforehand allows you to relax with your guests instead of working away behind the scenes.”
  • Dining Out. Ten at the Northern Hotel and Jakes offer dishes that are Montana staples such as bison, elk, or duck. Since we are known for our delicious burgers, “The Burger Dive downtown never disappoints our foreign or out of state guests.”
3. Accommodations:
  • “I love thinking of little touches for guests to discover in our guest bedroom.” A basket of goodies by the bed such as chocolates or mini soaps, bath bombs made in Montana. “I tend to splurge in
  • Red Lodge at Lotions and Potions.”
  • Local Magazines. Simply Family Magazine is the perfect bedside companion for your guests including a calendar of local events for them to enjoy during their stay.
  • “When I have visitors from other time zones, I like to leave a basket of fruit in the room as I know from experience, hunger usually strikes at night.”
  • “I enjoy compiling it as much as my guests love receiving it.” Akvilina recommends laying it out like a cruise ship newsletter and making it fun for guests to read. “Leave some surprises but mention a hint of something coming up that day.”

Finally remember, “Travel is so much better when your guide is a friend who loves where they live and can let you become an insider.” Akvilina Rieger.