Top 10 BZN Places for People Watching

Sarah Cairoli

Watching other people is human nature. We can’t help it; we’re fascinated by each other. We learn a lot about each other through body language and visual cues, often inventing entire stories about people we have never met. Bozeman may be a small town, but there are plenty of places to people watch and feel like part of a community.

Downtown Bozeman is the place to be and Bozeman Magazine readers’ top pick for favorite places to people watch. Several restaurants have patios that provide great meals, drinks, and views of all the action. No matter the season or time of day, there is always something happening downtown. Art Walks kick off in June; art galleries and businesses display the work of local, regional and national artists on the second Friday of every month from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. while local musicians often play along the street.

Music on Main
Music on Main is a community-wide dance party and a perfect place to people watch. Starting on June 29, Main Street closes every Thursday night for live music and a block party. The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. A different band is featured every week, and local vendors sell food and drink to keep you energized. Kids love the bounce houses and hula hoopers, dogs are everywhere, and everyone has a great time.

MSU’s Centennial Mall
The Montana State University campus is one of the most vibrant places in Bozeman. The lawn in front of Montana Hall on the Centennial Mall is the best place on campus for people watching. As the hub of campus, the area is always packed with people from all over the world; MSU has international students from over 70 countries. Public events take place here often, and MSU’s Fork in the Road food truck is almost always nearby.

Bobcat Stadium
On a home game Saturday, there is no better place to be than Bobcat Stadium. Grab a free hot dog from Town & Country and settle in because you will see all kinds. The best part: Everyone is happy and full of Bobcat spirit, which they display proudly in a variety of ways. You do not need a ticket to have a good time, but some of the best people watching happens during the game, when the giant screen picks up people in a variety of costumes.

Gallatin River’s Mad Mile
Although it’s not exactly in Bozeman, the Mad Mile on the Gallatin River is worth the scenic drive down Highway 191. Watching people navigate past House Rock in rafts, kayaks, and canoes is exciting, especially in high water years, which this is sure to be. Boats run this river every day of the week, but if you want to watch boats race this stretch of river, head to the Gallatin Whitewater Festival on June 23. Park at the Gallatin River Trailhead, a large pullout across from the Lava Lake Trailhead, and carpool if you can.

Any 5K Anywhere
There are too many 5K races in Bozeman to count. Most are events that raise money for good causes, and the turnout is enormous. You can run, walk, or cheer for those who do; regardless of how you choose to participate, you’ll feel a cozy sense of community and have plenty of people to watch. Costumes and tutus abound, adorable babies roll by in strollers, and dogs often keep pace with their owners.

Local Breweries
So many breweries, so little time! Bozeman is peppered with local breweries that serve up delicious drinks and fantastic food. You can find an atmosphere for whatever mood you are in – loud music and a party vibe, more intimate, sophisticated settings or everything in between. Happy hours and weekend nights are popular times to go watch people or, better yet, meet them and make some new friends. Just be mindful of how those beer goggles can alter your judgement.

Dog Parks
Dogs are people too, right? In Bozeman, our furry friends are treated like family and dog parks are a popular spot. The Gallatin County Regional Park, on Tschache Ln., is a favorite, as is the Snowfill Recreation Area on McIlhattan Rd. In addition to watching people, you can watch lots of adorable dogs of all kinds.

Madison River
If you have not floated on an inner tube down the Madison River, you need to add this adventure to your list of things to do this summer. Several local businesses rent inflatables, or you can bring your own. Most people like to hop in the river at the Warm Springs fishing access site and float for a couple of hours to Black’s Ford fishing access site. The section of river is packed in the summer; it is like a giant, floating party and great for people watching. When you float, be sure to arrange for a sober driver (several companies run shuttles to keep everyone safe). Garbage along this stretch of river has also become a problem, so be sure to pack your trash out.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport
As the busiest airport in Montana, the Bozeman airport always has plenty of people to watch. Every year, this airport serves over one million people, which is essentially equivalent to the population of the entire state. People come from all corners of the planet using the airport’s direct flights to 16 cities.

No matter where you do your people watching, be sure to observe but reserve judgement until you’ve actually met. Bozeman is full of interesting people doing amazing things. Several events make it easy to connect with others in the community, so get out there this summer and discover what makes Bozeman so great – the people!   


This was made by

Sarah Cairoli

Sarah Cairoli is a local writer, tutor, and mother who has been enjoying all Bozeman has to offer for the past decade. She can be reached at (at) hotmail [d0t] com,)

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