MT Summer Bucket List

Sarah May

With summer travel shifted to more staycation and less epic destinations, building a summer bucket list is a perfect way to make the most of a summer spent living locally. Whether you’re building a list full of solo adventures or planning one to make a few family memories, creating a summer bucket list is a great way to be intentional about having fun this summer.

The first step in creating a summer bucket list is setting the expectations and limits. While managing expectations and setting limits for ourselves is not anyone’s idea of a fun summer, it will help in developing a list that can be achieved. Clarifying expectations helps keep people on the same page for the day’s adventure. For young ones with big feelings and excitement for life, setting expectations can prevent meltdowns and let downs. This also works with us adults who enjoy making well-meaning plans. Limits on summer fun may look like time, distance or finances. While some people appear to have limitless budgets for summer fun, most of us are feeling the financial pinch of the current economy. While you and your friends might want to try out the new restaurants in town, it may not be in everyone’s budget. Scheduling dinner dates during happy hour is a budget friendly way to meet the expectations of eating out and not breaking the bank. There is a Top 10 Happy Hour Spots at to help you out.

Next, you want a well-balanced bucket list. While some may set sights on climbing each peak of the Bridgers, there’s little room for small adventures or inclement weather in this type of list. A good list should have small things you can do spontaneously when the rain cancels a plan to float the Madison River. Playing a new board game is a great idea for spontaneous fun on a rainy day. A well-balanced bucket list inspiring adventure should be filled with big events and small ones. An overnight backpacking trip is an epic summer memory, but requires a great deal of time, effort and money if you need supplies. A simple backyard bonfire with friends is quick and inexpensive. While one is a high impact event and the other a low-key evening, they can both lead to a summer memory for years to come.

One key to creating an epic bucket list is thinking outside the box and simply looking at what’s around us. A simple shift in routine can lead to a treasured memory. With more trails than we can count in a stone’s throw distance, getting out in nature is one of the reasons we call Bozeman home. While the “M” trail is a local hiking staple, changing up our hike time to an after-work sunset hike is a low-key way to shake up the middle of the work week drag. Palisade Falls in Hyalite Canyon also makes for a great after work hike with a picnic dinner. Another great way to shake up the work week with our extra hours of sunlight is to simply forgo the meal plan and indulge in ice cream for dinner. While the verdict is still out on which ice cream shop is Bozeman’s Choice, we have options and there’s no reason we shouldn’t try all of them in a quest to find our favorite. Changing up our weekly routines with sunset hikes on a Tuesday and ice cream for dinner are simple inexpensive ways to create a summer memory with just a simple shift in our daily routine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Unless you try to do something beyond what you already mastered, you will never grow,” and trying something new should be a summer bucket list requirement. With no shortage of outdoor activities to partake in, now is a perfect summer to try kayaking down the Yellowstone River or learning to rock climb at Spire. If you’re needing a break from the great outdoors or just want to slow it down a bit, many local businesses offer more crafty style classes for those looking to challenge his or her artistic abilities. If you’re short on cash and not sure if taking a rafting trip or watercolor painting class is in the budget, plan a night with friends where one person gives a watercolor how to or ask your one fly fishing obsessed friend to take you on the water one day. Learning something new is a great way to meet new people around town and have a little fun while you’re at it.

As you brainstorm your summer adventures in and around Bozeman, don’t be afraid to mix up the weekly routine. Picking up a favorite pizza and eating it with friends by Bozeman Pond can be just as memorable as a weekend backpacking trip. Don’t be afraid to ask others to join you on your adventures and stay flexible with plans. Spend your summer finding a favorite ice cream joint and flavor and discover a perfect spot to watch the sun set. If you’re the crafty type, create a fun way to display your Bozeman bucket list in your home. Find a new hobby, or finally check out the museum you drive by every day. So remember to set your expectations and limits, find some friends or family members and get to brainstorming. No idea is too crazy for a brainstorm session. Keep your activities balanced and don’t break the budget in the name of summer fun.

Tag us on social media @bozemag as you create and cross off your Bozeman Bucket List, so we can share ideas and cheer each other on as we enjoy the summer sun. Use the hashtag #bozemanbucketlist online to link up with us.  

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