Belgrade has seen steady growth over the past few years. Sitting just 11 miles from Bozeman, where growth has exploded, Belgrade has been getting more and more attention lately. Some of the growth is due to home buyers getting priced out of Bozeman's real estate market, but a lot of it is because people are looking for a different way of life. The people of Belgrade are using this growth as a way for the city to define itself in a new way, while still holding on to its roots as a western town with a history of ranching and farming. The locals are proud of Belgrade and rightfully so because it is one of Montana's greatest small towns!
Belgrade is growing fast and this growth is shaping the community. Rather than being a place where you live but go elsewhere for work and play, now people are choosing Belgrade because it is where they want to become a part of the town. They choose it for its real sense of community and want to see it grow in an intentional way. The strength of the Belgrade community comes from its people, the history of the town and the breathtaking views and the residents want to see this continue.
2. It's still a small town
While we love Bozeman, it is turning into a bigger city. Belgrade, on the other hand, is still a small Montana town. You can walk down the street or into a store and see a familiar face. It is definitely growing and will continue to as Bozeman home prices rise, but the neighborhoods of Belgrade are being developed with the idea of space for the dog to run and kids to play. Bozeman pushes the concept of infill, with alleys in the back and homes close together to handle the growth. In Belgrade, you'll find more of the neighborhood feel in the subdivisions that people are looking for in a small town.
3. Belgrade Community Market
This summer will be Belgrade's 4th annual Farmer's Market where you can buy homemade and homegrown goods and food from local vendors. They take place on Thursday nights starting in July at Lewis and Clark Park. This market is all run by volunteers from the Belgrade Community Coalition. Along with the market on Thursday nights, the Belgrade Community Library hosts their summer reading programs and the Coalition hosts “Belgrade Summer Nights” which include lawn game tournaments. What better way to enjoy a beautiful summer evening!
4. Belgrade Fall Festival and Festival of Lights
Since 1973 people have been enjoying the Belgrade Fall Festival in early September. There is live music on Friday night and then things kick off Saturday morning with a parade down Main Street. The festival continues at Lewis and Clark park with kids activities, local arts, crafts and food vendors and a free community BBQ.
The Festival of Lights starts the holiday season in early December. In the morning there is the Kiwanis breakfast and 5K Jingle Jog as well as shopping vendors, a gingerbread house contest and photos with Santa. In the evening the festivities continue on Main Street with the lighting of the trees by Santa. Local businesses stay open late for Christmas shopping and holiday refreshments. There are also wagon rides and fireworks towards the end of the evening. Both of these events are long-time Belgrade traditions and still have that great small town feel without the crowds of Bozeman events.
5. Belgrade School District
Go to any Belgrade school sporting events and you’ll find the stands full of locals cheering on the kids! The support for the schools from the community is huge. There are 6 schools, over 3,300 students, 489 staff and over 25 student organizations, clubs and sports. There is something for every student whether they want to play football or join the robotics club.
6. So many dining options
It wasn’t long ago that if you lived in Belgrade and wanted to go out for a meal, you most likely went to Bozeman. In the last few years, that has all changed with more local restaurants options opening throughout Belgrade. For breakfast, Rise and Shine Café is a favorite with farm fresh eggs, homemade jam and made-from-scratch sausage gravy. If you’re looking for a quick bite and coffee to start your day, Café M is the spot to go. There are plenty of lunch spots-The Chalet Market for a sandwich, Taco Bus and Pho Bone Broth to name a few. The newest restaurant on the Belgrade dining scene is The Local right on Main Street. They have a wide variety of options and a fun atmosphere. The Mint and Gallatin River Lodge are always crowd pleasers and great places to take out of town guests.
7. Belgrade Splash Park
On any hot summer day, you’ll find kids cooling off at the splash park in Lewis and Clark Park. The splash park is open during the summer months from 9am-9pm and there’s a variety of water features sure to delight kids of all ages. This park is the best in the summer with large, mature trees for shade, plenty of space for a picnic, a playground and skate park. It’s usually people coming into Bozeman for fun activities, but with the splash park, it’s the families of Bozeman going to Belgrade!
There are plenty of trails to enjoy near Belgrade. The most popular in-town one is the Valley Center Trail which is over 4 miles beginning on Valley Center Road and going to Jackrabbit. If it’s a mountain trail you are after, the Bridgers are right in Belgrade’s backyard. North Cottonwood, Sypes Canyon and Corbly Gulch are all fantastic hikes in the Bridgers near Belgrade. Headwaters State Park is just a short drive away near Three Forks and has many trails plus some great local history!
Southwest Montana is a fisherman’s dream and Belgrade is near some great spots. The most popular fishing sites are the main fork of 16 Mile Creek, the East Gallatin and of course, the Missouri and Madison Rivers are nearby.
10. Madison River Brewing
While Bozeman has been overrun with breweries, Belgrade has just one but it is a good one. Madison River Brewing Company is what breweries are supposed to be…a simple tasting room with good beer and no bells and whistles.