October was a crazy month. I started it out with a trip to MN, MT, WY, and CO, and then rounded it out with a trip to the Chicago suburbs. I’m making good progress on my #KAS50by30 challenge to get to all 50 states before I turn 30! This year I crossed California, Alabama, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado off my list. I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed exploring out west, and I think Montana, Colorado, and California were my favorites this year.
One thing I love to do is check Yelp to see what restaurants I should check out while I’m in each area, or what other sights I should see. Here’s what I did (and loved) in a few different states that week:
1. Lyn65 (dinner) – I had some of the most delicious fried chicken ever here! And amazing french fries! So much for not eating french fries during travel season…sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and you’ve gotta eat when you can. Highly recommend this fun, friendly spot.
2. Tiny Diner (breakfast) – Great breakfast here. I love my basic eggs and bacon and biscuits, and it was a nice, simple place to eat before I headed off to the airport. Another fun place to check out.
Pro tip: there are some fantastic restaurants in Billings, and there’s a whole brewery scene too (which I did not partake in). What a fun little city!
- Taco Treat – clearly a chain but also clearly delicious. Taco places abound out here!
- Lilac – This is a local place in every sense of the word, down to the art on the walls. The bartender told me the story behind every piece of art in the place, and there were some insanely hip people dining here (minus me). I had the Braised Short Rib with Gnocchi and it was amazing…so filling and wonderful. I would honestly come back and try everything on the menu.
- The Fieldhouse Cafe – Another one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Went with the meatloaf on my waiter’s recommendation, and it was amazing. Another place where I would come back and try everything on the menu.
- The Northern Hotel – One of my top 3 hotels I’ve stayed in, for sure. Another local place with a great bathroom and bed (my two requirements!) and a striking lobby. Every detail here is beautiful, and I had the best night’s sleep.
- Harper & Madison – You guessed it, another amazing meal. I had a hard time deciding what to eat here, but went with the caramel roll and was not disappointed. Their pastries looked delicious (and the chocolate chip scone I got to go was awesome), and the avocado toast looked like the pick of the morning with the doctors who seem to frequent this cafe. It’s hidden in a neighborhood amongst houses but was bustling at 7 am when I went in, and I could totally see myself at a table here every Saturday or Sunday.
- Zimmerman Park – This is where I went to see the Rimrocks, which are essentially the big rocks that overlook Billings. There are some trails to walk around but it was crazy windy the day I visited so I just wandered a bit and headed back to my car. Definitely a place to see.
- Yellowstone River – The longest free-flowing river in the lower 48! Drove over this one on my way to Joliet. Pretty cool!
It’s just amazing how much space and how few houses/how little civilization there is out in Montana. One thing that surprised me was the number of casinos – apparently that’s a thing in Billings? I definitely want to head back to Montana to explore some more.
- Denver Biscuit Company – So this place is a bar that serves pizza, beer, and biscuits. I went and had biscuits. It was awesome. It was packed at 1:30 pm on a Thursday, so I can only imagine what it’s like other times of the week. They have a whole shelf full of games for you to play with your table – how cool!
- Jelly Cafe – Came here for breakfast with a friend from grad school, and had the hardest time picking what to have for breakfast! Delicious donut holes, delicious pancakes, i really don’t see how you could go wrong. We met around 8:30 (I think) and by 9 am it was packed with a full waiting area, so definitely a place to go early or be ready to wait.
- Machete – Came here for dinner with a friend from Wake, and had the best tacos. This place was rowdy at 8:30 pm on a Friday night but we walked right in and got a table, and it’s definitely a young, hip crowd. A fun neighborhood to walk around in too (Cherry Creek) – what beautiful houses!
- Chautauqua Trail (Boulder) – Stopped here for a quick 90-minute hike on my way up to Cheyenne, and scrambled my way up the 1st/2nd Flatirons trail. It turns into a rock climb the closer you get to the top…i didn’t keep going but it was a fun hike and a great place to explore. I’m just glad I didn’t run into any bears foraging before hibernation…
Honestly, i didn’t really explore Cheyenne. And I had a disappointing time in a hotel with no working heat on a 35 degree night. I went to Wyoming Rib & Chop House for dinner and had a delicious steak, so that was a win. And there was a Starbucks around the corner from one of the schools I went to (also a win). Overall, I’d love to head back to Jackson Hole or Yellowstone, and see more of the nature in this area. I never thought I’d want to see Yellowstone but it’s definitely on my list now!
I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised with my adventures out west! I can’t wait to go back in the future.