Helena, the state capital located 225 mi/360 km northwest of Billings, began in the 1860s as a gold-rush boomtown.
Today, it's home to the Montana Historical Society Museum, which was founded in 1865 and contains exhibits of Western art and photography, and the state archives, along with works by renowned cowboy artist Charlie Russell.
Also worth a look are the old governor's mansion in Queen Anne style, the Greek Renaissance-style state Capitol (with a dome of copper mined in Montana) and The Cathedral of St. Helena, which is an imposing part of the city's architectural history.
Last Chance Gulch, the historic downtown's walking mall, offers a wide range of art galleries, shops, restaurants, music and craft fairs (in the summer months). Great Northern Town Center in north downtown features a beautiful carousel and ice-cream parlor, a children's science center (Exploration Works) and great dining opportunities. Also downtown, you'll find the Holter Museum of Art, with new shows every six weeks. The Grandstreet Theater presents classic and modern plays, and The Montana Shakespeare Company holds outdoor shows in Performance Square.
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