I gotta say, the people of Bozeman are a lot like the weather there: unexpected, full of surprises, always interesting and a whole ‘lotta fun. One minute, I’d be biking with the sun out and 70 degrees, the next, I’d see a storm front moving in on the horizon and before I knew it, the temperature had dropped to the 30s, crosswinds started blowing and hail started falling – yes, hail! But I have to say, I loved every minute and you will, too – as long as you’re prepared for just about anything!
Like my first stop at the Farmer’s Daughters Café and Eatery. This health-conscious spot located at the RSVP Hotel where we stayed, was the perfect place to start the day eating good and feeling good for the ride ahead. And the name isn’t just clever, it’s true-to-life. Sisters Hillary and Haylee were born and raised in a farming family and got their start baking fresh bread from quality grains. Today they carry on their family tradition of not doing anything ‘half baked,’ making good-for-you fare that’s easily accessible and delicious.
Like the blue spirulina smoothie and avocado on sourdough I tasted while there. Not only was it outstanding, it also gave me tons of energy for the day without weighing me down – and it made me feel even better to know that the sisters make all dishes from scratch, use only compostable take-away containers, and gladly support local farmers, ranchers and the Bozeman community. The world could use a few more farmer’s daughters don’t you think?
Next up, Western Café, where owner Julie Gandulla and her little girl, Fallon, filled my heart and my appetite with some amazing eats. Before owning Western Café, Julie was a customer and she loved it so much, when it went up for sale, she bought it! Now she’s busy creating new memories by sourcing locally clean, whole foods and making everything from scratch.
So here’s a question: do you like French toast? How about cinnamon buns, like those, too? Who doesn’t! So how about a French toast made from cinnamon bun dough! It tastes as good as you imagine! And though a lot of the dishes here tend to be menu ‘staples’ from year’s past, Julie is forward thinking when it comes to choosing sustainable, local ingredients and using only compostable to-go containers. As for me, I’ll be looking forward, too – to eating here again on my next trip to Bozeman!
One of the coolest things about Bozeman is just how bike friendly it is. I was able to ride my bike from downtown to the open lands and mountains of this region using fully paved bike paths. Even some of the country roads have bike paths so you know, if you’re a cyclist, you’re definitely welcome here. If you find yourself biking in the midst of mountains in Bozeman, be sure to keep an eye out for the Montana State University “M.” Created in 1915 by students of the university, you can only truly appreciate its magnitude in person. Today, over 100 years later, this 240-foot-high letter, made entirely of limestone rocks and boulders carried by hand, is still quite the site to see.
Just thinking of all that rock hauling works up a big appetite and this Jersey boy picked the right spot: Red Tractor Pizza. I know, I know, I’m from New Jersey and I’m going to go to a pizza joint – in Montana? Yes! And I’m so glad I did! Owner and chef, Adam Paccione, admitted to me that even he was nervous to serve pizza to a self-proclaimed connoisseur like me – and I should note, Adam got his start in New York, so he knows pizza is serious stuff! With one bite, I reassured Adam, he had nothing to worry about.
His simple sauce of tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano serves as the perfect base to this balanced Neapolitan-meets-New-York-style pizza. And his pizza oven? I’ve never seen anything like it! I can’t do it justice here, so you’ll just have to watch the episode and see for yourself – but it’s one-of-a-kind. Of course even a New Yorker knows he needs to pay homage to the local community, and Adam does that by sourcing from local farms as much as possible – he even serves a Bison pizza as an ode to Bozeman – when in Montana, you’ve gotta try it.
My last stop in Bozeman was a 35-acre organic permaculture farm, Bodhi Farms. Deriving its name from the Buddhist word, which means, “path to enlightenment,” it’s clear that every element of this destination was thoughtfully planned to impart a feeling of renewal and rejuvenation to anyone who visits. “I want people to leave learning sustainable practices whether they came to learn them or not,” said Rayner Smith, general manager of the farm.
In addition to the farm, Bodhi is also a boutique eco resort with nine “glamping” tipis as well as a Creekside massage tipi, sauna and field kitchen restaurant that showcases what’s growing in the garden. I had the pleasure of staying at Bodhi in my own tipi complete with a heated blanket, battery powered lights and even electricity to charge my phone. The combination of just-right heat from my blanket paired with the surrounding cool of fresh air made for an amazing night’s sleep and after all that riding, I needed it!
Did I mention the prevalence of dinosaur fossils? See! I told you Bozeman was as surprising as its weather! So pack a pair of biking shorts along with your favorite down-filled windbreaker and get ready for a Montana-sized adventure when you visit Bozeman (just be sure to watch the episode first, then you’ll be fully prepared).