Upon the recommendation of our good friends and realtor, the Swigarts, in Weaverville, we stopped in Livingston MT. The Swigart’s had become interested in Livingston as a potential relocation destination.
The drive into town felt like entering a small old west movie set. The mountains on the horizon and the big blue sky against the 100+ year-old brick buildings created a picturesque backdrop. There was a warm and tranquil ambiance, even though the streets and sidewalks had traffic. Like Weaverville, only not quite as small, it was quaint and full of character.
After a stroll though town, we decided to make this home for the next several nights. We knew it was the right decision after we learned that Livingston has a resident moose each spring while calving. At 4500’ above sea level, the temp couldn’t have been more perfect, climbing to the low 80s during the day, with a comfortable breeze from the Yellowstone River. We could only imagine how brutal that “breeze” must feel in winter.
Among our explorations was the Murray Hotel, a four-story turn of the century railroad hotel. The lobby was charming and inviting, with seating available to gaze out onto the street, and a cozy loft above for reading and relaxing. The Otis elevator in the lobby, still functioning and operated by staff, was the first elevator in Livingston at the time of installation in 1905.
Across the street from the hotel is another landmark, the historic Livingston Depot which was built in 1902 as the Northern Pacific Railroad’s original access to Yellowstone National Park. The majestic colonnade and ornate architectural detail greeted travelers until 1979, when passenger service to southern Montana was suspended.
Pinkie’s on Main Street had a great Sweet Chili Chicken Spinach Salad, black bean soup and BLT. After reading the good reviews on TripAdvisor about the chocolate wontons, we decided to give Rick’s on Main a try for dessert. We had the chocolate wontons and apple-berry cobbler, but neither really rang our bells. The tomato bisque sampler with fresh parmesan was over-the-top though!
We were seeing Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream promoted all over town and discovered it’s made in Livingston. Established over 100 years ago, locals we spoke with preferred it to store brands. We found the creamery downtown, but unfortunately they didn’t offer tours of their facility. In fact, they moved their large creamery to Billings some years ago, but the corporate office and small creamery are still in Livingston. Their products can be found in grocery stores and restaurants all over Livingston.
Mark’s In and Out was a popular drive-up on the corner of North Park and Eighth Street, and in its 59th season. The burgers and dogs were prepared after we placed our order, and the quality and freshness reflected that. The malts and cones – with you guessed it, Wilcoxson’s ice cream – were flying out of there! We could see why Mark’s is so popular. A small park across the street was the perfect spot to perch, picnic and watch the customers filling the parking lot.
Rossa’s was another great find. The salads were fresh and their pizza just the way we like it.
At one point, we stopped in to check out rooms at the Livingston Inn, a charming motel with lots of character. The owner, a retired exec, and his wife, a nature photographer, have 1500 beautiful photographs displayed along the halls of the inn.
In the evenings, we’d stroll the River Walk across from Sacajawea Park. Twice we spotted Mama moose and her twins. What a thrill to finally encounter our first moose sighting!
Not many towns have the kind of appeal that draws one in like Livingston – Livingston was a special experience.