Back-to-school time is fun for both kids and parents; I always loved shopping for some new clothes, supplies, and getting my back-to-school haircut! In Great Falls, there are great options to outfit everyone with everything they’ll need when the school doors open for another great year of learning! What I love about back-to-school shopping is touching the fabric, testing new styles as my personality grew, and finding something unexpected. When I was back-to-school shopping in high school, my mom found a pair of mulberry corduroy pants that she insisted I try on. I agreed, reluctantly, because I didn’t think they would look good on me, but when I put them on, wow! I fell in love on the spot and kept those pants for years!
You’ll always find unexpected treasures at Holiday Village Mall! Home to Sephora, where you can find the hottest colors for fall makeup. I liked walking to school but I loved riding my bike and Scheel’s will have everything you need, from water bottles, fitness trackers, and shoes to help you stay active this year. Who doesn’t love new shoes for the fall? Famous Footwear has the best shoes and boots for the fall. Before your kid moves into their dorm, stop by Bed, Bath & Beyond, one of my favorite stores! I still have a habit of touching everything when I’m there! From kitchen basics, to décor, to cleaning supplies, you’ll find it all at Bed, Bath & Beyond!
With over 30 unique shops in Downtown Great Falls, you will find shoes, jewelry, locker décor, clothes, a craft cocktail lounge, and a microbrewery to celebrate the first day of school (right parents?). Some of the brands you’ll find downtown are Joseph Ribkoff, Fossil, Brighton, Alegria, WoodWick, 360 Cashmere, Thymes, Able, Chan Luu, AG Jeans, Le Blanc, Le Creuset, Cuisinart, and many more. The Northwest edge of Great Falls is home to Ulta Beauty Supply, Staples, TJ Maxx, Sam’s Club, Shopko, Walmart, and more, making it a great place to find supplies and apparel! Great Falls’ other Walmart is on the east end of town, along with North 40. These anchors will get you supplies and gear for the new year! In the southwest corner of Great Falls is Marketplace where you will find Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Famous Footwear, and Office Max.
After all that shopping, the kids should be completely geared up for school. Now, let’s get them ready to learn by sharing some Montana and US History with them!
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center has North America’s most extensive exhibit of the expedition. Take an afternoon to walk among the world-class exhibits that teach children and adults alike the adventure encountered by the men on the expedition that opened the West. Paris Gibson Square stands as not only one of the first buildings in Great Falls, but as a tribute to Paris Gibson, the founder of Great Falls. Step inside this grand sandstone structure that now houses modern art and view the permanent installation of stick-figure art from Lee Steen and take in ever-changing exhibits that will challenge, educate, and humor you and the kids. The CM Russell Museum houses the largest collection of art from Cowboy Artist CM Russell. Featuring fine art, documents, sculptures, and modern collections, your kids will learn about the West as Charlie saw it. Step back in time by touring his home and studio on the museum complex.
Before the school bell rings, spend an afternoon renewing your spirit along the Missouri River with a walk or bike ride along the River’s Edge Trail. Whether you want to trek the entire 50+ mile trail in one day or want a leisurely stroll along the Urban Loop, you’ll find the perfect way to enjoy the relaxing qualities of the water while viewing 24 pieces of Urban Art along the trail. When you’re in the mood to cool off after a busy day of shopping and learning, the Electric City Water Park is the place to be; with a lazy river, wave rider, water slides, and an Olympic-sized pool, you and the kids will get a good soak under the sun. Gibson Park, as the crown jewel of the Great Falls park system, boasts links to the River’s Edge Trail, basketball and tennis courts, a pond, play equipment, the Vinegar Jones cabin, and a botanical garden. Pack a picnic, play a casual game of hoops, and wander the grounds designed by none other than Paris Gibson.
When you want to give your kids a Montana adventure like no other, Giant Springs State Park awaits! As Montana’s most-visited State Park, Giant Springs boasts the world’s shortest river, a link to the River’s Edge Trail and Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, a fish hatchery, and more. A perfect day in Great Falls includes a stop at Giant Springs State Park, so pack a picnic and plan for a day of recreation and renewal along the banks of the Missouri River. An easy 40-minute drive south of Great Falls, Sluice Boxes State Park brings an unexpected experience to renew your spirit before the school year begins. Running 6 miles along Belt Creek, Sluice Boxes State Park offers a one-of-a-kind float through what feels like a miniaturized Grand Canyon.
Learning lasts a lifetime, and there are so many ways to prepare for the school year in Great Falls. We invite you to shop, learn, and renew your spirit in Montana’s Basecamp for Art & Adventure.