In mid-August I was chatting with our kids and realized that we haven’t gone anywhere as a family all summer! Between the new baby, lack of funds, and my being gone for two weeks in July, we didn’t go camping or on any other adventures on the weekends Ryan and Ace were with us. We had to buy school supplies and Ryan wanted “cute” supplies, so I figured Target would have awesome items. We decided to go on a little family getaway to Great Falls to buy supplies, school shoes, and have a little fun.
I booked the Holiday Inn near the mall because it has a pool with a waterslide and a hot tub. On the website photos the pool looks huge, but in reality it’s your usual hotel pool.
The highlight for me was the enormous water fountain in the lobby with stuffed bears and lynx.
I have been talking about going to the Sip n’ Dip since I heard about it years ago. After doing some research online, I learned that families are welcome until 9 p.m. and the mermaids start swimming at 6p.m. After shopping and a little swimming, we headed to O’Haire Motor Inn to have dinner. The Sip n’ Dip is tiny with about seven tables and a bar all facing the mermaid pool.
But sure enough, a mermaid was swimming and we enjoyed watching her do tricks such as blow air rings, swim through hoops, etc.
The servings were HUGE too! We couldn’t believe how much food we got with each dish!
The next day was our mini tourist day and after doing a lot of research, we went to Giant Springs Park to check out the trout hatchery.
I expected it to be a neat thing to see, I didn’t expect it to be so cool! We were up close and personal with the trout and spent quite a bit of time looking at all the different markings and colours. The blue fish was our favourite.
There was a food machine for $0.25 and we each bought a handful of fish food and tried to throw it to the smaller fish.
There is also a little interpretive centre at the hatchery where you learn more about the different types of trout, the Montana ecosystem, and how they raise fish at the hatchery.
Great Springs Falls
I read that the Great Springs Falls were next to the hatchery and as we walked toward them, I was disappointed at first as they were just small falls running from a pond into the river. But as we got closer, you could feel the mist and hear the roar as the water poured into the Missouri River.
The pond was gorgeous! It was so clear and full of vibrant green underwater plants.
It wasn’t until we read the interpretive signage that we realized that the bubbles in the pond weren’t the wind or fish but water being fed up into the pond by underground springs!
We also learned that Lewis & Clark ‘discovered’ this pond on their journey. I use quotation marks because of course, the local Indigenous people knew of it. But I nerded out so hard realizing that I stood in a spot where Lewis & Clark once did. Ryan and Ace didn’t know who these explorers were so on the walk back to the car I gave them a quick snapshot of the two and of course, Sacagawea!
There is a Lewis & Clark interpretive centre in the park that I was dying to hit, but the rest of the family outvoted me. I told them next time we were going to hit the centre no mater what!
As we drove out, we pulled over to see Rainbow Falls which were currently a little small because of the dam.
And just like that, our little weekend was over and we headed back home. The kids loved visiting a place they had never been before and we discussed hitting Kallispell next year for back to school shopping.
Any other Great Falls spots we should hit next time?
Anyone else love little road trips to new places?