• Jody Johnson

Life in Livingston, Montana

Updated: Feb 11


There is a peace here that goes beyond the quiet. The mountains that loom to the West of the town are felt as much as they are seen. Whispers of the 'old west' lie behind every door and in every corner. If only these old bricks could talk.

Some time ago, when a friend and I decided to go on a mini vacation and explore some local treasures, we found ourselves in Livingston, Montana. A favorite of celebrities, it lays nestled just to the East of Bozeman and to the North of Yellowstone. It's claim to fame is that it has more writers per capita than any city in the US. . . . even New York. . .that 'capita' being around 7400 at last count.

The first thing I noticed upon driving through it was the silence, and that the main street (actually named Park Street) seemed to have been frozen in time, both of which were fine by me. When someone says 'sleepy one-horse town', this is exactly what I envision.

If you stay in Livingston you have to stay at the Murray Hotel. It's just a must. We had booked a room with two queen beds and ended up with what they call a double Queen apartment. A gorgeous space, it is larger than some homes. It features a kitchen area, dining table, living room area with a tv, two separate bedrooms, a bathroom, and allegedly a ghost or two.

When your stomach starts to rumble The Second Street Bistro is situated in the hotel and advertises French cuisine and offers plenty of American and Italian options on their menu as well. Much of their offerings are locally sourced and in the summer they pull from their own garden. The Second Street Bistro was even featured on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations as he was a fan of both the hotel and restaurant.

I had the truffled fries and the crab cake salad. If you think the salad sounds like a wimpy choice, think again. It was rich and delicious and the truffle oil took the fries to the next level as one would expect. If you go with a group I'd recommend reservations as the place was bustling on a Saturday night.

After dinner you can head to the opposite end of the hotel and have a nightcap at the Murray Bar which features plenty of Montana craft brews and, on some nights, a live band fit to knock some dust off of your boots.

In the morning head next door to Gil's Goods for some coffee and everything from huevos rancheros to chicken fried steak for breakfast noshing. I fell in love with the oft-photographed brick wall that recalls days gone by in this town.



This is a place I feel I could call home. Perhaps it would be the inspiration to finish the few odd novels and screen plays that lurk on my hard drive and in my head.


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