On a boomer road trip to Helena, Montana, Alan and I discovered that gold rush history lives on in 19th century mansions located throughout the city. During a stay at The Sanders, one of several bed and breakfasts lining Ewing Street, we slept in the well-preserved mansion of Montana’s first U.S. Senator, Wilbur Fisk Sanders.
Walking up the sidewalk to the home that Wilber and Harriett Sanders built in 1875, Alan and I experienced a potent mix of Montana history and hospitality. Red geraniums tumbled from a planter while a corner glider looked to be the perfect spot for enjoying the cookies and lemonade served by The Sanders’ staff each afternoon.
Inside, a glass case in the entrance hall displayed a jar of pebbles that Harriett Sanders collected “while crossing the plains with ox trains from Omaha to Bannack.” And, a painting by the talented Mrs. Sanders hung in its original location on the sitting room wall above the piano.
Although history is revered at The Sanders, that doesn’t mean guests must endure the hardships of 19thcentury living thanks to the meticulous restorations by Bobbi Uecker and Rock Ringling. Alan and I stayed in Teddy’s Buckaroo, an upstairs bedroom with small sitting area that included every modern convenience, even wireless Internet. A soak in the old-fashioned tub of the extra large bathroom provided much needed relaxation after hours of exploring Last Chance Gulch in downtown Helena. And, the king-sized brass bed offered a comfortable ending to a busy day.
A stay at The Sanders, includes a gourmet breakfast. Conversations about fly fishing the nearby Missouri or Smith Rivers (The Sanders’ staff will assist with booking), taking a Gates of the Mountain boat ride or traveling to Glacier or Yellowstone National Parks (Helena makes a good stopping point if you’re visiting both) flow across the dining room from one guest to another. But, when plates filled with Grand Mariner French Toast and crispy bacon are placed on the tables, conversation ceases and the good eating begins. Doesn’t that omelette in the photo look good? Bobbi and Rock shared The Sanders 25th Anniversary Omelette recipe with us.
Boomer travel tips for your stay at The Sanders:
Active boomer travelers will find plenty to do within walking distance of The Sanders. I recommend:
- Walking three blocks to view the fifty-six stained glass windows of The Cathedral of St. Helena. Be sure to go inside if the cathedral is open.
- Exploring Last Chance Gulch, a 3 to 10-block walk, where you’ll discover a pedestrian mall filled with shops, restaurants and gold rush history.
- Buying tickets to a performance at the Myrna Loy Center for the Performing Arts, formerly the county jail.
- Dining options include the short walk down Sixth Avenue to Benny’s Bistro for tapas or a full meal. Or, continue your walk to Last Chance Gulch (Park Avenue) for dinner at the Mediterranean Grill. Be sure to save room for the unique flavors of ice creamed served up at The Big Dipper.
Have you experienced history and hospitality in Helena? Post a comment to tell us about it. Alan and I were charmed by this Montana town, so we’ll be returning. Disclosure: This travel experience was provided by Helena Tourism Improvement District and The Sanders. As always, the opinons are our own.
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A boomer travel and lifestyle authority who is exploring the world one activity at a time. Besides writing and publishing My Itchy Travel Feet, she also writes about boomer travel for My Well-Being Powered by Humana, Make It Missoula and is the author of New Mexico Backroads Weekend Adventure.