It used to be Montana's largest city, but has dwindled in size and importance along with the state's mining industry. The essence of the town is summed up by the sign on the northern approach from the I-15:
The "greatest mining camp on earth" built on "the richest hill in the world". That hill, which has produced over two billion dollars worth of gold, silver, copper and zinc is literally honeycombed with drifts, winzes and stopes that extend beneath the city. There are over 3000 miles of workings and shafts reach a depth of 4000 feet.This immediate country was opened as a placer district in 1864. Later Butte became a quartz mining camp and successively opened silver, copper and zinc deposits.Butte has a most cosmopolitan population derived from the four corners of the world. She was a bold, unashamed, rootin', tootin' hell-roarin' camp in days gone by and still drinks her liquor straight.
Butte is located right along I-90 between Deer Lodge and Whitehall, and also at the intersection with the I-15 highway.
Butte is served by Bert Mooney Airport, with daily flights to and from Salt Lake City International Airport. The lone airline serving Bert Mooney is Delta, through Delta Connection. Be aware that if visibility is too low to land in poor weather, flights may divert to Gallatin Field Airport in Bozeman, MT.
The most interesting (horrifying?) feature of Butte is the 1,700-foot-deep Berkeley Pit (sometimes referred to by out-of-staters as the "Butte Hole"), the site of a former copper mining operation that is now partially filled with toxic runoff and is listed as a Superfund site. Despite the frightening description, The Pit is an interesting and instructive side trip and should not be passed up.
The Mineral Museum is located on the Montana Tech Campus. 1,300 specimens of minerals from around the world. The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Earthquake Studies Office is also located in the Museum, offering the visitor an opportunity to see active seismographs recording real time data from Montana’s seismic network. The Mineral Museum conducts tours, lectures and workshops. Summer Hours: daily, 9 AM – 5 PM (June 15 through September 15). Winter Hours: Weekdays, 9 AM – 4 PM. Free admission.
Old Butte Historical Adventures Walking tours explore the colorful history of Butte, Montana — "The Richest Hill on Earth". +1-406-498-3424. 1 and a half hour tours. Adults: $10.00, children under 12: $5.00, seniors over 65: $8.00
The Saint Patrick's Day celebration is a regional legend. It is the kind of party that parents warn their kids about. Butte is one of those rare places that does not have an open container law. Butte is heavily Irish to this day, and the local heritage extends into the enthusiasm for this holiday. Beer is colored green, and many people flock to the town for drinking and partying.
Evel Knievel Days Free. Evel Knievel's hometown of Butte plays host to a three-day event drawing thousands of visitors from all over the world during the last weekend in July each year. In 2009, July 23,24,25.
71st National Folk Festival July 10-12, 2009. Traditional music, food, crafts, culture. Uptown. Free admission.
An Ri Ra Irish Festivaluptown, every year in August. 2009: August 7-9.
Butte Vigilante Rodeo weekend after the 4th of July.
Butte is known for the food of its Irish-influenced mining heritage. Pasties are a meat potato and onion mix, surrounded by pastry dough served baked smothered with brown gravy. Miners used their helmet candles to heat the self-contained meal down in the shaft below Butte. Pasties are served locally at restaurants with two (Joe's and Nancy's) giving them top billing.
Pork Chop John's: Fast food. 8 W. Mercury, uptown. +1(406) 782-0812 Monday through Saturday 10:30 am until 10:30 pm
Spaghettini's: for surprisingly good upscale Italian. Location varies-- ask around.
Fred's Mesquite: BBQ; pricey, but has a nice outdoor deck and good food. 205 S. Arizona (uptown) (406) 723-4440.
Uptown Cafe: Good, more upscale American food; very good lunch served cafeteria style. 47 E. Broadway (uptown) (406) 723-4735.
The Derby: Steak house; on the Flat and not within walking distance of any of the hotels. But if you want steak, it's arguably one of the best in town. 2016 Harrison Ave., (on the Flats) (406) 723-9086
Aside from that, most places serve the usual American steak, burgers, french fries, and the like.
Lydia's Supper Club, 4915 Harrison Ave., ☎ 406-494-2000. Full-course dinners served with pride since 1946.edit
Venus Rising Espresso House, 1 S Main St - Center of uptown Butte, ☎ (406) 491-4476, . Butte's only non-profit coffee house adds more than just feeling good about your purchase. Local goods, free wi-fi/public computer, in-house bakery, light lunches, and an artistic atmosphere are sure to please artists and supporters alike. Open 7 days a week at 7 a.m.edit
Blue Luna 124 S. Main Street, uptown Butte. Hip spot where students, professionals, and soccer moms meet. Gourmet, socially-conscious coffees, loose leaf teas, and a variety of delectable treats. Classical Music Mornings. Free wireless access. Mon-Fri 6:30-4:00. Sat-Closed. Sun 10:00-4:00. Live Music Friday Nights: doors open at 7:00pm.
For just a drive-through coffee, the best coffee place is Mountain Coffee. They have locations on Montana Street (corner of Montana and Iron) and on Harrison Ave., at the corner of Harvard and Harrison (across Harrison from a Conoco gas station, and across Harvard from a Chinese restaurant.)
The Party Palace lives up to its billing, with pool and karaoke and cheap beer, but the local clientele leaves a lot to be desired.
The Silver Dollar Saloon offers a friendly place for a drink, with a youthful atmosphere.
Maloney's in uptown Butte is where you will find exotic beers, including Guinness.
The Cavalier Lounge in the Finlen Hotel offers a dark, more lounge-like feel-- chairs, tables, smoking.
Hops is located in the Butte Best Western Inn down on the Flats, next to the Perkin's Restaurant. Don't let this stop you; they have one of the best bartenders in town and despite the shiny neon casino on one side, it has a pretty nice atmosphere.
The Vu Villa is uptown, but a bit west of the main business district on Park Street. It's one of the main student hangouts for Tech and has an attached pizza restaurant with decent pizza.
The Finlen Hotel (100 E. Broadway, 1-800-729-5461) is an inexpensive and historic hotel, well-located to accommodate walking through the rest of Butte's downtown. Rooms are clean and well-maintained, but be aware that cheaper rooms may actually be located in the motel section, a not-as-historic add-on with much more spartan accommodations.
Hampton Inn Butte (3499 Harrison Avenue, 1-406-494-2250).
Toad Hall Manor an elegant, charming bed & breakfast which takes its name from the British children's classic, "The Wind in the Willows". This is truly a wonderful place for a relaxing change of pace, celebration of a special occasion, or a romantic getaway. Find more info online at toadhallmanor.com
Butte War Bonnet Hotel (2100 Cornell Avenue, 1-406-494-7800)
Super 8 (2929 Harrison Avenue I-90 Exit 127 1 Blk. So Butte, MT, 59701-3638 US) - charge extra for more than 2 adults even if it has 2 queen beds. Include breakfast.