Top-Rated Things to Do in Missoula, MT

Montana

By Charlotte Williams

Located in the beautiful state of Montana, Missoula is a vibrant city known for its stunning natural scenery, outdoor activities, and rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, an art lover, or a history buff, there’s something for everyone in this charming city.

If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be delighted by the countless outdoor activities that Missoula has to offer. Explore the picturesque trails of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, where you can hike, bike, and even spot wildlife. For a more challenging adventure, head to the nearby Mount Jumbo, which offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding mountains.

For those interested in art and culture, Missoula won’t disappoint. Visit the Missoula Art Museum, which showcases a diverse collection of contemporary art from local and national artists. Don’t miss the chance to catch a performance at the beautifully restored Wilma Theatre, a historic venue that hosts a variety of shows, including films, concerts, and plays.

If you’re a history buff, make sure to visit the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. Learn about the fascinating history of the city and the region through interactive exhibits and guided tours. Don’t forget to explore the Montana Natural History Center, where you can discover the rich natural history of the area through hands-on exhibits and educational programs.

With its stunning natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and rich history, Missoula is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a unique and memorable experience. Whether you’re exploring the great outdoors, immersing yourself in the local art and culture, or diving into the city’s fascinating history, Missoula has something for everyone. So pack your bags and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this charming Montana city.

Explore the Beautiful Outdoors

Missoula, MT is renowned for its stunning outdoor scenery and offers a plethora of activities for nature enthusiasts. Here are some top-rated outdoor experiences you should not miss:

Hiking and Biking: Missoula is surrounded by breathtaking mountains and lush forests, making it a paradise for hikers and bikers. Explore the numerous trails in the area, such as the Mount Sentinel M Trail or Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, offering breathtaking views and opportunities to spot wildlife.

Float the Clark Fork River: Embark on a relaxing float trip down the Clark Fork River, which flows right through Missoula. You can rent inner tubes, kayaks, or canoes and enjoy a leisurely paddle while taking in the scenic beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Fishing: Grab your fishing gear and head to one of Missoula’s many rivers or lakes. The area is known for its exceptional fishing opportunities, with plenty of trout, bass, and other fish species to be caught. Whether you prefer fly fishing or spin casting, you’re sure to have a memorable angling experience.

Rock Climbing: Missoula offers numerous rock climbing spots for climbers of all skill levels. Test your strength and agility at sites like the Mill Creek Canyon or Kootenai Creek, where you can find a variety of challenging routes amidst beautiful natural surroundings.

Wildlife Viewing: Missoula is home to diverse wildlife, and you can spot animals such as elk, deer, moose, and various bird species in their natural habitats. Visit the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore trails and observe an array of wildlife species up close.

River Rafting: Experience the thrill of river rafting on the nearby Clark Fork or Blackfoot rivers. Guided tours are available, catering to both beginners and experienced rafters, ensuring a safe and exhilarating adventure on the water.

Horseback Riding: Explore Missoula’s scenic landscape on horseback. Many local outfitters offer guided horseback riding tours, allowing you to traverse picturesque trails while enjoying the tranquility of nature.

Golfing: If you’re a golf enthusiast, Missoula has several top-rated golf courses where you can practice your swing amidst breathtaking mountain backdrops. Enjoy a round of golf at courses like Canyon River Golf Club or Larchmont Golf Course.

With its abundance of outdoor activities, Missoula truly offers something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply the opportunity to soak in the natural beauty, you’ll find it all in this charming Montana city.

Visit the Historic Downtown

When visiting Missoula, make sure to spend some time exploring the historic downtown area. This charming district is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, all housed in beautifully preserved buildings that date back to the late 19th century.

One of the top attractions in the downtown area is the Missoula Mercantile building, which was once the largest department store in Montana. Today, this historic landmark has been beautifully restored and is home to a mix of shops, restaurants, and offices.

While walking around downtown, don’t miss Caras Park, a popular gathering spot that hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year. From live music concerts to farmers markets, there’s always something happening in this vibrant park.

If you’re a history enthusiast, be sure to visit the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. Located just a short drive from downtown, this museum showcases the fascinating history of the area, including exhibits on Native American culture, the fur trade, and the development of Missoula.

After exploring the downtown area, take a break and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants that line the streets. From cozy cafes to upscale dining establishments, there’s something to satisfy every craving.

Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply looking for a charming place to explore, the historic downtown area of Missoula is a must-visit destination. With its beautiful architecture, vibrant atmosphere, and wide range of attractions, it’s no wonder this area is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Experience the Cultural Arts

Missoula, MT is known for its vibrant arts scene, offering visitors a diverse range of cultural experiences. Whether you’re interested in visual art, live performances, or music, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the highlights of the cultural arts scene in Missoula is the Montana Museum of Art and Culture. Located on the University of Montana campus, the museum showcases an impressive collection of both contemporary and historical artwork. With rotating exhibitions, there’s always something new to see and explore.

In addition to visual art, Missoula is home to a thriving performing arts community. The Wilma Theatre, a historic venue located in downtown Missoula, hosts a variety of live productions throughout the year. From plays and musicals to comedy shows and concerts, the Wilma Theatre offers a diverse lineup of performances for theater enthusiasts.

If you’re a music lover, be sure to check out the Missoula Symphony Orchestra. The symphony performs a regular season of classical concerts, featuring both local and guest musicians. From Beethoven to Mozart, the symphony showcases the best of classical music in a beautiful setting.

For those interested in learning more about the local arts scene, a visit to the Zootown Arts Community Center is a must. This nonprofit organization offers classes and workshops in a variety of artistic disciplines, including painting, pottery, and photography. They also host events and exhibitions throughout the year, showcasing the work of local artists.

In conclusion, experiencing the cultural arts in Missoula, MT is a must for any visitor. From art museums to live performances, the city offers a wide range of options for those looking to immerse themselves in the local arts scene.

Top-Rated Things to Do in Missoula, MT
1. Experience the Natural Beauty
2. Explore the Outdoor Recreation
3. Discover the Local Cuisine
4. Immerse Yourself in History
5. Experience the Cultural Arts

Enjoy Local Dining and Craft Beer

When visiting Missoula, one of the best ways to experience the local culture is by enjoying the diverse dining scene and savoring some craft beer. Missoula is known for its vibrant food culture and thriving craft beer scene, and there are plenty of options to satisfy any palate.

Start your culinary adventure by visiting one of Missoula’s many farm-to-table restaurants. These establishments pride themselves on serving locally sourced ingredients, which means you’ll be treated to the freshest and most flavorful dishes possible. From eclectic eateries offering global cuisine to upscale restaurants with a focus on Montana’s homegrown flavors, the options are endless.

If you’re a fan of craft beer, you’re in luck! Missoula has a number of breweries that produce a wide variety of unique and delicious brews. Take a brewery tour to learn about the beer-making process and get a taste of the local favorites. Many breweries also have taprooms where you can sample different beers and enjoy a laid-back atmosphere.

For those looking for a more relaxed dining experience, Missoula has a fantastic selection of food trucks and street food vendors. These mobile kitchens offer everything from BBQ and tacos to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade ice cream. Grab a bite to eat from one of these local favorites and enjoy your meal in one of Missoula’s scenic parks or alongside the Clark Fork River.

When it comes to dining and craft beer in Missoula, there truly is something for everyone. Whether you’re a foodie looking for a unique culinary experience or a beer lover wanting to sample the best local brews, Missoula’s dining scene has you covered. So grab a pint, indulge in some delicious food, and immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of this charming Montana city.

Discover Unique Shops and Boutiques

While visiting Missoula, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the city’s many unique shops and boutiques. Whether you’re looking for one-of-a-kind clothing, handcrafted jewelry, or locally made gifts, Missoula has something to offer every shopper.

Start your shopping adventure downtown, where you’ll find a variety of charming boutiques and specialty stores. The Hip Strip is a popular destination, known for its eclectic mix of shops and vibrant atmosphere. Take a stroll along the street and discover hidden gems like vintage clothing stores, art galleries, and organic beauty shops.

If you’re a fan of handmade goods, be sure to visit the Missoula Made Fair, held annually in December. This event showcases the work of local artists and craftspeople, giving you the opportunity to connect with the makers and purchase unique, Montana-made products.

Another must-visit shopping spot is the Southgate Mall, located just south of downtown. This shopping center offers a wide range of stores, including national retailers, specialty shops, and local boutiques. Enjoy a day of browsing through clothing stores, home decor shops, and bookstores, before taking a break at one of the mall’s many dining options.

For those searching for outdoor gear, Missoula is home to several stores specializing in outdoor apparel and equipment. Whether you’re planning a hiking trip, fishing adventure, or skiing excursion, you’ll find everything you need at these outdoor shops. Some even offer gear rentals, so you can try out new equipment before making a purchase.

No matter what you’re looking for, Missoula’s unique shops and boutiques have something to offer everyone. So take some time to explore the city’s shopping scene and discover hidden treasures along the way.

Tour the Local Breweries and Wineries

Missoula is known for its thriving craft beer scene and local wineries. Take a tour of the local breweries and wineries to experience the best that the area has to offer.

Start your tour at one of the many breweries in town. Some popular options include Big Sky Brewing Company, Draught Works Brewery, and KettleHouse Brewing Co. These breweries offer a variety of craft beers, including IPAs, stouts, and lagers. Take a tour to learn about the brewing process and sample some of their delicious beers.

If wine is more your style, visit one of the local wineries in the Missoula area. Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery and Missoula Winery and Event Center are two popular options. These wineries produce a range of wines, including reds, whites, and rosés. Take a tour to learn about the winemaking process and enjoy a tasting of their unique varietals.

For a unique experience, consider taking a tour that combines both beer and wine. Some tour companies offer guided tours that visit both breweries and wineries, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds. These tours often include transportation, so you can relax and enjoy the tastings without having to worry about driving.

Whether you’re a beer lover or a wine enthusiast, touring the local breweries and wineries in Missoula is a must-do activity. Sample the finest craft beers and wines, learn about the brewing and winemaking processes, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Missoula’s beer and wine community.

Attend a University of Montana Game

If you’re a sports fan, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a game at the University of Montana. The Grizzlies, the university’s football team, are a local favorite and have a strong following in Missoula. The atmosphere at the games is electric, with enthusiastic fans cheering on their team.

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just looking for some entertainment, attending a University of Montana game is a must-do activity in Missoula. The team’s home stadium, Washington-Grizzly Stadium, is known for its passionate fan base and is regularly packed with supporters from all over the state.

Watching a game at Washington-Grizzly Stadium is an experience in itself. The energy in the crowd is contagious, and you’ll find yourself getting caught up in the excitement of the game. Plus, the university’s athletes are known for their impressive skills and competitive spirit, making for an entertaining and thrilling game.

In addition to football, the University of Montana also has a variety of other sports teams, including basketball, soccer, and volleyball, among others. So, if football isn’t your sport of choice, you can still catch a game and cheer on the Grizzlies in another sport.

Make sure to check the University of Montana’s athletics schedule before your visit to see if there are any games happening during your stay in Missoula. Attending a game will not only provide you with a fun and memorable experience but also give you a chance to immerse yourself in the local sports culture.

Whether you’re a current student, an alumni, or just a sports enthusiast, attending a University of Montana game is a fantastic way to support the local community and have a great time in Missoula.

Take a Scenic Drive Along the River

One of the most picturesque ways to explore Missoula is to take a scenic drive along the river. The Clark Fork River flows right through the heart of the city, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lush landscapes.

Start your drive at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers, where you can enjoy the sight of the two rivers merging together. As you follow the river, you’ll encounter several parks and recreational areas that are perfect for picnicking or taking a leisurely stroll.

Make sure to stop at the Carousel for Missoula, a charming old-fashioned carousel that is loved by locals and visitors alike. This beautifully crafted carousel features hand-painted animals and provides a whimsical experience for all ages.

As you continue along the river, you’ll pass by the University of Montana, a picturesque campus that is known for its beautiful architecture and stunning views. Take some time to explore the campus and soak in its relaxed atmosphere.

For a unique perspective, consider renting a kayak or a paddleboard and exploring the river from the water. This will allow you to get even closer to the natural beauty that Missoula has to offer.

Whether you’re a nature lover or simply looking to relax and unwind, taking a scenic drive along the river is a must-do activity in Missoula. So grab your camera, roll down the windows, and enjoy the breathtaking views that await you.

Explore the Clark Fork River Trail

If you’re looking for a scenic outdoor activity in Missoula, be sure to explore the Clark Fork River Trail. This beautiful trail stretches along the banks of the Clark Fork River, providing stunning views of the water and surrounding landscape.

Whether you’re a hiker, biker, or just looking for a leisurely stroll, the Clark Fork River Trail has something for everyone. The trail is well-maintained and accessible, making it easy to navigate for people of all ages and abilities.

As you make your way along the trail, keep an eye out for local wildlife and plant life. The area is home to a diverse range of species, including osprey, eagles, and a variety of waterfowl. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bald eagle soaring through the sky.

One of the highlights of the Clark Fork River Trail is its proximity to the University of Montana campus. Take a moment to explore the beautiful campus, as well as nearby attractions like the Montana Museum of Art and Culture.

For those looking to cool off on a hot summer day, the Clark Fork River Trail offers several access points to the river. Take a refreshing dip, go fishing, or simply relax on the riverbank and enjoy the soothing sounds of the water.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the Clark Fork River Trail is a must-visit attraction in Missoula. So lace up your hiking boots or hop on your bike, and get ready to explore the natural beauty of Montana along the Clark Fork River.

Visit the Missoula Farmer’s Market

If you’re looking for a true taste of Missoula, don’t miss the bustling Missoula Farmer’s Market. Held every Saturday from May through October, this vibrant community gathering is a must-visit for locals and visitors alike.

At the Missoula Farmer’s Market, you’ll find a wide array of fresh, locally grown produce, including fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The market is a great place to stock up on seasonal favorites, like juicy Montana peaches or crisp apples. Many of the vendors also offer organic and sustainable options, so you can feel good about the food you’re buying.

In addition to fresh produce, the market showcases a variety of artisanal products. From handmade soaps and candles to unique pottery and jewelry, you’ll find a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind items. It’s a perfect place to find a special gift or something to remember your visit to Missoula.

Not only is the Missoula Farmer’s Market a food and shopping destination, but it’s also a vibrant community hub. You’ll often find live music and entertainment, making it a fun place to spend a few hours on a Saturday morning. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and connect with the community.

Whether you’re a foodie, a lover of local products, or just looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, a visit to the Missoula Farmer’s Market is a must. Prepare to be delighted by the sights, sounds, and flavors of this vibrant gathering place in the heart of Missoula.

Attend a Live Performance at the Wilma Theatre

If you’re in Missoula and looking for a night of entertainment, be sure to check out the Wilma Theatre. This historic theater is not only a local landmark but also a popular venue for live performances and events.

The Wilma Theatre hosts a wide range of shows, including concerts, plays, comedy acts, and more. Whether you’re a fan of music, theater, or comedy, there’s bound to be a performance that suits your taste.

The theater itself is a sight to behold, with its stunning architecture and charming interior. Originally built in 1921, the Wilma Theatre has been beautifully restored and is now equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, ensuring an immersive and unforgettable experience for its visitors.

Attending a live performance at the Wilma Theatre is not just about enjoying the show but also about supporting the local arts community. The theater often hosts events that showcase local talent, giving aspiring artists a platform to showcase their work.

Before or after the show, you can also take advantage of the theater’s prime location in downtown Missoula. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops within walking distance, allowing you to make the most of your evening out on the town.

So, if you’re looking for a memorable night of entertainment in Missoula, make sure to catch a live performance at the Wilma Theatre. With its diverse lineup of shows and stunning atmosphere, it’s no wonder why it’s a top-rated attraction in the area.

Learn about the Area’s Native American Culture

Missoula, Montana is located in an area rich with Native American history and culture. Visitors to the area have the opportunity to learn about the traditions and customs of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai tribes, who have inhabited the region for centuries.

One of the best places to learn about Native American culture in Missoula is at The People’s Center. This cultural center and museum offers exhibits that showcase the history and art of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai tribes. Visitors can view traditional crafts, learn about the tribal languages and music, and explore the center’s outdoor exhibit area, which features a replica of a traditional tribal village.

Another great way to learn about Native American culture in the area is by visiting the National Bison Range. This wildlife refuge is not only home to a herd of bison, but also provides educational programs about the history and significance of bison to Native American tribes. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the importance of bison for sustenance, shelter, and spiritual practices.

In addition to these attractions, Missoula is home to various events and festivals that celebrate Native American culture. The Annual Arlee Powwow, held in nearby Arlee, Montana, attracts visitors from all over the country to experience traditional drumming, dancing, and regalia. The People’s Center also hosts cultural events throughout the year, such as storytelling and traditional arts and crafts demonstrations.

Learning about the area’s Native American culture is not only educational, but also a way to appreciate the rich history and heritage of the region. Whether it’s visiting museums, participating in cultural events, or exploring the natural landscapes tied to Native American traditions, there are plenty of ways to immerse oneself in the vibrant Native American culture of Missoula, Montana.

Go Fly Fishing in the Bitterroot River

If you’re a fishing enthusiast, one of the top activities to do in Missoula is to go fly fishing in the Bitterroot River. With its pristine waters and abundant fish species, the Bitterroot River is a haven for anglers of all levels.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner looking to learn the art of fly fishing, the Bitterroot River offers a wide range of fishing opportunities. You can wade into the river or book a guided float trip to explore different sections of the river.

The Bitterroot River is home to a variety of fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish. The river is known for its trophy-sized trout, making it a popular destination for fly fishing enthusiasts from around the world.

The river’s crystal-clear waters and picturesque scenery make for an unforgettable fishing experience. As you cast your line and watch it float downstream, you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Bitterroot Valley.

Before you head out to the Bitterroot River, make sure to check the local regulations and get a valid fishing license. It’s also a good idea to hire a local fishing guide who can provide you with valuable tips and insights about the best fishing spots and techniques.

Whether you prefer to fish on your own or hire a guide, a day on the Bitterroot River will be a memorable experience. Soak in the tranquility of the river, enjoy the thrill of hooking a fish, and create lasting memories of fly fishing in Missoula.

Take a Day Trip to Glacier National Park

If you’re visiting Missoula, Montana, a day trip to Glacier National Park is a must-do. Located just a few hours north of Missoula, this breathtaking park offers stunning views, wildlife sightings, and endless outdoor activities.

Glacier National Park is known for its pristine lakes, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife. The park is home to over 700 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging treks. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the park’s famous trails, such as the Highline Trail or the Grinnell Glacier Trail.

For a more leisurely experience, take a scenic drive along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This iconic road spans 50 miles and offers breathtaking views of glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine meadows. Don’t forget your camera, as you’ll definitely want to capture the scenic beauty of this park.

While exploring Glacier National Park, keep an eye out for wildlife. The park is home to a diverse array of animals, including grizzly bears, moose, and bighorn sheep. Be respectful of the wildlife and maintain a safe distance when observing them.

If you’re interested in learning more about the park’s natural and cultural history, be sure to visit the visitor centers located throughout the park. These centers offer exhibits, ranger-led programs, and helpful information about the park’s flora, fauna, and geology.

When planning your day trip to Glacier National Park, remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, and sunscreen. The park’s high elevation and exposed terrain can make for intense sun exposure and dehydration.

Overall, a day trip to Glacier National Park is a must-do when visiting Missoula. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking breathtaking views, this park has something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to experience the natural beauty and adventure that Glacier National Park has to offer.

FAQs

What are some top-rated outdoor activities in Missoula?

Some top-rated outdoor activities in Missoula include hiking in the mountains, fishing in the rivers, biking along the trails, and kayaking on the Clark Fork River.

Are there any cultural attractions in Missoula?

Yes, there are several cultural attractions in Missoula. You can visit the Missoula Art Museum, the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, and the University of Montana’s Montana Museum of Art and Culture.

What are the best places to eat in Missoula?

There are many great places to eat in Missoula. Some top-rated restaurants include the Pearl Cafe, Plonk Wine Bar, Caffe Dolce, and Biga Pizza.

Are there any shopping options in Missoula?

Yes, Missoula has several shopping options. You can visit the Southgate Mall for a wide range of stores, or explore the local boutiques and shops in downtown Missoula.

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Charlotte Williams

Charlotte Williams, a cosmopolitan writer based in Wilmington, is the ultimate local expert for family travel at TravelAsker. Drawing on her extensive global experiences, from Paris to Bali, her articles are a treasure trove of invaluable information. With an intimate knowledge of Wilmington’s attractions, resorts, hotels, activities, and restaurants, she adds a maternal touch to her work, guiding readers towards creating cherished family memories in Delaware and beyond.

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