Missoula is high up in Montana's Northern Rockies where three rivers meet, with seven wilderness areas around it. Missoula is a place where people come to find great outdoor adventures. With 60,000 acres of wilderness a short drive from your hotel or B&B, you can kayak, hike, ski, fish, ride, raft and tube. As the home of the University of Montana, Missoula is a rich art and culture center, with a number of great museums.
1.Garnet Ghost Town
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Garnet is a historic Montana mining town located in Granite County inwest central Montana, sitting high up at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet, surrounded by magnificent mountains and ancient forests. It dates to 1860 and was built on the garnet lode. The whole area was rich in gold and in 1898, almost 1,000 people lived in it.
The town was abandoned about 20 years later when there was no more gold. About 30 buildings have been well preserved, such asthe J.R. Wells Hotel, Kelly's Bar, Dahl's Saloon and the F.A. Davey's Store. There is a Visitor Center with books, cards and memorabilia, a number of interpretive signs and self-guided trails. The town is open year around. In the winter, Garnet is very popular for snow mobiling and cross-country skiing. Winter cabin rentals are available.
Granite County, Montana, Phone: 406-329-3914
2. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
© The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
Fort Missoula was built by in 1877 by the United States Army who were there as a safeguard for settlers against possible threats from the Nez Perce and other local Native American tribes. In its history, it has served as a camp for Italian prisoners of war, and as an internment camp for Japanese-Americans arrested after Pearl Harbor.
Today, the museum, housed in what was once the Quartermaster's Storehouse, has exhibits about the history of Missoula, the diverse neighborhoods that exist in the city, and offers child-friendly guided tours through the buildings and lands of the original fort, including the officers' quarters, the carriage house, the sawmill, the schoolhouse, and the church. Read more
3400 Captain Rawn Way, Missoula, Montana 59804, Phone: 406-728-3476
3.Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness
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With a main trailhead less than five miles from downtown Missoula, the 61,000 acre Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is a popular location for walkers, hikers, joggers, and mountain bikers. Abundant small streams feed into Rattlesnake Creek on the valley floor, and more than thirty mountain lakes with cascading waterfalls make this area the home to several wetland bird species.
There is plenty of wildlife, and keen-eyed visitors may spot bighorn sheep, mule and white-tailed deer, caribou, fox, gray wolves, and the occasional black bear. There is a separate trail for visitors on horseback, and catch and release fishing is permitted throughout the park.
24 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, Montana 59804, Phone: 406-329-3814
4.Montana Museum of Art and Culture
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The Montana Museum of Art & Culture is part of the University of Montana campus, snuggled between the river and the mountain, with its treasures divided throughout several university buildings. The museum's permanent collection contains more than 11,000 artworks, some indoors in various spaces within the campus, some outside in the open air.
To take a tour of all Museum has to offer, visitors need to use the Campus Artwork Map. Paxsonand MeloyGalleries, which show current exhibitions, are located near the Adams Center, on the north end of campus. The UC Gallery, the Gallery of Visual Arts and the College of Visual and Performing Arts are also on the university campus.
6 University #6, Missoula, Montana 59812, Phone: 406-243-2019
5.Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center
© Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center
Smokejumpers are highly skilled rapid response personnel who work against forest fires and wild fires. They suppress initial fire outbreaks, and, because of their intensive training and experience, are able to take leadership roles and do situation assessment for fires of longer duration. Visitors may tour the Smokejumper Base in Missoula daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and by appointment during the rest of the year.
Tours last approximately 45 minutes, and visitors are shown smokejumper jump gear, parachutes, cargo, and airplanes, and the training procedures that smokejumpers undergo are described. The visitor center gladly welcomes school and other groups, and can arrange leadership forums.
5765 W. Broadway Street, Missoula, Montana 59808, Phone: 406-329-4934
6.Missoula Farmer's Market
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Missoulians love to bring their out-of-town guests to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. It is everyone's favorite place to shop for locally grown produce that was probably picked at dawn while you were still sleeping. It is also a great place to meet friends and neighbors, have a great cup of coffee, people-watch, chat with your favorite farmers, listen to street musicians and generally have a great time.
This colorful open-air market on Circle Square has been around since 1972 and today has about 100 vendors who bring the fruit of their labors to share with customers looking for fresh, local produce. Nothing has travelled miles to get to your basket. There are no craftsor imported stuff, just fresh or dried fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, honey, eggs, hot food, meat, baked goods, jellies, jams and syrups.
N Higgins Ave, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-274-3042
7.Missoula Art Museum
© Missoula Art Museum
The Missoula Art Museum is a community-supported venture with a focus on art relevant to the life and culture of the American West. The museum supports the work of Missoula artists, particularly those from Missoula County.
The museum has one of the largest collections of contemporary American Indian art in the United States, a large collection of Hmong textiles from Missoula's Hmong people, and diverse media, including paintings, photographs, sculptures, glass, and ceramics. Tours of the museum last approximately 45 minutes, and are available to individuals or groups. The museum has art classes for everyone from preschoolers to adults, artist talks, and an outreach education program.
335 North Pattee, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-728-0447
8.Museum of Mountain Flying
© Museum of Mountain Flying
Montana is known as the birthplace of mountain flying. The Museum of Mountain Flying, located on the east end of the Missoula International Airport, preserves and interprets the history of mountain flying in general and the premier mountain flying service in Montana and in the entire Northern Rockiesfrom the late 1920s to the early 1970s.
The museum was established in 1993 by Dick Komberec, Stan Cohen, and Steve Smith. It has a number of model aircrafts in the museum hangar, from the Wright Brothers and a World War II B-24 heavy bomber to several modern planes.In order to continue the preservation effort, the museum is looking for any items related to the mountain-flying history in the region, such as vintage aircraft, memorabilia, artifacts, historical documents, personal narratives, photographs, diaries, film footage, newspaper stories, tape recordings, articles and books.
5225 W Broadway St, Missoula, Montana 59808, Phone: 406-721-3644
9.A Carousel for Missoula
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When people want something very much, and get together to do it, magic happens. In 1991, the Missoula City Council decided to provide the Missoula community with something new for good, old-fashioned fun. Local cabinet-maker Chuck Kaparich, who had a dream of building a carousel, promised to make one if the city would find a place for it. In May of 1995, with help of thousands of volunteers who donatedmore than 100,000 hours of their time, some from as far as Canada, the carousel was completed.
There were 38 beautiful ponies, two chariots, 14 gargoyles with gargoyle frames, mirror frames and the biggest band organ in the States, all tucked in a jewel box of a building. They did it again in 2001, when more than 4,000 volunteers, justifiably proud of what they have created, created Dragon Hollow Play Area just next to the Carousel, turning a green field into a magical kingdom that enjoyed by kids and parents alike.
101 Carousel Dr, Missoula, MT 59802, United States, Tel. +1 406-549-8382
© Courtesy of Missoula Downtown
Caras Park, in the heart of downtown Missoula, is the center of fun in the city. Situated on the banks of the Clark Fork River, the park plays host to festivals, art shows, live music and theater, barbecues, and private events such as weddings and family reunions.
The Brewfest and Celtic Festival are events that Missoula residents look forward to every year. Caras Park has walking trails, perfect for strolls with the family pooch, a beautiful carousel with hand-carved horses and gargoyles, a children's playground, and delicious food services. Benches are available for visitors who wish to relax and watch kayakers on the river, or to congregate with friends.
1 Caras Drive, Missoula, Montana 59801, Phone: 406-543-4238
11.Montana Natural History Center
© Montana Natural History Center
The Montana Natural History Center's museum was created to showcase Western Montana's natural history, flora and fauna. Kids and their parents cansee a life-sized Tyrannosaurus rex skull replica; learn more about the enormous lake that used to fill the Missoula Valley thousands of years ago, explore the world of insects and some other animals that pollinate flowers and make things grow; discover local ecosystems, from alpine to prairie and so much more.
There is a kids' microscope area, a kids' reading nook in the Museum'sRalph Lee Allen Environmental Education Library, and the very popular Kids' Discovery Room, with so many interesting things to explore. The Center is located on Hickory Street, near the Osprey Baseball Stadium. It takes less than one hour to go through it, but you can stay much longer if you wish.
120 Hickory St # A, Missoula, Montana 59801, Phone: 406-327-0405
12.Children's Museum Missoula
© Children's Museum Missoula
Dig up dinosaur bones, play with bubbles or face paint, design the city out of blocks, or put on a puppet show. All this and so much more is waiting for kids at the Children's Museum Missoula, right on the Front Street. It is a place where learning is fun, a museum where the kids can touch everything and let their imagination soar.
The Museum is suitable for the kids under the age of ten, and their parents, of course. For visitors, the Museum is the place of fun and discovery, and for Missoulians it is a place where kids can have fun while learning and where their parents can network, learn from each other and discover ways to keep their kids interested in learning.
225 W Front St, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-541-7529
13.Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
© Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
The Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale consists of an eighty-member orchestra and one hundred-member chorale, and provides the Missoula community with outstanding symphonic concerts under expert artistic direction and with nationally-renowned soloists. The orchestra and chorale have a five concert season, with each concert performed twice in Missoula's Dennison Theatre.
A popular free outdoor concert is held downtown every August, and there is an annual Family Concert that is beloved by residents of Missoula and area. The Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale has been active since the 1950s, and at first drew only on the talents of the citizens of Missoula. It is now an internationally-recognized orchestra, travelling in summers to Europe to sold-out concert halls.
320 East Main Street, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-721-3194
14.Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery
© Ten Spoon Vineyard
The Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery is owned and operated by Missoula natives with a passion for organic grapes and preserving land for animals and agriculture. The Ten Spoon Vineyard is situated on land that was purchased to save it from urban development. It is planted with red and white French-American hybrid vines; the grapes are grown without the use of synthetic chemicals.
The award-winning wines bottled here come from grapes in fertile soil that is fed by the pure waters of the Rattlesnake River. The tasting room is open year-round on weekends, and to the backdrop of live music visitors may enjoy fine wine with salami and cheese, or with picnic fare brought from home. Both indoor and outdoor seating are available on a seasonal basis.
4175 Rattlesnake Drive, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-549-8703
15.Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium
© Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium
Opened in 2015, the Insect Zoo and attached classroom are the first phase of much larger Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium that is planned as an important source of insect education in Missoula. The goal of the facility is to teach an understanding and appreciation of insects and their importance in the web of life, through various educational programs and innovative, hands-on science exhibits. Programs vary depending on childrens' ages.
Kindergarten and smaller kids get to observe bugs and learn about their lives and challenges. For example, how bugs with hare exoskeletons grow and how insect engineering taught people a few tricks and about the important roles pollinators, decomposers and predators play in our world. Older kids get to see insects and their parts under the microscope. Even adults can have fun in insectarium - there is a series of after-hours programs such as Artist in Residency and Bugs and Brews.
218 E Front St, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-317-1211
16.Historic Missoula Downtown Walking Tour
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Missoula, Montana has a colorful history that started in 1860, when the Hell's Gate trading post was established to supply settlers of the American West. In 1877, Fort Missoula was built and staffed in order to protect area homesteaders from the possibility of attack from Native Americans.
The arrival of the Northern Pacific Railroad in Missoula brought a surge of new residents and economic prosperity. The Historic Missoula Downtown Walking Tour takes visitors to buildings established for settlers and transients, and represent several major architectural schools. There was a huge mercantile store, a large brothel, a beautiful church, a courthouse, hotels, stables, and a railway depot. A map of the downtown area is available online for visitors interested in discovering more about the history of this Frontier town.
823 Waverly Street, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-531-6572
17.Montana Wilderness Adventure Company
© Montana Wilderness Adventure Company
The Montana Wilderness Adventure Company offers outdoor adventures to all ages and levels of fitness, including children, seniors, and people with limited mobility and disabilities. The company offers day hikes within a 50 mile radius of Missoula, with knowledgeable guides to inform hikers about the local flora and fauna.
Birding tours are available both for beginner and expert birders; all will delight at the sight of eagles, woodpeckers, warblers, hawks, and osprey. Water lovers may enjoy canoeing on the Clark Fork River, or boating tours where informative guides tell passengers about the history of the area, and direct their attention to the herons, ducks, and geese that live on the river, and the deer, muskrats, moose, and elk that live on its shores. Camping trips are available, as are backpacking journeys.
Missoula, Montana 59808, Phone: 406-546-7592
© Southgate Mall
Southgate Mall is western Montana's largest retail mall, with over one hundred stores and services. Department stores, boutiques, and specialty stores offer a wide variety of goods, including apparel for the whole family, jewelry, shoes, home furnishings, appliances, decor, and electronics.
A salon and spa are perfect for pampering, and shoppers in need of a sit-down and refreshment will be pleased by the large number of dining options available, including Greek or Italian cuisine, pizza, subs, coffee, ice cream, frozen yogurt, and fresh juice. A monthly kids club provides children and their caregivers with seasonal activities, and the Mallwalkers program, which runs three times weekly, gives community members a chance to stay fit in a climate-controlled environment.
2901 Brooks Street, Missoula, Montana 59801, Phone: 406-721-5140
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Montana Snowbowl is an outdoor activity area, which also offers lodging, and is located in the mountains just outside of Missoula, Montana. The excellent ski slopes are open to skiers and snowboarders; the main run is for experts, but there are also moderate and bunny slopes on-site. In the summer, Montana Snowbowl offers zip lining courses, and opens its grounds for destination weddings.
The Gelandesprung Hotel is a traditional-style European lodge on the side of the mountain slope, and offers rooms, private and shared baths, a hot tub, and kitchen facilities. Montana Snowbowl has a snow sports school that offers lessons for all ages and abilities, and two restaurants with delicious fare such as pizza, burgers, breakfast burritos, and freshly baked goods.
Box 8107, Missoula, Montana 59807, Phone: 406-549-9777
20.ROW Adventures - Clark Fork River Rafting
© ROW Adventures
Clark Fork River Rafting through Montana's Alberton Gorge is an exciting adventure for the whole family. A fast ride through Class II-III whitewater, you will have day-long fun on the water riding through roller coaster like rapids called Boat Eater, Fang, Tumbleweed and Cliffside. The Alberton Gorge runs through a deep canyon surrounded by beautiful reddish-colored cliffs.
Kids older than five are welcome. Besides rapids, there are lovely, quiet pools and the flat-water parts of the river perfect for a cool dip. The raft you will be riding is a 13-foot paddle raft. You'll learn to paddle, if you have not done it before, from trained professional guides. There are inflatable kayaks calledDaring Duckies for the adrenaline junkies who want closer encounter with the water.
202 Sherman Ave, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814, Phone: 208-770-2517
© Montgomery Distillery
The Montgomery Distillery is a family-run business housed in a 19th century building that was once a liquor storeroom and a genuine old-time saloon. Parents, Tom and Chris Montgomery, are the fifth generation descendants of 19th century Montana homesteaders, and grow the wheat and rye used in the distilling process.
Ryan and Jenny Montgomery studied the art of distilling in Scotland, and are passionate about making international liquors using only Montana ingredients. The tasting room of the Montgomery Distillery is open daily, and serves cocktails created from Montgomery-made vodka, gin, and whiskeys - both single malt and rye. On Friday and Saturday nights, locals and visitors can tour the still room and learn about the distillation process.
129 West Front Street, Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-926-1725
22.Pattee Canyon Recreation Area
© Courtesy of fs.usda.gov
The Pattee Canyon Recreation Area is a federally-maintained wilderness of 3,200 acres just east of Missoula, Montana. It has picnic tables, fire pits, group picnic areas that can be reserved, and 27 miles of trails winding through its forest of tall Ponderosa pines. The recreation area has an 18-hole disc golf course with baskets provided.
The extensive trail network attracts a wide variety of fitness enthusiasts, and hikers, joggers, and dog-walkers are welcome. There are separate trails for mountain bikers and for visitors on horseback. In the winter, six miles of trails are kept clear for snowshoers and cross-country skiers; dogs are not allowed on the snow trails. The Pattee Canyon Recreation Area does not have running water or electricity, and hunting is prohibited.
Fas 533, Missoula, Montana 59803, Phone: 406-329-3814
23.Mount Jumbo Trails, Missoula, Montana
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In the interest of wildlife preservation, the citizens and city of Missoula purchased the lands on the south face of Mount Jumbo in 1995. The slopes of the mountain are winter grazing areas for large herds of deer and elk, and trails are closed from December 1 until March 15 to allow unfettered wildlife grazing. The south face of Mount Jumbo has four trails; the North Loop Trail and the Saddle Trail are suitable for comfortable hikes, while the Backbone Trail and the "L" Trail are very steep, and meant for experienced hikers. Bicycles are not allowed on the trails.
Dogs are permitted, but must be on-leash for the first 300 meters of the trail, and within calling distance for the remainder of the trail. The trails on Mount Jumbo have superb bird and wildlife viewing, and the Alpine meadows have exquisite displays of wildflowers.
24.The Roxy Theater
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Opened in 1937, the Roxy Theater is a nonprofit historic venue located in downtown Missoula that is screening newly released movies nightly and showing foreign, independent, classic films, theater and community events according to a monthly program.
The theater's goal is to inspire, engage and educate diverse audiences, and to involve the community and volunteers in the creation and running of the programs. The Roxy also hosts many popular annual events such as International Wildlife Film Festival and the Montana Film Festival. The funky theatre indulges its audiences with beer, wine, locally made snacks and organic popcorn.
718 S Higgins Ave, Missoula, Montana 59801, Phone: 406-728-9380
25.Montana Brewery Tours
© Montana Brewery Tours
Montana Brewery Tours focus on the local craft beer scene in and around Missoula, Montana. Popular hop-on tours include the Missoula Hop-On Tour that visits three breweries in three to four hours. Participants get behind-the-scenes brewery access, learn about the brewing process, and can sample a variety of local beers.
The Bitterroot Valley Hop-On Tour visits three or four breweries, and the beer is only matched by the beautiful mountain scenery enjoyed from the tour bus. For extra fun and thrills, Montana Brewery Tours offers an exciting Whitewater Beer Tasting, which starts with a Class II - III whitewater rafting experience in the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River. When the raft is beached, guests enjoy gourmet appetizers and local beers on the river shores. Corporate events and custom tours are available.
Missoula, Montana 59802, Phone: 406-544-6864
25 Best Things to Do in Missoula, Montana
- Garnet Ghost Town, Photo: Courtesy of Sue Smith - Fotolia.com
- The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Photo: The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
- Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, Photo: Courtesy of visitmt.com
- Montana Museum of Art and Culture, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center, Photo: Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center
- Missoula Farmer's Market, Photo: Courtesy of arinahabich - Fotolia.com
- Missoula Art Museum, Photo: Missoula Art Museum
- Museum of Mountain Flying, Photo: Museum of Mountain Flying
- A Carousel for Missoula, Photo: Courtesy of Rosario Rizzo - Fotolia.com
- Caras Park, Photo: Courtesy of Missoula Downtown
- Montana Natural History Center, Photo: Montana Natural History Center
- Children's Museum Missoula, Photo: Children's Museum Missoula
- Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Photo: Missoula Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
- Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery, Photo: Ten Spoon Vineyard
- Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, Photo: Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium
- Historic Missoula Downtown Walking Tour, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Montana Wilderness Adventure Company, Photo: Montana Wilderness Adventure Company
- Southgate Mall, Photo: Southgate Mall
- Montana Snowbowl, Photo: Courtesy of Jag_cz - Fotolia.com
- ROW Adventures - Clark Fork River Rafting, Photo: ROW Adventures
- Montgomery Distillery, Photo: Montgomery Distillery
- Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of fs.usda.gov
- Mount Jumbo Trails, Missoula, Montana, Photo: Courtesy of romwriter - Fotolia.com
- The Roxy Theater, Photo: Courtesy of nexusseven - Fotolia.com
- Montana Brewery Tours, Photo: Montana Brewery Tours
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com