Things to Do in Missoula

Home » Things to Do in Missoula

Discover the vibrant city of Missoula, Montana, and all the exciting experiences it has to offer. From its top attractions and outdoor activities to its delightful food and drink options and lively events and festivals, Missoula has something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a foodie, or a culture seeker, this article will guide you through the best that Missoula has to offer. Let’s dive into the diverse array of activities and attractions waiting for you in this charming city.

Key Takeaways:

  • Experience the beauty of Missoula at top attractions like the University of Montana, Caras Park, and the Missoula Art Museum.
  • Get active with outdoor activities such as hiking in Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, fishing on the Clark Fork River, and skiing at Snowbowl Ski Area.
  • Indulge in the local food and drink scene with breweries and distilleries, restaurants with riverfront views, and fresh produce at farmers markets.
  • Top Attractions in Missoula

    Top Attractions in Missoula - Things to Do in Missoula

    Credits: Alltravelguides.Online – Raymond Adams

    Missoula, located in the heart of Montana, offers a diverse array of attractions that cater to history enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and art aficionados alike. From the scenic Clark Fork River to the iconic University of Montana, there’s something for every visitor to explore in this vibrant city.

    Aside from its natural beauty, Missoula boasts Caras Park, a popular gathering spot for community events and outdoor concerts, nestled alongside the Clark Fork River.

    Visitors can also immerse themselves in the city’s artistic side at Wren Missoula, a contemporary art gallery showcasing works by local and international artists.

    For those keen on looking into the city’s rich history, there are numerous museums such as the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, which offers insight into Missoula’s past, and the Missoula Art Museum, which features a diverse collection of contemporary art.

    Missoula is renowned for its thriving craft beer scene, with a plethora of breweries offering tours and tastings for beer enthusiasts.

    University of Montana

    The University of Montana, nestled in the picturesque city of Missoula, stands as a renowned educational institution that contributes to the academic and cultural fabric of the region.

    With its long history of academic excellence, the University of Montana offers a diverse range of programs across various disciplines, including business, arts, sciences, and humanities. The campus is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities, providing students with access to cutting-edge resources and research opportunities.

    The university actively engages with the local community through initiatives focused on environmental sustainability, social outreach, and cultural enrichment, making it a vital stakeholder in the city’s development and growth.

    Caras Park

    Caras Park, situated in the heart of downtown Missoula along the banks of the Clark Fork River, serves as a vibrant hub for community events, recreational activities, and leisurely strolls amidst scenic surroundings.

    Its prime riverfront location offers stunning views and a serene atmosphere, making it a popular spot for picnics or simply relaxing by the water. The park amenities include a pavilion, carousel, playground, and walking trails, catering to visitors of all ages.

    Throughout the year, Caras Park hosts an array of events such as music festivals, cultural celebrations, and markets, fostering a sense of togetherness and enjoyment within the community.

    Missoula Art Museum

    The Missoula Art Museum stands as a cultural centerpiece that showcases a diverse collection of contemporary art, fostering creativity and artistic expression within the local community and beyond.

    It provides a platform for emerging and established artists to display their work, offering visitors a rich tapestry of thought-provoking pieces spanning various mediums including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations.

    Featured exhibits capture the spirit of the region, with themes drawing inspiration from nature, heritage, and societal narratives, resonating deeply with patrons. Engaging the community through interactive workshops, lectures, and events, the museum enriches the tapestry of local artistic expressions, nurturing a vibrant cultural landscape.

    Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

    The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, based in Missoula, embodies a commitment to conservation and wildlife advocacy, contributing to the preservation and stewardship of elk habitats across the region and beyond.

    Through its mission of ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat, and our hunting heritage, the foundation strives to maintain the balance of nature and the relationship between human beings and wildlife. It implements various initiatives including habitat enhancement, land protection, and promoting sustainable hunting, fostering a coexistence that benefits both humans and wildlife. One of the cornerstones of its achievements is the conservation of vast plots of land, which serve as crucial habitats for elk, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystems.

    Missoula Farmers Market

    The Missoula Farmers Market serves as a vibrant gathering place that celebrates local produce, culinary delights, and community connections, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to engage with the region’s agricultural heritage.

    Upon entering the market, visitors are greeted with a colorful assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, artisanal cheeses, homemade jams, and handcrafted goods. The lively atmosphere is filled with the aroma of freshly baked bread, sizzling food stalls, and the sound of local musicians adding to the festive vibe.

    But more than just a place for purchasing farm-fresh products, the Missoula Farmers Market fosters a sense of community, with friendly conversations between local farmers and shoppers, as well as interactive demonstrations and educational workshops on sustainable farming practices and seasonal cooking.

    Supporting the market not only promotes the local economy but also encourages a deeper connection to the land and the people who nurture it, highlighting the importance of sustainable agriculture and the diversity of culinary experiences available within the region.

    Outdoor Activities in Missoula

    In Missoula, outdoor enthusiasts can immerse themselves in a plethora of exhilarating activities, from hiking through the scenic Rattlesnake National Recreation Area to skiing at the Snowbowl Ski Area, embracing the natural beauty and rugged landscapes of the region.

    The Clark Fork River is a sought-after spot for fishing, offering a tranquil escape and a chance to reel in some outstanding catches.

    For keen cyclists, the Lolo National Forest provides a haven for mountain biking, with its diverse trails and stunning vistas.

    Along with these activities, Missoula also boasts an array of opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, and rock climbing, ensuring that there’s something to cater to every adventurer’s tastes.

    Hiking in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

    The Rattlesnake National Recreation Area beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its extensive network of hiking trails, offering breathtaking vistas, diverse terrain, and a captivating escape into nature’s embrace.

    Within this pristine wilderness, one can explore the Divide Trail, winding through fragrant pine forests and rocky outcrops, or venture along the gentle slopes of the Spring Gulch Trail, which leads to the serene beauty of Hidden Lake. The region is also graced with the striking grandeur of the Rattlesnake Ledge, a popular spot that rewards hikers with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

    As one delves deeper into this natural wonderland, they may encounter shimmering alpine lakes, babbling brooks, and an abundance of wildlife, from graceful deer to elusive mountain goats.

    Immersing oneself in this outdoor haven fosters a profound connection with the earth’s raw beauty, where the crisp mountain air invigorates the senses, and the distant echo of rushing waters serves as a harmonious backdrop.

    Fishing on the Clark Fork River

    The Clark Fork River offers anglers an idyllic setting for fishing adventures, with its pristine waters and abundant fish species, beckoning fishing enthusiasts to indulge in the tranquil and rewarding pursuit of the perfect catch.

    The river meanders through breathtaking landscapes, providing access to premier angling spots such as the Alberton Gorge, where rainbow and brown trout thrive in the riffles and deep pools. Another sought-after section is near Missoula, where the combination of the river’s flow and diverse insect life makes for excellent fly fishing. Anglers may also encounter prized species like cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish while basking in the serene ambiance along the riverbanks.

    Mountain Biking in the Lolo National Forest

    The Lolo National Forest sets the stage for exhilarating mountain biking excursions, with its diverse trails, rugged terrain, and stunning vistas, inviting cyclists to experience the thrill of off-road adventure amidst captivating natural surroundings.

    Encompassing over 2 million acres in western Montana, the Lolo National Forest features an array of trails catering to cyclists of all skill levels. From the technical challenges of the Woods Gulch trail to the flowing singletrack of the Blue Mountain Recreation Area, riders can find trails that test their abilities and reward them with breathtaking views of the Bitterroot Valley and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The forest’s diverse terrain, ranging from steep descents to gradual climbs, offers a mix of demanding and leisurely rides that enthrall riders with each pedal stroke.

    Skiing at Snowbowl Ski Area

    The Snowbowl Ski Area stands as a premier destination for winter enthusiasts, offering exhilarating skiing opportunities, picturesque slopes, and a vibrant alpine atmosphere that beckons visitors to embrace the thrill of downhill adventure.

    Experiencing skiing at Snowbowl is not just about the adrenaline rush from the pristine runs and challenging terrain; it’s a journey into an enchanting winter wonderland. The modern facilities and top-notch ski lifts ensure quick access to the slopes, allowing skiers to make the most of their time on the mountain. The powder conditions are consistently incredible, drawing winter sports enthusiasts from across the country to revel in the heart-pounding skiing experience.

    Food and Drink in Missoula

    Missoula’s culinary landscape is replete with delightful offerings, from the craft breweries that dot the city to the riverside restaurants that offer captivating views, providing a delectable and scenic dining experience for locals and visitors alike.

    What adds a unique flavor to Missoula’s dining scene is the incorporation of local ingredients and the celebration of culinary diversity. The city thrives on the concept of farm-to-table dining, offering fresh and locally sourced produce that elevates the taste of every dish. The presence of Huckleberry in various forms, such as jams, syrups, and desserts, is a true reflection of the local touch in the culinary creations.

    Amidst the vibrant atmosphere of Missoula, the dining experience is not just about the food; it’s an immersion into the city’s rich culture. The riverfront dining options provide more than just a meal – they offer an experience, accompanied by the soothing sounds of the flowing water and the picturesque surroundings. It’s a place where delectable cuisine meets nature’s tranquility, creating a truly unforgettable dining ambiance.

    Local Breweries and Distilleries

    The local breweries and distilleries of Missoula encapsulate the city’s vibrant craft beverage scene, offering a diverse array of flavorful brews and spirits amidst the scenic charm of riverfront settings and the lively ambiance of Caras Park.

    Missoula’s brewery culture is renowned for its innovation and dedication to quality, with each establishment crafting unique libations that capture the essence of the region. Visitors can savor signature beverages such as huckleberry-infused ales, locally-distilled whiskeys, and refreshing lagers, reflecting the rich tapestry of flavors that define the area.

    The picturesque riverfront settings offer the perfect backdrop for brewery hopping and enjoying a laid-back afternoon along the tranquil Missoula River. Whether you prefer a cozy taproom or a bustling beer garden, there’s an ideal spot to immerse yourself in the artistry of brewing and distillation.

    Restaurants with Riverfront Views

    The restaurants with riverfront views in downtown Missoula offer a captivating blend of delectable cuisines and scenic panoramas, providing diners with a multisensory feast that celebrates the city’s culinary and natural charms.

    Whether you’re savoring freshly caught seafood while overlooking the gentle flow of the Clark Fork River or indulging in a perfectly grilled steak against the backdrop of stunning sunset hues reflected on the water, these riverfront dining experiences are unparalleled.

    With a diverse array of culinary offerings, from locally sourced farm-to-table delights to internationally inspired dishes, each restaurant along the riverside promenade offers a unique and memorable dining experience. The combination of exquisite food and breathtaking views creates an ambiance that is both intimate and awe-inspiring.

    Farmers Markets and Local Produce

    The Farmers Markets in Missoula serve as bustling hubs of community and culinary exploration, showcasing an eclectic array of locally grown produce, artisanal goods, and vibrant cultural experiences that resonate with both residents and visitors.

    The lively atmosphere at the Farmers Markets in Missoula is enriched by the diverse range of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers sourced directly from local farms. The spectrum of colors and scents is invigorating as one strolls through the vibrant booths. The artisanal offerings such as handcrafted cheeses, preserves, baked goods, and specialty items further contribute to the allure of these markets.

    What truly sets these markets apart is the sense of community they foster. Visitors and vendors come together to celebrate the rich agricultural heritage of the region, exchanging stories and insights. This vibrant interaction enhances the shopping experience, creating a warm and inclusive environment for everyone to enjoy.

    Missoula’s Famous Huckleberry Treats

    Missoula’s famous Huckleberry treats represent a delectable hallmark of the city’s culinary identity, offering a delightful fusion of flavor and tradition that entices locals and visitors alike with their irresistible charm.

    These iconic delights are deeply rooted in the local culture, as Huckleberries grow abundantly in the wild landscapes of Montana, making them a cherished ingredient in various traditional dishes. The rich, sweet-tart flavor of Huckleberries infuses the treats with a unique tangy goodness that captivates the palate. Whether enjoyed in the form of Huckleberry pies, jams, or ice creams, each bite offers a taste of the region’s natural abundance and culinary heritage, creating a memorable experience for all who savor them.

    Events and Festivals in Missoula

    Events and Festivals in Missoula - Things to Do in Missoula

    Credits: Alltravelguides.Online – Eric Scott

    Missoula comes alive with a dynamic tapestry of events and festivals that cater to diverse interests, from the lively River City Roots Festival to the spirited Garden City Brewfest, offering visitors an enriching and memorable experience that celebrates the city’s vibrant community spirit.

    The Missoula Marathon, a premier running event, attracts participants from around the country, showcasing the city’s scenic beauty and active lifestyle. In addition, the Celtic Festival brings forth the rich tapestry of Celtic music, dance, and cultural heritage, adding a touch of tradition and merriment to the city’s event calendar.

    River City Roots Festival

    The River City Roots Festival encapsulates the spirit of Missoula’s vibrant community, offering a lively fusion of music, arts, and cultural celebrations along the scenic backdrop of the city’s riverfront, creating an immersive and festive experience for attendees of all ages.

    The festival brings together a diverse array of musical performances, from local talents to renowned artists, resonating through the air and enhancing the lively atmosphere.

    At the heart of the event, artistic showcases display the region’s creative talent, with vibrant exhibits and interactive installations that engage and inspire.

    Beyond the performances and visual arts, the festival’s bustling streets come alive with local vendors, community organizations, and spirited attendees, fostering a sense of togetherness and shared celebration.

    As the sun sets, the ambience transforms, with enchanting lights and sounds adding to the magic of this joyous occasion.

    Garden City Brewfest

    The Garden City Brewfest unites beer enthusiasts and community revelers for a spirited celebration of craft brews, live music, and convivial camaraderie, fostering a vibrant social experience that captures the essence of Missoula’s dynamic community spirit.

    With a diverse selection of craft brews from local and regional breweries, the Garden City Brewfest offers an enticing array of beer options to tantalize the palate of every beer aficionado. From hoppy IPAs to rich stouts and refreshing lagers, there’s a brew to suit every taste and preference. Alongside the delectable libations, festival-goers can groove to the rhythm of live music performances by talented local bands, adding a lively soundtrack to the festivities. The communal ambiance at the event creates a welcoming atmosphere, where friends and neighbors come together to savor great beers and create lasting memories.

    Missoula Marathon

    The Missoula Marathon serves as a testament to the city’s commitment to health, fitness, and community camaraderie, drawing runners and spectators from near and far to participate in a memorable and inspiring race through the scenic streets of Missoula.

    As one of the most anticipated events in the region, the Missoula Marathon creates a vibrant atmosphere that resonates with the overarching spirit of health and wellness. Runners are not only challenged by the race’s diverse terrain but also uplifted by the unwavering support of the local community, adding to the event’s significance.

    The marathon’s positive impact extends beyond the race day, bolstering the city’s reputation as a hub for fitness enthusiasts and fostering a culture of active living. The marathon’s focus on inclusivity and camaraderie enables participants to push their limits and celebrate their achievements in the company of like-minded individuals, creating an enduring sense of connection and support among the diverse participants.

    Celtic Festival

    The Celtic Festival in Missoula invites attendees to immerse themselves in a rich tapestry of Celtic traditions, music, and cultural festivities, offering a captivating experience that celebrates the city’s diverse heritage and community vibrancy.

    As you enter the festival grounds, you are greeted by a vibrant display of Celtic artistry encompassing mesmerizing dance performances, traditional crafts, and mouth-watering culinary offerings. The air resonates with the melodic tunes of bagpipes and fiddles, filling the atmosphere with an enchanting aura.

    Communal togetherness is palpable throughout the festival, fostering an inclusive ambiance where families, friends, and visitors from all backgrounds come together to revel in the spirit of unity and cultural exchange. The performances on stage showcase the depth and diversity of Celtic music, from soul-stirring ballads to lively jigs that beckon everyone to join in the celebration.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are some popular things to do in Missoula?

    Some popular things to do in Missoula include visiting the Missoula Farmers Market, hiking the “M” trail, and exploring the downtown area.

    What outdoor activities are available in Missoula?

    Missoula offers a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing on the Clark Fork River, skiing at Snowbowl, and hiking in the nearby mountains.

    What cultural attractions are worth visiting in Missoula?

    Missoula has a rich arts and culture scene, with must-see attractions such as the Missoula Art Museum, the Missoula Symphony Orchestra, and the Roxy Theater.

    Are there any family-friendly activities in Missoula?

    Yes, there are plenty of family-friendly activities in Missoula, such as the Children’s Museum Missoula, Splash Montana water park, and the Missoula Carousel.

    What is the best time to visit Missoula?

    The best time to visit Missoula is during the summer months, when the weather is mild and there are many outdoor events and festivals happening.

    What are some unique experiences to have in Missoula?

    For a unique experience in Missoula, try visiting the Smokejumper Visitor Center, attending a traditional powwow, or taking a hot air balloon ride over the city.