15 Best Things to Do in Missoula, Montana

15 Best Things to Do in Missoula, Montana

Montana’s popularity does not just revolve around the University of Montana, Missoula’s serene and adventurous surrounding adds to its everlasting popularity. Nature has always been a source of immense inspiration, not just for imminent personalities, but for every other human and Missoula has plenty to offer. It has acres of unexplored land, reserved forests, hiking trails, and a plethora of outdoor activities which heals any chaotic city soul. It is a slice of heaven on earth, a space of escape with its snowcapped mountains; free flowing river water, chirping birds and a lot more. The University of Montana showcases its influence through the mode of art and culture, various museums are scattered all around Missoula which makes the people connect to their roots and ever significant history.

Delve in History at Fort Missoula

Fort Missoula
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The Historical Museum in Fort Missoula provides an opportunity to the visitors to experience a slice of rich cultural history of the west. Dates back to 1877, this museum previously used to be camp which sheltered both Italian as well as Japanese American prisoners. But presently, it is used to display the history of the state, the past conditions of the neighborhood, the routine maintained by everyday soldiers and the town folks. Guided tours are offered to the children and adults can self-explore the property, historical structure and the items displayed. The Museum hosts a number of major events such as “Fourth of July at Fort” which makes the visit all too overwhelming.

Roll Around the Snow in Montana Snowbowl

Montana Snowbowl
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Located just in the outskirts of Missoula, Montana Snowbowl is the perfect destination to celebrate a white winter, especially for people who do not like to be confined in their homes. The snowcapped slopes offer affordable lodging facilities and a piece of heaven for the skiers. For the beginners, there is an on- site skiing school which provides an opportunity to learn something new. The entire temperament of the place changes with the change of the season. In summer season, this spot gets occupied by hikers and mountain bikers who aren’t afraid to face the rough yet therapeutic terrains.

Sip Wine and Visit a Museum

The museum exhibits all the intricacies that make west what it is, The Montana Museum of Art and Culture successfully captured the spirit of America at its best. The museum is part of University of Montana. It is located between a mountain and a river, which makes the location more unique as nature and art intermingle together. The museum has more than ten thousand original artifacts and artworks scattered across the University campus and are showcased in indoor as well as outdoor areas. Visitors are provided with a map of the campus to avoid excessive hassle. Montana Museum of Art and Culture got acclaimed as a state museum in the year 2001 and the University grounds has the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Gallery of Visual Arts where exhibitions are held at regular intervals.

Experience Wilderness at Lolo National Forest

Lolo National Forest
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Be one with nature at Lolo National Forest which was established in 1906 and is located in north Missoula. This two million acres land experiences both maritime as well as continental weather, which makes it unique than other forest. A series of outdoor activities such as hiking, snowshoeing horse riding, camping, backpacking, biking etc. are available. The location of the forest is at a commutable distance from the city and promises to deliver tranquility, joy and entertainment to its visitors.

Dreamers Who Dream of the Sky

People, who dream of competing with birds and cutting through the clouds with the help of their aircrafts, should delve in the history of mountain aircrafts. Missoula recognizes the importance of connection with the roots hence; it has preserved the history of aircrafts in The Museum of Mountain Flying. Montana is known to be the birthplace of mountain flying service, to honor this, Dick Komberec, Stan Cohen, and Steve Smith built this museum in 1993. It has preserved aircraft of the wright brothers, vintage places, documents, newspaper recordings, personal account, photographs, tape recordings and any significant artifacts related to aviation history.

Experince a Moment of Peace

Covering an area of 61,000 acres, Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness provides the visitors with a moment of respite. The land has numerous small streams, waterfalls and mountain lakes which make it a prominent area for people who are into hiking, jogging, biking, trekking and all sorts of recreational outdoor activities. The land inhabits various animals such as gray wolf, mule, fox, spot bighorn sheep, caribou and various types of wetland birds. Visitors can even take a tour of the land on horseback. During winter time, the visitors will have an opportunity to snowshoe and follow skiing trails.

Protect the Endangered

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Montanasuffragette, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With passing time, the danger of certain species becoming extinct is increasing. Many new foundations has taken the responsibility to save those species, one such foundation is The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation whose main aim is to protect all varieties of Elk and other animals by modifying the surrounding condition to suit the animals. One visit to the place will bring the visitor close to the native species as this is an informative tour where exhibit mountain Elk and other wild animals and provide detailed account of them so that the visitors can understand the gravity of conservation. This is one of the best spots for animal lovers.

Host an Event at Caras Park

Be any festival, occasion or event, the only name that comes to mind is Caras Park. This spot is conveniently located beside Clark Fork River and provides open air venues to host events such as music festivals, theatre, art shows, barbeques etc. The two humongous pavilions have the strength to entertain large crowds without exuding a claustrophobic feel. The space has walking trails and family centered entertainment such as chariots, carousel and hand carved horses. The famous Wilma theatre overlooks the park and gives one of the most exceptional views.

Wilma Theatre

Wilma Theatre
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This uplifts the glory of downtown Missoula for the time it was built in 1921. One of the first skyscrapers of Missoula it holds more than architectural relevance, it was established by William “Billy” Simons in honor of his wife, Edna William who contributed greatly to the theatrical culture. Biggest names of the entertainment industry find a spot in this theatre, as does the tourists.

Take a Hike at Mount Sentinel

Mount Sentinel
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Mount Sentinel being 1,958 foot tall gazes over the entire city of Montana. Located to the east of University of Montana is a perfect hiking spot for the tourists. Standing tall for ages, this was supposedly a part of a colossal glacial lake. It is known to the most prominent hiking destination, and to make it more accessible to people, the trail is well marked and serves the purpose of people with different preferences. It has both natural trails as well as steeper slopes.

The Party Block

Missoula’s Hip Strip which is located downtown seems like a painted picture and all credit goes to its aesthetic aura. The streets are lined with picture- perfect boutiques, shops, delicious eateries and a lot more. This is where Friday plans are executed in all its glory with a zillion after parties, art shows, block party and a lot more. This is also the place from where souvenirs are collected.

The Mandetory Church Visit

Interior of St. Francis Xavier Church in Missoula
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The design of the church is said to be paradoxical because of stark contrast between its exterior and interior. The outside of the church follows the common contemporary style of United States; the inside of the church resembles European design. Established in the beginning of 20th century, the tallest church of Missoula is adorned with stained glass, pipe organs, wall painting made by Joseph Carignano who is famous for his artwork and an enormous church bell. The spiritual setting of the church draws visitors from across the world.

Explore a Ghost Town Named Garnet

Abandoned house in Garnet
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The habit of shifting can be traced back to the Stone Age; Garnet is one such town which was called home only to be abandoned. It is one of the well preserved ghost towns which remain intact even after a hundred years. Located in east Missoula, the town was named after the red colored gem which was found in abundance in the area. The people who occupied the land and the homes were in search of gold and the glory of the past can be comprehended by the last remains of the school, the pubs, the conditions of the home and the surrounding area. The ghost town is open throughout the year and has properly marked trails and signs to assist the visitors. During the winter season it becomes a popular sight of cross country skiing and snow mobiling.

Museum of Natural History

Montana Natural History Centre gives a brief but detailed account of the Montana. The flora and fauna of the place is described with the help of life like statues which provides the kids with a basic understanding of the place they inhabit. The exploration does not end there; the museum also has a replica of life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex skull. In the property of the museum has a library called Ralph Lee Allen Environmental Education Library which has a reading nook for children. There are various things to learn and relearn in the museum which will be amusing both the adults and the kids.

Have an Exotic Experience in a Vineyard

The Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery is situated in the Rattlesnake valley and covers an area of 7.5 acres with the beautiful view of the mountain in its background. The vineyard and winery are managed by the natives who have a strict policy of safeguards the land from the touch of urbanity. They natives maintain the lands and the wildlife of the area. The vineyards are not exposed to artificial chemicals or manure, only organic fertilizers are used. The source of water for the vineyard is Rattlesnake River. The tasting event is held on weekends and throughout the year. The visitors also get an opportunity to relax and enjoy live music while they sip their wine with salami or cheese.

Get a Glimpse of Another Museum

Missoula Art Museum was built in the year 1975. The Museum showcases various artworks of famous artists of United States, but they bestow special attention to the indigenous people and their artworks, especially artists who are from Montana. They have various national and international art exhibits which is open to all. The museum also provide educational workshops related to the subject of art to children and adults alike and guided tours if require. The most noteworthy feature of the museum is the Contemporary American Indian Art Collection.

Spend a Day Rafting

Rafting in Clark Fork River
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The land of Missoula is filled with fun and adventurous activities, one such activity which is unique to the place is rafting. Clark Fork River Rafting becomes a fantastic choice for family oriented activities. A section called Alberton Gorge is segregated from modern chaos of the cities and is surrounded by reddish colored hills. People who are below 7 years of age are restricted from the area due to safety measures. The space has warm and quite pools where the visitors can take a dip. For the beginners, professional guides are available to help with the first rafting experience.

The World of Insects

Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium was established in the year 2015. It has varieties of bugs and insects in their collection which teaches the importance of life and evolution. Learning through the help of practice and visual aid has always been more informative and helpful; this insectarium takes this concept at stride and helps the kids to gain knowledge of life and codependency. It is exceptional at giving guided and educational tours to the children. There are various educational programs which are age centric and innovative. The museum educates the kids to be more kind towards nature and to understand the importance of insect in our lives.