Panoramic view of Missoula, Montana

Missoula Guide

(Credit: Keegan Connell/Shutterstock)

Why you should visit Missoula

Set amid the unprecedented beauty of the Rocky Mountains and home to the University of Montana, Missoula boasts a vivacious cultural scene filled with art, literature, food and festivals that makes it an exciting home base for skiers. The small mountain town also hosts unexpectedly thriving music scene.

Just a stone’s throw from spectacular mountain ranges, rivers and lakes, Missoula provides outdoor adventure right at your fingertips. Only a short drive from Glacier National Park and Snowbowl, the city offers outdoor activities like hiking, biking and fishing that make it a destination you’ll want to re-visit even after the ski slopes close for the season.

Ski Resorts Near Missoula

What to do in Missoula

Make sure to budget some time during your ski vacation to sample everything Missoula has to offer at the Heirloom Winter Market , where you can shop around for one-of-a-kind gifts and local farm-direct produce. Or visit one of the city’s many museums that Missoula has to offer like the Missoula Art Museum , the Museum of Mountain Flying and the Montana Museum of Art and Culture . Should inspiration strike, let your creativity run wild at Pine and Company Sign Making Studio , where you can design your own custom sign that you can take home and show off. Feel the pulsating beat of Missoula’s music scene at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field , a sports field turned music venue hosting performances of all sorts.

For a better understanding of the region’s history, drive down the road through history as you ride the same route that Lewis and Clark traveled on from Missoula to Lewiston, Idaho, along US Highway 12. Along the way, enjoy a picnic at Travelers Rest State Park and then take a refreshing dip in Lolo Hot Springs .

If you have extra time, plan a day trip to the breathtaking Glacier National Park . The park is a two-hour drive from Missoula, but it’s glacial carved peaks and more than a million acres of forests and alpine meadows are well worth the trip.

Where to stay in Missoula

Missoula is not the town for swanky hotels, but its bed-and-breakfast game is on point. The B&Bs in Missoula are charming and endearing making for the perfect romantic getaway. Cozy up at the historic 1903 Victorian mansion, Gibson Mansion Bed and Breakfast , or wake up to the majestic views of the Ponderosa pines at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast.

If you’re looking to cut back on lodging expenses, Shady Spruce Hostel is a charming 19th-century hostel with two shared kitchens, a garden, a patio and a lounge. The hostel is also walking distance from the Riverfront Trail if you are looking for a sunset stroll along the water.

Quick trip to Missoula and need to be close to the airport? C’mon Inn Hotel & Suites is a great and affordable option that includes a hot breakfast and a shuttle ride to and from the terminal.

Where to eat in Missoula

Wake up and smell the coffee, and the pancakes, at Paul’s Pancake Parlor . From blueberry cakes to potato cakes, Paul’s is a haven for the breakfast lover. If you are going to venture to Glacier National Park you won’t want to pass up on Windmill Village Bakery , a hidden gem only 30 minutes from Missoula, baking up hot and fresh doughnuts daily. If you don’t want to go very far for bakery delights, visit Le Petit Outre for homemade chocolate croissants and lemon poppy seed scones.

Later in the day, head to Five on Black , a fast and casual Brazilian joint serving up healthy and flavorful build-your-own bowls. Pearl Cafe, a European-inspired restaurant dishing out French onion soup and goat cheese mashed potatoes is the place you will want to go if you are looking for more of an upscale dining option.

For something sweet, stop in at Big Dipper Ice Cream , a nostalgic-like shop with a collection of delicious ice cream flavors and free whiffs of freshly-baked waffle cones.

Family-friendly activities in Missoula

If your kids are the inquisitive type, spend the day exploring the various science labs, exhibits and educational stations at The SpectrUM Science Center and the Families First Children’s Museum . Or, for the book worm, stop by The Missoula Public Library . All three institutions are housed under the same roof of a four-story complex in the heart of downtown Missoula. Get educated on Montana’s ecology of insects, birds and mammals at Montana’s Natural History Center , or create a masterpiece at Zootown Arts Community Center .

If the weather is nice, you and the kids can rent bikes at Currents Aquatics Center . And with 45 parks, Missoula is primed for play. If your family prefers watching sports to playing them, immerse yourself in some local sporting spirit at a University of Montana basketball, football or hockey game.

If the kids need to stretch their legs, take a hike up The M (Mount Sentinel). If you are not the biggest hiker do not fret as it is only a half mile up the mountain.

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