Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana, Missoula is a hidden gem where urban lifestyle meets adventure. Completely surrounded by seven wilderness areas, this city is rich with culture and endless outdoor recreational activities. In no particular order, here are the 5 best things to do when visiting Missoula, MT.
#1 | FLOAT DOWN THE CLARK FORK RIVER
During the summer, floating down the Clark Fork River is one of the best ways to cool down and relax. Every day, hundreds of locals on tubes, paddleboards, and rafts pass through town enjoying the sunshine and clean air.
#2 | GRAB A DRINK AND PLAY SOME GAMES
GILD is a locally-owned brewpub that just so happens to have an awesome arcade in the basement. From pinball to board games, GILD has everything you need to start the night off right. Not to mention, they have some of the best-tasting beer and hard cider in town.
#3 | HIKE MOUNT SENTINEL
Going for a hike on Mount Sentinel is a favorite for people visiting Missoula, and for good reason. As you gain elevation, you are able to see the entire city and the vast valley that lies below. In the distance, you can see the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Snowbowl Ski Area (shown above).
#4 | SHRED SOME POWDER AT SNOWBOWL
If you happen to visit Missoula in the winter, be sure to check out Snowbowl Ski Area. Conveniently located only 12 miles from Missoula, Snowbowl offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the West.
#5 | TRY YOUR LUCK AT FLY FISHING
It wouldn’t be a trip to Missoula without a fishing excursion in the mix. Missoula is world-renowned for its trout fishing streams, with a variety of different species to hook into. There is an impressive number of outfitters to choose from, so take your pick and get out there!
Portland, OR and Missoula, MT have many similarities. From the craft breweries, bike craze, Birkenstocks, outdoors-men, organic foods, diverse restaurants.. Portland Oregon and Missoula Montana have a lot in common. Here are ten reasons, and counting, why these two cities are so similar, and what makes them such great places to live.
Portland and Missoula are listed in the top ten cities for beer drinkers. Portland beats out Missoula at 3rd place to Missoula’s 8th, but that recognition alone shows how much both cities love beer. There are nearly ten breweries in Missoula alone and Portland has 58 within the city limits.
Biking & Pedestrians:
Bikers always win in Portland. There are these green bike boxes downtown that allow bikes to wait in-front of cars while at a stop light. If you work downtown, chances are you bike to work and are well familiar with the many bikers all over the roads. In Missoula, there are many bikers as well thanks to the large selection of bike paths in the city, and downtown you can find elevated sidewalks only for biker use.
The Good Food Store, Missoula Fresh Market, Natural Grocers.. Missoula has many options for organic and natural foods and like Portland boasts farmers markets throughout the summer and fall seasons.
Montana roots gear is extremely popular in Montana, and in Missoula. Locals sport this clothing to show how much they love this state. Much like Portlander’s and Oregonians wearing the ironic “put a bird on it” shirts and their willingness to show their love for their hometown.
Hiking, Biking, Skiing:
Missoula is home to great hiking, biking, and skiing trails. You don’t have to go far to see the incredible places this city has to show you. There isn’t a time when there arent people exploring and hiking the “M trail” about the UM campus. Portlanders need to travel a bit further for hiking or skiing, but they are still favored weekend activities. There are also parks within the city, like Forest Park, where you can spend a whole day exploring and enjoying nature.
In Portland, you could eat your way through the city with any kind of food you are looking for. There are incredible and unique restaurants all over the city, not to forget the food carts around downtown that have their own unique food scenes. Missoula has great choices for food as well. Being a college town, you can find great burgers, pizza, and brunch.
A river runs through it:
Portland has the Willamette river. Missoula has the Clark Fork. Both rivers run through the middle of the city and are used for recreation. Dragon boats, kayaks, and rowers can be seen on the Willamette, especially during the summer months. A favorite summer time activity of Missoula is floating down the Clark Fork on inter-tubes. The Clark Fork is smaller than the Willamette and makes it easier for fishing and walking along it.
It snows in Missoula, and it rains in Portland. Both cities are often covered by gloomy gray clouds and have very temperamental and changing weather. While Missoula is well equipped for snow, Portland tends to shut down for less than two inches of snow. Even in April, the mountains around Missoula are covered with a light dusting of snow.
Griz games are huge in Missoula. Timbers soccer games are huge in Portland. Portland and Missoula both have huge support for their sports teams and if thousands of screaming fans doesn’t show this I don’t know what does.
Portland and Missoula are both incredible cities. Living in Missoula reminds me so much of Portland, which is home for me, has been incredible. These are two cities that are great to live and work in.
It’s that time again. Time to dive into 8 more mouthwatering foods that you MUST try in Missoula, Montana. As if the first 10 weren’t delicious and satisfying enough, here’s a list of 8 more dishes to add to your tasty Missoula food repertoire. Trust me, you’ll enjoy them.
Missoula (Mo) Club: Mo Burger
The Mo Club is popular all hours of the day. Whether you’re lookin’ to get some lunch with your family, grab a beer and shoot some pool with your buddies, or get your midnight drunkin’ snack fix, the Mo Club can hook you up. They have a rather small menu, featuring burgers and shakes, but it’s truly all you need. A Mo Burger begins with ground beef that gets mixed with a generous dose of chopped onions before heading to the flattop grill, enhancing the juiciness and flavor. Now this is where the real magic happens. The grill remains greasy and always crowded with juicy burgers, so you know that your sizzling meat patty will always come out tender and delicious. Choose your cheese, add some bacon, and maybe even make it a double. It comes served on a grilled bun along with pickles and sliced onion. Honestly one of the best, if not the best, burger you will ever have.
Iron Horse Bar & Grill: Tender 501
The Iron Horse is a cool joint located on Higgins in the heart of downtown Missoula. The dynamic building offers four outdoor seating areas, a huge bar downstairs with plenty of TVs, as well as an upscale bar upstairs known as the 501 Lounge. The menu hosts a variety of dishes, with massive salads, pastas, sandwiches, and much more. The one thing on the menu that you have to try would be the Tender 501. This sandwich starts with perfectly seared tenderloin slices cooked to your personal taste bud preferences. Atop the savory tenderloin sits sweet caramelized onions, and a slathering of slightly spicy sriracha aioli for the perfect balance of flavor. Finish it all off with a cheesy Romano hoagie, and you have one heck of a delicious sandwich. Stop in for Martini Monday or two-for-one well drinks on Thursday for the perfectly satisfying evening at the IHo.
The Depot: Shrimp Won Tons
This Western steakhouse is best known for its quality steaks, prime rib, seafood and wine selection, as well as its Larry Pirnie artwork. Now, if you’re looking for some delicious upscale dining, this is definitely the place to go, but make sure you begin your meal with this special appetizer. Shrimp Won Tons. These perfectly fried pillows of heaven are filled with chunks of buttery shrimp, velvety cream cheese and oniony chives. They come pilled high and piping hot to your table, alongside a choice of hot mustard and sweet and sour sauces. Pair it with a nice glass of wine or a local brew and you have one perfect Western Montana meal.
Double Front Café: Chicken
The building has been around since 1909 and the chicken has been served since 1935. If you want a little taste of history with your chicken, this is the spot to go. Their motto says “The Best Takes a Little Longer,” meaning that their fresh, never frozen chicken takes about 30 minutes to make. But it is absolutely worth the wait. Choose from light meat or dark meat, or both if you want. This hand-battered and fried chicken is good no matter what part of the bird you choose. Get a side of golden fries and some sweet corn nuggets, and don’t forget the side of pickles! It’s the perfect greasy, salty, cheat-day meal.
Ciao Mambo: Pasta Ravenna
This beautiful Italian restaurant has figured out how to create the perfect romantic atmosphere. Soothing music, low lighting, and delicious wine will get you in the mood…for some pasta. The dish you have to try is the Pasta Ravenna. Gorgeous, vibrant color comes from the sun dried tomatoes, intertwined in a luscious, creamy roasted garlic cream sauce. Juicy grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms all combine with perfectly cooked bowtie pasta noodles. While you wait for your heaping plate of luxurious carbs, feel free to pick up a crayon or two and create a masterpiece on the white, paper tablecloth. Stop in for the perfect romantic evening for two, or bring the family for a nice night out to decorate the table with the kids. Either way, you will be flawlessly satisfied.
Sweet Peaks: Ice Cream
Sweet Peaks first opened its doors in Whitefish, Montana, but has now expanded to other nearby locations, including a relatively new location in Missoula. Made from cream and milk from local Hutterite dairy farms, as well as other fresh, local Montana ingredients, this ice cream is something special. From pistachio dark chocolate to Lafaza Madagascar Vanilla, there is definitely something for everyone. With a rotating list of flavor offerings, it’s difficult to say which ones to try, so I would suggest sampling them all! Cupcake is my favorite flavor, with rainbow sprinkles of course. The waffle cones are also made fresh daily, and are slightly cakey with a hint of cinnamon. So stop in to get a split waffle cone so that you can try two flavors at a time, and while you’re at it, there’s even doggy ice cream to serve to your best puppy pal. You won’t be disappointed!
Bagels on Broadway: Bagels and Cream Cheese
If you are a bagel enthusiast like myself, then you will thoroughly enjoy Bagels on Broadway. This bagel shop opened over 20 years ago on Broadway in Missoula. They offer over 20 different flavors of bagels with a variety of cream cheeses to shmear all over, not to mention a delicious assortment of bagel sandwiches. The chewy bagels are made fresh, in-house, daily and include anything from Cinnamon Raisin to Rosemary Focaccia. Choose from an array of cream cheese spreads such as Bacon Scallion or Honey Walnut. I can’t tell you which combination to try, because there are so many incredible creations to be made! I will tell you, however, that my favorite is the Cornmeal Bagel with Lox cream cheese. Get it toasted and smeared high with yummy cream cheese and you have the perfect jump-start to any morning.
Missoula Brewing Company: Strawberry Wolf Point Wheat
The Missoula Brewing Co. is located off of North Reserve Street in Missoula. They boast a 2,000 square foot taproom with a retractable garage-style door for those warm spring and summer months. Glass windows separates the brewery from the taproom on one side while the Grant Creek flows on the other, all nestled in Cottonwood trees. Sound like a dream? You haven’t even heard about the beer yet. Missoula Brewing Co. offers four flagship Highlander beers that are offered year-round in their taproom: a Northwest IPA, Red Ale, Montana Lager, and an American Bock. One taproom offering that you have to try, however, is called the Strawberry Wolf Point Wheat. A strong strawberry aroma will draw you in, followed by a subtle fruity taste and soft finish. Don’t be skeptical about trying this berry inspired brew, it is truly incredible. Did I mention they have incredible pizza too? I mean beer and pizza? It doesn’t really get better than that. So stop on in and grab a beer and a slice. It makes for the perfect end to a week of amazing Missoula eats.
If you missed the first list of “The 10 Foods That You Must Try in Missoula, MT” you can find it here!