Top 7 Things to Do in Missoula, Montana

Find Outdoor Adventure and Culture

Photo: Destination Missoula

Unique, cool, serene, welcoming and replete with natural beauty—Missoula has the unparalleled natural beauty and cultural vibrancy to make your experience unforgettable. Nestled in the Northern Rockies of Montana, surrounded by seven wilderness areas and at the confluence of three rivers, Missoula is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

You can kayak, raft or tube through town or take a hike in 60,000 acres of wilderness minutes from your hotel. Missoula is known for its blue-ribbon trout fishing and spectacular natural beauty.

Missoula also is a regional destination for shopping and dining, with an abundance of excellent shops, restaurants and breweries to fit all budgets and palates. Known for its eclectic culture, visitors will find this cultural hub filled with an endless array of entertainment.

Here are our favorite 7 things to do in Missoula.

1. Tube the Clark Fork River or Watch Kayakers

Buy an inflatable tube at Ace Hardware and tube the Clark Fork River or kayak on Brennan’s Wave at Missoula’s Whitewater Park. Brennan’s Wave is a human-made wave in downtown Missoula. It’s on the Clark Fork River next to Caras Park. Check in at a local gear shop for details on any river hazards.

Kayaking and surfing Brennan's Wave in Missoula, Montana
Kayaking and surfing Brennan’s Wave in Missoula, Montana Photo: Destination Missoula

2. Hike the M in Missoula

Head the the University of Montana to go on a hike that offers spectacular Missoula views. This popular trail is .75 miles one-way and leads you up 10-plus switchbacks 620 feet above town. If you walk a mile farther, you will reach the top of Mt. Sentinel. You can access the trailhead behind the University of Montana’s stadium. There are restrooms and a water fountain at the trailhead.

Hiking to Missoula, Montana's M at sunset
Hiking the M at sunset. Courtesy Destination Missoula

3. Sample Local Breweries

There are taphouses are scattered across Missoula, making it the perfect place for traveling craft brew enthusiasts. Be sure to stop for a cold Moose Drool at Big Sky Brewing. If you’re feeling adventurous, sample brews on flatwater sections of the Blackfoot or Clark Fork rivers with River City Brews.

If you’re looking for a more family friendly adventure, take the kids and man’s best friend to Sweet Peaks Ice Cream Shop for your favorite flavor (Get Chicken & Beef Ice Cream for the dog.) Or go for the “Best Ice Cream” ranked by Good Morning America at Big Dipper downtown.

To fuel up on coffee, head to Black Coffee Roasting Co. This local favorite serves organic coffee that is ethically traded, sustainably packaged and tastes great at  525 E. Spruce St. in Missoula.

4. Ride A Carousel for Missoula

A Carousel for Missoula
Hop on a carousel at A Carousel for Missoula in Caras Park. Photo courtesy of Destination Missoula

Ride a hand-carved pony at A Carousel for Missoula located in Caras Park. The 38 ponies and two chariots were carved by volunteers who put in more than 100,000 hours before the carousel opened in 1995.

5. Explore Missoula’s Restaurants

Missoula has everything from food trucks in the park to extravagant dining experiences, with many restaurants like Brasserie Porte Rouge sourcing their ingredients from local farmers and ranchers. Scotty’s Table, which serves delicious dishes containing local meat, produce and grains,  is located in downtown Missoula in the lower level of the Historic Wilma Theatre. There’s also 1889 Restaurant. Named for the year Montana was granted statehood, you’ll find rustic Montana fare with a modern twist at this Missoula establishment. Think tomahawk ribeye with a side of smoked brie mac and cheese, accompanied by an impressive wine list and full bar. Find it at 1889 at 104 N. Higgins Ave. in downtown Missoula.

Don’t miss The Notorious P.I.G. in Missoula for amazing barbecue. Montana barbecue by a Kansas City native is as delicious as it sounds. Smoked meats from pulled pork to burnt ends take the spotlight, but there are also mouthwatering sides like smoked gouda mac ‘n cheese. Sauces cover the map from KC style to mustard-based to North Carolina-style vinegar. The Notorious P.I.G. has two locations: 247 Front St. and 3621 Old US Hwy. 93.

6. Catch a Live Show at KettleHouse Amphitheater

Kettlehouse Ampitheater outside of Missoula
Kettlehouse Ampitheater outside of Missoula (Photo: Courtesy Logjam Presents)

It’s easy to find live music in Missoula. Check out the lineup at the breathtaking KettleHouse Amphitheater, which opened on the banks of the Blackfoot River five years ago and offers a stunning concert location that was named one of the best amphitheaters in the world by Pollstar. Or cruise downtown in search of local shows in breweries, cafés and Caras Park. You can also attend a festival. The annual Montana Festival of the Book, International Wildlife Film Festival and the International Choral Festival are among the many events that draw attendees from around the globe.

7. Shop Boutiques, Galleries and Stores

Missoula has a variety of art galleries, shops, museums and eclectic public art to be found throughout the city. The Missoula Art Museum offers free admission, and the Montana Museum of Art and Culture can be found on the University of Montana campus. You can also tour the Missoula Aerial Fire Depot & Smokejumper Center, the largest active smokejumper base in the country. You’ll learn more about this daring group of professionals who parachute into forests to fight wildfires. It’s the only place in the country where you can take a tour of a smokejumper training facility. It’s at 5765 W. Broadway St. in Missoula.

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