Missoula is a hustling and bustling city in the heart of Western Montana. Some people call Missoula the Portland of Montana, but it has it’s own unique feeling and characteristics.
Missoula is a college town bursting with local character, wildlife and outdoorsy people. There’s something for everyone in this city: from foodies to hiking fanatics to whitewater rafting lovers and more.
The best things to do in Missoula
There are so many amazing things to do in Missoula that it may be hard to decide where to spend your time. Don’t fear, because your local Missoula guide is here. These are our favorite things to do in Missoula:
- Shred or hike Montana Snowbowl
- Eat your way through the culinary scene
- Visit one of the many, many breweries
- Hike the M or Waterworks Hill
- Take in the Clarkfork
- Enjoy one of the many events at Caras Park
Shred or hike Montana Snowbowl
Montana Snowbowl is the ski resort that is right outside of town. It’s less than a 45-minute drive from downtown Missoula and is beautiful year-round. The skiing and snowboarding is great in the winter and the area is beautiful to visit in the summer. Spend an afternoon exploring the best part of Missoula: the outdoors.
Eat your way through the culinary scene
Missoula is a town full of foodies. The food scene keeps growing and growing, despite the pandemic setback. We recommend reviewing our Missoula Culinary Guide and Food Truck Guide for a full picture of which spots to hit, but make sure that eating your way through the town is on your list.
Visit one of the many, many breweries
There are almost more breweries than people in Missoula. While this isn’t technically true, there are many great breweries for you and your family to visit. Our favorites are listed in our Beer Lover’s Guide to Missoula.
Hike the M or Waterworks Hill
There are plenty of awesome hikes in Missoula because it’s nestled in a valley. There are multiple trail systems that you start right in town and can take you to amazing mountain peaks. Two local favorites are the Waterworks Trail system and the Sentinel Trail system.
The Sentinel Trail system’s most popular hike is the hike to the M. It’s the M painted on the side of the mountain that overlooks town. Many of the most iconic Missoula shots feature the M. The trail starts from the University of Montana College campus and includes free parking! While it’s not a long hike, it is a very steep hike comprised of switchbacks. Don’t forget your water on a hot day!
The other most popular trail system is the Waterworks hiking area. Most people just hike to the top and call it a day, but you can take one of the many offshoots to make the hike longer. It is a longer hike than the M trail, but is less steep in most spots. Dogs are welcome to run around off leash, but don’t forget to pick up their poop.
Take in the Clarkfork
If you’ve seen or read A River Runs Through It, then you should be familiar with the waterway that dominates Missoula. The main river that (literally) runs through town is the Clarkfork. The tract that runs through town is mild and perfect for floating on a tube.
We recommend buying a floaty, driving up to a put in spot and spending a lovely afternoon on the Clarkfork river.
If you aren’t visiting in the summer, there’s a great walking path around the river. The walk is a 45-minute loop and is a beautiful way to take in the river views.
Enjoy one of the many events at Caras Park
Caras Park is a pavilion and park area right next to downtown Missoula. This area is home to many, many events, including: one of the multiple brewfests, Out to Lunch, Downtown Tonight, the Farmer’s Market and more. Review our Missoula Events Calendar before arriving and see what’s up next in the park.
Questions about visiting Missoula
Missoula is an epic place to visit at any time of the year, but you may have questions if you’ve never visited the area.
Is Missoula expensive?
Missoula is more expensive than other smaller Montana towns, but it is cheaper than most cities. In comparison, visiting Denver, Colorado, will cost you a lot more than visiting Missoula, Montana. There is no sales tax.
Is Missoula a young city?
Missoula is the home to the University of Montana, so yes, it is a young city. There are many college kids in Fall – Spring, but there are also many young families. Missoula is a great place to raise a family.