What to Do in Missoula?

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A Bit of History

Missoula is a medium-sized city (70,000 people) in western Montana. It is located in an interesting place from the natural point of view, where five valleys converge, in Glacier Country. In addition, Missoula is home to the University of Montana.

Residents of Montana call Missoula the most liberal city of Montana: here on the streets you can meet ranchers, cowboys, hippies, yuppies, students, artists, athletes and tourists. In addition, almost every second citizen of Missoula will be well educated–most of the baristas in a cafe or a chef at a diner may have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Missoula was founded in 1860. The original name of the settlement was “Missoula Mills” because of the mills that provided the needs of the western settlers traveling along the Mullan road. In 1877, a protective fort was built near the city, and in 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad was finally brought here. And 10 years later it was decided to open the State University here, and together with the forest service, these two institutions became decisive for the city’s economy for the next century.

How Can You Get to Missoula?

The easiest way to get to Missoula is by air. Its international airport accepts flights from Salt Lake City, Denver, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle. You can also get there by car, via Interstate-90 or Highway 93 from south to north, but the most picturesque road is Lewis and Clark – west highway No. 12, which leads to Idaho. Remember that in winter the trails around can be extremely dangerous (snow, ice, slush, and rain.)

Entertaining and Attractions in Missoula

Downtown Missoula is bounded by the Clark Fork River from the north, Madison Street from the east, old Highway 93 from the west and West Adler Street from the south. Unlike many western cities in Montana, there was never a construction boom caused by a gold rush. The city grew gradually, it was not particularly rich, and until the end of the 19th century the most notable building in downtown was the “Wilma Building”. It was distinguished by the first in the city (and the second in the country) construction with steel frames. Also the old post office, and the district court building with an antique portico.

In the 20th century, new architectural landmarks appeared: for example, the tallest city building was the Millennium Building, which has nine floors.

But lovers of nature and natural landscapes will find a real paradise in Missoula. The picturesque Clark Fork flows through Missoula, surrounded by mountains. To appreciate all the natural beauty of these places, go strolling along the path of Kim Williams along the river. In summer, you can ride a canoe or kayak on the river. And Mount Sentinel, which is on the eastern border of the University of Montana campus, offers excellent opportunities for hiking. In particular, the trail, which starts from the University’s campus drive rises more than 200 meters to the “M”, from where you can have a spectacular view of the the city and valley.

2 things to do in Missoula:

  1. Take a picture of the iconic building of the University of Montana with a beautiful clock tower against the backdrop of Mount Sentinel.
  2. Ride on the famous wooden carousel in Caras Park, created manually on a voluntary basis by a local enthusiast in 1993.

If you like beer, you won’t go thirsty! Breweries abound in the Garden City.  The two oldest breweries in the city and the first in the  state are Bayern Brewing, specializing in German lagers, and Big Sky Brewing, famous for the ever popular, Moose Drool beer.

Or perhaps you prefer wine. If so, there are three wineries near by:  Lolo Peak, where they make fruit wine, Ten Spoons and Lake Missoula Cellars, where they organize not only free tastings, but also musical events on Fridays.

Suffice it to say, there’s lots to do in Missoula and many reasons to visit this great Montana city.