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The 17 Best Things to do in Missoula, MT

Missoula, MT is one of my favorite towns ever and definitely one of my favorite places to visit in Montana. We had the pleasure of living in Missoula for 6 years as I attended the University of Montana for pharmacy school and it was so hard to leave. Missoula is a fun college town with a hipster vibe and so many iconic experiences you must do! If you like breweries the outdoors, sports, or a little weirdness, you’ll love Missoula. Here are the 15 best things to do in Missoula, MT!

1. Go to a Montana Grizzlies Football Game

If you haven’t experienced the hype of attending a Montana Grizzlies football game, then you are missing out! The University of Montana football games are typically held on Saturdays, and the 26,000 fans that fill the stadium make it the 6th largest town in Montana on football days. Despite only holding a comparably small crowd, Washington Grizzly Stadium is always on the top ten list of loudest college stadiums. Spend the morning tailgating like a local, grab some Montana gear from the University of Montana Bookstore, and watch the football fun.

2. Hike the “M”

Hiking the “M” is maybe the most iconic Missoula experience out there and definitely one of the best things to do in Missoula, MT. This hike up Mount Sentinel leads to a literal big concrete M on the mountain. This Missoula landmark was created in 1908 by Forestry Club members who formed switchbacks up the mountain and carried big rocks to create the letter. The more permanent concrete “M” was created in 1968. The trail is less than a mile long, but has 11 switchbacks and gains over 600 feet of elevation in this short distance. If you’re a fitness fanatic, you can even attempt running up the trail for a leg burner. Or hike at sunset, for an epic viewpoint of the city with a burning sky.

You can also continue hiking all the way to to the top of Mount Sentinel for even better views. Continue up the Hellgate Ridgeline for a total trail length of 3.1 miles, 1900 feet of elevation. Fun fact – this is the spot that Dane proposed to me just before my college graduation!

3. Visit Caras Park and Brennan’s Wave

Caras Park is a Missoula gem located in the heart of downtown along the Clark Fork River. Caras Park is home to many brew fests, concerts, the end of the Missoula Marathon, food truck festivals, a farmers market and more. You can even rent out the Pavilion for a private event. It’s a great spot to walk along the river and watch surfers at Brennan’s Wave.

Brennan’s Wave is a manmade wave in the Clark Fork River that was constructed in memory of a world class kayaker from Missoula who passed away. It’s a really unique feature in the river and so fun to grab a chair with your coffee or beer and watch.

4. Eat a Burger at Mo Club

Don’t let the fluorescent lights or cash only bar steer you away from this divey Missoula treasure. The Missoula Club, or Mo Club for short, always makes the list for best burgers in Missoula. They keep it simple here at this local bar that has been serving up no frills burgers since 1890. Just beware, if you visit during weekend evenings or game days, it will be packed full of enthusiastic college students who have had a little too much to drink.

5. Shop at Rockin’ Rudys

Rockin’ Rudy’s is the “Original Hipster Department Store”. If you’re looking for an eclectic and weird shopping experience, Rockin’ Rudy’s will have everything you didn’t know you needed. You’ll smell the incense immediately as you walk in the door, and as you walk through the store you’ll find toys, vinyl records, handmade items, and unique gifts. They now have 3 locations, but the original location is on Higgins Street. Whether you’re in the market for buying something or not, you’ll have fun browsing this store.

6. Go to Breakast or Brunch With Friends

Being a college town, you know that Missoula has good brunch. Our favorite? The bloody mary bar and brunch at Tamarack! You can customize your own bloody mary or caesar drink with bacon, asparagus, or a variety of hot sauces. You can’t go wrong with the eggs benedict or the chicken and waffles! Another fun brunch spot is the classic Paul’s Pancake Parlor, which has more of a diner feel, but is definitely a Missoula institution.

If you’re looking for good breakfast on the go options, check out Golden Yolk Griddle. This is our new go to option when driving through Missoula since our beloved Bagels on Broadway closed (the place of our first date!)

7. Tour the Breweries

If you didn’t already notice the insane amount of breweries in Montana, you’ll definitely notice in Missoula. Montana has the 2nd most breweries per capita in the United States and Missoula has 10 breweries in itself despite having a population of less than 80,000 people. Our favorite kid friendly brewery in Missoula is the Highlander which has lots of open space outside for kids to play. They also have pizza to go with your refreshing brew. Visiting a brewery is definitely one of the best things to do in Missoula, MT!

Some of our other favorite breweries are Draught Works and Tamarack. Or if you’re balling on a budget, check out Big Sky Brewing. Since they sell too much beer nation wide, you can get four 8 oz beer samples with no charge!

8. Taste Unique Ice Cream Flavors at Big Dipper Ice Cream

Big Dipper has been a Missoula institution, serving up delicious ice cream since 1995. They have garnered attention from Food and Wine Magazine, USA Today, and more for their unique and flavorful ice cream. Now Big Dipper can be found in Missoula, Helena and Billings, Montana as well as in Glacier or Yellowstone National Park.

There might be a line when you get there, but it’s totally worth the wait to try their inventive daily special flavors like balsamic or Cold Smoke (a famous local beer). Don’t worry if you’re feeling less adventurous, they also have a standard menu of “normal” ice cream flavors.

9. Float the Clark Fork River

Another iconic experience in Missoula, MT is to float the Clark Fork River. You can buy a tube at Ace Hardware or bring your own! Floating the river does take a little coordination since you’ll have to make sure to have a car at the beginning and the end of your float. Typically people float from Sha-Ron River Access and get out at Albertsons. However, there are several different versions of this float you can do depending on how long you want to float and what you’re floating in. Make sure to pack out all of your trash, and don’t bring glass on the river (try to stick to cans only).

10. Attend a Concert at One of Missoula’s Best Venues (Big Sky Brewing, Kettlehouse Amphitheater, Wilma)

One of the most fun concerts I’ve attended is Boston at Big Sky Brewing! Big Sky Brewing is a fun outdoor venue with several Summer concerts (plus great beer to enjoy while you attend). If you want more of a typical concert experience, you can enjoy the historic Wilma theater that was created in the 1920s. They have concerts year round and are conveniently located in downtown Missoula. And lastly, the Kettlehouse Amphitheater is another fun outdoor venue.

11. Sip a Cocktail at Montgomery Distillery or Plonk

Missoula also has several places to get a nice cocktail. Both places are good spots to class it up a little bit and enjoy a delicious drink. Montgomery Distillery makes their own vodka and gin and has beautiful cocktails as well as a non-alcohol drink menu. Plonk is a wine bar with one of the best charcuterie boards I’ve had. You’ll definitely want to try the gfc cocktail, it’s one of my favorite drinks ever!

12. Get Dinner at One of Missoula’s Best Restaurants

Missoula has so many good restaurants from fine dining to casual quick eats. Here’s a list of some of our favorite restaurants.

  • Biga Pizza: tasty innovative pizza
  • Five on Black: fast casual Brazilian food for the best to go food option
  • Top Hat: elevated bar food with good vegetarian options
  • James Bar: a laid back bar atmosphere with tasty food
  • Masala: Indian food with quick options as well
  • Bridge Pizza: drive through or sit down pizza
  • Montana Club: a Montana chain with good burgers, sandwiches, and more

13. Attend a Brewfest

As I said above, Missoula is the unofficial beer capital of Montana! Several times a year, Missoula hosts brewfests where you can go and sample beers from many different breweries. Just a heads up that these are popular events, so expect it to be crowded and busy.

14. Tour the University of Montana Campus

The University of Montana is the best Montana college hands down! 😉 The U of M has a stunning campus. Visit “the Oval” to see views of beautiful old buildings, and don’t forget to take a picture with the grizzly bear statue. This is a great stop if you’re hiking the M, or heading to a football game stop by and see the beautiful campus.

15. Run the Missoula Marathon

An iconic Missoula event is the Missoula Marathon. Known by many in the running community to be one of the most fun running events, it has also received National recognition for being one of America’s Best Races. Don’t worry if you’re not up for running a full marathon, they also have a half marathon! Dane and I ran the Missoula Half Marathon in 2022 and had a blast. See below for a picture of me dying while running!

16. Visit Dragon Hollow & A Carousel for Missoula

This magical and whimsical playground was built in 2001 and received a wonderful facelift in 2019. The perfect place near Caras Park to let the kids burn some energy. Even as an adult, I had fun exploring this awesome playground with my kiddos. There are many different options for kids of all ages. After you’re done at Dragon Hollow, make sure to check out the next door carousel for some more family friendly fun. Dragon Hollow is one of the best things to do in Missoula, MT with kids.

17. Visit a Local Hot Spring

Missoula has a few options when it comes to hot springs. Lolo Hot Springs is located 37 miles South of Missoula. It’s more of a commercialized, but still natural hot spring, but is affordable for day use. If you want hot springs that are more of a hike, check out Jerry Johnson Hot Springs. Jerry Johnson is just under 1.5 hours from Missoula, MT and once you get to the trailhead you’ll have a 1.3 mile one way hike to reach the hot springs. Just a heads up, you may see people enjoying the hot springs sans clothing so beware if you’re visiting with children. I would recommend you get there early to make sure you can get a parking spot. If you’re looking for a full guide to visiting Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in Idaho check out this post.

Are you looking for more things to do around Missoula, MT? Check out some of our other posts for travel inspiration!!

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