The spectacular view while horseback riding through the Bitterroot with Dunrovin Ranch!
The distillery tour and tasting at Montgomery Distillery is not to be missed!
The Gibson Mansion is the most charming bed & breakfast. This balcony is off the Master Suite.
There are lots of great shops in downtown Missoula. Check out my list below.
Fact: Montana is a state to which Pete and I have never traveled. Can you imagine my excitement with the folks at Destination Missoula and Glacier Country Tourism reached out and asked me to discover Missoula, Montana? Let me share our amazing four-day trip with you and you will quickly see why this destination has so much to offer!
What do you think of when you think of Montana? I think of the movies A River Runs Through It, Legends of the Fall and The Horse Whisperer, which were all set in Montana. This western state is defined by its diverse terrain ranging from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains. Its wide-open spaces include Glacier National Park, a vast wilderness preserve that passes into Canada. The park’s many snow-capped peaks, lakes and alpine hiking trails are showcased along its famed Going-to-the-Sun Road, stretching 50 miles. Did you know that Montana is our nations 4th largest state yet it only has a population slightly over 1 million people?
Missoula is set in western Montana and lucky for us, American Airlines now has a non-stop flight daily from Dallas. It’s a short 3 hour flight with a mid-morning departure which puts you in Missoula in time for lunch! Pete and I had so much fun discovering this beautiful city and surrounding area which offers so much to do. I’m detailing all of our travel suggestions below.
There are several things that stood out to us immediately upon arrival. Missoula is a college town, home to the University of Montana. You will immediately notice the huge white “M” on Mount Sentinel, which you can actually hike. The population is right at 75,000 and everyone is so friendly! When we asked our bartenders, waiters, innkeepers where they were from, they all told us they were from Missoula or stayed there after graduating from college. Obviously, the outdoors and activities that it affords are spectacular! But there is so much more to this beautiful city. I’m detailing our trip here, including where to stay, eat and what to do.
We did venture outside of town however and went to The Resort at Paws Up for a long weekend. That will be a separate blog post that will publish next week. I should also mention that there were two things we did not get to do on this trip that will definitely be a reason to visit western Montana again. We wanted to try fly fishing and we also wanted to drive north and visit Glacier National Park. It was simply too cold this time. We’ll save that for a spring/summer trip.
Missoula Trip Tips:
Getting there: Missoula International Airport is accessible from many destinations. We flew Dallas — Missoula non-stop with American Airlines. This is a daily non-stop flight that is offered year-round. We rented a car and started exploring!
Where to stay: We absolutely LOVED the Gibson Mansion Bed & Breakfast! The Victorian mansion was built in 1903 and it’s so charming. Innkeepers Tom and Nancy will pamper you with their home-made scones that accompany your morning coffee delivered to your room. You will also be delighted with their beautiful breakfast served daily in the dining room. Their black lab Maggie is the most well-behaved dog I have ever met! Ask for the Master Suite!
The Nest is a cool loft apartment to stay in if you are looking for something downtown and the Holiday Inn Downtown is a great hotel situated right on the Clark Fork River. By the way, this is the Holiday Inn referenced in the Jimmy Buffett song “Miss You So Badly“. Both are located near great restaurants and shopping in downtown Missoula.
Eat: Oh my gosh! There are endless great places to eat in Missoula and everything downtown is walking distance. Breakfast suggestion: The Catalyst Cafe | Lunch suggestions: Conflux Brewing – Comfort Food and Craft Beer; Scotty’s Table – if its warm be sure to sit outside, it’s located downstairs from the historic Wilma Theater right on the river; The Top Hat – fun bar and restaurant! | Dinner suggestions: Plonk Wine Bar – fantastic, lively vibe; The Pearl Cafe – more upscale; Red Bird – beautiful restaurant offering live music on Monday nights. It’s located in the historic old Florence Hotel which is not longer operational. Be sure to check out the art deco interior and 1950’s phone booths!
What to do: Everyone in Missoula is outside! Rent a bike at Missoula Bicycle Works and go for a ride on the trail near the Clark Fork River. Go horseback riding through the Bitterroot with Dunrovin Ranch. We went through the river and up onto the hillside for the most spectacular views! When you are done, head to Western Cider for a flight of locally made ciders and get a tour. If you are up for a hike – you can hike up Mount Sentinel to the “M” for beautiful views of Missoula!
Want to be indoors? Head to the Missoula Art Museum to see their latest exhibit. Get a workout in by taking a Oula class at Oula Fitness. It’s a high cardio dance class/workout to great music! Then head to Enlyten Lab to experience their amazing float tank and infrared sauna. Yes, this is a salt water tank that is also known as sensory deprivation. Float for an hour and unplug, reset and recharge your mind, body and soul!
Drinks: There are lots of craft beer places, bars and hot spots in Missoula but our absolute favorite was the Montgomery Distillery! I had no idea how precise of a practice it is to distill spirits. I wish I would have taken better notes in chemistry class! Now I know to appreciate a bottle of vodka, whisky or gin.
Shop: Cloth & Crown, Red Rooster, La Bella Vita, Butterfly Herbs, One Eleven, Laurel Creek, Posh Chocolate and the Dana Gallery were some of our favorites. Shopping in downtown Missoula is easy because everything is in walking distance.
I should mention that our October trip offered spectacular fall leaves and color! If you were to travel in the winter you could enjoy skiing and a bevy of winter sports/activities at several nearby ski areas.
WHEW! Did I leave anything out? We highly suggest going to Missoula and exploring western Montana.
xoxo – Tanya
shop the post (packing list)
photo: Pete Foster