Nestled in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, you’ll find the beautiful town of Missoula, Montana. Home to the University of Montana campus, this city is much more than your normal college town.
With fun shops, amazing restaurants and cafes, art galleries, museums, events, tourist attractions, outdoor adventures, and even a river running right through its center — this is one city you don’t want to miss.
Here are 19 amazing things to do in Missoula Montana that you’re going to love.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN MISSOULA MONTANA
Best Downtown. AC Hotel by Marriott Missoula Downtown is in a beautifully renovated downtown building, and less than a mile from the Hip Strip. This is also you best top-class Missoula location.
Fisherman’s Friend. Rock Creek Mercantile has been the destination fly shop for anglers of Rock Creek, a world-class blue-ribbon trout stream. The Mercantile has a six-room motel right behind the fly shop and is a short walk from some great Rock Creek fishing. It’s 17 miles from Missoula, but worth it if you’re here for the fishing.
Best Snowbowl Option. Mtn-View Missoula is a 3-bedroom unit that sleeps 9, about 16 miles from Snowbowl. Check out the gorgeous interior and mountain views with this place.
Best Hot Spring. Lolo Hot Springs of course! See our write-up below.
RIVERFRONT WALKING TRAIL
When it comes to things to do in Missoula, Montana, it’s impossible to go wrong with the Riverfront Walking Trail. This trail stretches along the banks of the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula, and if you use this trail, you’ll find yourself passing many historical sites. The Old Milwaukee Depot, the John H. Toole Park, Caras Park, and other phenomenal historic locales are located along the trail.
The Riverfront Walking Trail is a pathway that offers up stunning views of the river, and it also allows you to check out a host of attractions. You’ll find parks, shopping centers, restaurants, and other beautiful sights in Missoula along the way.
This trail is part of a city-wide system that connects the west side of the town with the east side.
Alberton Gorge is the location to go to if you’re looking for whitewater activities. It’s located on the Clark Fork River, so you can choose between visiting Alberton Gorge or hiking the Riverfront Walking Trail if you’re strapped for time.
Alberton Gorge is a beautiful, tall canyon section of the Clark Fork River that offers Class II and Class III whitewater opportunities. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this gorge has something to offer to all who check it out.
If you happen to be in Montana when the snow is thick and packed, then you’ll likely want to check out the options for skiing and snowboarding. When it comes to snow-specific places in the United States, Montana is considered one of the greats, so you’re bound to have a fantastic time cruising down the slopes at the Montana Snowbowl.
The Montana Snowbowl features two peaks for snow adventures, and it has 2,600 feet of continuous vertical drops. There are multiple lifts and routes to check out, so whether you’re a novice or a veteran, you can find ways to ride down the mountain all day long. You can also check out their lodging if you’re planning to stay for longer than a day.
Details: 1700 Snow Bowl Rd, Missoula, MT 59808 | Website
Retail therapy is the name of the game when it comes to the Hip Strip. If you’re not feeling all the outdoorsy elements that Montana has to offer, there’s no shame in that. When it comes to things to do in Missoula, Montana, some activities are fit for people of all temperaments.
Missoula’s Hip Strip is an area of shops that occupies an area of town and is filled with some of the most unique shops in all of Montana. All of the stores in the Hip Strip are locally owned and operated, meaning that you can buy from them with confidence and know that you’re giving back to the Missoula community. If you’re looking for… anything – clothes, surfboards, books, music, art, and other items – this is the place to go!
Details: 901 S Higgins Ave STE 102, Missoula, MT 59801 | Website
MONTANA NATURAL HISTORY CENTER
When it comes to natural history museums, many people feel that if they’ve been to one, they’ve been to them all. But the Montana Natural History Center puts that idea to bed. This natural history museum offers art galleries, natural plant gardens, and interactive exhibits.
If you’re interested in the local flora and fauna in Missoula, Montana, then this center will have all the answers you’ve been seeking about the plants. You can also learn about the local geology and ecosystems, so that you can have a full and well-rounded understanding of how the natural area works.
Details: 120 Hickory St # A, Missoula, MT 59801 | Website
LOLO NATIONAL FOREST
This national forest is located near Missoula, Montana, but it’s well worth leaving the city proper to check out this location. The Lolo National Forest is located in western Montana, and it stretches across two million acres – that’s over 3,000 miles!
You could walk around this entire forest for your entire vacation, and you’d likely only scratch the surface of what it has to offer. At Lolo National Forest, you can camp, rent a cabin, participate in winter sports, get information from the visitor’s centers, and hike as far as your feet will take you.
Details: Huson, MT 59846 | Website
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is one of the most respected education and conservation centers in the Northwest United States. There’s an on-site visitor’s center that will allow visitors to try their hands at conservation, and if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can check out the hunting heritage exhibits. It’s a great place to take your family, since it’s open to visitors of all ages.
The Elk Foundation also offers a display surrounding Lewis and Clark, as well as many of the world’s elk population in their center. There’s no price to enter, and it’s usually open year-round. Check their website for occasional closures.
Details: 5705 Grant Creek Rd, Missoula, MT 59808 | Website
MISSOULA ART MUSEUM
Many find this fact surprising, but Missoula, Montana is home to several famous art galleries. If you’re an art connoisseur or remotely connected to the art world in any way, checking out any of the many Missoula galleries should be the highlight of your trip.
But, more specifically, the Missoula Art Museum is one of the most well-known in Missoula. At this art gallery, you can check out shifting exhibits (so check the schedule before you go), as well as contemporary artwork produced by artists who are in Montana.
Even with COVID-19, they offered both in-person and virtual events. If you’re not in the Montana area, check to see if an upcoming event will allow you to view it virtually.
Details: 335 N Pattee St, Missoula, MT 59802 | Website
A CAROUSEL FOR MISSOULA
When it comes to things to do in Missoula, you can’t skip checking out the famous and well-loved amusement park that is one of Missoula’s pride and joys! A Carousel for Missoula is an amusement park built by volunteers.
Every element of A Carousel for Missoula is hand-carved, meaning that you’ll never see the elements in this amusement park anywhere else in the world. The theme park opened back in 1995, and it was meant to offer up another way for people in the area to have some old-fashioned fun.
LOLO HOT SPRINGS
Hot springs are becoming more popular and well-known in recent years, and it’s for the best! Going on vacation and visiting some hot springs is one of the most relaxing things you can do for yourself – and the Lolo Hot Springs make that activity even more beneficial than you would otherwise imagine.
The Lolo Hot Springs Resort sits on over 100 acres of private property within the Lolo National Forest. This location offers – of course – hot springs, but it also offers other attractions once you’re done pruning. Check out the live entertainment, restaurant, gallery, and saloon, or, if you want to have a more rustic adventure, bring your RV and park it in the RV Park campground. And a great place to stay as well.
Details: 38500 W. Highway 12 Lolo, MT 59847 | Website
GARNET GHOST TOWN
Garnet Ghost Town isn’t for the faint of heart or superstitious people in your party. Although you’re highly unlikely to see any ghosts, visiting Garnet Ghost Town can feel unsettling when you see all of the intact homes, log cabins, and period furnishings that were just up and abandoned during the Gold Rush.
Garnet Ghost Town is preserved by the Garnet Preservation Association, and the non-profit works to apply for grants to help keep the town alive. The on-site visitor’s center also offers educational tools to help visitors understand why Garnet Ghost Town is a well-loved part of Montana.
Details: Drummond, MT 59832 | Website
When it comes to things to do in Missoula Montana, you can’t go wrong with visiting Mount Sentinel. Mount Sentinel was once called Mount Woody, although even with a different name, it’s the same place.
Mount Sentinel is a small mountain located in Missoula that stands at nearly 2,000 feet. One of the best things to do when you go to Mount Sentinel is to hike the M Trail, which is the most famous trail at this location. Do yourself a favor and prepare for the hike, as well as the stunning views you’re going to see along the trail.
When it comes to things to do in Missoula, Montana, you will be insulting the residents if you don’t check out the world-famous Big Dipper ice cream location. This ice cream is homemade and handmade, and you very well might consider moving to Missoula to have more of it once you get your first lick.
The Big Dipper opened up in 1995, and it has received national acclaim – that’s how amazing the ice cream is! There are also smaller offshoot locations in Yellowstone National Park and Glacier, but if you’re going for the ice cream, you might as well check out the pilot location! No matter where you go, however, that ice cream is going to change your life.
Details: 631 S Higgins Ave, Missoula, MT 59801 | Website
RATTLESNAKE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Located in Lolo National Forest, the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is a wilderness area that was created by Congress in 1980. Before you start panicking about the name, don’t worry. This area doesn’t have a plethora of rattlesnakes. In fact, since its creation in 1980, there have been no verified rattlesnake sightings!
This is a famous recreation destination for locals and visitors alike, largely because it features many recreational options for those who love the outdoors. You can bike, hike, run along the trail, and even ride horses along the many trails. This area makes up a scenic visit within the Missoula Valley, and you’re not going to want to miss these sights.
Details: Rattlesnake Dr, Missoula, MT 59802 | Website
SMOKEJUMPER VISITOR CENTER
The Smokejumper Visitor Center offers educational services surrounding smokejumping. What is smokejumping, you may ask? Smokejumping is a type of wildland firefighting that requires the smokejumpers to provide an immediate attack on remote wildland fires. They enter the space with the fire via parachute, which is part of how they get their name.
When the Smokejumper Visitor Center is open, it offers guided tours that go through displays that explain smokejumping history, fire-related aspects, and firefighting procedures. Each tour tends to be between 45 minutes and an hour long.
Details: 5765 W Broadway St, Missoula, MT 59808 | Website
TEN SPOON VINEYARD
If you’re in the mood for sophistication and live music, then a visit to Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery is a must. The owners of this location in Missoula, Montana started growing grapes in 1998, and then they began making wine in 2003, so you can bet they know their stuff!
They strive to create unique wine styles – but also do so sustainably. Their vineyard uses solar power, local packaging plants, and regionally grown grapes and other fruits. Also, all of their wines are organic, meaning that they contain no additional sulfites or additives.
If you’re looking for a fun way to unwind while also supporting a local establishment, then you have to add the Ten Spoon Vineyard to your list of things to do in Missoula, Montana.
Details: 4175 Rattlesnake Dr, Missoula, MT 59802 | Website
HISTORICAL MUSEUM AT FORT MISSOULA
The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula is a museum in Missoula that attempts to honor and respect travesties that have occurred in the past. The museum focuses on the fact that it’s placed in the homelands of the Kalispel and Salish people, and it hopes to show off respect for their culture, history, and wisdom when preserving the land.
If you’re curious about history in Missoula, the fort was established back in 1877, and it’s been home to much of Montana’s history ever since. Twenty buildings have been preserved in the area, so you can not only learn via tour guides and audio information, but you can experience what the history was like via the standing locations.
Details: 3400 Captain Rawn Way Missoula, MT 59804 | Website
MISSOULA BUTTERFLY HOUSE AND INSECTARIUM
This is a place that will excite any of the members of your party who enjoy learning about creepy crawlies. The Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium was built back in 2009, and it is now used as a facility for education, specifically regarding increasing awareness of invertebrates.
The Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium is meant to get you up close and personal with these insects. At this facility, you will be given a chance to learn about all these species by holding and touching them. This is a hands-on exhibit that hopes to drive awareness about these creatures.
Details: 120 Hickory St, Missoula, MT 59801 | Website
PAWS UP RESORT
A beautiful and luxurious glamping experience is here to round out the list of things to do in Missoula, Montana. This resort sits on 37,000 acres (nearly 60 miles) of land, and it’s an authentic cattle ranch.
You can choose to stay in sophisticated, safari-style tents, secluded tree houses, or a private home. All are meant to give you a connection with Montana’s natural beauty without forcing you to deal with the rustic nature of camping. You can go on horseback rides or experience their spa treatments – accommodations are far-reaching at Paws Up.
And, so long as you’re at the Paws Up Resort, you should check out their newly-invented sport: skijoring. Skijoring is a new experience where a skier will be pulled by horses or by dogs as they traverse snowy mountain paths.
Details: 40060 Paws Up Rd, Greenough, MT 59823 | Website
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MONTANA
- MONTANA WATERFALLS: 17 Amazing Waterfalls in Montana (Inside and Outside of Glacier NPS)
- MONTANA SKI RESORTS: 15 Of The Best Montana Ski Resorts To Visit This Winter
- BILLINGS: 15 Awesome Things To Do In Billings MT (Including SE Montana Day Trips)
- BOZEMAN: 12 Amazing Things To Do In Bozeman MT
- BIG SKY: 9 Awesome Things To Do In Big Sky, Montana For Outdoor Lovers
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
WHERE TO STAY IN MISSOULA, MONTANA
Follow us here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube | MSN | TripAdvisor | Flipboard
We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.
Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.
United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC
- 19 MOST POPULAR SAN DIEGO BEACHES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS - 02/07/2023
- 9 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN BIG SKY MONTANA FOR OUTDOOR LOVERS - 02/06/2023
- 19+ AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN TWIN FALLS, IDAHO - 02/06/2023