Missoula, Montana, offers a lot of fun activities for people who love the outdoors or who are into history. While there, take the time to learn about Glacial Lake Missoula and the ice age floods, a geologic event that shaped a good chunk of the Northwest and established the unique soil conditions for the Northwest's world-class vineyards. Missoula is an active community whose residents enjoy getting outdoors, experiencing art and music, and gathering together at fairs and festivals.
The big white "M" on the west facing slope of Mount Sentinel is one of Missoula's major landmarks. That "M" is in honor of the University of Montana, which lies at the base of the little mountain. The switchback trail covers 3/4 of a mile before you reach the "M". If you're feeling energetic, you can hike an additional mile to the top of Mount Sentinel. Either way, you'll enjoy great views of the UM campus, the town of Missoula, and the Bitterroot Mountains.
2. Caras Park
Caras Park, located between Missoula's downtown and the Clark Fork River, is a major community gathering place. The Riverfront Trail, popular with walkers and bikers, passes through Caras Park. The park is particularly family friendly, offering fishing and picnicking as well as a carousel and the Dragon Hollow play area. A number of festivals and concerts are held in the park throughout the year.
3. Annual Events & Festivals in MissoulaMissoula finds all kinds of reasons to get together and celebrate. Here is a sample of Missoula's fun annual events and festivals:
- Garden City Brewfest (May)
- International Wildlife Film Festival (May)
- River City Roots Festival (August)
- Western Montana Fair (August)
- Montana Festival of the Book (October)
The grounds of historic Fort Missoula cover 32 acres and include something to appeal to a variety of interests, including history buffs, outdoor lovers, and flower gardeners. You can wander the property, checking out antique trains, old forestry and sawmill equipment, historic buildings, or an old fire lookout. The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula features exhibits on local and regional history, covering several eras. While there, you can also visit the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History. With lots of open lawns and picnic space, Fort Missoula provides a family-friendly outing. The 246-acre Fort Missoula Regional Park is being developed on land adjacent to the historic Fort Missoula grounds.
You don't have to be a hunter to enjoy a stop at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's visitor center. Interesting exhibits provide information about elk, their habits and habitat, and the other wildlife that share their environment. While there, stretch your legs at the facility's outdoor nature trail.
7. Watch a GameMissoula is home to loyal and enthusiastic sports fans. The University of Montana Grizzlies football team plays to a packed stadium at home games. Or you can take in one of the Grizzlies' men's or women's basketball games. During the summer, the Osprey, Missoula's Pioneer League professional baseball team are popular. The Missoula Maulers, Missoula's junior hockey team, are also fun to watch.
9. Visit Missoula's Wineries and BreweriesTake the time to stop at one or more of Missoula's wineries and breweries for a chance to enjoy great wine and beer, tasty food, and perhaps even live music.
- Lake Missoula Cellars - tasting, food, and live music
- Mission Mountain - tasting room open seasonally
- Lolo Peak Winery- fruit and honey wines
- Big Sky Brewery - enjoy a brewery tour by appointment, or visit the taproom
- The Kettlehouse - visit the taproom for a pint of their microbrews
- Bayern Brewery - German-style microbrewery
11. Fun Things to Do Near Missoula
You don't have to venture too far from Missoula to find great outdoor recreation and interesting attractions. Here are some recommendations:
- Lewis & Clark Sites - explore local sites along the Lewis & Clark Trail, including Travelers' Rest and Lolo Pass.
- Garnet Ghost Town - explore the old abandoned buildings of this mining-boom-era town
- National Bison Range - take a driving tour through the refuge to view herds of bison and other wildlife, then stop by the visitor center
- Ninemile Remount Depot - this historic site offers a visitor center and walking tour where you can learn about USFS pack animals and early forest fire fighting practices
- Scenic Bitterroot Valley Driving Tour - enjoy magnificent scenery and the charming towns of Darby, Hamilton, and Stevensville. Attractions to check out include the Daly Mansion and the historic St. Mary's Mission.