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Historical Museum at Fort Missoula

14 Most Popular Places To Visit In Missoula, Montana (2023)

Missoula is Montana’s University city with an extremely rewarding mountainous appeal. This western Montana city is known for its spectacular scenic beauty, blue-ribbon trout fishing, and limitless outdoor recreational opportunities. It is Montana’s second-largest city, with both locals and visitors marking it as a tourism hub. You cannot just visit Missoula and go back without trying your angling skills. Or unless you explore the endless mountain ranges surrounding Missoula, nothing feels complete.

Missoula isn’t just outdoor heaven but also one of the best places to live in the United States. The art and cultural scenes with the University vibes attract millions of visitors throughout the year. There are several excellent museums, historical centers, art galleries, and craft breweries in the city. You may be of any age of traveling interest; Missoula’s youthful and energetic atmosphere will entertain you to the core.

14 Most Popular Places To Visit In Missoula, Montana

So why wait? Plan your next Montana trip to its west in Missoula. And for integrity, take considerations from our list of top-rated places and adventures in Missoula. Have a look:

1. Discover Downtown Missoula

While you start discovering Missoula, begin with its splendid downtown. The downtown area of Missoula is full of music venues, boutique shops, restaurants, eateries, and some spectacular art galleries. Every night of the week, this section of the city hosts fun activities from music, dance, live concerts, and more. Besides that, Missoula hosts the city-wide First Friday event with its ultimate charm in the downtown every month. Some of the top downtown Missoula attractions include:

  • Missoula County Courthouse
  • Caras Park
  • The Wilma Theater

For visitors who want to shop, eat and live local Missoula culture, there isn’t a better place than downtown to start.

2. Visit the Fort Missoula Museum

Fort Missoula is a late 1800s museum formed by the USA army to protect Western Montana settlers. It later turned into an open-air museum with several historical structures inside. Fort Missoula is located on the city’s outskirts and is a popular attraction amongst tourists. Today while you dive deep into this sprawling complex, you will find several remains and information from the past. Visitors can walk through the ground and access the wonderfully preserved buildings to see them from inside. You may come across an extensive collection of artifacts, including forest service equipment, remnants of the period during World War II, and a good overview of history. Considering the opportunities and information it offers, make sure you bring along at least an hour or two in hand.

3. Visit the Garnet Ghost Town

Garnet Ghost Town is the most popular place to visit in Missoula. It is a historic mining town of Montana that has existed here for over a century now. It was built on a garnet lode and was named after the precious gemstones found here. Back at the end of the 1800s, the area was known for its rich gold and a thriving population of 1000 residents. Though no more gold left, the town was abandoned after 20 years, leaving no residents behind. Today all it has are 30 well-preserved historic buildings and lively tourism activities. During summers, one can explore the Visitor Center and other historic structures. Or locals of Missoula also visit here to explore the self-guided trails. Whereas during winters, it turns into popular snowmobiling and cross-country skiing destination.

4. Explore the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is a part of Lolo National Forest and Missoula’s outdoor wonderland. It is just four miles drive from the north of the city and is a hub for outdoor recreation. This 61,000-acre natural area offers surplus hiking and biking into the wild. Not only for locals, but it behaves as a hiker’s paradise for entire Montana residents. The recreational area is also popular amongst anglers due to the abundance of creeks, clear mountain streams, ponds, and lakes. If you are well versed with the skill and have a state fishing license, you can try your luck to catch a variety of trout here. Besides that, travelers also choose this region for waterfall seeking, wildlife and bird watching, and backpacking. During winters, some of the popular outdoor activities that flourish here include all sorts of skiing and snowshoeing.

5. Go Shop at the Missoula Farmer’s Market

Missoula Farmer’s Market isn’t just for locals, but it also attracts out-of-the-town guests. Every Sunday morning, this open-air market on Circle Square attracts about 100 vendors and 1000s of visitors. Turning into a hub of great art, craft, and fresh produce, this local farmer’s market has been running since 1972. You can visit here to catch up with a friend for a cup of coffee, shop for fresh produce, learn about local farming, listen to street musicians, or simply for having a great time. Everything on selection here is exclusively new, and nothing has been imported to fill the sections. You can shop for baked goods, jams, jellies, syrups, fresh flowers, plants, dried fruits, and whatnot. Before going back, you can also shop for souvenirs and made-in-Western Montana products.

6. When With Kids, Visit ‘A Carousel for Missoula

A Carousel for Missoula is an old-fashioned fun that is still alive and very popular in Missoula’s city. Back in 1991, some volunteers built and hand-carved it, and today, the shining example for the same is adorning the city. The facility has 14 gargoyles with gargoyle frames, two chariots, 38 beautiful ponies, and several mirror frames. Not just that, but it is also home to the most prominent band organ in Montana. Next to the Carousel facility is the newly made (in 2001) Dragon Hollow Play Area where both kids and adults can enjoy. ‘A Carousel for Missoula’ is an excellent place for hosting events, birthday parties, or spending time with kids and families.

7. Have fun at the Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery

If you are a fan of drinks, then do not miss visiting Ten Spoon Vineyard & Winery in Missoula. The winery encompasses 21.5 acres of land, whereas the vineyard has its share of 7.5 acres. One can reach here just south of Rattlesnake Wilderness, right in the Rattlesnake Valley. It is owned by Missoula natives who have a passion for agriculture, especially for growing organic grapes. The individuals who own it even purchased it to save the area from urban development. On the entire vineyard spread, you can find grapes growing without synthetic chemicals. At the same time, the winery is famous for its red and white French-American hybrid vines. Operating year-round on weekends, it is a great place to visit with your partner or catch up with some friends. They also have a great snack menu and outdoor seating, though its operation depends on the weather.

8. Take The Family To The Rocky Mountains Elk Foundation

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a protected zone and home to Elk and other wildlife. The facility has made sure to mimic the same natural habitat for wildlife’s comfort. Upon a visit here, you can see animals enjoying exactly how they would have been in the wild. It is nearly a five-mile drive from the northwest of downtown Missoula and is quite popular amongst locals and tourists. The facility operates from June through October, seven days a week, with an admission fee. Along with wildlife viewing, the facility also provides an opportunity to learn more about this native species of Montana. If you are interested in wildlife, then it is a must-visit place in Missoula for you.

9. Get Mesmerized at the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium.

The Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium are relatively new but fun places to visit when in the city. Established in 2015, this Insectarium is known for its insect education. The idea here is to spread the knowledge and importance of insects in today’s web life. The facility organizes several science exhibits and educational programs focusing primarily on kids. While younger kids observe bugs, the older kids get to see insects under the microscope. Kids and even adults can have fun via artists in Residency and Bugs and Brews program.

10. Go Skiing at Snowbowl

Also known as the Montana Snowbowl, this ultimate skiing facility is 2-mile drive northwest of Missoula. Once winter and the first snowfall begin, the Snowbowl becomes a wonderland attracting skiers from all states. The facility is home to excellent ski slopes, zip-lining courses, two lifts, and a basic chalet and hotel. Unlike other Montana skiing areas, the Snowbowl is quite affordable yet offers an experience like the high-end ones. They have a traditional-style European lodge for your stay, while they have several moderate to expert runs for adventure. Even if you are a beginner, you can first take skiing lessons and then aboard independently on the slopes. Considering its proximity to Missoula and its affordability, winters at Snowbowl are often jam-packed.

Other Best Places And Activities in Missoula

11. The Wilma Theater (It is the oldest live entertainment venue in the city and, to date, is famous for its incredible shows).

12. St. Francis Xavier Church (Montana’s one of the tallest churches dating back its existence to over a century now. Whether it is for religious values or for admiring art, it is the best place to visit in Missoula).

13. Lolo National Forest (Two million acres of excellence) is Montana’s most crucial timber area. For an ultimate outdoor recreational experience, there isn’t a better area in the entire Missoula region).

14. Caras Park (In downtown Missoula, the Caras Park is a fun place to visit. Especially if you want to enjoy local events and festivals, do head here during the evening hours).

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