Only have one day to spend in Missoula? Here's how to to hit as many of our town's high points as possible in a limited time frame.
Roll of bed early and and eat breakfast at The Shack (open at 7am) Choose from over a dozen omelets or order a stack of huckleberry pancakes. If all you want is a pastry, Missoula has several fantastic bakeries to choose from: Le Petit Outre (french pastries & scones), Bernice's Bakery (danishes, cinnamon rolls, and muffins), and Black Cat Bake Shop (jalapeno cornbread, cat head biscuits, doughnuts). Is coffee all it takes to get your engine running? Black Coffee Roasting will give you an organic jumpstart. Try one of their seasonal blends.
Go fly fishing. That's what Missoula's for. Missoulian Angler and Grizzly Hackle will set you up with either a half day or full day float trip down the Bitterroot, Blackfoot or Clark Fork Rivers. Obtain a fishing license and make your trip reservation in advance. Then go catch a monster trout!
If you're not going fly fishing, then hit the downtown markets (if you're lucky enough to be here on a Saturday). Clark Fork Market and Missoula Farmer's Market both open at 8am. The local produce, meat, and pastries on display make a great photo op. Buy some huckleberries and Flathead cherries to snack on. Missoula People's Market, a venue for local artists and craftspeople to sell their creations, opens at 9am. It's an excellent place to shop for souvenirs.
Since you're downtown and already strolling up and down Higgins Avenue, take time out to shop at the unique stores, galleries and boutiques. Wander over to Caras Park (on the northwest side of the Higgins Street Bridge) and watch surfers and kayakers play on Brennan's Wave. If you've got kids in tow, then take a ride on A Carousel for Missoula - all of the ponies were hand-carved by locals. Cross over the bridge and continue your shopping experience on the Hip Strip. One final can't miss shopping destination a few blocks south: Rockin Rudy's, the self-proclaimed "hipster department store." You can get lost for hours there.
When you're ready for lunch, head to Caffe Dolce for a meal in a beautiful, Italian-inspired setting. Another option would be to go back downtown to Biga Pizza for a pie that made with local, organic ingredients, or to The Catalyst, for sandwiches, salads and all-day breakfast.
Now that the day's really heating up, buy an inner tube at Montana Ace, arrange for an Uber to drop you off at Sha-Ron Fishing Access Site in East Missoula, and take a 2-hour float down the Clark Fork River, exiting at the DoubleTree.
There are a number of other ways to enjoy Missoula's fantastic setting:
- See that huge concrete "M"? Hike up the eleven switchbacks to the top for awesome views of ZooTown.
- Mountain biking the Rattlesnake is another option. You can take the relatively flat main "cherry stem" trail eight miles to Franklin Bridge, or choose a more quad-challenging ride into Sawmill/Curry Gulch. Watch for bears! Rentals available at The Bicycle Hanger and Missoula Bicycle Works.
- Up for some disc golf? Try the course at Blue Mountain Recreation Area. Pattee Canyon and Snowbowl also have courses. You can buy discs at Bob Ward's if you left yours at home.
- Take the opportunity to surf in a land-locked state. Strongwater MTN Surf will give you a lesson and/or rent you some gear.
- Walk the Riverfront trail system along the north and south banks of the Clark Fork River. Watch for herons, ducks, osprey, kayakers, surfers and SUPers.
You're stomach's probably starting to growl, so dinner is in order. The Thomas Meagher Bar serves Irish pub fare and a wide array of burgers, salads, sandwiches, and mac & cheese. Another restaurant that offers a varied menu is The Old Post, one of Missoula's classic restaurants. Try the quesadillas they have on special.
The evening's just getting started. If live music is your thing, check out who's playing The Top Hat Lounge. There's either national or local performers almost every night. Cinephiles won't want to miss a chance to see an independent, foreign or classic film at the historic Roxy Theatre. If you're here on a Friday or Saturday, Missoula Outdoor Cinema may be showing a movie under the stars. Sports fans may want to take in a minor league baseball game featuring the Missoula Osprey. Notice that there's a real osprey nest on the north edge of the stadium.
End the day with some ice cream at The Big Dipper, a Missoula institution open until 10pm on summer nights. The line may be long, but it's the perfect opportunity to chat with a local or reflect on what an awesome day you've had in the Garden City.