By: Theresa Christine
Missoula is a sweet little town filled with some amazingly generous people–I’m from the south, and I have to say that they’re rivaling serious southern hospitality! Aside from all the wonderful folks I met, Montana is just beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Missoula for a day, make sure to hit these spots.
Snatch up a freshly made bagel from Bagels on Broadway (asiago is the way to go) and make your way over to Mt. Sentinel. There is nothing quite like a morning hike! Looking up, it doesn’t seem too imposing, but if you can reach the top without working up a sweat you are my hero forever and ever amen. It’s a gradual but constant climb, consisting primarily of switchbacks. You’ll have a stellar view of Missoula that just gets better and better the higher you go.
After you’ve changed from the hike, it is time to get your nom on. Doc’s Sandwich Shop is a great spot downtown that I frequented during my stay. There’s an extensive menu, but I got the Dr. J every single time. It’s packed full of fresh veggies, absolute goodness, and served on a croissant so fresh it will make you weep. Plus, every sandwich comes with a chocolate chip cookie, so you’ll leave here feeling absolutely spoiled.
The Missoula Art Museum (lovingly dubbed MAM) houses work by lots of local artists. Their tagline is “free expression free admission.” I loved wandering through here, and if you have the chance to check out the “Under Pressure” exhibit before it closes in June, you definitely should!
Time to stroll through downtown and do a little shopping! As you walk on Higgins and cross over the river and into the hip strip, you’ll see a great variety of shops to check out. One must-see is Bettys Divine, a spot that a lot of locals recommended to me. You’ll find a sweet selection of both men’s and women’s clothing as well as trendy accessories. Also wander into Upcycled, which is basically like walking into a store full of amazing and unique Etsy items. The jewelry was delightful, and I walked away with a ring made from antique silverware!
It’s about time for an ice cream break. Now, I was in Montana in the bitter cold of winter. Imagine my surprise when I see that Big Dipper Ice Cream is not only open, but has a line outside of it. Never one to pass up sweets, I investigated, and what I found was almost too delicious to be true. This homemade ice cream joint has gotten a lot of well-deserved hype. While I wanted to try everything on the menu, I settled on a mint milkshake. No matter how cold the weather, a stop at Big Dipper is a mandatory one in Missoula.
Your next destination is Rockin’ Rudy’s. Be prepared to carve out some time to peruse all the wacky things you’ll find here. They have a ridiculous collection of cards and postcards, fun books, jewelry, records, bumper stickers, hats, keychains, novelty items…you name it, it’s there. After wandering around for hours, I picked out an incense burner and some India Temple incense, which basically smells like heaven.
There are lots of places to grab a beer in Missoula, and I settled on Kettle House Brewery. It’s got a nice, cozy interior, and a decent selection of local brews. I’m an IPA gal, so obviously I went with the Double Haul IPA, but if you’re feeling adventurous they offer up some seasonal beers that are sure to please–I taste tested one with freshly toasted coconut!
Your evening will consist of dinner and a show. Head over to Five on Black and grab some unbelievable Brazilian-inspired food. There’s lots of options and you build your own bowl, but don’t miss out on two things: the first is adding the spicy coconut sauce to your dish, and the second is getting the side of pão de queijo, a traditional Brazilian cheese bread. After dinner, head down to the historic Wilma Theater which screens art and independent films and catch an evening flick.
For a nightcap, you’ll have oodles of options since you’re right downtown. If you’re craving live music, head to Top Hat to check out the amazing band lineup for the evening. If you’d like some craft cocktails, then Montgomery Distillery will totally be your jam. My favorite of them all, though, is Plonk. Delicious wine (the house wines are insane for the price), creative cocktails (hello, sage margarita!), and a cheese plate that will blow your mind (need I say more?).
I hope you find yourself in Missoula very soon–it was a magical place that I’m already itching to return to. Check out next month’s Travel That for a new city!