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Located at the spot where five mountain ranges and three rivers meet, Missoula is often called the Hub of Five Valleys. Its dramatic landscape of rugged mountains and wilderness areas offers a paradise for nature enthusiasts, and as the home of the University of Montana, the city holds an energetic vibe with a considerable arts and entertainment scene. In addition to endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, Missoula also draws visitors with museums, breweries, and a variety of rich cultural attractions. As you explore this vibrant college town surrounded by the spectacular Northern Rockies, prepare to be impressed by everything Missoula has to offer.
While it’s a thriving city of over 70,000 people, Missoula combines a small-town feel with the majesty of the great outdoors. From the historic downtown area to the lively university district, the city's enchanting mix of town and country is apparent in each of its different neighborhoods.
Populated with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, Downtown Missoula represents the beating heart of the city. The riverfront Caras Park hosts everything from festivals to art shows, and the hand-carved Carousel for Missoula can also be found here.
Missoulians flock to the fun and funky area known as the Hip Strip. Sprawled along Higgins Avenue, this stretch of locally owned shops and up-and-coming eateries more than lives up to its name.
Nestled at the base of Mount Sentinel, the University of Montana's tree-lined walkways and historic buildings are set against a spectacular backdrop. Trek the switchbacks up the mountain to reach the famous hillside letter "M," and check out the earliest edition of the Lewis and Clark journals in the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library.
Outdoor adventure awaits in Rattlesnake National Recreation Area, located just a few miles north of the city proper. A vast network of trails and clear mountain streams attract hikers and fishing enthusiasts, and in winter, the snowy forests are perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Established as a trading post during the settler days of the 19th century, Missoula boasts a variety of sights to immerse you in its rich heritage. Start at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, where you can browse exhibits and original buildings for a fascinating introduction to the city's history. Then, make the short journey east to the once-booming mining settlement of Garnet, one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the state. If you're interested in the area's animal residents, head to the Elk Country Visitor Center to check out interactive displays chronicling the story of Montana's elk population. Afterward, hike on the center's forested trail to spy white-tailed deer, bald eagles, owls, and more wildlife that live on the property.
Discover a wealth of things to do in Missoula, whether you're interested in outdoor adventures or discovering the city's culture. Venture into the Lolo National Forest for mountain biking, camping, and hiking in the Blue Mountain Recreation Area, which sprawls across 4,900 acres (1,982 ha) and 41 miles (66 km) worth of trails. If you're visiting in winter, discover a skiing and snowboarding paradise as you race down the powder-covered runs at Montana Snowbowl. While exploring Downtown Missoula, peruse the works of local and international artists at the Missoula Art Museum, or inspire little imaginations with a trip to the Children's Museum for some interactive and educational fun. Beer lovers will also find themselves right at home among Missoula's variety of up-and-coming breweries. Head to Big Sky Brewing to try their famous Moose Drool brown ale, or sip on traditional German brews at Bayern Brewing. And between May and October, don't miss the Missoula Farmers Market, where you can get a feel for the local atmosphere as you peruse a tantalizing offering of fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, and coffee.