“No more,” as locals here tend to start sentences proclaiming, “Missoula isn’t what it used to be.” Once a stopover town for visitors en route to Glacier National Park or Yellowstone, Montana’s second largest city, often called Zootown after the pronunciation of the name and the high energy of its citizens, has become much more than a base for epic hikes (though still great for that).
Nestled in a valley of golden hills, you’ll find 19th-century architecture, worthwhile craft breweries, ranch-fueled restaurants, and everything from flapper-era theaters to dive bars perfect for dancing to. early morning. In the summer, you can even skydive from a low-flying plane straight into town (where else can you do that!?). Drive just outside of town and you’ll be treated to pure, gaping wilderness, with well-maintained trails scaling gargantuan mountains, fly-fishing rivers with few visitors, and soothing hot springs under the sky. open.
Montana’s unofficial slogan is “the last best place,” and it seems especially apt in Missoula, a city that tends to fly under the radar. But maybe not for long – like many progressive small towns in otherwise conservative states, Missoula continues to attract city dwellers from across the country who will undoubtedly change the cultural and literal landscape. So come quick, while he remains his adorable zoo-y. Here’s an overview of what to see and do when you go.