The better towns and small cities in the US: Missoula, Montana

With woodlands, mountains and Native American reservations nearby, this city is a goldmine for the adventurous, and theres a homespun arts incident, too

Ten years ago, if you wanted to live in a city on the edge of a rocky wilderness, surrounded by parties prepared to let you be whoever you required, you moved to Boulder, Colorado. Everyone did, and property rates became unaffordable. Now you create your eyes a little better north, and keep your wagon wheeling on up to Missoula, Montana, a town about as isolated as “the worlds largest” devouring reader of Henry David Thoreau could hope for.

Missoula, Montana map .

Missoula is an oasis of civilisation late in the Rockies, surrounded by Native American territories, national forests and five different mountain ranges. Deer pass through people’s front grounds; moose is apparent from the road and endures sometimes go downtown to Greenough Park.

While Missoulians have many of the same outdoorsy preoccupations as the rest of cowboy country- huntin ‘, shootin’ and fishin’- they’re likewise obstinately different in other directions. Suspicious of Missoula’s artsy inclinations( the University of Montana has a renowned creative publication curriculum) and the wild parties said to go on there, Montanans dubbed it “Zootown”. The townsfolk surely know how to have a good time- its own population of 72, 000 prolongs a live music situation that would be the hatred of somewhere 5 times as big.

View down North Higgins Avenue, Missoula. Picture: Alamy

Kiah Abbey works at Forward Montana, an advocacy group mobilising young people to participate in the political process.” Missoula is really fun ,” she says.” A lot of beings here love to hike, and in the summer the river is a big focus- everyone is on it .”

Development, however, gets a mixed response: a inn is being built on the scene of the swallowed Mercantile building, despite some demonstrate, while across the river the “Hip Strip” and the Old Saw Mill district are revitalising their vicinities. But Missoulians are generally stubborn- they don’t want to see too much change.


Missoula Children’s Theater

In 1970, an hopeful actor called Jim Caron broke down in Missoula on his room to a friend’s bridal in Oregon and objective up abiding on to play Sancho in a local production processes Man of La Mancha. The resultant relationship with his Don Quixote, Don Collins, triggered one of the most innovative children’s fellowships in America. The duo would drive into small communities in a big cherry-red bus( complete with surrounding, props and costumes ), audition local children, and learn them a show in a few weeks. The theater now utilizes more than 100 staff, operates in 50 countries as well as 15 other countries, and has established Missoula’s Center for the Performing Arts.
* 200 North Adams Street ,

Missoula Art Museum

Photograph: Alamy

” I go once a few months at the least ,” says Kiah Abbey.” It’s free, and they spotlight indigenous masters, which is really cool .” Contemporary Native American works are at the crux of the collect, which is in a 1903 library built by Andrew Carnegie, modernized and expanded with a modern gallery in 2006. As well as national walk expoes, the museum hosts regular lectures and activities.” They’ve got community events, they bring in creators to talk about their work, so it’s a enjoyable culture smudge and it attracts a lot of young people ,” says Abbey .”
* 335 North Pattee Street,


A mountain biker on a road near Missoula. Photograph: Jared Alden/ Getty Images

Montana is an outdoorsy place year-round. In summer, along with traditional outdoor chases there’s also mountain biking, ziplining and chairlift trips, on top of the river recreation mentioned earlier. In wintertime, there’s 2,600 horizontal paws of skiing and snowboarding at Snowbowl, just 20 hours from downtown( and plenty more at Discovery, Blacktail and Lost Trail Powder Mountain ).” There’s lots of act plays going on around ,” says Samantha Veysey at Board of Missoula.” There are cross-country courses, mountain biking, and parties travel fat bicycles, extremely. We have hockey rinks all around so it’s a great target for skating, and visitors can come and use our indoor skateboarding ramp at the back of the browse .”


Caffe Dolce


Half coffee shop, half upmarket canteen, Caffe Dolce is a local favourite thanks to its high-ceilinged, light-filled construct and its good brunches.” It started as a coffeehouse in the mall ,” says Erin White at Missoula Wine Merchants.” But the owner wanted to create a standalone eatery and he found this recognize over on Brook Street, a neat quiet region. He took great sufferings when creating the place- the building appears Italian with its tall spaces and frescos- and it’s a lovely balance of traditional Italian nutrient with a Californian turn .” It’s also only a short walk from Rockin’ Rudy’s, Missoula’s beloved record store.
* 500 Brooks Street,

The Pearl Cafe


This is no greasy spoon but the finest French-inspired cuisine Missoula has to offer.” It’s a little expensive ,” says Erin,” but it’s really good. The chef-owner, Pearl Cash, has been in the restaurants sector industry for 40 times and hinders reinventing herself .” The Pearl Cafe is an intimate space but it’s still considerably larger than her last enterprise, the Alley Cat, which could fit a dozen diners and only three kitchen faculty. And while there’s plenty of Montana beef on the menu- including two filet mignon foods ($ 34 – $38)- the Pearl is known for its fish and seafood, from Idaho trout to Dungeness crab ($ 29) to seafood blanquette with orange and saffron ($ 28.75 ).
* 231 East Front Street,

Scotty’s Table


When Scott Gill was a food stylist in California, he detested find food wasted. It’s an experience that abode with him when he lastly opened his own restaurant.” Years ago we decided that the best practice was just to buy whole swine ,” says Gill.” So that drives the menu: filets one day, then a New York Strip, then we’ll move to the ribeye, and smoke the brisket. The big circumstance for us is sourcing hormone-free, grass-fed beef .”
* 131 South Higgins Avenue,

Red Bird

Missoula’s most well known hotel, The Florence, didn’t have a lot of luck- it burned to the floor twice, firstly in 1913 and again in 1936. But the skill moderne construct which housed it from 1941- altered, in more recent years, to an office complex- is a splendid part of record. Its still-glamorous hallway is open to anyone who wants to placed their paws up and its ground-floor restaurant-wine-bar, Red Bird, shares that feel of a communal living space for Missoulians. It has live music every week, batch of wine-coloureds by the glass, and a champagne fondue that everyone in the cities swears by.
* 111 North Higgins Avenue,



Photograph: Light-green Door Photography

From the moment you walk past the dense velvet shrouds, you know that your night here is going to be a comfy one: the wine roster is 14 pages long, covering old world and brand-new. Traditionally more of a beer-drinking township, Missoula has recently started taking wine-colored seriously, and this is a great neighbourhood to try out the pinot noirs of Willamette Valley and the comparatively local cabernets of Walla Walla( exclusively a five-hour drive from Missoula- relatively close in Montana words ). The concoction list is full of invention, from the cucumber cilantro gimlet to a jalapeno-infused tequila that takes no prisoners.
* 322 North Higgins Avenue,

Montgomery Distillery

Inspired by their mutual ardour of Scottish single malts, Ryan and Jenny Montgomery began this small-batch distillery in 2012. It took four years before they secreted their first single malt, made from Montana barley and aged in ex-bourbon barrels. While they were waiting, they came up with a vodka, an aquavit, and their deliciously herbal Whyte Laydie gin. The tasting chamber has a long and boozy history itself- the 19 th-century brick build was originally a liquid warehouse and saloon- and resumes the legacy with a selection of classic and original cocktails. The tasting chamber is open every afternoon, although by statute they can only serve you two concoctions; tours take place Fridays at 5pm and Saturdays at 2.30 pm.
* 129 West Front Street,

Charlie B’s


” If you like a dive forbid, this one’s an institution ,” says Erik Johnson, “whove been” tending rail in Missoula for years.” It’s been around a very long time, it’s got a lot of attribute and makes on phenomena for all levels of society such as free vacation snacks .” The long, narrow and( let’s be honest) slightly dingy chamber is a real savor of old-school Missoula, crowded with record- one wall is covered in black and white photographs of their patrons down the decades. At the back, a hole in the wall announced The Dinosaur Cafe dishes hot-as-damn-it Cajun food that lure locals for lunch and late-night munchies.
* 428 North Higgins Ave,
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Imagine Nation Brewery

Montana beer boozers have descended heavily for the New England style of IPA and Imagine Nation’s signature brew, Lupujus 7, is a juicy, hoppy delight. But that’s just the beginning of this brewery’s offerings: it also writes its own arts and literature magazine and promises to” employ mindful practices while brewing “. This is a company that’s serious about doing things differently: its brewery even incorporates a community centre, training courses and promoting organisations that work for social change.
* 1151 West Broadway Street,


Top hat Lounge

Missoula’s music scene has undergone a rapid stretch in the past five years old and the Top hat has been at the centre of it. John Baker, owned of the Circle Square secondhand accumulation, used to play there with his ensemble, Cold Bean and Bacon.” It used to be a dive saloon and this person Nick Checota came in about five years ago and entirely revamped it ,” said Baker.” He did a good job, he modernised it without taking out the vibe, and now he gets touring routines from all over countries around the world there .” Regular contests include Wednesday jazz darkness and family-friendly Fridays, when children and their parents experience live music and dancing from 6pm to 8p m.
134 West Front Street ,

The Wilma


After refurbishing the Dress hat, Checota moved on to the Wilma, Missoula’s one-time vaudeville theatre. Built for Edna Wilma Simons, a light opera idol from Kentucky, by her first husband, it had last been remodelled in the 1950 s. He says:” We wanted to preserve the historic persona but make it be used as a modern squad .” The upshot was a 1,400 -capacity music venue with one of the best sound systems in the two countries, which has established the minuscule township of Missoula as a must-play for touring acts.
* South Higgins Avenue,

Big Sky Amphitheater

The Big Sky Brewing company has been hosting summertime concerts in the areas next to its brewery since 2004, and sharing the proceeds with neighbourhood non-profit organisations. Last time, it unveiled a permanent amphitheatre to host the concert serial. But it’s not even the most difficult concert cavity in Missoula any more. Last time Lyle Lovett played the inaugural concert at the new 4,000 -seater Kettlehouse Amphitheater, housed at another favourite Missoulian brewery.
* 5417 Trumpeter Way, bi

Who to follow

Instagram : @noteworthypaper– Covetable art and designing from Missoula’s independent publish studio

Missoula’s popular storytelling job Tell Us Something is a festivity of the local community; you can listen to previous phenomena and legends on its website

Way to go

The trip was provided by Destination Missoula, which has information on the cities and activities, with accommodation at the doublings from $130 ). More message at “There wasnt” direct flights from the UK to Montana and Missoula’s airport dishes domestic ends simply. The closest US airfields with UK flights are Portland, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis.

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