As a university town, Missoula’s population shrinks during summer, which means there’s plenty of space for taking in the local offerings, from art galleries to concerts and comedy shows at the city’s landmark Wilma Theatre. Spend a few hours perusing modernist Montana art and the hundreds of objects—from jewelry to textiles—donated by western Montana’s Hmong community at the free Missoula Art Museum, or visit the remains of the state’s most intact ghost town, Garnet, approximately 38-miles east.
Just north of Missoula, the 32,976-acre Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness delights with dozens of refreshing mountain lakes, vast forests, and miles of multi-use trails. The 5.9-mile Historic Curry Cabin and Sawmill Gulch Loop, though a bit of a challenge, offers a wonderful area introduction and includes the remnants of a log cabin.
Back in town, lounge on the grass in Caras Park—Missoula’s waterside hub—to watch intrepid surfers take on the Clark Fork River’s man-made Brennan’s Wave or partake in events like Downtown ToNight, a summertime Thursday night extravaganza of food trucks and live music.
For a meal at a solid table, urban wine bar Plonk dishes up buffalo cauliflower and crispy fried chicken katsu alongside their extensive wine list.