The ultimate guide to visiting Missoula on a budget

Missoula, The Hub of the Five Valleys, is a lusciously green city located in Western Montana. It’s a great place to visit – even if you’re on a budget. Missoula, also known as The Garden City, has a funky feel to it with all its beautiful flora and trees covering the city.

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As soon as you set foot in Missoula you will fall in love with the young vibe that comes from the university which spreads to the cafes, restaurants, and the rest of the city. The city thrives off that young atmosphere.

Here’s the ultimate guide to visiting Missoula on a budget

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The city itself has a quirky feel to it which makes the city very unique in its own weird way. It’s no coincidence that all over Missoula you will see stickers and signs saying “Keep Missoula Weird”

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Missoula-budget-travel
Missoula-budget-travel

Along with all the funky shops and places you will find in the city, it may be just outside the city where you will find out why Missoula is such a magical place.

Having the Clark Fork River run through the city also gives endless possibilities for outdoor activities and it’s great for digital nomads looking for things to do. Mix in the mountains surrounding Missoula and you get the perfect mix of exciting city life and adventurous outdoors. 

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How digital nomad friendly is this city?

Missoula is GREAT if you’re looking to get some work done and need some wifi or if you have a few days off and are ready to enjoy what the city has to offer.

Both the university and the cafe’s in the city are GREAT places to get some work done since the wifi is very fast. The university is open to the public and free to use so it’s definitely worth going there for a couple of hours. It’s a beautiful university with a little park, trees, and super pretty buildings. Once you’re done with your work, you can hike up the M trail (see details further down the post).

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Where to stay

Hostel

Shady Spruce Hostel.
Prices: Start at 35 USD for a mixed bed dorm.
Click here to check it out.

Located right downtown Missoula is this old school american style’d house which has been converted into a Hostel. The hostel also offers bikes to roam around the city and when you’re done exploring you can go back and kick it on one of the hammocks in the yard. 

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The dorm itself is very clean and modern with bunk beds in the bedrooms and a cozy living room to relax if you need to sit back and just use some wifi to get your work done! 

Airbnb

We didn’t stay at an Airbnb when we were in Missoula but we found three different options that we would definitely stay at if we were to go back!

Check out option 1 here, option 2 here, and option 3 here.

If you haven’t used airbnb before, click here to get 47 USD off your first stay.

Camping

  1. You can actually stay at Walmart for free. Click here for more details.
  2. For free campsites, check this out.
  3. This campsite is perfect for lodging, vanlife, staying in a tent, and RVs – and it’s pet friendly. A tent-site with a van that comes with water and electricity.
    Price: +/- 45 USD per night.
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Wanna learn how you can save money on accommodation? Check out this post ‘7 Ways to Save Money on Accommodation While Traveling’.

What to do

Hiking to the M

The M trail is a very light hike located just on the outskirts of the city right next to the Football stadium and the university. It’s a great short switchback hike if you’re looking to take in views of the city. If that’s not enough for you then you can continue hiking up the mountain and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views! Or you can hike to the L!

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Hiking to the L

The L trail is another great local hike around Missoula that will bring you up Mt Jumbo where you’ll see wildflowers and views of Missoula. Another great perk of this hike is that it combines with other trails and allows you to keep hiking if you feel like you haven’t had enough! 

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Missoula-budget-travel
Missoula-budget-travel

Go for Happy Hour

  1. Conflux Brewing Company – This place has a great variation of their own IPA beers along with awesome happy hour options. You can get a burger with a side and a beer for 10$ between 3:30-5:30 – and it’s great. Especially on a beautiful sunny day you want to go here since you can go outside and sit on one of their two patios.
  2. KettleHouse Brewing Company – If you’re looking for a real Montana experience then this is the place to go. Stop by for happy hour and enjoy one of their home brewed beers. From the malted barley to the water it is all from Montana. A great way to support the locals!
  3. The Old Post – This place gives you a great old school Western feel with great happy hour deals. Stop by between 3-6pm and enjoy cheap beers along with 50% off some delicious nachos. 
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Get a Caffeine Boost 

Digital nomad friendly places! 🙂

  1. The Break – This is an awesome coffee shop right in the heart of downtown. The Break is a big space with incredible wifi. It’s the perfect place if you need a nice cup of coffee and have to get some work done. We spent a few days there catching up with work and planning our US road trip. Perfect spot for digital nomads needing a work space.

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  2. The Black Coffee Roasting Company –  A super cool local coffee roasting company based in Missoula. The coffee shop itself is located inside a hanger which gives it this twerky but modern feel (we thought this was really cool) and the coffee is so tasty.

    Another cool thing about The Black Coffee Company is that the roasting is done right in the back and you can basically see it while you’re sipping on your cup of Joe. If you’re lucky enough they may still have some of their freshly baked bread for sale (the bread is a little pricey but so good).

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  3. Hunter Bay Coffee Bar – This is more of a modern-looking coffee shop that we were recommended by a bunch of local people. It’s in a great location with 30 minutes free parking right in front of it and right next to it you have beautiful views of the Clark Fork River.

Get Lost and Keep Missoula Weird

  1. The Oxford Bar 
  2. Rockin’ Rudy’s 
  3. The Holt Heritage Museum 
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These places are just a few local strange places to visit in Missoula. The Oxford Bar is open 24/7 so you will see your fair share of interesting people in the bar.

Next is Rockin’ Rudy’s where you can find everything and anything. It’s the perfect place to buy a souvenir or a random nic nac for a family member. Definitely worth a visit!

Lastly is the Holt Heritage Museum which is the oldest collection of western memorabilia in the country. Keep Missoula weird! 😉

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If you guys find other random quirky shops and buildings to add to the list please let us know in the comments. Our goal is to help the community to keep Missoula weird and there’s no better way than sharing it’s weirdness with the world! 😉 

Check out the University of Montana and it’s Parks

Free wifi if you need to get some work done on campus!

We already mentioned this place but the university, campus, and it’s parks are all so green and absolutely worth checking out – even if you’re not a digital nomad.

There are also lot’s of the great city hikes that start around there (including the M trail) so make sure you check it out. 

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Hike Lolo Peak

Lolo Peak is an amazing hike if you’re looking for more of a difficult hike to do near Missoula. It’s an out and back trail with a beautiful lake that you will walk by and get views from above as well. 

It’s definitely a challenging day hike so if you plan to head to Lolo Peak make sure to take off a full day for this one! 🙂 

Here are the directions to get you to the trail head.

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Clark Fork River

River Rafting the Clark Fork

One of the funnest day activities you can do around Missoula is rafting down the Clark Fork River. Either with a group of friends or with an awesome tour company like Wiley E Waters there’s no way you won’t have an adventure going down the river. We loved it and will hopefully be back one day to go again! 🙂 

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Where to eat

Tia’s Big Sky

This place is a delicious (!) local Mexican restaurant. Definitely one of the best places in town and if you love Mexican food and it’s a must visit when you’re in Missoula.

Tia’s Big Sky always have new tacos on their menu and always change things up during the season. So no matter when you go your taste buds will be spoiled (guaranteed)! 

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The Market

If you like breakfast burritos this place is not to miss out on. The Market makes the most delicious breakfast burrito. Just make sure to stop by before noon as that’s when the breakfast menu finishes. It’s located right in the heart of downtown, so grab your burrito to go and enjoy exploring the city! 

Top Hat Lounge

If you’re looking for a delicious dinner Top Hat Lounge is the place to go. Their burgers are exceptional. The Top Hat partners with local farmers and you can definitely see the difference compared to a regular burger. They also have many other healthy options if you’re craving something else than a burger. It’s a great place to stop for dinner! 

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So we hope you end up enjoying your visit as much as we did. If you’re travelling around the states on a trip or travelling as digital nomads like us make sure to add Missoula onto your list. You won’t be disappointed and if end up finding other amazing things or places to see in Missoula let us know so we can add it to our list and share it with everyone! 

But for now all we can do is continue to keep Missoula weird! 😉

Have fun!

Dom & Jo

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10 thoughts on “The ultimate guide to visiting Missoula on a budget

    1. Yeah, we were surprised it wasn’t more touristy for how amazing the city is!! Hopefully this post will help a bit on attracting people to Missoula. We’re sure it will be a hotspot one day 😉
      – Jo & Dom

  1. Great post! I love that you guys always find fab places to hike on your travels, but Missoula looks like a fab place to explore in town as well.

    Do you know why they put a giant M on the mountain? I guess it is for Missoula, rather than having 26 letters on all the mountains in alphabetical order!? (I did wonder when you said you can hike to L as well…

    1. Hey Josy! Thank you 🙂 Yes, we try to always go somewhere to get the best views possible and we love being active so it’s a win/win situation 😉 The M stands for Montana actually as it’s right next to the university of Montana (located in Missoula) but over time the M has also become a symbol of Missoula as it’s been there for over 100 years! The L represents Loyola Sacred Heart Catholic High School!
      – Jo

  2. Montana is one of my favorite states!! It’s so beautiful, but we have not had to opportunity to visit Missoula yet. Clearly, we will now be adding it to our list!!! Shady Spruce looks like a perfect place to stay and hiking to the “M” sounds like a lot of fun. I didn’t also didn’t know about Holt Heritage Museum, we’d like to visit it for sure.

    1. Montana is such a beautiful state – totally underrated if you ask us! And yes, you should definitely visit Missoula some day 🙂 3-5 days is a good amount of time! If you’re planning on visiting Glacier National Park you could potentially add the trips together. It’s only a 2.5 hour drive to Missoula from there.
      – Dom & Jo

    1. Hey Natasha, these images are actually from the M trail but it’s beautiful that’s for sure (I can see why it seems misleading). But yes, Missoula is totally worth a visit 🙂
      – Jo

    1. That’s really fun! First traveler I’ve heard about who went here too 🙂 What was your favorite part?
      – Jo

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