We’ve profiled some really great places to retire in previous posts. From beach towns here in the U.S. to retirement overseas, there are many options to consider. I had the good fortune to visit Missoula, Montana recently. You might remember the town featured in Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through It” (an acclaimed book and later an award winning movie). I grew up in Missoula and spent many of my formative years there.
The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana. – Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It
My parents (both now in their mid 70’s) still live in Missoula, and it’s proven to be quite a popular destination for college students and retirees alike. The confluence of the university town’s cultural influences along with an amazing outdoors scene seems to draw an eclectic mix of town folk. You wouldn’t know it from the laid back vibe, but a walk down Higgins Avenue (the main drag through downtown) might provide a surprise or two. Just this past summer, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were spotted having lunch downtown together. Some of the biggest titans of business are known to frequent Montana towns, drawn in by their sheer beauty and anonymity.
The only gripes I hear are attributed to 2 things. Missoula is a relatively small town (hey… it’s in Montana) with around 70,000 people (over 100K in the metro area). You’ll not find the sheer numbers of restaurant choices, transportation options (anti-Uber, limited busses, virtually no cabs) or shopping venues you’re accustomed to if moving from a big city. The other complaints I hear (from the non-skiers) are about the winters. “Back in the day”, I remember really harsh winters, and I think it’s much milder today. However, if your’e not into snow (and can’t stand an inversion or two) you’ll want to head south with the birds!
Things to do in Missoula
Here are some great things to do while in Missoula for a visit:
- Take a stroll through the incredibly gorgeous campus grounds, home to The University of Montana. If you’re there in the fall and you’re lucky enough, the Montana Grizzly football team might be playing a home game. This is one of the most incredible stadiums to watch a football game in the country. Word has it after Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys quarterback) played a game against the Seattle SeaHawks, he was asked if he’d every experienced more noise in a stadium… His answer makes all Grizzly fans proud – “Missoula Montana is way louder“.
- If you’re there in the summer time, visit Caras Park in downtown Missoula for their “Out to Lunch” concerts on the Clark Fork River. Out to Lunch features a concert each Wednesday, and food from over 20 different local food vendors.
- There are many, many places to hike and bike around Missoula, but a local favorite is the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area just north of town. No motorized vehicles are allowed, but if you’re on foot, bike or horse – you’re all set. Follow Rattlesnake Creek on the main trail for as long as you like, or take advantage of one of the many connecting trails for a more secluded walk if you want more quiet.
- If you’re looking for one of the oldest watering holes in town, visit Stockman’s Bar on Front Street. It’s where the locals hang out for a burger, a beer, or a hand of poker. Tip: Get there before 7 if you don’t want to compete with the college kids, this place can get pretty packed and wild. Other local hangouts include the Iron Horse, Plonk, and the Missoula Club (locals call it the Mo Club, they serve up a ton of burgers at lunch, and late at night).
- If you’re looking for breakfast joints, the locals love The Shack, Paul’s Pancake Parlor, Uptown Diner, and Ruby’s Cafe.
Missoula is highly recommended as a (Montana) retirement option. Down the road we’ll profile another one of our favorite destination spots in The Treasure State; Bozeman, Montana. Until then – Happy Trails!
Visited Montana recently? Have a favorite spot you want to fill us in on? Let us know in the comments below!
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