Missoula Is the Best Kind of College Town: Here’s Why
Despite growing up in Missoula, it took getting both my undergraduate degree and my graduate degree outside of Montana for me to understand just how great of a college town Missoula really is. Where I went to school, the cities certainly catered to the students with events and the occasional discount, but I wouldn't call those cities "college towns."
A college town has a certain feel. Like a you-could-find-a-diner-open-until-midnight-and- a-raging-party-just-around-the-next-corner kind of feel. College towns feel like innocence and possibility, like innovation and growth, like camaraderie, and well, sometimes, like a hangover.
We live in Missoula, we're biased, but I think we have some pretty great reasons why we're the best kind of college town.
Missoula hangover food is the best hangover food.
Hangover food is best when fried, right? Or maybe pancakes are more your style. Missoula has great options for both: Double Front Chicken and Paul's Pancakes. And if you find yourself in the wee hours of the morning wishing for something greasy to settle your stomach after a night of shenanigans, head to The Oxford and say, "Just give me the JJ Special."
Missoula graduates are cool people who do cool stuff.
There's no shortage of famous people who are from or who have lived in Missoula and lucky for us, they like to throw some good PR our way every now and then. Check out this impressive list of University of Montana graduates, some of whom still live here, or visit on occasion:
- J.K. Simmons - oscar winner, Farmers Insurance guy
- Hank Green - NYT bestselling author, entrepreneur, science communicator
- Jeff Ament - bassist, co-founder of the band Pearl Jam
- Jeannette Rankin - first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
- Jack Horner - paleontologist known for his dinosaur research
- Michael Ray Richardson - professional basketball player and head coach
- Lee Metcalf - U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Montana
- Marc Racicot - Governor of Montana
- Brooke - radio host and tv personality
- Dave Dickenson - head coach and former professional football player
- Colin Meloy - frontman of The Decemberists
- Stephanie Land - author of "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive" which was also a show on Netflix
- Jack Hemingway - Nobel Prize laureate, son of Ernest Hemingway
Yes, housing is hard to find. But some student housing options are rad.
Sure, there are residence halls, lewis and clark village, and university villages, but there are also options with incredible amenities like ROAM and The Sawyer. Check out these helpful tips, too for finding a rental in Missoula.
Missoula coffee shops make the best places to get in a good study session.
For a real academic, library-with-coffee feel, try The Break. Rolled out of bed late on a Sunday and want a casual study location? Try Liquid Planet. Off the beaten path--Big Creek Coffee Roasters. Close to campus? Tandem Bakery. With a side of rock and roll? Drum Coffee. I could keep going, but you get the idea.
The Missoula music scene is perfect for the student who is forming an identity and discovering who they are.
Let's break it down. Part of the college experience is listening to new bands and building a music collection. Missoula's vinyl and concert scene could turn anyone into an audiophile.
Missoula Vinyl Shops
- Ear Candy Music - 624 S Higgins Ave
- Slant Street Records - 1413 S Higgins Ave
- Rockin Rudy's - 237 Blaine St.
- Rockin Rudy's Record Heaven - 845 Ronana St.
Missoula Music Venues
- The Wilma Theater
- Top Hat
- Kettlehouse Amphitheater
- Washington Grizzly Stadium
- Adams Center
- Ogren Park
- Big Sky Brewing Company
- Dennison Theatre
- Bonner Park
- Caras Park
- The Badlander
- Monk's Bar
- The Dark Horse Bar
- Union Club
Missoula hiking trails are plentiful, and some are near the University.
Arguably Missoula's most popular hike is the hike to the "M," the large, concrete sculpture on Mount Sentinel that represents the University. It's also popular for trail runners.
Missoula supports walking and biking.
Missoula is a city that likes to move, whether it's by foot or bicycle. Favorite trails include the Kim Williams Trail and the Bitterroot Trail, but official designations of Missoula's awesomeness toward walkers/bikers doesn't hurt either. Here's what the U of M has to say about bike friendliness:
The City of Missoula has also been ranked a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Comunity by the League [of American Bicyclists] since 2012, and is consistently ranked in the top 20 bicycling towns in the US. -umt.edu
When you live in Missoula, you are a Griz fan. Period.
Try as you might, it's difficult NOT to be a fan of the Montana Grizzlies. I mean, they won the national championship in 1995 and 2001 and have beaten the Bobcats in the Brawl of the Wild 73 times. And let's not forget the amazing mascot Monte. When the whole town loves the University football team, and according to decibel recordings, "Washington-Grizzly Stadium is in the top 10 loudest stadiums in all of college football", it's easy to dub Missoula as the best college town there is.
Keep reading to learn more about Missoula and what makes it great.