Category Archives: Direct Flights

7 Reasons to Turn a Griz Game Into a Weekend Getaway in Missoula

It’s no secret that we’re serious Griz fans here in Western Montana. The college-football community of Missoula boasts mountains of pride for the Division 1 Montana Grizzlies. Every football season Griz fans flock to the University of Montana’s Washington-Grizzly Stadium to cheer on our beloved team.

Missoula’s population jumps by more than 30 percent on these days! It’s not just the game we love, but the energy and excitement of 24,000 feet stomping to “We Will Rock You” by Queen, the boom of a cannon fired at every touchdown, and the halftime shows by the Grizzly Marching Band, featuring songs from artists like The Beatles and Pentatonix.

A Griz-eye view of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Photo: Destination Missoula

The game-time spirit is palpable and unwavering. Eager tailgaters set up as soon as possible and the grounds around the stadium are transformed into a celebration of food trucks, vendors and die-hard fans.

With three home games left this season, come immerse yourself in one of Western Montana’s most prized events and explore the idyllic mountain town of Missoula—a Glacier Country arts, culture and recreation hot spot full of charm.

1. AUTHENTIC MONTANA LODGING + HOSPITALITY

Missoula boasts almost 70 hotels, motels and inns, from national chains to locally-owned establishments, and the warmest western hospitality around. Take note and plan ahead: Missoula hotels fill up fast for home games. If you don’t score one in time don’t fret—Missoula has plenty of VRBO and Airbnb rentals.

2. FOOD + DRINK FUN

We love to eat and drink, and we always want the best of both. From fine dining to cafés, and everything in between—including epic tailgate fare—there’s literally something for everyone in this community of creative, sustainable and delicious local cuisine. With 10 breweries, three distilleries, two wineries and a new cidery in a town of 75,000 people, it’s pretty obvious we’re serious about crafting beverages. We’re not lacking for good coffee shops here, either. Seasonal flavors abound this time of year, so it’s an excellent opportunity to savor a taste of Montana.

Enjoy a pumpkin beer or other seasonal brew at one of Missoula’s craft breweries.

3. ENDLESS THINGS TO DO IN MISSOULA

This is one Montana town that bustles year-round. Pack adventure onto either side of the Griz Game festivities. Missoula has a fast-growing renowned live music scene, museums, art galleries and unique shopping options, plus three rivers and an endless system of wilderness trails, so there’s plenty of outdoor recreation to be found here as well.

Hike the “M” for a gorgeous view of Missoula’s fall colors.

4. LOCAL EVENTS LIVEN UP TOWN YEAR-ROUND

Here’s what Missoula’s got on tap during the next three Grizzly home games.

OCTOBER 6 – GRIZ vs. PORTLAND STATE VIKINGS
It’s Grizzly Homecoming Weekend!

Land on Friday and catch a Montana Film Festival show at the Roxy, then stop by Montgomery Distilling for a tour and tasting before taking part in First Friday Gallery Night (don’t miss the Radius Gallery). While downtown, grab dinner at any one of downtown Missoula’s eateries—you can’t go wrong.

Saturday, wake up and head downtown for the Homecoming Parade, featuring music performances, dancers, the Shriners, and more. Then it’s game time. After the game, follow the crowd to a local pub for post-game festivities.

Sunday, grab brunch at Draught Works Brewery and then head to Turner Farms Annual Pumpkin Fest for harvest fun. End the weekend at The Top Hat for a unique five-course Cider Dinner in partnership with Western Cider.

OCTOBER 27 – GRIZ vs. UC DAVIS AGGIES
Join in on the pre-Halloween fun that’s sure to take over Missoula this weekend.

Friday night enjoy the casual atmosphere and contemporary Asian cuisine at the Mustard Seed Asian Café or try Missoula’s new dine-in movie theater.

Saturday morning grab coffee and freshly-baked pastries at the Missoula Farmers Market (voted best of the West),  and the Clark Fork Market. Hike to the M and then head to the game early for some tailgating—hit the GAS Tailgate Party to purchase food and drinks, watch the pregame show, and listen to live music (or a DJ). After the game, make your way to the county fairgrounds for Missoula’s Haunted House.

On Sunday, grab Biers + Brunch at Bayern Brewing and then head to the University of Montana for costumed revelry at the Skeleton Skedaddle 5k & 1k races.

The energy in the stands is electric, particularly on a beautiful fall day. Photo: Destination Missoula 

NOVEMBER 17 – GRIZ vs. MONTANA STATE BOBCATS  

You’ve got two concert options for Friday night in Missoula: The Devil Makes Three takes the stage at 8 p.m. at the historic Wilma theater, and Jeffrey Foucault plays the Top Hat at 9 p.m.

See a show AND the game. The Top Hat and the Wilma are two of the hottest venues in the Northwest. Photo: Neaubauer Media/Logjam Presents

Saturday before the game, stroll the Missoula Valley Winter Market—a local farmers market—for coffee, fresh baked goods, home-grown produce, and local arts and crafts (perfect for Montana souvenirs). Then, walk along the river trail to the game.

Sunday, grab breakfast at The Catalyst Café & Espresso Bar and then hit the streets for some early holiday shopping in Missoula’s downtown galleries and shops. Start at the north end of Higgins Avenue and make your way across the bridge (over Caras Park and the scenic Clark Fork River) to Missoula’s Hip Strip. Grab a sweet treat from Bernice’s Bakery or Le Petit Outre.

5. MISSOULA IS SURROUNDED BY DAY-TRIP-WORTHY ATTRACTIONS

From Missoula you could venture out in any direction and find an authentic Montana adventure. Epic day trips are a dime a dozen here.

Take a scenic drive down the Bitterroot Valley exploring several charming towns along the way. A short way from Stevensville is the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, home to various types of wildlife. If you visit in October, you are likely to see large flocks of Canadian Geese resting from migration on the ponds.

Root for maroon and silver but also check out our yellows and oranges. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Or, start early and drive north through the stunning Mission Valley and stop near Moiese at the National Bison Range where you can witness 350 – 500 head of bison; if you’re visiting during the fall rut you may even hear the bugle of a bull elk.

6. INSIDER TIPS + TRICKS TO MAKE THE ADVENTURE EVEN BETTER

Pre-Game Like a Griz Fan: When it comes to tailgating, a Griz fan’s game is strong. Get in on the action and mingle with the locals before the game.

Ask a Local: We’re known for being some of the friendliest folks around, so if you’re looking for the inside scoop on where to eat, drink, or play, just ask us.

7. GETTING TO AND AROUND MISSOULA IS EASY

Flying into the Missoula International Airport (MSO) is pretty convenient, serviced by multiple major airlines with direct flights regularly arriving from 11 cities across the U.S. Once you land, car rentals are easy. Or, leave the driving to someone else and call Uber or Lyft, both of which are available in Missoula.

Pro-Tip: Park your car downtown and walk the Kim Williams Trail along the Clark Fork River directly to the University of Montana.

Dallas to Missoula: Fly Direct to Even Bigger Skies

Dallas friends: leave the humidity in the Lone Star State and come bask in the heavenly mountain air in Big Sky Country. American Airlines now offers direct flights from Dallas to Missoula. Your friendly neighbors up north in Western Montana’s Glacier Country offer the warm hospitality you’re used to and your cowboy boots will fit right in here, plus…our mountain landscape offers a stunning change of pace.

There’s a lot to see in Western Montana and Upper Holland Lake is one of our favorites. Photo: Noah Couser

In under three hours you can be in Montana. Let that sink in. People tend to think of Montana as a faraway place, but it’s actually quite simple to get here, and now it’s especially easy—and quick—for you, Texas. Think about it: you can eat breakfast in Dallas and be in Missoula for a bison burger by lunchtime.

We’re picture perfect up here in the mountains of Montana, and our outdoor recreation scene is second to none. Home to storied small towns and mesmerizing panoramic landscapes of majestic peaks and sweeping valleys with sparkling rivers and lakes, adventure is endless no matter the season—did we mention nonstop flights between Dallas and Missoula are year-round? Get away for a weekend of hiking and hot springs. Looking for snow? Take a ski vacation—we specialize in downhill, backcountry and Nordic adventures

Paws Up Resort is one of Glacier Country’s most luxurious and popular resorts. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Accommodations come in every shape and size here, from relaxing guest ranches and luxury resorts to timbered mountain lodges, tents for camping, bigger tents for glamping, B&Bs, vacation homes, cabins, hostels and hotels. Around here, everything’s cozy and everyone’s friendly.

You’ll land in—and love—Missoula, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t stay put right here in this treasured mountain town. It’s the kind of place you can visit over and over again and never have the same adventure twice, unless you want to, of course. This Western Montana arts and culture hot spot at the confluence of three rivers offers thousands of miles of trails, millions of acres of stunningly beautiful wilderness and a hopping and eclectic downtown bustling with cafés, coffee shops, breweries, distilleries, galleries and museums. Dining ranges from fine to downright fun. Explore festivals and farmers markets—one of the best markets in the West, actually. Take in the performing arts, theater and live music scenes, including an outdoor amphitheater hosting national music acts on the banks of the scenic Blackfoot River.

Missoula has something for everyone. From gorgeous views to amazing food, you’ll love it up here.

There’s plenty to see and do in Missoula, and it also makes a pretty perfect base camp for exploring the rest of Western Montana, including the jaw-dropping beauty of Glacier National Park. Drive the famously gorgeous Going-to-the-Sun Road and discover the history and allure of one of the country’s most breathtaking places. Explore the largest natural frewshwater lake in the West, Flathead Lake, visit one of our Indian reservations, cowboy up at a dude ranch mountain-style, ride rapids, bike trails, hike canyons, fly-fish blue-ribbon trout streams or ski an epic powder paradise.

It’s about time you mosey on up to our neck of the woods and see what all the buzz is about. Whatever your preference: a huckleberry milkshake or whiskey made from glacial waters, we’ve got one waiting for you. From heavenly summers and winter wonderlands to undiscovered spring splendor and golden autumn abundance, you’re bound to love it up here in the mountain air.  

It’s no wonder Glacier National Park is called “The Crown of the Continent.” Photo: Hunter Day

Warning: This flight may become habit-forming. Side effects may include an increased itch to travel to Montana.  

 

Missoula Magic: A Weekend in a Western Montana Hot Spot

We’ve got a crush on Missoula. It’s the kind of place that will steal your heart and never let go. The allure of small-city charm surrounded by breathtaking wilderness has secured its position as one of our region’s cultural and recreation hot spots. If you’re looking for a place to feed your soul and your belly, spend a weekend in Missoula, but plan on being a little heartbroken when it’s time to leave. The list of things to do in the robust mountain town is long, so we took the guesswork out of planning the perfect Missoula weekend:

SATURDAY

The Missoula farmers markets are full of local favorites and seasonal surprises like morel mushrooms and fresh huckleberries.

Firsts things first: coffee. Start your Saturday off with a cup of Montana’s best at Black Coffee Roasting Co. (named the Best Coffee in Montana by Cosmopolitan and Mental Floss, 2017). Try the AM blend…it’s morning, after all.

A kayaker on Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula.

From there, stroll downtown to the Clark Fork Market (did we mention Missoula is kind of famous for its outdoor market scene?) and grab yourself a waffle sandwich. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

A Carousel for Missoula was hand-carved and painted by Missoula residents.

While you’re in Caras Park, take a spin on A Carousel for Missoula and then take a look out over the river’s edge at Brennan’s Wave and watch the surfers and kayakers play in this man-made whitewater playground.

From there, head up onto the Higgins Bridge and begin your exploration of downtown Missoula’s shops, galleries and eateries. Then for good measure (and because it’s delicious), grab some ice cream at Sweet Peaks or the Big Dipper.

When happy hour rolls around, stop in at the Top Hat or Finn & Porter for appetizers and drinks, and then spend a relaxing evening with an Eddy Out® Pale Ale or a Fresh Bongwater™ Hemp Pale Ale at Kettlehouse Brewing Co. When you work an appetite back up, head to the Wally & Buck food truck (recently setting up camp outside the southside location of Kettlehouse Brewing Co.) for a handcrafted, grass-fed burger from Missoula’s own Oxbow Cattle Company. Read more about Missoula breweries here.

Don’t be scared off by the line…It moves quickly!

If by this point you’re not quite ready for Saturday to be over, there’s a good chance you can catch a live show at the Top Hat, The Wilma or the Kettlehouse Amphitheater. Check out our events page to plan your next visit around a fantastic Glacier Country event.

When the day is done, enjoy some of Missoula’s warm western hospitality at any of its fine lodging options, and rest up for Day 2 of exploring the Garden City.

SUNDAY

Head downtown to devour a breakfast at the Catalyst Café & Espresso Bar. We promise it will be an incredibly delicious experience.

The Catalyst’s menu is full of locally sourced ingredients and excellent vegan and vegetarian options.

Now that you’re full and caffeinated, and since you’ve explored a bit of the town already, it’s time to play outside. Head to Missoula’s Snowbowl, where there’s plenty to do no matter the season. Hike, bike or zip line your way around the bowl and stay put for a lunch on the mountain…Snowbowl is famous for its Bloody Marys and wood-fired pizza.

When Snowbowl isn’t full of snow you can catch the chairlift and folf, bike or hike at the top of the mountain.

After a day spent playing under Missoula’s big blue sky, check out Western Montana’s premier shopping destination, Southgate Mall. Shop till you drop and then grab a bite at the mall’s Mustard Seed Asian Café, and take your server up on dessert—it’s well worth the calories.

From there, head back toward downtown and see a film at Missoula’s historic community theater The Roxy. Pssst…they serve organic popcorn, beer and wine.

As Sunday comes to a close and you reflect on your weekend in Missoula, you’ll likely find yourself thinking about when you can return again. After all, you’ve only experienced a fraction of the one-of-a-kind activities a weekend in Missoula offers. We have so many tips, tricks and favorites to share that can’t possibly be squeezed into two days. Visit our Missoula community page for lodging options and more activities.

In the mood for a hiking weekend instead? Missoula has several trails with beautiful views on the edge of town. Try Mount Sentinel (pictured), Peace Park or Blue Mountain to see Missoula from another perspective. Visit our hiking page for directions.

Save Money on your Flight with Glacier Raft Company

Want to know what I like? Discounted flights. Want to know what else I like? Telling you about discounted flights to Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) near Kalispell.

Here’s the lowdown…

Our friends at Glacier Raft Company have partnered with Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air to provide an even easier way for visitors to come to the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park during May and June.

As part of the promotion, the airlines have given Glacier Raft Company a link and promotional code that provides a 20% discount on flights to FCA between May 1 and June 30. (Are you loving this?! We totally are).

To take advantage of the promo, click on www.glacierraftco.com , follow the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air link on their home page and input the promo code provided.

Sidenote: Travel must be booked by May 1, 2011.

And if receiving 20% off an airline ticket isn’t awesome enough by itself, Glacier Raft Company is also offering “Two for One” raft trips as part of this promotion. When you book your trip with Glacier Raft Company, be sure to mention you’re traveling with Alaska/Horizon and bring your boarding pass when you check in for your rafting trip. For more details, click here.

You look like you're having fun

PS: May and June (we heart June) are great times to visit Northwest Montana. Plus, they provide a quiet time to explore the park…you’ll even have much of it to yourself!

Ah, Glacier

Hope to see you here soon.
TT

Portland + Montana=Direct Flights

We got some exciting news this week: Alaska Airlines announced that it is adding seasonal DAILY, DIRECT flights from Portland, Oregon to Missoula, Montana. The flights will start June 5 and continue through August 27. Can we get a woohoo? (woohoooo!)

We’re completely tickled about this new offering! Not only will it allow Montana residents to jump a quick flight to Portland and the beautiful Oregon cost, but it will provide Portland area residents with a short, direct flight before they’re out exploring Western Montana.

And as an added bonus, passengers in either direction will be flying Horizon Air’s Q400 turboprop. This plane is one of the most environmentally friendly regional aircrafts, burning 30 percent to 40 percent less fuel than comparable jets. Very cool.

Because we’re so stoked about the this new flight, we’ve put together a list of 10 Not-To-Be-Missed Western Montana Activities & Attractions.

1) Check out our breweries. Portland is a great beer city and we’d love for you to taste some offerings from our local craft breweries. Plus, we dig the the names of our brews: Golden Grizzly Ale, Moose Drool, Dancing Trout and Old Stache Porter. (Yep, there’s a mustache on the bottle).

Image from www.tamarackbrewing.com

2) Rub elbows with smokejumpers at the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula. During the summer, the smokejumpers train here before being called out to fires, most often found in remote mountainous terrain. (Hands down, one of my favorite attractions in all of Missoula).

3) From Missoula, you’re within easy reach of three blue-ribbon trout streams. Whether you’re looking to cast a line or float the waters, check out the Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Bitterroot rivers. Take a rafting or kayak trip with 10,000 Waves Raft & Kayak Adventure. For fishing guides in the area, click here.

4) Hike the M. This short hike on Mount Sentinel is one of the most popular in the state. It also provides a beautiful view of the Missoula Valley. After you’re done, reward yourself with ice cream from The Big Dipper.

Enjoying the view from the top.

5) Eat a Nap’s burger. These burgers make my mouth water just thinking about them. Located in Hamilton (about an hour’s drive south of Missoula), they are totally worth the drive. Trust me.

6) Visit the National Bison Range. This range is one of the oldest in the nation and is home to 300 – 500 head of bison, as well as black bears, antelope, deer and more. Plus, the views are serenely beautiful.

The view from Red Sleep Mountain Drive.

7) Visit Flathead Lake. Take a boat cruise on The Shadow at KwaTaqNuk Resort in Polson, wade in the water or pick up perfectly ripe Flathead Cherries to snack on during your travels.

8) Ride the zips at Whitefish Mountain Resort. The resort offers tours on the “Original 4” or the full “6 Zips.” The 6 zip tours has an 1,800-foot long line that takes zippers 300 feet above the ground. If you have little ones? Take them down the Alpine Slide. They’re sure to love it!

A happy toddler.

9) For a quiet and beautiful drive, travel through the Seeley-Swan Valley. It’s home to countless lakes, charming little towns and endless outdoor recreation. One of my favorite activities: rent a canoe in town and paddle the Clearwater River Canoe Trail.

10) If you’re coming to Western Montana, Glacier National Park is a definite must see. The park has more than 700 miles of trails, plenty of lakes for water fun, boat tours, wildlife and historic lodges. Numerous outfitters also offer guided tours in and around the park, from red bus tours to trail rides and helicopter tours to rafting and fishing trips.

Red bus tour in Glacier National Park.

For more travel ideas, visit glaciermt.com.

Let’s hear it for direct flights!

TT