Tag Archives: Play

9 Must-See Attractions in Montana’s Mission Valley

Montana has some big names and well-known places (I’m talking about you Glacier National Park), but the truth of the matter is this: some of the coolest places are located off the beaten path and come in the form of small towns, destinations at the end of gravel roads, local shops and colorful characters. Keeping this in mind, last week I set out to explore one of Western Montana’s most-underrated places: the Mission Valley. And you guys, it was a perfect fall day that had picture-perfect views around every corner.

Hello Mission Mountains.

Hello Mission Mountains.

But, as it goes with many off-the-beaten-path places, it can be hard to know where to start or what to see when you’re adventuring around a new destination.

To make it easier, I rounded up 9 must-see attractions in Montana’s Mission Valley. 

1. The Mission Mountains from Ravalli Hill. Hands down, this is one of the best views in Montana and it’s not really off the beaten path, as it’s right on Highway 93. But here’s the thing: this view is best soaked in by pulling off the highway into the scenic overlook and spending at least a few minutes looking at one of the wildest mountain ranges in the West.
Insider tip: this is also one of the best places to catch sunrise.

My favorite view in the Mission Valley.

My favorite view in the Mission Valley.

2. McDonald Lake. I found out about McDonald Lake from one of my favorite places: instagram. Several locals were posting photos from this lake, located a short drive back in the Mission Mountains, to their instagram feeds and I knew it was a place I needed to visit. It’s a gorgeous destination to take a hike, have a picnic, cast a fishing line or simply sit and relax.
One thing to note: the lake is on tribal land, so you do need to purchase a recreation permit from the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes.

McDonald Lake last spring.

McDonald Lake last spring.

3. The National Bison Range. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the National Bison Range (you can read more about my day trip to the range here), but regardless this is one of the best places to visit in the Mission Valley, especially for wildlife watching and photography.

This pile of antlers welcomes visitors to the National Bison Range.

This pile of antlers welcomes visitors to the National Bison Range.

4. Great Gray Gifts and Ninepipes Lodge. Located just off Highway 93, Great Gray Gifts is brand new to the Mission Valley (they opened in May 2016). Owned by the adorable husband-and-wife team from Ninepipes Lodge, the merchandise at Gray Gray Gifts is all hand-selected and and includes many made in Montana products. Next door, you’ll find Ninepipes Lodge and Allentown Restaurant. If you’re looking to stay and play in the Mission Valley, the lodge is a great home base.

Oh hey, Great Gray Gifts.

Oh hey, Great Gray Gifts. Photo: @greatgraygifts instagram

The view from the patio at Ninepipes Lodge.

The view from the patio at Ninepipes Lodge.

5. Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana. Located next door to Ninepipes Lodge is one of the most interesting museums in Montana—Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana. Operated by one of the valley’s most well-known families, the Cheffs, the museum has a well-curated collection of hundreds of Western Plains Indian artifacts, as well as exhibits on early settlers, the fur trade and cowboy way of life.
Insider tip: take the guided tour, if possible.

Handcrafted moccasins at the museum.

Handcrafted moccasins at the museum.

6. Mission Mountain Golf Course. If you like golf (or you’re really good at driving the golf cart like me), this course in Ronan has one of the most stunning backdrops in Western Montana.

Playing 18 holes with this backdrop? Yes please.

Playing 18 holes with this backdrop? Yes please.

7. Stella’s Deli & Bakery. Fun fact: I get really sick of eating sandwiches (except peanut butter and jelly – those never get old). But I’m 100 percent confident that I’ll never tire of the sandwiches at Stella’s Deli & Bakery in Ronan. I’m not sure if it’s the homemade buns they serve them on, but this is THE place to stop for lunch in Ronan.

I'll take seven cinnamon rolls please.

I’ll take seven cinnamon rolls and two turkey sandwiches, please.

8. Muley Bluz-Cowboy Toys. It’s no secret that I love cowboys and authentic western offerings, so believe me when I tell you that I’m obsessed with Muley Bluz. Located on Main Street in Ronan, I randomly stumbled into this shop last week and had a great 45 minutes of trying on chaps (also called chinks, depending on who you’re talking to), sitting in saddles and talking the owner’s ear off. Long story short: don’t visit the Mission Valley without stopping into Muley Bluz.

Not kidding: the saddle in the very front is the MOST comfortable saddle I've ever say my booty on.

Not kidding: the saddle in the very front is the MOST comfortable saddle I’ve ever sat my booty on.

9. The People’s Center. If you asked me what my favorite museum is in Montana, The People’s Center in Pablo would be among my top choices. The museum shares the history and culture of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai tribes and has artifacts and exhibits on display. But if you want to really learn about the history of Montana’s first nation, take the guided tour. The center’s tour guides will share incredible insights into the tribal histories, traditions and more and, to be totally truthful, it’s one of the best guided tours I’ve ever taken.

The People's Center at night.

The People’s Center at night.

Happy adventuring!

xo,
TT

A Summer Weekend at Placid Lake State Park

I feel like we’re at the point in our relationship where it’s time to introduce you to one of my favorite places that I’ve been kind of keeping a secret. Please meet my love, Placid Lake State Park

A Fourth of July sunset.

A third of July sunset at the lake.

While I’ve mentioned Placid Lake in the past, I haven’t really shared too much about it with you. But it’s time and the truth of the matter is that Placid Lake is—hands down—one of my favorite destinations in Western Montana.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you…
1. It’s just off-the-beaten-path enough that it takes a little more effort to get there.
2. The campground is fantastic (with electric sites for those of you with RVs and campers).
3. The boat launch is easily navigable and you can rent boat slips.
4. They have showers. (And to be honest, the fact that I can take a 3-minute shower while camping for $1 in quarters is what truly converted me to loving this state park the most).
5. It’s a short drive to Seeley Lake.
6. I really, really love state parks.

Here’s a look at a recent weekend at Placid Lake State Park.

Sunset at the lake.

Sunset at the lake.

My favorite spot on the boat.

My favorite spot on the boat.

Purple mountain majesties.

Purple mountain majesties.

A view from the campground.

A view from the campground.

My buddy Dwain playing on the water.

My buddy Dwain playing on the water.

A perfect day for sailing.

A perfect day for sailing.

Your turn: where’s your favorite place for a weekend away? 

xo,
TT

The Top 10 Things to Do Near Glacier National Park

We all know that Montana’s Glacier National Park is amazing. It just is. I mean, does it get much better than 1 million acres of glacial-carved terrain, the epic Going-to-the-Sun Road and the feeling you get just being in Glacier National Park? Maybe not. But I’m here to tell you, it gets pretty darn close.

Hello, Glacier National Park.

Hello, Glacier National Park.

Around here, a lot of focus gets placed on Glacier National Park (which is completely deserved by the way) but the truth of the matter is that there is more to this corner of Montana than just the Crown of the Continent. And you deserve to know some of the best things to do outside of Glacier National Park, because sharing is caring.

Before I get started on this list, there were two guidelines I followed when pulling it together: 1) All of the items on this list are within 30 minutes of Glacier National Park and 2) I have personally been to them (so I feel really confident recommending them to you).

Without further ado, here is my list of the top 10 things to do near Glacier National Park. 

1. Take a guided horseback trail ride on the Blackfeet Nation. Hands down, this is one of the best activities I’ve ever done. Maybe it’s because the Blackfeet Indian Reservation has a special place in my heart or maybe it’s because Mouse Hall (who I totally adore) leads the crew at Glacier Gateway Outfitters. But to be honest, I think it’s both of those combined with the incredible experience of riding a horse in wide-open country as you climb trails, nearby mountains and learn about the Blackfeet Tribe and their history, all while taking in expansive views along the Rocky Mountain Front.
Storytime: last time I rode with Mouse, my horse’s name was 7up and he was feisty as all get out…which is probably why I loved him. He didn’t like the other horses and got bit by a wasp on our ride down from Baldy Butte and still, the ride was incredible. It was also amazing to see how Mouse handled all of the horses. Each of the horses knew he loved them and in turn, they loved, trusted and respected him. I’ve not seen anything quite like that anywhere else. 

Mouse on top of Baldy Butte.

Mouse on top of Baldy Butte.

2. Visit The Museum of the Plains Indian and Blackfeet Heritage Center in Browning. Hands down, these two places (that just happen to be next door to each other) are my top two places to stop in Browning. The Museum of the Plains Indian has an incredible history of several of the Plains tribes (be sure to watch the video before touring the museum), while the Blackfeet Heritage Center has work from hundreds of American Indian artists on display.
Insider tip: while in Browning, be sure to check out Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post, Lodgepole Gallery & Tipi Village and Western Curios. 

The museum is home to incredible artifacts and displays.

The museum is home to incredible artifacts and displays.

3. Stroll the grounds and sit in the lobby at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Park. I’ve had a love affair with Glacier Park Lodge for as long as I can remember and it’s a place that I love sharing with other people. Whether you’re staying at the lodge or just passing through, it’s definitely worth a stop. You can read more about Glacier Park Lodge here.

My happy place, Glacier Park Lodge.

My happy place, Glacier Park Lodge.

4. Have dinner at the Izaak Walton Inn. Located halfway between East Glacier Park and West Glacier is Essex and the Izaak Walton Inn. Their on-site restaurant has become one of my favorite places for dinner in the region. Afterward, sit on the patio outside and watch the trains roll past.

Hello, handsome.

Hello, handsome.

5. Cool down at the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center. Situated just down the road from the west entrance of Glacier National Park is the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center. It’s a great place to stop and stretch your legs, learn about the area, cool down with local ice cream, grab a coffee, take a trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters (they have a horse corral out back) and peruse made in Montana items.

The horses of Swan Mountain Outfitters hanging out in the corral.

The horses of Swan Mountain Outfitters hanging out in the corral.

6. Visit Hungry Horse Reservoir, the area’s best-kept secret. While it won’t be a secret anymore (woops a daisy), Hungry Horse Reservoir is a great place to go to get away from the masses. Located a short drive from the town of Hungry Horse, the reservoir and its surrounding area offer fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and camping. Plus, it’s beautiful.

The view of Hungry Horse Reservoir from above.

The view of Hungry Horse Reservoir from above.

7. Taste Montana spirits (and take a tour) at Glacier Distilling Company. Making its home in a red barn in Coram, the Whiskey Barn at Glacier Distillery offers tours and tastings daily from Noon – 8 p.m. during the summer. Plus, they have an outdoor patio where you can kick back, rub shoulders with the locals and taste Montana.

The Whiskey Barn.

The Whiskey Barn.

8. Stroll through Columbia Falls. Truth time: Columbia Falls is one of my favorite towns and is often overlooked as a place to stop. But that, my friends, is changing. This town has some exciting stuff happening and is home to a thriving farmers market (Thursday nights May – September), a brand-new hotel named Cedar Creek Lodge, Backslope Brewing (one of the state’s newest breweries), great dining, a coffee shop and a fly shop. In six words: Columbia Falls is worth a stop.

Confession: Columbia Falls is home to my favorite cafe.

Confession: Columbia Falls is home to my favorite cafe.

9. Drive the North Fork Road to Polebridge. The best adventures are often found along gravel roads and the drive to Polebridge is no exception. The drive will take you along incredible views into Glacier National Park and some beautiful landscapes. Once in Polebridge, be sure to kick back at the Northern Lights Saloon (and grab dinner there) and peruse the Polebridge Mercantile.

I love the Merc!

I love the Merc!

10. Eat a steak at the Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club. Last fall was my first encounter with the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb. And it was a great one. If you like steak, this may be the place you have the best steak of your life. Insider tip: order extra bread. It’s homemade and delicious.  

Before dinner in Babb, be sure to drive and take a look at Chief Mountain.

Before dinner in Babb, be sure to drive and take a look at Chief Mountain.

Happy exploring!

xo,
TT

A Weekend at Home in Augusta, Montana

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know by now that I’m a Montana girl through and through. I live here, love it here and my soul feels at home here. I currently live in one of the “big cities” of Montana and I have to tell you that while I love where I live, there’s no place like home. For me, home is a 2-hour drive over the mountains to a small town that sits along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front: Augusta.

Main Street, Montana.

Oh hi Augusta, Montana.

My family (which is big, wild and fun) is firmly entwined in the community of Augusta, Montana and each year I go home for one of the biggest weekends of the year—the Augusta American Legion Rodeo (which celebrated 80 years of rodeo this year)—to help my mom and dad at our family business, the general store that sits on Main Street. Plus, it’s not just the store that needs some attention during the weekend. I also work our family taco stand. Yep, you read that right. We have a taco stand that is only open one weekend each year. Years ago (as in 35+ years ago), my aunt started the stand when she was home for the summer and it’s an always-present staple during rodeo weekend. Growing up, I worked that taco stand every rodeo weekend and I’m kind of nostalgically happy that that tradition hasn’t changed. Sidenote: I didn’t get any photos of the taco stand or the delicious tacos we serve each year because the stand was insanely busy! 

Anyway, while we worked the entire weekend, it was one of the best weekends and visits home that I’ve had in a long time. Here’s a look at a weekend at home in Montana…

My mom was decked out and ready for the weekend. You can just call her "Cowgirl Sue."

My mom was decked out and ready for the weekend. You can just call her “Cowgirl Sue.”

The much loved and most demanding member of our family, the store.

The much loved and most demanding member of our family, the store.

Evening light lit up the store beautifully.

Evening light lit up the store beautifully.

Ready to ride.

Ready to ride.

The pick-up crew.

The pick-up crew.

Oh hey, cowboy.

Hey cowboy.

Taking in the view of the rodeo arena.

Taking in the view of the rodeo arena.

Night falls over Sawtooth Mountain. PS: this photo was taken at 10:06 p.m.

Night falls over Sawtooth Mountain. PS: this photo was taken at 10:06 p.m.

It was a good weekend.

Your turn: where does your soul feel the most at home?

xo,
TT

The Top 5 Winter Activities in Montana

I’m just going to say it: winter in Montana is the stuff that powder-lovin’ dreams are made of. Not only are we situated in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, but four Montana ski resorts recently ranked among the “Top 10 Deepest Snowpacks in the US” list. Combine that with sunshine, cute towns and some of the most epic terrain in the continental U.S., and it’s no wonder winter is one of Montana’s most fun-filled seasons.

To help you take advantage of winter fun in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, I rounded up the top five winter activities to do this year.

Ski or Snowboard
Montana’s Glacier Country is home to six downhill ski areas. And while I don’t think I can pick a favorite (that would be like making my mama pick her favorite kid), I am particularly fond of snowboarding at Whitefish Mountain Resort and Lookout Pass. The views from Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain in Whitefish are seriously stunning and I love the laid-back atmosphere at Lookout.

The view from the summit of Big Mountain, looking into Glacier National Park.

The view from the summit of Big Mountain, looking into Glacier National Park.

My favorite run at Lookout Pass, solely because its name.

My favorite run at Lookout Pass, solely because its name.

Shred (or Snowshoe) Backcountry Powder
One of my most memorable winter trips ever was a backcountry adventure into a yurt in the Swan Mountains. We rode snowmobiles from the Rich Ranch to the yurt and spent two days taking in the untouched terrain and incredible powder, and of course trying to keep the wood stove burning. Because I’m a little bit of a baby and not great on skis (I’ve only snowboarded in recent years), I opted to snowshoe up and down and it was incredible.

The terrain outside of the yurt. Photo courtesy of my pal, Brody Leven.

The terrain outside of Yurtski in the Swan Mountains. Photo courtesy of my pal, Brody Leven.

Soak in a Hot Springs
Montana’s hot springs are the best. Glacier Country is home to a handful of hot springs: Lolo Hot Springs, Symes Hot Springs and Quinn’s Hot Springs. My advice? Hit the ski trails at Lookout Pass and then head over to Quinn’s Hot Springs to spend the night and soak in their pools. Also, hands down, Quinn’s is one of the best places (and I’m not even kidding) for dinner in Montana. If you haven’t eaten there, do yourself a favor and make plans to venture there for dinner. (Just be sure to stop and pick me up first. You need a Montana friend, right?)

Serenity found at Quinn's Hot Springs in Paradise.

Serenity found at Quinn’s Hot Springs in Paradise.

Snowmobile
Literally, snowmobiling in my all-time favorite winter activity. Sure, it’s not as heart-healthy as cross-country skiing or snowboarding, but I just love it. How much do I love it? So much that I already have two snowmobiling trips booked for this winter.

If you haven’t snowmobiled before, I’d recommend taking a guided trip with either Swan Mountain Snowmobiling in the Flathead Valley or Rich Ranch in Seeley Lake. Going with a guide helps alleviate some safety concerns and having one there (especially if the guide is cute), always makes me feel better.

One of the views on the Canyon Creek Trail near Whitefish/Columbia Falls.

One of the views on the Canyon Creek Trail near Whitefish/Columbia Falls.

Take a Road Trip
Let’s be honest: winter driving in Montana can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not used to driving on snowy roads. However, Montana has some of the best road crews in the nation and they do a great job keeping our roads clear and drivable. The one thing to keep in mind: drive according to the road conditions. Sure, it make take you a tad longer to get somewhere, but not only will you arrive safely, you’re going to see some of the most gorgeous scenery along the way.

Cruising I-90 west of Missoula.

Cruising I-90 west of Missoula.

A perfect winter scene along a Montana backroad.

A perfect winter scene along a Montana backroad.

My favorite winter road trips destinations include the Bitterroot Valley, Missoula, Paradise and Whitefish.

Your turn: What are your top picks for winter fun in Montana?

xo,
TT

Visiting Montana’s Northwest Corner

There are some places in Montana that are still wild, free and undisturbed. And for this messy-haired Montana girl that grew up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountain Front, it’s probably no surprise that my soul connects with places that are wild and free. Earlier this month, I was able to connect with one such place: Western Montana’s Lincoln County.

Fall colors are arriving in the Cabinet Mountains.

Fall colors in the Cabinet Mountains near Libby.

Located in the far northwest corner of the state, Lincoln County is home to expansive wilderness, old growth forests, small towns and a cast of lovable characters (AKA my favorite kind of people) that make up small town Montana.

While there, we explored various off-the-beaten path attractions and visited some of my favorite places near Libby.

Upper Yaak Falls between Troy and Yaak.

Upper Yaak Falls between Troy and Yaak.

The only female-owned brewery in Montana: Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company in Libby.

The only female-owned brewery in Montana: Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company in Libby.

For adrenaline-pumping fun, we took a stroll out onto the swinging bridge over Kootenai Falls.

For adrenaline-pumping fun, we took a stroll out onto the swinging bridge over Kootenai Falls.

A peek at Libby Dam.

A peek at Libby Dam.

After exploring Libby, Troy and Yaak, we made our way to one of the cutest (literally, it is so cute) towns in northwest Montana: Eureka.

The morning view from my room at the Wilderness Club.

The morning view from my room at the Wilderness Club.

The first stop in Eureka: lunch at Cafe Jax.

The first stop in Eureka: Cafe Jax.

Fresh snow perfectly dusted the tops of the Tobacco Mountains.

Fresh snow perfectly dusted the tops of the Tobacco Mountains.

The colors were just starting to turn around Graves Creek.

The colors were just starting to turn around Graves Creek.

We also made a jaunt to Lake Koocanusa, a lake that Montana shares with Canada.

We also made a jaunt to Lake Koocanusa, a lake that Montana shares with Canada.

Our dinner destination in Rexford. PS: If you go here, order the fried chicken. It's THAT good.

Our dinner destination in Rexford. PS: If you go here, order the fried chicken. It’s THAT good.

One of my favorite things about The Frontier Bar: this picture from a ranch in my hometown of Augusta.

One of my favorite things about The Frontier Bar: this picture from a ranch in my hometown of Augusta.

The road home, Highway 2, was framed by fall colors and sunshine.

The road home, Highway 2, was framed by fall colors and sunshine.

It was a lovely few days in one of Montana’s most stunning places. And I already can’t wait to go back.

Your turn: Where are some of the places that you feel most connected to?

xo,
TT

Soaking up the Last Days of a Montana Summer

Summer is almost over. You know it, I know it — we all know it. And while it makes me a little bit sad, I’m trying to put on my big girl pants and relish in the last days of the Montana summer.

To make good on that goal, my best friend came out to Montana from Chicago for the long weekend. Call it lucky, blessed or fortunate, I grew up along the Rocky Mountain Front a literal stone’s throw from the Rocky Mountains. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite places in the world. So on Labor Day, we loaded up the troops (also known as my family) and headed into the heart of the mountains to one of our favorite places—Gibson Dam.

Along the way, we chatted, teased and just soaked in the surrounding scenery as it turned from rolling foothills to massive mountains of rock that lay before us.

The Rocky Mountain Front, where the rolling foothills meet the mountains.

The Rocky Mountain Front, where the rolling foothills meet the mountains.

The view from near Gibson Dam.

The view from near Gibson Dam.

My happy place.

Mountains and pine trees: my happy place.

Two BFFs taking in the view from Gibson Dam overlook.

Two BFFs taking in the view from Gibson Dam overlook.

A short (and seriously easy) hike takes you to this view.

A short (and seriously easy) hike takes you to this view.

No matter how many times I've seen it, I'm always amazed at the power of the water coming out of the dam.

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m always amazed at the power of the water coming out of the dam.

The rock solid dam holds 99,000 acre feet of water. Side note: one acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

The rock solid dam holds 99,000 acre feet of water. Side note: one acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

This paved road greets visitors after they drive 18 miles on a gravel road.

This paved road greets visitors after they drive 18 miles on a gravel road.

Late afternoon shadows on Sawtooth Mountain.

Late afternoon shadows on Sawtooth Mountain.

It was a good day. And it’s been an excellent summer.

xo,
TT

Top Picks for August Activities in Western Montana

You guys, summer is almost over! Okay fine…I realize that may be a bit dramatic, but this summer has literally flown by so quickly. For example, I have yet to float the river. For a Montana girl, that is a total travesty. But I’m determined to put an end to the sweet days of summer slipping from my grasp right here and now.

To help us all maximize the remaining days of summer, I’ve rounded up the top things to do in Western Montana this August. Here we go…

Drive the 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Can I be honest with you? I have not driven the Going-to-the-Sun Road yet this year. Ooh, that feels good to get off my chest. In other news, I’m fairly certain that if I don’t do it soon I’m going to break out in hives.

My most recent view from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, taken in 2013. Sigh.

My most recent view from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, taken in 2013. Sigh.

Fly with joy on a zip line tour at Whitefish Mountain Resort. The zip lines on Big Mountain are hands-down one of my favorite summer activities. The first time I ever did the zip line course at Whitefish Mountain Resort, my group had one of the cutest guides in the history of zip line guides. His name was Kjell and every single time he would launch a pair of us down the lines he would smile and say, “Fly with joy.”
Side note: I heart Kjell. And I love the whole meaning behind flying with joy. 

Drive around Flathead Lake. One of my best drives in the summer can be found by making a complete loop around Flathead Lake, starting at Polson. Be sure to stop by one of the local fruit stands and pick up perfectly ripe Flathead cherries. PS: Some of my other favorite stops include The Raven in Woods Bay and The Dock’s in Lakeside.

Munching on locally grown cherries.

Munching on locally grown cherries.

Kick up your heels at Missoula’s River City Roots Fest. This annual festival, held every year in August, basically offers the best of Missoula. Live music, eclectic people, local food trucks (yum!) and people cruising around on bikes. As a big music girl, it’s one of my favorite festivals.

Float the Clark Fork River. One of the best things about summer in Missoula is the multitudes of people who hit the Clark Fork River in tubes. It’s one of the easiest and cheapest recreational opportunities in Western Montana. And I totally love it.

That just leaves me with one question: Where should I meet you?

xo,
TT

Exploring Missoula, Montana

You guys, I just had one of the most fun weeks ever. Why? Because I was able to spend it exploring Western Montana with five of my favorite humans.

Meet my lovely friends: Spencer, Caanan, Kent, Kristin and Jade.

Meet my lovely friends: Spencer, Caanan, Kent, Kristin and Jade.

For some background, this is a trip that the six of us had been planning for the past 18 months. You see, Spencer, Jade, Kristin, Kent and Caanan are some of the busiest people I know. But even with everyone’s vastly different schedules and obligations, the stars aligned perfectly for all of us to come together and meet in Montana. We had seven days to explore the region and let me tell you, explore it we did. We packed countless adventures into our time together and it was a week that left me feeling happy, full of joy and completely re-energized.

The first stop on our trip: Missoula. Missoula, for those of you who may not be familiar with it, is perhaps Montana’s coolest city. It’s this beautiful combination of a strong urban core (full of darling shops, locally owned restaurants and a lively music scene), stunning scenery and outdoor adventure.

We only had about a day a half to play in the Garden City before heading north, so I put together a slate of some of my favorite activities for all of us to do together in Missoula. Our “must do” items included…

Going on a pedal-powered tour of downtown Missoula with Thirst Gear. If you are visiting Missoula, I totally recommend checking out the city on this bike. It was an absolute kick in the pants. Plus, all of their drivers are awesome (and cute). Our reward for pedaling through the city? Big Dipper Ice Cream.
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Fueling up at a few of my favorite local restaurants. Topping the list: Scotty’s Table, The Catalyst and Lolo Creek Steak House.
GCT_Scotty's Table Chef Plates 2
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Shopping the cute boutiques in downtown Missoula. My favorites include The Green Light and Cloth & Crown (which is where I scored the cute gray jacket below).
IMG_9118jacket

Perusing the local farmers markets. On Saturdays during the summer, Missoula has three markets: the farmers market on North Higgins, the People’s Market on Pine and Higgins and the Clark Fork Market under the Higgins Street Bridge.
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Exploring Missoula’s craft breweries. After perusing the local markets, we headed out for an afternoon brewery tour with Tap Room Tours. If you are a craft brew lover, this is the tour for you. Tap Room Tours offers behind-the-scenes looks into Missoula’s local breweries and distillery. Plus, the owners Phil and Cate are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

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Group_Tap Room Tours

To my Montana loving friends, thanks for letting me share some of my favorite Missoula moments with you. And Missoula, thank you for being so awesome.

Your turn: Where would be on the top of your list when visiting Missoula?

xo,
TT

PS: I have way too many stories from our adventures to fit into one blog post. Stay tuned for more posts about our time playing in Montana’s Glacier Country.

Exploring Montana (and Wyoming) on the Beartooth Highway

You would think by this stage in my life, I would have seen everything there was to see in Montana…right? Alas, that is not the case. Believe it or not, this messy haired girl has a list of things to see and do in Big Sky Country.

For example, for the last five years I’ve been jonesing to drive the Beartooth Highway. (For those unfamiliar with the road, the Beartooth Highway is shared between Wyoming and Montana and is a National Scenic Highway All-American Road).

And this weekend, the opportunity to hit that beautiful drive was present. So hit it we did.

My current list of things to see and do in Montana. I'm happy to say ONE is checked off!

My current list of things to see and do in Montana. I’m happy to say ONE is checked off!

Me, and two of my best travel buddies, loaded up our rig in Missoula and made a beeline for the Beartooth Highway. As we wanted to drive the entire length of the road, we started our journey in Gardiner, one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park.

A cowboy giving us a proper send-off in Gardiner.

A cowboy giving us a proper send-off in Gardiner.

Entering Yellowstone--the nation's first national park.

Entering Yellowstone–the nation’s first national park.

A lone bison at Mammoth Hot Springs.

A lone bison at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Taking in the scenery in Yellowstone National Park.

Taking in the scenery in Yellowstone National Park.

En route to our destination: Cooke City.

En route to our destination: Cooke City.

Hello, bison.

Hello, bison.

A quick stop in Cooke City. Random tidbit: the year-round population (according to my new pal at the gas station) is 89.

A quick stop in Cooke City. Random tidbit: the year-round population (according to my new pal at the gas station) is 89.

A little "take your breath" away view at one of the peaks on the Bear Tooth Highway.

A little “take your breath” away view at one of the peaks on the Beartooth Highway.

The full monty view.

The full monty view.

One word: stunning.

One word: stunning.

A triplet selfie in the snow.

A triplet selfie in the snow.

This view took my breath away.

This view took my breath away.

Skiers can find year-round powder stashes in the Beartooth Mountains.

Skiers can find year-round powder stashes in the Beartooth Mountains.

Goodbye, Wyoming.

Goodbye, Wyoming.

Hello, Big Sky Country!

Hello, Big Sky Country!

A view from the Montana side of the road.

A view from the Montana side of the road.

And another view.

And another view.

Looking into a high mountain valley.

Looking into a high mountain valley.

Greeting us at the end of our journey: a perfect rainbow.

Greeting us at the end of our journey: a perfect rainbow.

What else greeted us? The adorable town of Red Lodge.

What else greeted us? The adorable town of Red Lodge.

And the drive? It was perfection.

What’s on your list of things to do this summer?

xo,
TT