Missoula, Montana is a great place to visit on a late summer day.

Missoula, Montana is one of those places that you visit and fall in love with at first sight, even if you’re not a Grizzly (University of Montana mascot).

At least that’s my experience the first time I visited there in the mid-1990s. 

It was, perhaps, fortuitous that my wife and I pulled off the interstate when we did this past August. After all, how often do you see a semi-long haired man in a tie-dyed T-shirt holding up a colorful, hand-painted sign that read simply, “Smile.” We did so and waved to him as we headed into Missoula.

We used the excuse of checking out a health food store for lunch as a reason for this visit.

Missoula is a great town to walk or bicycle around in. We opted for the former, as we searched for baked goods to take with us on the remainder of the journey home. It would be more or less a “bakery crawl” through town.

Missoula is very bicycle-friendly, and we saw an amazing number of people pedaling throughout town. This might be because the city has been home to Adventure Cycling Association since 1973. This organization provides maps, gear, and other resources for those making a cross country cycling trip.

Our two or three hour car/pedestrian journey took us to three local bakeries. Along the way we discovered the Boone and Crockett Club, which provided photo opportunities with a stuffed Bighorn sheep and grizzly bear. We gazed up at the large M on Mt. Sentinel, an identifying feature high above the town. And, we watched locals “river surf” on the Clark Fork River.

Missoula, Montana would be a great town to live in, at least in late summer when it’s not 40 below outside.

From that perspective, Pratt looks like a pretty good deal. But, oh those summer days in the Bitterroot Valley …