Missoula is a great city. It is a one of a kind place that many people hold fond memories of. For people who live outside of Missoula but in Montana, Missoula is the thriving center of the state. It is the closest thing to a big city within the borders, the cultural hotbed of the region. The appeal of the Garden City to Montanans living outside of it is obvious. But what about people who live out of the state? Especially those who live in cities much bigger than Missoula? Is there anything for them in The Zoo? YES! In my opinion, the case for people living out of state to come to Missoula is even greater than the people living in state.
Quite often I find myself pitching Missoula to my friends from the west. Living in Washington state for the first 18 years of my life, I still have lots of friends and family living in that area. Because I like showing off my current home, I lure people to come visit me by briefing them on why they should make a trip to Missoula. These are the points I use to make them book that trip:
I first tell them that they need to experience Montana! They need to visit Cowboy Land, the place of no speed limits, where buffalo roam free, and where the internet is yet to exist. Well, not exactly. Everyone knows that Missoula is probably the most “un-Montanan” place in the state. But I think that helps my case in getting them to come visit me. I let them know that they don’t have to worry about roughing it but at the same time they still get to experience a different place and proudly say that they have spent time in God’s Country. So while they won’t really spend time in the heart of the state where the true Montana way of life runs more rampant, they still get to experience a place that has no sales tax, enjoys longer days, and sits in a different time zone.
I then tell them that they got to come just for the amazing beauty of Missoula (of course I try to arrange their visit in either Fall, late Spring, or Summer). I try to tell them about the mountains, the river, and trees that characterize the town. I fill them in on the beautiful sunsets and subsequent star-filled skies that linger over our heads. I refer to the trails, the clean streets, and the wildlife that we are exposed to. I mention the numerous green parks. I allude to the absolute gorgeous scene they will encounter the second the city comes into focus as they start to hit the city exits off of I-90.
I then go on and elaborate on the special type of community feel that Missoula has. I explain that they are entering Griz Nation, an area that wherever one looks, they will be reminded of a very proud and successful tradition, one that does not just live on campus. I prep them for the unique way in which Missoulians gather together. You know, all the festivals, events, and celebrations that we have. No, there just aren’t a few spread out annual events held throughout the year. Rather, Missoula has events that run on a weekly basis (i.e. Downtown Tonight, Farmer’s Market, Out to Lunch, etc.) even though the casual onlooker would think that they were in fact annual events because of the tremendous attendance that each single event garners. I summarize by telling my dear friends and family that no matter what day you show up, there will be some type of event or festival going on with the whole community partaking.
I then take it one step further and highlight the individual people that make up the community. I tell my out of state friends about the genuine and carefree attitude of the people who live in Missoula. I tell them that the people here treat others with a higher level of courtesy, a higher level of respect. People are nicer when they are happy, and most of the citizens in Missoula are just that…happy. Who wouldn’t want to come to a Happy Place?
Last, but definitely not least, I conclude my pitch by telling my friends and family living in Spokane and other parts of Washington this: MISSOULA IS FUN! There are few places that can provide someone with a better weekend or a better week than what Missoula can. Tons of places to eat, numerous water activities, unlimited fitness opportunities, countless entertainment options, various scenic sites to experience, and spontaneous situations and events to partake in make Missoula special. Additionally, Missoula has an incredible and vibrant downtown. Nothing beats it. Great restaurants, eclectic shops, a community park, and all the bars in the world help to present such a people-pleasing place that a visitor could start in downtown and never wander outside of that area for the duration of his/her trip. If, I tell my friends, you get the chance to take in a Grizzly Football Saturday, you will have the ultimate Missoula experience. Of course since there are only six of those a year (excluding playoffs), everyone can’t be so lucky.
By this point, I always have the person I am talking to sold. Plans are made and a visit is arranged…and we have a lot of fun! If you want to come to Missoula, please let me know and we will get something set up. Can’t wait to see you. Don’t Blink.