Calling all fall lovers: it is our time! Every August, I wait impatiently for it to strike 12:01 a.m. on September 1, because to me, that is when fall begins. Yes, okay, I know that *technically* it’s still late summer, but it’s fall in my heart. Besides, that’s right around the time that Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spiced Latte makes it’s debut – which is the true consumerism mark of fall.
Missoula is beautiful in the fall. There’s amazing foliage and the weather is finally cooling down from the 90s of late summer. Plus if it’s smokey from wildfires, the sunsets are gorgeous.
While it’s sure to be slightly different this year (hello COVID), the majority of these activities are social distancing friendly!
Here’s 10 Things to Do in Missoula This Fall:
- Go apple picking in Orchard Homes
- Run through a haunted maze at Field of Screams
- Take a walk through a cemetery during Stories and Stones
- Grab a pint at Montana Brewers Fall Rendezvous
- Pick a pumpkin at one of Missoula’s many pumpkin patches
- Take a haunted hayride at the Daly Mansion
- Test your nerves at the annual Missoula Haunted House
- Grab a pint and participate in fall themed crafts at one of the best breweries in Missoula
- Drive up the Rattlesnake and take a nature walk
- Walk through University of Montana’s campus and the surrounding U-District
Apple Picking in Orchard Homes
One of the “better kept” Missoula secrets is Green Bench Orchard on the outskirts of town. They grow a multitude of fruits and vegetables, with a “u-pick” raspberries in the summer and a “u-pick” honeycrisp apples in the fall! Their pick-by-yourself hours tend to fluctuate, so keep an eye out on Facebook and their website for more information. Pro tip: the ground can be muddy so don’t wear precious shoes.
Terrify Yourself at Field of Screams
Looking for some fright on a fall evening? Take the short drive to Victor, MT, and partake in the Field of Screams. This large corn maze us converted into one of Montana’s scariest attractions. It’s a budget-friendly activity, with one ticket costing only $17. They also have kid’s attractions during the day and some fun family photo opportunities. New in fall 2020 they are also offering quick escape rooms!
Take a walk through a cemetery during Stories and Stones
“One of Missoula’s oldest cemeteries presents an afternoon of living history. Journey into the past as volunteers in period costume narrate life stories of individuals from Missoula’s past. We invite you to come enjoy this vastly popular family event and we thank you for your generous donations that continue to sponsor this walking tour.”
Although this Missoula favorite is cancelled due to COVID-19, you can still view old stories on their YouTube channel and take yourself on a self guided tour. That’s my plan!
Grab a pint at Montana Brewers Fall Rendezvous
Missoula is thriving with brewfests – I think we have something like five per year? And fall is no different! Bundle up and enjoy the Montana Brewer’s Fall Rendezvous. Try the latest fall concoctions from breweries around the state. I’d recommend following this adventure with a spooky movie and pumpkin carving.
Pick a pumpkin at one of Missoula’s many pumpkin patches
Missoula touted ELEVEN pumpkin patches last time I checked. That’s quite a lot of pumpkins for a town of only 70,000 people, no? Pick your favorite and show up with the whole family. Don’t forget to bring some hot apple cider and fall plaid, pumpkin patches make for aesthetically pleasing selfies!
Alternatively if you don’t want to drag your family to a pumpkin patch, the majority of Missoula’s grocery stores offer a wealth of pumpkins and gourds available for purchase. Take these home and have a pumpkin carving night!
Take a haunted hayride at the Daly Mansion
While this is technically in Hamilton, not Missoula, the drive is short and worth it! According to their website, “Located on 46 acres of lush landscape, the Daly Mansion is the historic home of 19th Century American industrialist Marcus Daly. The exhibits here convey the story of Daly and his rise from working-class immigrant to copper magnate, as well as local, regional, and international history tied to his extended family.”
Enjoy this historical Montana landmark and take a haunted hay ride! Warning: their website is not user friendly, so I suggest following them on social media for updates on dates and times.
Test your nerves at the annual Missoula Haunted House
This terrifying, 7,000+ foot haunted house is not to be taken lightly. The first time I did it I cried. Granted, I was 18 and still afraid of ghosts, but it’s pretty terrifying no matter your age. Warning: this is not made for kids. It’s an adult-focused haunted house with plenty of traumatizing jump scares and creepy outfits.
The pricing is affordable: $20 – Express Line and $15 – Regular. The dates and times are already up and available on their website.
Grab a pint and participate in fall themed crafts at one of the best breweries in Missoula
Missoula’s brewery scene is thriving year-round, but I especially love it in the fall. Many of the breweries will host fun events and offer interesting activities as the days and nights cool down. I think almost every brewery in town offers some form of Oktoberfest and the majority brew a special fall pumpkin ale!
Drive up the Rattlesnake and take a nature walk
The Rattlesnake wilderness is a short drive from the heart of Missoula, and is a great way to spend an afternoon. The wilderness area offers a variety of outdoor activities for a range of skill levels. Novices can take the nature walk along the flat, or veer off the main trail to enjoy one of the many beautiful hikes in the area. Biking fans will be impressed by the wealth of mountain biking trails and beautiful views. This area is wonderful year-round, but the fall foliage can’t be beat.
Walk through University of Montana’s campus and the surrounding U-District
The University District is home to beautiful old houses and the best fall colors in Missoula. Located by the River Front Trail and the University of Montana, this area of Missoula is absolutely amazing in the fall. Take a jaunt through one of Missoula’s oldest neighborhoods and take in the colors!