My brother is coming to Missoula. He has four kids, Age 1, 4, 5 and 8. I'm thinking that there are gobs of awesome things to do in Missoula for kids. And it is time to make a list!
1) So, the beginning of this list has to be ... the carousel. Complete with the Dragon's Hollow park next door.
2) going to the M.
3) The saturday market is always cool, but I'm not sure how wowed kids would be by that. Except for sugary treats I suppose.
I asked a friend with teenagers and I received her email.
4) Lolo Hot Springs on Lolo Pass - hot spring pool, regular pool, restaurant & hiking trails (I know this particular batch of kids enjoys swimming pools)
5) Spectrum Science Center at the University (wow - I never even heard of that one before)
6) "My Clay Studio" (this friend is a potter, so this could be a fun thing just for me and not for all the rest of you. I believe etiquette requires me to say: "neener, neener")
7) Currents indoor swim park at McCormick park in Missoula
Splash Montana, outdoor swim park in Missoula (where is that?)
9) Missoula Children's Museum
10) Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Missoula (the last time I was in there was a long time ago ... I guess there were some cool things in the gift shop. I can see my brother and his wife enjoying it, but kids? Is there kid stuff there now that might not have been there before?)
11) "There's a park in Florence that's kind of like Dragon's Hollow too, no carousel but a fun park for younger kids"
12) Blue Mountain Observatory (what's that?)
13) "Westside Bowling Lanes on Wyoming off of Rusell - by the Good Food Store - it's the best family bowling alley in town"
In Missoula, I'd say Big Dipper Ice Cream is a must. Depending on what type of kids they are, they might also like the Smokejumper Center out near the airport. Outdoorsy types might enjoy a Montana Birding and Nature Trails.
Does the presence of Going to the Sun Road on the list mean that outside of Missoula is fair game?
I live on the Pintler Scenic Loop in Philipsburg. We have Granite Ghost Town here just outside of town (less touristy, more gritty/rough and tumble looking than Garnet) as well as Doe Brothers Soda Fountain (recently sold, but open under new management), and the Sweet Palace candy store. If you're willing to go a little off the loop, you can do the sapphire mining thing at Gem Mountain and also hit Skalkaho Falls. You may be able to take Skalkaho Pass over or back, depending on how much or little you think the kids would be into a pretty scenic drive. Also on the scenic loop is a less known feature in Anaconda called the Copper Chute- a 40 foot slide ending in a sand pit.
Also, Blue Mountain Observatory is an astronomical observatory with public viewing nights. That could be very awesome, but it's also somewhat weather dependent. If it were me, I'd keep this one quiet and then spring it on the kids as a surprise if it's a go, rather than hyping it and then disappointing them if the weather doesn't work out.
The kids might enjoy the Carousel For Missoula and Dragon Hollow, (they are next to each other in Caras Park). I don't know when Out to Lunch starts for the season, but you could do that and the Caroulsel and Dragons Hollow on the same day.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is pretty kid friendly, lots of interactive displays & a gift shop - it won't take up a day or even an entire afternoon but my kids seemed to enjoy it when they were younger.
If your planning on the Glacier run,, There are a few things this way, besides the House of Mystery,There is the Fun Zone which the kids would all enjoy filled with games and bouncing rooms for all ages,,Not to pricey for the little ones..It is on the way out to the airport. ,,In Kalispell there is a petting zoo called the itty bitty ranch,, You may look for something like that in Missoula it will impress the 1,4, and 5 year olds but the 8 year old will be rolling his eyes..There are a couple of trader type stores on the way to glacier as well...Where one can find a nice coon skin cap,, uh huh.. If your doing Deer lodge, the prison tour, is there but do not forget Kohls ranch or the Old cars...The Butte Pit, and history museum is not bad but the little ones will be bored.. The dinosaur thing is always at Bozeman,, they also have a room that is for the kids which is great,, the three older ones would enjoy but the one year old,,LOL,,They can only touch in the kiddo room..If your staying the night anywhere make sure to hit one of the hotels with a water slide to poop out the kiddos .. LOL, have fun out there , and don't forget a trip to the lake for a barby is always great, it is a tad chilly yet but hey lots of kids swimming and a few boaters as well....If your looking at that you can go out to wildhorse or even jump a tour boat out of Polson I think it is..Speaking of Polson they have 2 museums. Moise the nation Bison range.. You will be a busy family,,, Laughter and love creating the memories are the funnest part of it all..No matter where you all choose to go..
My understanding from the town scuttlebutt about Saturday in Pburg is that the owners of the candy store are closed that day for religious reasons so some of the other businesses close that day as well. Not so much in summer, though, since it's our tourist season, but the candy store is definitely closed on Saturdays.
I took a look as I drove by this morning. It looks like Opal Mountain on Broadway is set up with tables in their backyard to screen dirt for gems similar to what you can do at Gem Mountain.