By the time I got to Missoula (sans milkshake), I checked into another Springhill (I’m a Marriott snob what can I say) and decided to go explore. Missoula is a college town through and through which made for a very eventful evening. First stop was Missoula Winery and Event Center because 1. I love wine 2. See 1. I didn’t even know Montana had a thriving wine industry and was pleasantly surprised with my tasting. While the wine was good, the bottles it came in were the highlight with really beautiful artwork on each of the labels.
After a fun day in Coeur d’Alene, I got on the road and drove over to Missoula. The route there is extremely scenic and I’d recommend a road trip in the area. There is little to no phone service on the road and while my curiosity and sweet tooth wanted to try the world famous Huckleberry milkshake, having seen “Dusk Til Dawn” like 50 times made me leery of stopping off in the small seemingly deserted town along the way.
Coeur d’Alene boasted one really nice resort hotel, but since I wasn’t there for sleeping, I just checked into a nice Springhill Suites that was pretty centrally located. What to do here really depends on the time of year you visit, which for me was early Fall. In the Spring and Summer, there are lots of great outdoor activities included water activities on the lakes and golfing. In Winter, Skiing and holiday shopping expos top the list. In Fall, the town had lots of arts and entertainment and beautiful foliage.
I drove around and visited some of the beautiful sights and checked out the town square which included a cool strip where you could rent motorized sporting vehicles. I also checked off a Diners Drive-In’s and Dives favorite, Jimmy’s Down the Street. This place had possibly the biggest cinnamon roll and biscuit that I’ve ever had in my life.
A little research showed me that from Spokane, I could cross the Idaho border in less than an hour to visit the sleepy resort town of Coeur d’Alene, population 46K. I decided to spend one night there check out the town during the day and then drive over to Missoula, Montana which is about 2.5 hours away and home to the University of Montana.
So you can probably tell from the opener, I didn’t have a lot of expectations for this trip, but that was such a great thing because it actually made my time there that much better.
After getting tipsy, I headed into downtown Missoula for their “First Fridays” entertainment. This is when all of the local shops stay open late and welcome in visitors with live music, libations and fun. The weather turned extremely cold in the evening, but it was still exciting to visit some of the local haunts and restaurants, including a hilariously named BBQ joint dubbed The Notorious P.I.G.
The highlight of this part of the trip was finding a college store called Rockin’ Rudy’s that had a bunch of unusual inventory and kept me interested for probably far too long, but I mean where else can you buy a Darth Vader family calendar and gangster socks?
I wrapped this whole trip in a little over 40 hours, crossed 2 unexpected cities off of my list and had some fun in the process.
So I’ll admit, on my journey to visit all 50 states, there are a few that I haven’t been as excited to venture to and Idaho and Montana topped that list. I mean, the only thing I knew about Idaho was potatoes and Montana is sort of known for cowboys and steaks, but neither make me want to flock there. However, I was visiting LA for a work trip and I figured it may be pretty cheap to catch a fare to one of these states while I was already on the West Coast. I found a super cheap fare into Spokane, Washington and a Hotwire fare to rent a car to traipse across these 2 states and I was off.