Where the Locals Go: Here’s the Scoop on Missoula’s Downtown Bars
Missoulians know how to party, and when the mood strikes us we can booze it up at a few great bars downtown, and by "a few" I actually mean "a lot." In that area it seems like you can't stroll through a single block without passing like, 40 bars. Which one is best depends on what you're looking for. A bougie vibe or a laidback vibe? Entertainment or just conversation? I'll give you the barroom breakdown you could only get from a Zootown local, now I'll quit monkeying around and get to it:
This place has two big ol' bars, bohemian decor, lots of room to stand and even a lil basketball court. I'm not the biggest fan of their mixed shots for reasons you can read about here, that said they are tasty and they come in handy if you want the festive feeling of drinking a shot but without the burn. Bodega's cliental skews younger but not necessarily college young.
On Friday and Saturday nights this place can feel like a wild, college dance party in a giant log cabin. It really might be the favorite bar of most University of Montana students, so Stockman's has an energy to it you don't really get anywhere else.
If you want to dance Saturday night away, this is the place to go. The Badlander has a huge dance floor, a nice stage and they regularly have events by great DJs and bands. Every Wednesday night they have karaoke which is the definition of good vibes.
The Union Club
The Union Club is also great for dancing but with very different music than what you'll hear at The Badlander. While The Badlander tends to have music that is EDM or EDM adjacent, The Union Club has more live bands playing bluegrass, funk or whatever's booked that night. It's probably the biggest bar in Missoula, big enough to have pool tables, slot machines, a stage and a huge dance floor.
Stave and Hoop
Missoula's only speakeasy (no password required) is a bougie spot you have to try at least once. Walking downstairs feels like entering a portal to the swankiest party of the 1920's. At the end of the long room is a stage that holds entertainment like dueling pianos, burlesque and stand-up comedy.
Pro tip: locals call it "The Rhino" for short. All types of people go there and it might be the best place to meet new people. It has a pool table and a vibe that varies from laid back to rowdy joy. The first Thursday of every month is bingo night, if you're into that.
While writing this I discovered I'll definitely need to do a part 2 for this, there are so many great bars downtown I still haven't mentioned. Don't assume any bar I didn't get to is no good because that's not the case at all. Every Missoula bar is uniquely awesome in its own way— cheers to that!
10 Businesses That Should Open a Location in Missoula
Living in Missoula? What Your Shoe Choices Say by Looking at Them