For many travelers, Missoula  will either be one of the first or one of the last places visited in Montana. Missoula’s shops offer the visitor either a last chance to stock up on vital comestibles and to drink that final espresso, or the first opportunity in days to assuage deprivations incurred farther inland.
Because of Missoula’s access to the outdoors, recreation stores are important to the visitor. A good source of equipment, for both sale and rent, is the Trail Head (221 E. Front St., 406/543-6966). The staff are usually able to offer good advice on local trails and conditions.
Pipestone Mountaineering (129 W. Front St., 406/721-1670) is another good place to gear up for the outdoors.
Butterfly Herbs (232 N. Higgins, 406/728-8780) offers tea, coffee, herbs, spices, soaps, and in fact a little of everything. The store is a well-preserved specimen from the end of the 19th century. The back of the store is a good espresso bar and café.
Local artist Monte Dolack’s whimsical nature-oriented paintings, posters, and cards have gained a wide following. Visit the Monte Dolack Gallery at 139 West Front (406/549-3248).
The Bird’s Nest (219 N. Higgins, 406/721-1125) is a center for new and secondhand regional books, and Fact and Fiction (220 N. Higgins, 406/721-2881) is a good general bookstore.
Find genuinely fashionable women’s clothing at Nolita (531 N. Higgins, 406/728-6556).