One of my favorite parts of traveling is finding small towns I enjoy so much I can’t stop going back. Missoula, Monta,na is on top of that list for me. It’s a charming, thriving mountain town about one perfect day’s drive away from Seattle. It has everything, including an excellent music scene, great bike trails (and bike lanes), classic homes with big porches. There’s a wonderful bookstore named Fact & Fiction that once hosted Lucky and me for an event.
And of course, it has a world-class coffee shop called Break Espresso. If you visit, you’ll want Break to open in your town. It’s got seemingly endless tables, huge windows that stream mountain light onto the wooden floors, and Montana-sized pastries that will keep you fueled up all day long. I’ve stopped here almost every time I’ve logged one of my cross-country trips, and I’ve probably written two dozen stories while drinking Break coffee. Some day I’ll spend a couple of weeks here and write a book.
Nice cities are one thing; but having a nice place to hang out in a nice city is really quite another.
Missoula is refreshingly cool all night, and through the morning (good for Rusty!) but gets summer-hot in the day, so you can wear shorts — perfect for walking along the river. The city isn’t exactly a secret: about 70,000 people live here, up 15 percent in a decade, and all the hotels are booked most summer weekend nights. Still, I think of it as my vacation within a vacation — or my break during a grueling schedule of driving, writing, and picture making. Looking forward to Missoula always makes the miles go a little faster.
Where is your favorite secret vacation spot? Your oasis on the road? Promise, I won’t tell anyone.