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A Child's Missoula

8 places to take your kids for summer fun!

Having a baby led me to know one thing really well: home. For the majority of each day, I had a warm little lump of human pressed against my chest, sleeping so peacefully, until I tried to move or put him down, in which case his sweet rested face would change into a wrinkled frown.

Parenting, especially in those early days, felt a bit isolating. Good parenting friends are sometimes hard to make and, admittedly, it can be a bit awkward to try a new place with a child in tow. Luckily, Missoula is brimming—overflowing really—with places for play, for all age groups. Whether it be a birthday party for a 3, 5, or 16 year old, or maybe you just have a few hours to kill before nap time, there is truly something for everyone. Here are a few ideas to get your summer off to the right start:

Missoula Public Library: Admittedly, I've never had so much fun at a library. And neither has my son! A beautiful selection of books, little cafe, doctor, and dress up corners are complimented by an engaging display of interactive water tables—one of which is a replica of Missoula with the "river" running through it. Worried about your little one getting wet or slipping? There are smocks for wearing and the floor is grippy and tolerant of all things. Babies clear up through middle schoolers would find this library magic. Extra credit? They have a designated parking lot and parking garage for ease with the little ones! Visit MissoulaPublicLibrary.org for a full list of available classes, readings, or special events. Otherwise, just show up on your own time during business hours.

ZACC: The Zootown Community Arts Center is the perfect space to become your most creative self. Walk in and create art, peruse galleries, enjoy a performance, or take a class. There are numerous classes that your little curious one can enjoy but the best part of this place is the flexibility with open business hours. Come as you please and leave when you wish. We know as parents that this is the best type of day because sometimes planning to attend a specific event can get a little complicated. Highly recommend just popping to take a gander at everything this is available to you and your child! Visit ZootownArts.org for more information and a full calendar of events.

Lookout Montana: If you want to spice up your teenager's birthday party this year, try your hand (literally!) at ax throwing at Lookout Montana! There's nothing more "Montana" than the art of ax-throwing. This casual, low-key environment is perfect for a small group (up to 8 guests comfortably). Not sure your bang will be worth the buck? They have skilled axe coaches who will be able to teach you the art and technique of axe throwing so that you feel confident. Highly suggest that you book ahead of arriving. 20$ per person for one hour but those 16 and under are $5 off per ticket. Visit LookoutMontana.com for more information.

Splash Montana & Currents: Splash Montana is a summertime novelty. Three three-story waterslides, kiddie area and slide, lazy river float-way, and cabana rentals. You can choose to do swim lessons or birthday parties here as well! Currents, the indoor year-round water park alternative offers nearly the same aquatic options and is ready to meet your water needs with babies clear through adulthood. Punchcards and passes make these two locations easier to frequent, and cheaper, too! Follow Spash Montana via Facebook for timely updates to the capacity of the pools.  

Roxy Theater: Did you know that you can rent out the Roxy? It's like having a home theater but better. There are three options, one of which being the Roxy Garden (and outdoor summer venue). Rentals include a three-hour rental period and concessions are available for purchase. We highly suggest requesting a rental at least 30 days in advance, and a $100 deposit is required. Visit TheRoxyTheater.org for more information.

Westside Lanes: Is there anything more nostalgic than renting some bowling shoes and picking a lane? The lights, the sound of pins crashing—it's a way of keeping in touch with yesteryear and blurring the lines between generations. And it's a great way to spend a birthday when you're a kid. Visit MissoulaBowling.com to view their part packages for an upcoming birthday!

Mismo Gymnastics & Roots Gymnastics: Sitting still during meals, brother or sister's recitals or games, or even sitting still at home during a chore as simple as putting on pjs can sometimes feel like a feat. These two gymnastic options in our community are gems for movement. Mismo offers Family Fun Time every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday to children who are walking up to 12 years of age. No walk-ins are available so please enroll in advance. Roots is also a great option that makes fitness fun for kids. Drop-in is closed until September but there is plenty of information regarding joining a dance team or taking classes. 

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