I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to visit the Dakota’s. They are beautiful and rugged and challenging. Home to wide open spaces, bison, and National Parks, the Dakota’s are a sight to behold.
Jan Meeuwesen wrote this post on the top 25 things to do in North Dakota. Jan runs The Crazy Tourist, which you all should check out!
Read his article below on all the great things to do and see in North Dakota. It may have jumped to the top of my list of places to see in the USA.
While not being the first of America’s tourist destinations to come to mind, the state of North Dakota has plenty to offer in terms of history, culture, sightseeing and entertainment. Each year there are millions of visitors exploring the beauty of this state, and no wonder, as there are so many things to see and do here.
The population here includes a large number of Native Americans and resettlers from Scandinavia and Germany. This is why visitors here can meet a lot of different cultures, traditions, and cuisines. Although North Dakota has the 3rd lowest population in the U.S. this state, bordering with the Canada (also see: what to do in Canada) in the north and South Dakota in the south, it is sure to win over every person who decides to come here and explore for a while. Vibrant culture, art museums, parks and historical monuments are just some of the things that attract large crowds to this state.
Let’s take a look at 25 must see and do’s in this amazing part of the American Midwest.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
This is surely one of the best known destinations in the state of North Dakota. The impressive canyons, badlands, and hiking trails of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park are sure to take your breath away. The park is divided into two units that are separated with The Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch. The North unit offers a lot cool things to do for tourists, like hiking, camping, or exploring the area in a car, and enjoying the scenery of this place. The South unit has a magnificent view over the badlands and is considered to be one of the most picturesque spots in the whole state of North Dakota.
Plains Art Museum
This is a real treat for all those interested in culture and museums. Located in Fargo, the state’s largest city, the Plains Art Museum is home to more than 3000 works by a wide range of different artists, some local and some from the wider region. A rich collection of American Indian art is presented here in the Harvester warehouse, as well as works by well-known artists like Mary Cassatt, Luis Jimenez, and George Morrison. Visitors can also take a break from sightseeing and check out the amazing Café Muse in the same complex. Plains Art Museum is open throughout the year and has thousands of visitors every week. The working hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 AM to 5 PM, Thursday from 11 AM to 9 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM. The Museum galleries are closed on Sunday and Monday.
Although this city has only around 100 residents, over the years it has become one of the most popular tourist places in North Dakota. It is home to the Medora Musical, a must-see for all theater-lovers. The musical is presented in the Amphitheatre that can welcome almost 3000 guests. Medora also has riding stables, a visitor center, and several bars, including the famous Knotty Pine Peanut Bar. The best thing is that you can easily book your stay here, as the official site of Medora is the place where you can plan your trip, make all kinds of reservations, and check out the program that is scheduled for the time of your stay.
Scandinavian Heritage Park
Scandinavian countries are known for their rich culture, and this is why the Scandinavian Heritage Park is a tourist destination that has become widely recognized for its beauty and charm. It was started back in 1989 and still attracts a lot of tourists today. Sigdal house, Dala Horse, Danish Windmill and Casper Oimoen Statue are just a few of the interesting things that the Scandinavian Heritage Park has to offer. The staff here is really friendly and can answer all of your questions regarding Scandinavian culture and the park itself. If you decide to take a visit to this place, be aware that it is closed on weekends and works Monday to Friday between 10 AM and 4 PM.
The Patterson Hotel opened its doors in 1911 and after the prohibition in 1933 the lobby of the hotel was turned into The Peacock Alley American Grill and bar. An interesting thing about this hotel is that Edward Patterson, an ex-boxer who was the owner of this place at the time, brought politicians and other boxers here to dine. Today Peacock Alley is not just an ordinary restaurant. It is also a historic location that attracts visitors from all around the region. If you are craving a juicy stake then this is a perfect place for you. After all, The Peacock Alley is a national award winning establishment that honors its tradition for nearly 100 years.
Blue Door Gallery
Located in Grand Forks Blue, Door Gallery was opened in September 2011. It is surely one of the newest and most revolutionary galleries in the state, since it is famous for supporting the local art scene, and is also considered to be a cultural venue. Here you can find all kinds of art shows throughout the year. Works of Adam Kemp that can be described as slightly provoking, but surely don’t lack quality, together with the pop art sculptures of Armando Ramos, are definitely worth a visit. The best thing about the Blue Door Gallery is that it always has an interesting program that supports local artists. This is a must visit place to all alternative art lovers who are looking for some new and refreshing art work.
Knife River Indian Villages
Since native Indian culture is an important factor in the North Dakota history, it is no wonder that Knife River Indian Villages welcome many tourists every day. The area in which Knife River Indian Villages is located is huge, with 15km of trails and a museum, and has a lot of activities for tourists. For instance, here you can watch a short orientation film about the life of Buffalo Bird woman who lived on these premises. Also if you go outside you can visit the Earthlodge that is completely renovated, and walk down the remains of the Indian villages, such as the Awatixa village. Hiking the two river trail is usually for travelers who have at least half a day to spend here, just because the whole complex is very big and there are numerous historical monuments to see and explore.
Lake Metigoshe State Park
This is considered to be a perfect place for a weekend getaway and a relaxing vacation. Lake Metigoshe State Park is located near the Canadian Border and close the city of Bismarck. It has one of the largest lakes in the region and offers both summer and winter activities. It was built during the New Deal Program that was part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign back in 1930s. Increasing economy and stimulating people was the goal of this campaign, so development of parks like this one was top priority in the state of North Dakota at the time. Today activities such as boating, swimming in the lake, pedaling a mountain bike and water skiing is what attracts the travelers to this place, and besides the campsites where you can spend the evening looking at the stars from your tent, there are also indoor apartments with equipped rooms and kitchens. If you are wondering how to get here by a plane, the closest airport is in Bottineau city. From there you will have directions and signs that will lead you to the Lake Metigoshe State Park.
The Toasted Frog restaurant
Originally opened in downtown Grand Forks in 2006, The Toasted Frogs expanded with the second location in Bismarck. Laid back atmosphere and delicious food is what this restaurant is all about. The Chef Scott Franz from Grand Forks is here to make sure that the customers enjoy their meals. The Toasted Frog serves a number of beverages and a delicious cuisine, from soup to pork, lavosh, wood -fired pizza and shrimps. Working hours are 4PM to 11PM from Monday to Thursday and 4PM to 12PM on Friday and Saturday. The Toasted Frog is closed on Sundays.
62 Doors Gallery
Nine local artists have decided to open a gallery in 2005. 62 Doors gallery consists of doors that are retrieved from the ArtMain building and an old barn, which makes this gallery unique and very interesting. 62 Doors Gallery is situated in Minot and exhibitions here are usually organized by local artists who are from North Dakota. The gallery itself has nine studio spaces that are individual, a printmaking studio, and a place with a living room and a kitchen. Make sure to check out one of the receptions here in 62 Doors Gallery. You won’t be disappointed and supporting the local art scene here, can only benefit the artists who always love presenting their art work to new people.
Bully Pulpit Golf Course
South of Medora there is an 18-hole golf course that is definitely worth a game or two. Beautiful landscape of meadows and woodlands make the Bully Pulpit the best golf course in the region. This has proven to be one of the most beautiful courses for golfers from all over the U.S. and in recent years there has been big media coverage about this place, so no wonder that Bully Pulpit Golf Course has become very popular lately. The Golf course is usually open from early April to middle of October.
International Peace Garden
Located on the border between USA and Canada, The International Peace Garden represents peace between the two nations, and is a unique place to visit. The Peace Tower is probably the most visible monument here and was built in 1932. This Garden is surely the longest unguarded border in the world and is opened 24/7. If you decide to visit this lovely place you are not required to pass the customs, although when you decide to leave you should check in with the relevant customs post. The actual idea to build this place comes from Dr. Henry Monroe, who was the member of the National Association of gardeners, as a way to celebrate the peace between the American and Canadian nations.
Wurst Bier Hall
If you are into German cuisine and happen to like craft beers, then this is a place you should check out while in North Dakota. Wurst Bier Hall is located in Fargo and serves 36 beers on tap, together with German specialties like bratwurst and schnitzel. Bert Meyers, his lovely wife Lisa, and his brother Klaus run this place together. The three of them have experience when it comes to craft beer and greasy food, and this is the main reason why Wurst Bier Hall is one of the hottest bars to visit in Fargo. Wurst Bier Hall has a friendly vibe, a pleasant atmosphere, and is decorated in blue wood. All in all it is a perfect place for beer lovers all around.
Rourke Art Museum
Opened in 1960, The Rourke Art Museum plays an important role in the culture of Moorhead, a small town close to Fargo. Many famous artists from the region like Deborah Mae Broad, Charles Beck and Carl Oltvedt have been represented here. The collection in the Rourke Art Museums consists of over 4000 works at the moment. The museum is located in a neoclassical building that was designed by the famous architect Oscar Wenteroth. An interesting fact is that the building itself served as a post office from 1915 to 1960. Today there are still some lovely architectural details like the marble staircase that can be seen here at the Rourke Art Museum.
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
Established in 1995, The North Dakota Cowboy Hall Of Fame is here to preserve the rich heritage of the American cowboy culture. Exhibits, a conference room, a large open air patio, theater and a gift shop are just a some of the things that can be found at this remarkable place. There is even The Cowboy Chronicle that is published frequently and handed out to members. In this paper visitors can find out about the future events at the NDCHF, such as Old fashioned cowboy Christmas event and the National day of the cowboy. This wonderful cultural center is located at the entrance to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, so be sure to check it out on your way there.
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
A first class museum where one can see a lot of interesting exhibits about Lewis and Clark expedition is located in Washburn, North Dakota. Together with the Fort Mandan, a reconstructed fort where the two of them spent the winter of 1804 is surely a place worth a visit. Group tours are available at all time with special rates for school groups and organized bus tours. If you are interested in adventurous stories from the past, make sure to put Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center on your to-see list.
Passage to India
For those who love Indian homemade cuisine this will be a real treat. Passage to India is probably the best Indian restaurant in the whole state of North Dakota. Delicious specialties such as lamb kebabs, shrimps, samosas and pakoras are what make this restaurant so unique and special. The owner Chef Sam, together with Chef Aziz and Chef Chawla prepare delicious meals from old recipes with fresh ingredients. Passage to India is located in Fargo and is a must visit place for everyone who loves authentic Indian cuisine.
Surely this is the most popular place for visitors who are looking to have a nice vacation. Various outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, camping, hunting, bird-watching are what makes Lake Sakakawea a one of a kind location in the region. The lake was named after an American Indian girl who guided Lewis and Clark expedition through this region. It is an interesting fact that Lake Sakakawea is home to a number of prestigious walleye tournaments that attract a lot of people from all across the country.
One of the smallest cities in the North Dakota State with population of just over 2000 people is known for its rich nightlife, gambling activities and the lowest crime rate in the region. The town of Carrington has a lot of amenities and is definitely a place worth visiting while in the state of North Dakota. It is a perfect destination to spend a day or two. Rooms are available at the Chieftain Lounge where you can also enjoy fun activities such as swimming in the pool and taking a walk in the nearby park.
Ranked as the 8th highest mountain pick in the state of North Dakota, Billion Butte is a destination that should be on everyone’s to do list. It is located near the city of Bowman and is considered to be one of the best places for adventurous hikers who are in search for some adrenaline rush. The skyline at the Bullion Butte is simply amazing and although it takes a little bit of effort to reach this mountain peack, in the end it is surely worth it.
Prairie Potholes are a unique natural phenomenon that can be found in the Upper Midwest and specifically in the North Dakota State. Basically Prairie Potholes are depressional wetlands potholes that used to be glaciated landscapes. It is known that these places are filled with snowmelt and rain during the summer season. Today many of these locations have been destroyed due to increased agriculture development, but still Prairie Potholes are beautiful and a rare thing to see.
With a little over 15 000 residents, Jamestown is a cool city that attracts a lot of tourists. The biggest attraction in this city is surely the Big Buffalo, a giant statue that is considered to be one of the largest in the world. The city even got a nickname from this statue and is called The Buffalo city by a lot of people in the region. Here you can also check the disc golf course that attracts golf-lovers from the region and civic center that hosts all kinds of social events. If you are looking for a town to spend a day and go sightseeing, then Jamestown is a good choice. Although it is not as big as some other cities like Fargo or Bismarck, it still has a lot to offer to visitors who come here.
A building that was once a carriage house is now home to an elegant restaurant called the Bistro. It was opened in 1986 by Donna Rockstad and just recently got its new owner Gerard Shmidt. Grecian style design together with cherry wood architecture gives the restaurant a warm look and is appealing to the visitor’s eye. It is widely known for its Italian homemade dishes, as well as some American cuisine specialties. If you decide to visit the Bistro make sure to try The New York strip steak. It is considered to be one of the best dishes in this fine establishment.
The coolest historical attraction that you can visit in North Dakota is surely Bonanzaville. With more than 40 000 artifacts and 43historic buildings, this place besides a long tradition has thousands of visitors each week. It was established in 1955 and today offers tours and holds all kinds of events for tourists all over the world. Bonanzaville is located in West Fargo and was moved in 1972 to a new location from Menard Hall. The most popular museums in the complex are The Eagles Air museum, The Law enforcement museum and the Eugene Dahl Car museum.
North Dakota Capital State Building
Located in Bismarck, The North Capital State Building, also known as the Skyscraper, is the house of government of North Dakota. It was originally built in 1883 but burned to the ground in a fire. Between 1931 and 1934 the new tower and the wing were built, and over the years there were was more construction work done on these premises. Today you can take a guided tour with the visit to the observation deck, and the best thing is that this tour is free of charge. There are also two parks in the outdoor part of the complex, The Myron Atkinson Park and The Capitol Park.