Everyone who has ever visited North Dakota has been indelibly marked by this vast open state. Lewis and Clark were impressed, as was US President Theodore Roosevelt, who was so inspired by the Badlands region that he created the American national park system. North Dakota’s cities are sedate by any standard, but very friendly. Most visitors come here for the amazing outdoor recreation, natural scenery, and near total lack of tourists. There’s a great tradition of Native American and pioneer heritage here, ensuring that the nature is nicely balanced by a touch of culture.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
There is a wide diversity of landscape in North Dakota but nothing is quite like the Badlands. This region of rugged lunar geology and cool rock formations covers the entire southwest corner of the state, and the amazing Theodore Roosevelt National Park makes exploration easy. The highlight here is the quantity of wildlife, from bison to bighorn sheep, all roaming free. Hiking trails run throughout both the North and South Units of the park, where campsites allow for overnight stays. If you just want to cruise through, there is a 36-mile and a 14-mile scenic drive to choose from. Address: 315 2nd Avenue, Medora, ND 58645 Phone: +1-701-623-4466 Website: http://www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm
If you want to experience life as the first pioneers did in North Dakota spend an afternoon at this fascinating living history museum outside of Fargo. Both village and museum, this attraction has over 400,000 artifacts in its handful of museums and 40 relocated historic buildings from the Midwest prairie. Walking around this recreated town gives a real sense of what things were like in the Dakota Territory during the late 19th century. Address: 1351 Main Avenue, West Fargo 58078 Phone: +1-701-282-2822 Website: http://www.bonanzaville.org/
This wonderfully restored cow town from 1883 is North Dakota’s top tourist attraction for visitors in search of the Dakota Territory of old. This slick little town oozes western ambiance, with highlights such as historic Von Hoffman House and Chateau de Mores Historic Site (the original home of the town’s founder). Catch the Medora Musical at the Burning Hills Badlands Amphitheater in summer or simply stroll around the main street and imagine you are back in the wild 19th century. The town’s Badlands Museum has a great little exhibition of the area’s frontier and Native American heritage. Address: southwestern North Dakota Phone: +1-701-623-4829 (visitor center) Website: http://www.medorand.com/
North Dakota Heritage Center
The state’s largest museum is one of the country’s top sites for Native American culture and tradition. North Dakota is one of the most important regions for Native American tribes, and this impressive museum showcases the heritage, art, and craftsmanship of the Plains Indians. In addition, there are nice interpretive exhibits of the state’s interesting military legacy and its farming industry. Address: 612 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501 Phone: +1-701-328-2666 Website: http://www.history.nd.gov/exhibits/heritagecenter....
North Dakota’s capital isn’t the state’s biggest city but it’s arguably its most engaging. There are a number of interesting cultural attractions like the North Dakota Heritage Center, Camp Hancock, and Chief Looking’s Village. If you can’t make it to the Badlands, the Dakota Zoo is the next best thing, while the Missouri River cuts right through the city offering scenic boat rides on the Lewis and Clark Riverboat. The capital makes a good base for daytrips to sites like Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Medora, and the Badlands. Bismarck is considered one of America’s safest and friendliest cities. Come see for yourself. Address: southwest North Dakota Phone: n/a Website: http://www.bismarck.org/
The largest city in North Dakota is also one of its most interesting. It’s a tiny place of just 100,000 people, but Fargo is heavy on the friendliness and an ideal base for exploring the scenic Red River Valley region of southeastern North Dakota. A couple of museums and North Dakota State University provide the bulk of cultural entertainment here. Nightlife is sedate in Fargo, but its historic downtown district offers a great range of relaxing bars, hearty restaurants, and pleasant brick architecture. This is a place to come and experience the unique environment and society that underpins North Dakota. Address: southeastern North Dakota Phone: n/a Website: http://www.cityoffargo.com/VisitingFargo/
More than a few residents of North Dakota will argue that Devils Lake is the prettiest body of water in the state. Its jagged 350-mile shoreline creates a stunning picture against a backdrop of rolling prairie, giving boaters, fishermen, and casual visitors plenty of inspiration. Whether you choose to indulge in the superb outdoor recreation on land and water within the park, or simply hang around and enjoy the scenery this is one natural attraction well worth a visit. A small town and several lodges surround the lake, which is famous for its huge waterfowl population and photogenic landscape. Address: northern North Dakota Phone: n/a Website: http://www.devilslakend.com/