Get Immersed in North Dakota’s Local Culture and Heritage
On a tour through North Dakota, one notices right away how the friendly people at parks, museums and attractions eagerly share their history and heritage. One of the best ways to absorb the local culture is to plunge right in, and North Dakotans offer plenty of places to start a journey.
Get your bearings at the State Capitol building in Bismarck. On its grounds, find the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, where galleries and exhibits trace the state’s history from ancient times to the present. Venture to Medora, where you can find out about the city’s beginnings at Chateau de Mores State Historic Site, a 26-room house built by a French marquis and entrepreneur in the late 1800s. Stick around Medora to visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, then go to Burning Hills Amphitheatre to see the entertaining “Medora Musical” variety show.
Get doses of arts and culture throughout the state at theater, movie and concert venues. Destinations include the Fargo Theatre, Maddock Opera House and Sleepy Hollow Theatre and Arts Park in Bismarck. For visual arts, visit the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks and Taube Museum of Art in Minot. Check event schedules for traveling headliner concerts and variety shows at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, Chester Fritz Auditorium and Alerus Center, all in Grand Forks; the Fargodome and Scheels Arena, both in Fargo; and the Bismarck Event Center.
For off-the-beaten path exploration, don’t leave Fargo without stopping by the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau to see the woodchipper that played a prominent role in the 1996 movie “Fargo.” Any road trip through the state also needs to include the Enchanted Highway and its scrap metal sculptures in the Regent area. Other larger-than-life statues in the state include the Salem Sue cow in New Salem, Tommy the Turtle in Bottineau, W’eel Turtle in Dunseith and the Viking Statute in Fort Ransom. Time your visit right and you can take in the Mandan Rodeo Days in early July, North Dakota State Fair in Minot in late July and August the Deuce to celebrate Icelandic heritage in Mountain in early August
- Tour 43 buildings – including a saloon, blacksmith shop, cabins and stores – on 12 acres at Bonanzaville, USA, in West Fargo. Explore the pioneer village and Cass County Museum, with 400,000 artifacts, and learn about the history of the Red River Valley.
- Walk, bike or snow ski while hearing the ring of the bell tower in the International Peace Garden off U.S. Highway 281, north of Dunseith. The shared space between the USA and Canada, nestled in the Turtle Mountains, is open year-round. It is especially beautiful in the summer, when 150,000 planted flowers are in full bloom.
- Built in 1931, a 15-foot stone monument outside a cafe and gift shop in the town of Rugby declares the site the “Geographical Center of North America.”
- Put one of North Dakota’s four zoos on a travel itinerary and see exotic and native animals. Visit Dakota Zoo in Bismarck, Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, Red River Zoo in Fargo and Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton.
- In Jamestown, off Interstate 94 between Fargo and Bismarck, stop to see a buffalo statue that is 26 feet tall and 46 feet long, tour the Frontier Village and visit the National Buffalo Museum, known for its herd roaming outside that includes the white bison named Dakota Miracle.