Help me make the most of one day in eastern North Dakota
October 23, 2021 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Taking a road trip next weekend to set foot in the one state I've never been to, the Peace Garden State, North Dakota. Will be hitting Fargo or somewhere south of Fargo as it's the closest by car to home (Madison.) We'll be there just one day, so we really don't want to spend it driving; the closer to the Minnesota border and the farther south the better. Relevant factor: I'll be traveling with a photography-loving teen whose main goal is to take cool pictures. Good food, Midwestern history, nature all good, stuff that can be done outside in autumn a plus.
posted by escabeche to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is easy. Go see the stavekirke and the Viking ship! Technically it’s in Minnesota, but whatever. We think it belongs to them.
posted by shadygrove at 12:18 PM on October 23, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: You aren't the first person to visit the other 49 states before checking North Dakota off your list. Stop by the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center to join the Best for Last Club.
posted by Sfving at 1:05 PM on October 23, 2021 [16 favorites]

Best answer: We were just there (Fargo) for a medical emergency. Bernbaum’s (Scandinavian-Jewish deli… yes, that’s right) had a mighty fine breakfast. Icelandic bagel plate, knish, potato salad, parsnip cake… all good.

Strolling downtown doesn’t take long and you’ll see a few neat neon signs, cute places to stick your head in and some stodgy old bars that are fun to look at through the window.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:19 PM on October 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Tripadvisor has the local best places for Fargo. The terrain starts becoming very undifferentiated at the Minnesota border, transitioning from lakes to plains, plains, nothing but plains. The plains remain very similar for lots of miles, so on a limited time visit you could travel a couple of miles outside Fargo to get the impression of the rest of South Eaastern North Dakota.

I guess the Roger Maris museum and the Fargo Air museum would be good bets.
posted by blob at 1:57 PM on October 23, 2021

Best answer: Fargo is awesome and one of my favorite cities!! I highly highly recommend the Plains Art Museum for awesome & unique exhibits, second the Viking ship/church rec just across the little bridge in Moorhead. I enjoyed Blackbird Wood Fire Pizza (some of the best I’ve ever had!), ice cream at the Silver Lining Creamery & Atomic Coffee, all of which are close in downtown Fargo. I think your teen will enjoy Fargo’s friendly, artsy, hipster vibe & find lots of cool buildings to photography.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:29 PM on October 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

I was in Fargo a couple of years ago and can second many of the suggestions already made. Blackbird indeed has some of the best pizza I’ve ever had, the Plains Museum was exceptional, and there is plenty to see in the very walkable downtown area. I also liked Twenty Below Coffee. In addition to the Norwegian church, Moorhead is where the Dilly Bar was invented and there is a big Dilly Bar sculpture at the Dairy Queen.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:23 PM on October 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

Bonanzaville is technically in West Fargo (~20 minute drive from downtown Fargo), and it looks like the most interesting part of their museum (the pioneer village) is closed for winter, but might still be worth considering if you have some free time on the weekend.
posted by Oliva Porphyria at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2021

Hello from Fargo/Moorhead! Everyone else has covered the important parts -- we have two nice historical museums, one for each side of the river, and Downtown Fargo is at the peak of its revitalization progress and it's full of little shops and places to eat. The Hjemkomst -- a viking boat built by a local guy and actually sailed to Norway -- is in the Clay County museum linked above, it's a wacky piece of local history and fun to behold in person. The Plains Art Museum was mentioned, but on the Moorhead side there's also the Rourke Art Gallery, only open afternoons, which is small but worth walking through.

Part of revitalization on both sides of the river included a lot of sanctioned "graffiti" -- there's a lot of art on walls, both on main streets but also hidden in alleys behind the buildings, so there's lots to take pictures of.

As for nature: The Red River has walking trails on both sides of the river which go through the wooded areas and much of it is far enough away you can't see houses which seems unusual for such an urban area (flood mitigation has moved the habitable areas far inland). If you go downtown Fargo, find 9th avenue north and go as far east as you can go -- you'll end up in a baseball park parking lot, but park there and keep going east on foot you'll cross a large earthen dike and find the trails. From here you can walk north a ways, passing a small dam where people fish from and other small parks. You can walk south a ways which connects to streets, but keep walking south you'll see the river again and connect to the downtown walking paths. There's a map here but it's a little confusing because it includes 'bike friendly' streets. Our Riverkeepers has a "self guided tour" booklet for the paths on the Minnesota side of the river (which starts at the Hjemkomst/Historical Society parking lot) which contains some local history but IMHO is kind of confusing to non-locals.

Another unusual place to see: go as far north on Elm Street as you can; you end up at a "Y", east is the entrance to a golf course, west is Trollwood Park. Trollwood used to be a "art in the park" kind of park with a summer theater-in-the-park program. Due to flooding they moved south of town, but the park is still here. In the 1970s they did the Wizard Of Oz, and built an actual brick Yellow Brick Road, spelling the word "OZ". Unfortunately it looks like flood mitigation has gotten rid of most of the old farm buildings that were there, but there's still paths to walk around along the river.

Also...Trollwood park is haunted. I'd been out there in the middle of the night and never saw anything spooky but I know others who have, and every once in a while someone jogging on the paths finds human remains from the cemetery that wasn't completely removed when they turned it into a park.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:12 AM on October 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

There is a giant graffiti wall and a mural based on Super Mario. Those might be of interest to a teenager that wants to take pictures. Maybe have a meal at Space Aliens Grill and Bar as well. Riding a ferris wheel in Scheels sporting goods store is fun. If you like older local eateries with character, check out the Speak Easy Italian Restaurant. If you like good food but do not care much about decor, then Jade Dragon has delicious Vietnamese food that you might like. If you like Indian and Nepali food, then try The Himalayan Yak.
posted by mortaddams at 8:04 PM on October 25, 2021

The Hjemkomst Center, home of the stave church and Viking ship is kind of...hokey. If I only had one day, I'd skip it.

Fargo is actually much more diverse than its reputation might have led you to believe. Since 2006, the population of Black residents has increased from just over 1% to almost 8%, and per capita, North Dakota is home to more resettled/formerly displaced persons than any other American state. The primary countries of origin for new residents include Liberia, Somalia, Burundi, DR Congo, and Sudan. As a result, Fargo boasts a bunch of excellent - and unexpected - African restaurants. I recommend Rugsan, which offers East African fare.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

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