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North Dakota for the Family

by Erich Martin

Dec 7, 2019

Robert Philip | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

The Midwest is a big place. With such spread out, and often pretty small, population centers, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of land between cultural centers. Despite the lack of people, North Dakota is an excellent destination for the whole family.


Fargo, the biggest city in North Dakota, is home to an estimated 124,844 people. The entire state has a population of 760,077, meaning the state’s biggest draws are invariably going to be found outside of the cities.


The biggest draw for these huge, wide-open states is definitely the wide-open attractions. North Dakota is home to several national and state parks that are must-visits if you are in the state. Theodore Roosevelt National Park sits on the land Teddy Roosevelt traveled to for hunting in the late 1800s. The park is open all year, but there are occasional road closures in the winter due to bad weather.


Where North Dakota really shines is the sheer number of state parks and historic sites throughout the state. No matter which part of the state your family is visiting, go to this website to see which parks are in the area. Popular parks depend on what your family enjoys doing — hiking, bicycle rides, horseback riding, canoeing and more are available all over the state. If physical activity is outside the realm of possibilities, it is definitely possible to take a scenic car ride and still enjoy the scenery of the badlands.


Badlands, North Dakota. Photo: Christopher Cagney | Dreamstime.com


Every family won’t love the same things, but the sheer number of options for the outdoors should be enough to attract large numbers of visitors.


In the wide-open skies of North Dakota, hunting and fishing are huge draws. For one, hunting and fishing in North Dakota is worth mentioning because of the amount of Native American tribal land open for hunting and fishing. Visitors need to go through the proper channels for this land access, but if all the steps are followed, the state offers incredible opportunities for families who enjoy those activities.


Depending on which part of the state you are in, it is important to reach out and contact the local offices responsible for regulating game. In many cases, visitors can also hire local guides to show them around and guarantee a good time. The state is also an incredible spot to hunt pheasants, elk, moose, Bighorn Sheep and other big game not always available in every region.


Potentially more family-friendly, fishing is also a massive pastime in North Dakota. Given the state’s northern situation, many cold-water fish like walleye and perch are available in most of the state. If you know where to go, you can also catch pike, muskie and catfish.


The great outdoors is not everyone’s cup of tea. For these folks, there are a few amazing cities with great cultures well worth visiting.


Fargo is perhaps North Dakota’s most famous city, if only thanks to the Coen brothers film and television series of the same name. If you’re visiting because of the film, you can even take a picture with the movie’s original woodchipper.


Movie-goers will love to stop off and visit Fargo’s historic movie theater. This theater has been standing and in operation for more than 90 years. There are plenty of other museums to visit in town as well. Make sure to check out the Rourke Art Gallery and Museum and the Fargo Air Museum while you’re in town.


Bridge to Fargo, North Dakota. Photo: Sakkawokkie | Dreamstime.com


The state’s capital, Bismarck, is also worth visiting. Bismarck is home to the North Dakota Heritage Center, the perfect spot to visit for a quick and comprehensive history lesson on North Dakota. Another fun activity for the entire family is a ride on the Lewis and Clark Riverboat. There is no reference to Sacagawea, but this steamboat ride gives visitors a taste of the proud Missouri River.


Population and dining might not be North Dakota’s strong suit, but its natural wonders, rich history and outdoor activities make the far-flung cities feel much more like a blessing than a curse. No matter the time of year, something is always in season in North Dakota.


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