There are Badlands in both Dakotas, but the north can boast about its forbidding landscape, Pioneer Days celebrations and Theodore Roosevelt memorabilia.
Find out what’s the best in the West in terms of family attractions, plus find more travel information at www.ndtourism.com.
Great Fun for the Kids
(Toddlers to Age 8)
Bonanzaville Museum & Bonanzaville, USA
1351 Main Avenue West
West Fargo, ND 58078
Several buildings comprise this historic town, where farm machinery demonstrations and other representations of historic lifestyles of the region occur year-round. Bonanzaville’s main event, Pioneer Days, is a weekend in August filled with pioneer celebrations, parades, and activities for all ages including rug making, butter churning, wood carving and blacksmithing, among others.
Fun for Older Children
(Up to Age 18)
Pioneer Trails Regional Museum
12 First Ave. NE
Bowman, ND 58623
This museum is a host to local art, geological and historical displays featuring paleontology, archaeology, anthropology, botany, genealogy, and astronomy.
Dakota Dinosaur Museum
200 E. Museum Drive
This museum features 11 full-scale dinosaur skeletons, including skeletons excavated from the surrounding area. There are also skeletal casts and sculptures, as well as an impressive mineral collection.
Fargo, North Dakota
Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center
202 First Avenue North
Moorhead, Minnesota 56560
After the Coen Brothers’ release “Fargo,” we movie buffs at FTF decided to find a tie-in. Fargo, actually in North Dakota, is known locally as Fargo/Moorhead because of its close ties with nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, setting for most of the film’s story. And Moorhead, is home to the Heritage Hjemkomst Center, repository of the 70-foot replica Viking ship Hjemkomst. In a region thick with Scandinavian blood, the late Robert Asp of Moorhead dreamt of sailing a Viking ship from Duluth to Norway. Though he died before its realization, his family made the hair-raising voyage in 1982. The actual vessel, photos, aural histories, and a TV documentary chronicling the mission rest here, for you and your family, to study. By the way, this museum has welcomed visitors before and after the height of movie madness and makes a fun excursion with older kids. The museum is open daily, late on Tuesday evenings. Contact the Minnesota Office of Tourism (888/868-7476) for more information if you’re determined to leave North Dakota.
Fun for the Family
International Peace Garden
10930 Peace Garden Way
Dunseith, ND 58329
701/263-4390 or 888/432-6733
Created in 1932, these 2,300 acres of gardens and woodlands celebrate peace in a unique setting encompassing the United States-Canadian border. The site features an interpretive center that provides history of the garden and offers tours of the formal gardens. Be sure to visit the Peace Chapel, the Peace Tower, the Peace Poles, the floral clock and the 9/11 Memorial site that are architectural pieces and floral arrangements immortalizing peace.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
(exits 24 and 27 off Interstate 94)
315 Second Avenue
Medora, ND 58645
The visitor center holds a museum that has personal items of Theodore Roosevelt, ranching artifacts and natural history displays. Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross Cabin is behind the visitor center and is open for tours. Ranger talks, movies, hikes, horseback riding, campfire programs, take place at the visitor center and in the park. A Junior Ranger program for kids is also available. The South Unit of the park also has a 36-mile scenic driving loop designed to maximize the viewing of natural elements and wildlife.
Elkhorn Ranch Unit
35 miles North of the Medora Visitor Center
This section of the park is where Roosevelt’s primary residence in North Dakota’s Badlands once stood.
208 Scenic Drive
Watford City, ND 58854
(take US 85 North at the Belfield Exit 42)
The North Unit Visitor Center at the park entrance has a general information desk, interesting film and exhibits about this area of the park. The 14-mile Scenic Drive which goes from the entrance station to the Oxbow Overlook is located here.
Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge
Kenmare, North Dakota 58746
Located in the northwest corner of the state, Des Lacs has been named a globally important bird conservation area. You can spot some of the many migrating cranes, waterfowl, and raptors that stop at the refuge along the 19-mile Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge Backway. Also visible from the auto route may be moose and deer, and in the fall months, thousands of migrating snow geese descend on the refuge. The city of Kenmare even holds an annual “Goosefest” to celebrate. Des Lacs also has hiking trails and bird observation blinds. The refuge and auto road are open daily but will be closed in the winter.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.