North Dakota Bucket List ~ East Region

Rounding out the state of North Dakota with a slightly shorter bucket list today. Tomorrow we head into the Minnesota Bucket List series!

Abercrombie

  • Fort Abercrombie State Historic Site: Known as the “Gateway to the Dakotas”, this was the first fort in what was to become the state of North Dakota.

Arvilla

  • Turtle River State Park: Small park along the river that is great for camping and hiking.

Cavalier

  • Icelandic State Park: Explore the homesteading spirit of North Dakota at this park with it’s old buildings found on grounds.
  • RSL3 Missile Site: Take a tour of this site built during the Cold War.

Cooperstown

  • Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site: Two sites that tell of the Cold War history in North Dakota.

Fargo

  • “Fargo” Woodchipper: See the woodchipper made famous in the movie at the visitors center.
  • Red River Zoo: Small zoo that is home to many unique “cold weather” species.
  • World’s Largest Wood Baseball Bat: Check out this huge baseball bat when in the area.

Fort Ransom

  • Fort Ransom State Park: This park preserves to homestead farms.

Grand Forks

  • Flood Memorial Marker: Marks the devastating flood of 1997.
  • Japanese Garden: Take a stroll through this beautiful garden.

Pembina

  • Pembina State Museum: Learn the history of the area along the border and check out the views from the observation tower.

Valley City

  • High Line Bridge: Historic Railroad bridge over the Sheyenne River.
  • Medicine Wheel Park: Unique landmark on the VCSU campus.

Wahpeton

  • Ringling Brothers Circus Memorial: Marker dedicated to circus workers who lost their live when a tent pole was struck by lightning.
  • World’s Largest Catfish: Fun roadside oddity photo op.

Walhalla

  • Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site: Explore the trading post and home of Antoine Gingras.
  • Masonic Scenic Overlook: Overlooks the Pembina River and Gorge.
  • Pembina Gorge: Extends from the Canadian border and offers great hiking.
  • Walhalla State Historic Site: Preserves another fur trading site.

All attractions found in the 2020 North Dakota Travel Guide.

North Dakota Bucket List ~ Central Region

Today we move to the region Andrew and I are most familiar with due to him spending his younger years growing up in this region!

Bismarck

  • Camp Hancock State Historic Site: Located along Main Street, this was a military establishment built to protect work gangs and assist in the railroad building.
  • Chief Looking’s Village: Historic archeological site with great river views.
  • Dakota Zoo: Fun little zoo that will provide a few hours of fun.
  • Double Ditch Indian Village State Historic Site: Site of earth lodge village inhabited by the Mandan Indians.
  • Keelboat Park: Riverside trail with replica of keelboat.
  • McDowell Dam Recreation Area: Lake area near the dam that also has a nature trail.
  • North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum: Beautifully remodeled this building houses several different “wings” of history.
  • North Dakota State Capitol: One of the taller state capitol buildings in the US. The views from the top are very nice!
  • Steamboat Park: Park along the river that details history of steamboats.

Bottineau

  • Lake Metigoshe State Park: Located in the Turtle Mountains near the U.S./Canada border.
  • Mystical Horizons: North Dakota’s Stonehenge and a beautiful spot to watch the sunset.
  • Tommy Turtle Statue: Check out this large turtle riding a snowmobile!

Devils Lake

  • Grahams Island State Park: Located on the ever changing shores of Devils Lake, this is a very wooded area.

Dunseith

  • International Peace Garden: Straddling the U.S./Canada order, these garden grounds are beautiful!
  • W’eel Turtle: Turtle made out of wheel rims.

Fort Totten

  • Fort Totten State Historic Site: Military post that became a boarding school for Native American children.

Jamestown

  • Fort Seward Interpretive Center: Fort was built to guard the building of the railroad and the site contains North Dakota’s largest American flag.
  • Frontier Village and World’s Largest Buffalo: Explore an replica of an “old West” town and stand in the shadow of the World’s Largest Buffalo.
  • National Buffalo Museum and Herd: Learn everything you ever needed to know about buffalo and maybe spot the white buffalo in the herd!

Menoken

  • Menoken Indian Village State Historic Site: Archeological area near Bismarck. Interpretive signs tell the history of the village.

Minot

  • Scandinavian Heritage Park: Outdoor park that celebrates the heritage and history of all five Scandinavian countries.

Pick City

  • Lake Sakakawea State Park: Enjoy beautiful views of the large lake.

Rugby

  • Geographical Center of North America Monument: Fun little quirky roadside stop that places you in the center of North America.
  • Northern Lights Tower and Interpretive Center: Tower and center dedicated to the unique and beautiful Northern Lights.

Steele

  • World’s Largest Sandhill Crane: Another fun roadside oddity. They like their large roadside attractions in this state.

Strasburg

  • Welk Homestead State Historic Site: Home and farm of the legendary Lawrence Welk.

Turtle Lake

  • Rusty, the Two-Ton Turtle: Huge “rusty” turtle sculpture.

Velva

  • David Thompson State Historic Site: Dedicated to the famous explorer and fur trader.

Washburn

  • Fort Mandan: Site where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent a winter.
  • Cross Ranch State Park: Beautiful park located along the Missouri River.
  • Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center: This small museum details out the time the expedition spent in North Dakota.

Wishek

  • Beaver Lake State Park: Secluded outdoor setting nestled among the prairie.

All attractions found in the 2020 North Dakota Travel Guide.

North Dakota Bucket List~ West Region

Starting a new state today, our neighbor to the north, North Dakota. This state is split into three regions so I will round out North Dakota next week and begin Minnesota bucket lists next week as well!

Cartwright

  • Fairview Bridge & Cartwright Tunnel: Pedestrian bridge over the Yellowstone River.

Epping

  • Lewis and Clark State Park: Located along the upper edge of Lake Sakakawea.

Fort Rice

  • Fort Rice State Historic Site: Military post built in the 1860’s to protect white settlers.

Fort Yates

  • Sitting Bull Burial Site: Sacred burial site of the famed Sitting Bull.

Garrison

  • Fort Stevenson Guardhouse: Learn history of frontier military.
  • Fort Stevenson State Park: Fun place to camp.
  • Wally the Walleye: Looks over the “Walleye Capitol of the World”.

Grenora

  • Writing Rock State Historic Site: Plains Indians carved petroglyphs into boulders.

Hebron

  • Fort Sauerkraut: Fort to built to protect settlers from attacks that never occurred.

Killdeer

  • Killdeer Mountain Battlefield State Historic Site: Site commemorates battle between Sully troops and Sioux Indians.
  • Little Missouri State Park: Park located among rugged Badlands.

Mandan

  • Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park: Custer’s last home reconstructed.

Medora

  • Painted Canyon Visitor Center: Gorgeous Canyon overlook that is part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park just off the interstate.
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park-South Unit: Gorgeous park in the badlands that features a loop scenic drive with lots of wildlife.

New Salem

  • Salem Sue: World’s Largest Holstein and the site of our engagement!

Regent

  • Enchanted Highway: Quirky highway filled with tin art statues.

Riverdale

  • Garrison Dam and Power Plant Towers: Take a tour of this huge hydroelectric dam.
  • Misty the Mermaid: Gorgeous metal sculpture.

Stanton

  • Fort Clark State Historic Site: Built by American Fur Company for the Mandan Indians.
  • Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site: Explore the earth lodge formation used by the Mandan Tribe.

Watford City

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park-North Unit: The north unit of this park features stunning views of the badlands landscape along the river.

Williston

  • Fort Buford State Historic Site: Site of Sitting Bull surrender.
  • Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site: Fur trading post along the Missouri River that served several Native American tribes.
  • Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center: Enjoy a walking trail along the confluence of the two rivers.

All attractions found in the 2020 North Dakota Travel Guide.

Baymont Inn~ Grand Forks, North Dakota

In early July, Andrew’s grandfather passed away, and we needed somewhere close to stay during that time. His grandparents farmhouse is in a small town west of Grand Forks, so we opted to stay in Grand Forks overnight.

This Baymont seems to be in a newly developed part of town and our hotel seemed very new. We were greeted warmly by the clerk at the front desk and quickly given keys to our room. The elevator is right by the desk and if you are traveling with a pet, they even had a nice water bowl right by the desk.

There was a small closet to the right upon entering our room and the wall also was home to the sink area. The bathroom contained a toilet and tub/shower just off to our left.

The room was quite spacious and the decor had a nice modern vibe to it.

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We reserved a king size bed, which was flanked by a nightstand on each side, and also a small ottoman on one side which worked well to store our luggage atop.

Centered in front of the bed was the TV stand, that also contained a small fridge and microwave. A desk was located just beyond that.

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The hotel has a pool, which I did manage to snag a picture of, but due to being there for a funeral, we didn’t end up using it. I did think it was nice that they had a small shower area right into it. So many places say you should shower before entering, but generally speaking, never give you that area.

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The breakfast area was huge. I took a few pictures upon our arrival as the area was empty and nice and clean. They had tons of seating and a really nice buffet area. We did not end up indulging in breakfast as we decided to try out the Tim Horton’s that was just across the street.

Finally the lobby area itself was huge and very modern. There was plenty of seating space and even a gas fireplace for those cooler North Dakota months.

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If we ever need a hotel in the Grand Forks area again, this place is at the top of my list. The price was right and the hotel had a lot to offer.

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Red River Zoo ~ Fargo, North Dakota

Back in May, Andrew ran the half marathon in Fargo. The day before, we chose to visit the Red River Zoo. The Red River Zoo is a rather small zoo located near several baseball fields. Despite it’s small size, we really enjoyed our time there.

We followed the numbered map that they gave us when we paid the small admission fee and began our time by the River Otters. After not seeing them at the Bramble Park Zoo a few weeks before, it was really fun to see this little guy bouncing around.

Most of the animals at the Red River Zoo are native to North America or other cold areas of the globe as their climate is similar to those of the Red River Valley. The Bald Eagles were looking particularly majestic during our visit.

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The Red River Zoo also has a farm animal area where you can get up close and personal with several of them! I just loved seeing these sweet babies!

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Overall, I think we spent roughly an hour checking out the various animals the Red River Zoo had to offer. Some may consider the admission high for the amount of animals there are, but you could tell the exhibits were well maintained and that they use their admission money wisely! It’s a great little zoo to kill some time at if you are in the area!

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The Blue Moose ~ East Grand Forks, Minnesota

After celebrating a family wedding near Grand Forks, ND, we all were able to head over for a reception dinner at The Blue Moose in East Grand Forks, MN.

The Blue Moose is located right along the river in a very large building. They had dining area downstairs with a bar area, and also had three dining areas upstairs. We took up one of these areas.

We were allowed to order anything off the menu as a treat from the new couple, so I decided to start myself off with a drink from their cocktail menu, the Raz-a-ma-Taz. I’m so glad I picked it as it tasted just like a strawberry Starburst!

As a table, we also shared an order of cheese curds, but sadly I didn’t get a picture of them. They were super tasty, but since we were all pretty hungry, we devoured the whole plate in no time.

For our main course, Andrew ordered the Mac and Cheese Attack with chicken and I ordered the German Pretzel Bread. It was so hard to come to the decisions we did as so many things on the menu sounded amazing!

Despite our large group, our food all managed to come out of the kitchen fairly quick. We were both stuffed by the end of the night!

The Blue Moose was a great place to have a nice family celebration and their food and service make it on our list of places to return when we visit the area again. We both have a lot more things we would like to try from their menu!

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The Walrus ~ Bismarck, North Dakota

Way back when Andrew took me on a double date to The Walrus in Bismarck, all I remember from that time is our company at the dinner was less than thrilling so I was glad to return on our own right before Christmas.

The Walrus is a favorite among many people in town, so visiting at lunch meant it was quite busy. However we were able to be seated at a table right away. The place is rather small, so the noise level can get pretty high.

Andrew ordered his favorite, the Polar Bear Calzone, which includes four meats and their special white sauce. I ordered a cheese pizza with white sauce.

Our food came out pretty quick given that it probably takes longer to make their pizzas and calzones.

Both of our meals were delicious and we both had half to take home as leftovers. Now that we live closer, I’m sure we will be back to visit the Walrus more often.

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Johnny Carino’s Italian ~ Bismarck, North Dakota

Yes, I know…this is a review about a chain restaurant. But they can’t be found in every town like McDonald’s or even every state for that matter, so I feel like they are worth a review….that and we have many fond memories of eating at Carino’s.

Johnny Carino’s was the first place Andrew took me out for a date in Bismarck. Since then, we try to get back if we have time when we are in the area. Our most recent visit was toward the end of November 2018.

One of the best things about Carinos is the bread and olive oil they bring to your table after ordering. You could fill up on the bread alone. Don’t be tempted when you finish your first round and they offer to get you more…you need to save room for your meal!

Carino’s has so many great dishes to try. When we visited this past time I ordered the Fettuccine Alfredo, while Andrew decided to go with the Baked Cheese Tortellini.  We both really liked our choice, although after trying a bit of the tortellini, I’d almost be tempted to order that on our next visit as the sauce had a very unique flavor.

I highly recommend trying out the food Carino’s has to offer. It has plenty of flavor and almost always provides us with enough food for a second meal of leftovers the next day!

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Buffalo Wings and Ring ~ Bismarck, North Dakota

A few months before visiting Andrew’s parents in Bismarck, they brought a new restaurant to my attention. Glancing through the menu, it seemed similar to Buffalo Wild Wings (of which I’m a huge fan,) so it seemed only fitting to try this new place when we had the chance.

Looking online I also realized that they do have quite a few locations around the nation, one being in Aberdeen, SD, very close to where we live now.

The Wings and Rings location in Bismarck is quite large and had three main seating area. Two areas were regular dining areas, the other is the bar area, (which also had a bit of seating that wasn’t bar-like), in which you had to be 21 to sit in the area. This is where we opted to sit.

As you can see, because of the sports bar feel, you can find a TV anywhere in the restaurant!

So much on the menu sounded good, that we opted for an appetizer trio platter to start. This allowed us to sample the pretzel bites, onion rings, and Parmesan garlic aioli fries. I’m not an onion rings fan, but Andrew said they were quite good. I was a huge fan of the pretzel bites. The garlic fries were good, but also a little overwhelming when you got more to the middle of the pile which was saturated with the aioli sauce.

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All these appetizers were quite filling as it was, so I’m glad we only each decided to order 5 wings. We both ordered medium “hot-ness”, mine with buffalo sauce and Andrew’s with sweet BBQ. As you can see the wings are huge if you order boneless, and seem to be much more “real” chicken then the boneless wings you would expect at Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebees, however I much prefer the sauce flavor at Buffalo Wild Wings.

We both had leftover chicken to take home with us, and it heat up well the next day. We also both agreed that we would gladly return for a meal another time (and have once already in Aberdeen.) It’s not an all time high restaurant on my list, but it’s nice when you want lots of great wing options.

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World’s Largest Catfish ~ Whapeton, ND

Whew! I’ve been absent from here for awhile as we prepped our house in Iowa City for our move to Florissant, MO for Andrew’s final year of seminary. Now that we are settled in the new place for this final school year, I’ve got time to hop back on. Let’s jump back to Memorial Day weekend and take a look at our short stop to the Whapeton Catfish.

Andrew and I have made it our goal since we started dating 7 years ago to visit every single large animal structure in North Dakota. This catfish would be our final large animal in North Dakota. We’ve had a tough time getting this one crossed off the list because it was never on our way to any of our destinations.

Since we chose to take the long way to Bismarck from Iowa City through Sioux Falls, SD instead of dealing with traffic going through the Twin Cities, this was the perfect time to make a quick pit stop.

The Catfish is located on the outskirts of town. You turn onto a road near city hall and follow it all the way to it’s end. The road follows the Red River with a few areas that overlook the river. They also have several campsites along the road/park area for people to camp in their RV’s for the night.

We took a few pictures of the catfish and then walked to one of the river overlooks. Andrew says it was the nicest view of the Red River he’s ever seen and that it actually made the river look good for once! It’s the only time I’ve seen the Red River up close so I can’t quite say if his opinion is accurate or not!