Vacation Ideas: Things to Do in North Dakota with Kids

Things to do in North DakotaCross border shopping in North Dakota is a big draw for many Canadians living in Southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba. But there’s so much more than malls and casinos that active families can take advantage of when they’re visiting with kids. If your passions lie beyond (or in addition to) shopping ’til you drop. there are lots of things to do in North Dakota that will allow you to enjoy the state’s rugged beauty and bountiful nature.

Things to do in North Dakota: Grand Forks

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Columbia Mall, Grand Forks | Courtesy GK Development

Grand Forks is very popular with visitors from Winnipeg and other parts of Manitoba who are looking for a change of scenery and also to partake in a little retail therapy. And while the grown-ups can play in one of the area’s many casinos until all hours, you’d really be missing out if you ignored the great outdoors and all the great places to explore outside in the Grand Forks area.

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Turtle River State Park | Courtesy Visit Grand Forks

If you can peel yourself away from the Columbia Mall, drive a little outside of the city to Turtle River State Park, located in a forested valley a little west of Grand Forks. You can enjoy Turtle River State Park year-round: Hiking and mountain biking in the summer months, and cross country skiing and sledding in the winter. And if you find it impossible to tear yourself away, pitch your tent (figuratively, not literally) in the park’s sleeping cabins that feature bathrooms and bunk beds.

Things to do in North Dakota: Minot

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North Dakota State Fair | Courtesy Minot CVB

The annual North Dakota State Fair and the Norsk Hostfest–the largest festival in North America that celebrates the area’s Scandinavian heritage–are two big draws to the Minot area. And residents of southern Saskatchewan come down to Minot to splurge at the area’s malls and big box stores, and also the cute boutiques in the hip, historic district downtown. But we’ve already established that shopping is just one of the many things to do in North Dakota, and Minot even has thriving art, aviation, and railroad museums.

Active and outdoorsy types will love the area’s three golf courses and the Riverwalk: a 2.5 mile hiking and biking trail with benches along the way to just sit and enjoy the view. Oak Park is another great Minot park with trails to explore as well as a splash pad to cool off during warm summer months.

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Camping in North Dakota | Courtesy North Dakota Tourism

Just north of Minot, close to the U.S./Canadian border in the Turtle Mountains, the lakes and trails of Lake Metigoshe State Park are an outdoorsy family’s dream. They can fish, canoe, boat, swim, hike, and bike. During the winter months, bundle up and frolic in the snow and snowmobile, cross-country ski, sled, and ice fish.

Things to do in North Dakota: Williston

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Fort Union Trading Post | Courtesy North Dakota Tourism

Williston is in the north east corner of the state, and is more focused solely on outdoor pursuits: Boating and fishing as well as hunting. There are two golf courses in case you’d rather practice your swing instead of your cast, and there’s lots to learn at both Fort Buford and the Fort Union Trading Post. If you feel like roughing it, you can even camp at Fort Buford.

Things to do in North Dakota: Fargo

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Gentle Wind Stables | Courtesy North Dakota Tourism

I admit when I think of Fargo I think of the frozen landscape of the movie and TV show, but Fargo and the north east section of the state are actually teeming with lots of fun things to do in North Dakota that don’t involve parkas and long underwear.

Campgrounds and outdoor recreation areas are plentiful, but for a change of outdoor pace the family could give horseback riding a try at Gentle Wind Stables. Another outdoor alternative that doesn’t involve roughing it is the Rainbow Garden and Sculpture Walk in Mayville that’s north of Fargo, about halfway to Grand Forks.

But do get excited about wearing thermals once the temperatures dip because the Frostival in Fargo is “North of Normal” and a great reason to celebrate the snow!

Things to do in North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park | Courtesy North Dakota Tourism

Theodore Roosevelt National Park makes up the bulk of the south west corner of North Dakota, and the ruggedly beautiful badlands are wonderful for exploring as a family. The park is divided into three sections, and exploring them is one of the very best things to do in North Dakota. Active families will love the abundance of foot and horse trails, and you can camp amongst the creatures, as wildlife such as American bison, mountain lions, feral horses, elk, bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer and mule deer, and prairie dogs abound, as well as at least 186 species of birds including golden eagles, sharp-tailed grouse, and wild turkeys.

Go wild!

Many thanks to North Dakota Tourism for supporting this post. All opinions remain my own. Although I do totally want to visit North Dakota now 🙂


22 Responses to Vacation Ideas: Things to Do in North Dakota with Kids

  1. John at #

    Honestly, I never thought about North Dakota as a touristic attraction. As you describe it, it does sound interesting 🙂

  2. Emily at #

    Oh my goodness this looks like SO much fun! I hadn’t thought of visiting North Dakota before, but now I really want to. The state fair looks like a blast!

  3. We made it to South dakota, but not as far as North Dakota yet… It’s on the list. I love the idea of visiting Fargo.

  4. Chris at #

    You know, on my three previous 5-6 week trips to the US, I have never made it to North Dakota. Looks gorgeous!

    Theodore Roosevelt National Park looks particularly cool. I’d love to do a cross-country national park road trip someday.

  5. I would love to get to North Dakota. It looks so beautiful!

  6. Claudia at #

    Wow, North Dakota is gorgeous! I had no idea what a fantastic destination this state could be.

  7. OOH, that national park. Time to go!

  8. Amy at #

    This is a state I really haven’t explored much. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Alicia at #

    North Dakota is sooo beautiful.
    I like the photo have you and your kid in the camp. Pure joy!

  10. Beautiful photos ~ I should consider a trip to North Dakota, too!

  11. Katie at #

    I’ve heard that North Dakota is so beautiful. I’ve always wanted to visit their National Parks!

  12. As the matter of fact, this is not a typical tourist destination but it’s perfect for a family bonding. I’m searching of Dakota of what it looks like. To be honest, it is really beautiful.

  13. Love the shots! Thanks for sharing this blog. Please post more

  14. joey at #

    Go early Oct, catch Hostfest, a UND hockey game in Grand Forks (reigning NCAA div1 champs and arguably the nicest arena in the world), and an NDSU football game (reigning consecutive years NCAA FCS champions). Decent places to eat a drink there too.

  15. North Dakota looks so beautiful. Thanks for the great post!

  16. Jay Khan at #

    As we see photos of Dakota here it seems like Dakota is a very attractive place very pleased to visit.

  17. Sarah Hall at #

    You totally missed the biggest area of North Dakota: The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. There are sooo many historical sites on the reservation and they’re all free.

  18. lizz atkins at #

    you are welcom

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