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North Dakota first time???

East Meadow, New...
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North Dakota first time???

We have been to 45 of the 50 states (not just drive through but staying and exploring) and now we will be visiting MN, NE, SD, and ND over a period of 12 days starting Saturday July 20th. So far we have a car for the entire time and all the hotels reserved but changeable.

Would appreciate comments and suggestions as to attractions, events, theater, rodeo, scenic drives, etc. We are not hikers but will take walks, prefer not to shop but will wander shopping streets, love live music and theater and modern art, and seek out scenic drives and backroads spots of interest. Are there any rodeos to recommend? (Loved the one in Cody Wy)

3 nights, 3 days Minneapolis -Stone Arch Bridge, Cathedral, Landmark Center, Guthrie Theater, Walker museum and Sculpture Garden, Grand Ave, Nicollet Mall, perhaps Art Car Parade, 112 Eatery, Restaurant Alma. What else is happening that weekend?

1 night, 2 days Omaha: Old Market, Bemis Cntr Contemp Arts, Durham museum, Artists coop Gallery, Botanical gardens, Wave Bistro, Grey Plume

1 night, half day Sioux Falls: Sculpture walk, Parker's Bistro, Minnervas

3 nights, 3 days Rapid City, Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park bison and drives, Needles Hwy scenic drive, Natl Museum of woodcarving, mammoth excavation, Spearfish scenic drive, Dahl art center, perhaps Country roots festival Tally's silver spoon, Philly Teds

1 night Pierre, followed by full day scenic drive northward, Cattlemen's club Steakhousee or Big Tom's domer

1 night Bismarck: Heritage cntr if open now, Pirogue Grille, Blarney Stone Pub

1 night Fargo: Mezzaluna

drive back toward Minneapolis with full day of scenic drives before flying out at night

Thanks in advance for your advice and input

8 replies to this topic
North Dakota
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1. Re: North Dakota first time???

Heritage Center isn't fully open yet. And in Minneapolis, check out Cafe Latte in St. Paul if you get the chance, for dessert or breakfast or anything in between...one of my favorites there: http://www.cafelatte.com/index.html

I'm not sure if you're in Bismarck on the 29th or 30th, but Pirogue is closed for dinner on Mondays. Other alternatives include Bistro, East 40 and Peacock Alley. At the Blarney, sit in the part with the garage door that opens, if possible.

Here in Bismarck, the state Capitol tour is actually quite interesting and you get to the top of the capital tower which has a great view. We have the Lewis and Clark Riverboat going during the day and evenings, which is a pleasant ride on the Missouri. Fort Abraham Lincoln is just across the River from Bismarck with a trolley running during the afternoons from noon or 1pm until 5pm down to the Fort. Since you're here such a short time, you probably don't want to venture up to beautiful Lake Sacagawea or West to our badlands, which are very colorful. In fact I really don't think Pierre is worth it. I would drive North from the Rapid area and head through the ND Badlands and Teddy Roosevelt National Park. http://www.nps.gov/thro/index.htm

In Fargo I would consider the HoDo for dinner or drinks, but have heard good things about Mezzalunna too. Fargo has the Air Museum. Across the river is the Moorhead Hjemkost Center which is interesting. Bonanzaville in West Fargo is also interesting.

I would search here: http://www.ndtourism.com/listings/events For you actual dates, since I'm obviously having problems figuring it out above (sorry!). Have fun!

East Meadow, New...
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2. Re: North Dakota first time???

Thanks for the recommendations.

I picked Pierre only because it had the only place for us to stay at night coming from the Rapid City area and heading through what has been described as a great scenic drive in the National Geographic book of top scenic drives in America. Going back into that book, it looks like the drive they are recommending starts in Pierre, goes through Eagle Butte, and then toward Bismarck using these routes: 34 west to 63 north to 212 east to 8 north to 1806 north to Bismarck. This is designated as the Native American Scenic Byway. Do you know it and how are those roads? I could not find anyplace to stay and that's why I thought we better stay in Pierre and get an early start to do that drive at leisure.

Do you think the route north from Rapid City though the ND Badlands and Teddy Roosevelt NP is as interesting as the one described above? Which is more unique and different from the other scenic drives we will be doing through the SD Badlands, Needle Highway, Custer State Park, and Spearfish Canyon????? And if we go that route, where do you recommend we stay en route? Or do we go directly to Bismarck without much time to stop and enjoy?

Yes we were planning to be in Bismarck on Monday July 29 so Pirogue is out. Thanks for alternative ideas. I think my husband will probably choose the Blarney Stone Pub.

Have made note of all your other suggestions.

North Dakota
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3. Re: North Dakota first time???

Folks around here hate that drive to Pierre....I personally do not think it is great. If you like drives, look at the enchanted highway too. www.realnd.com/enchantedhighwayindex.htm I would look at Highway 85 and stay the night in Medora, ND. www.medorand.com Then you take I-94 from Medora to Bismarck. Frankly I have yet to hear anyone who enjoys any drive north from that Southern part of SD to get into ND. Its open prairie, which I think it pretty, but I think any road you take is going to be fairly desolate and rather boring.

I guess if you really want to make all those stops for Native American sites, that drive might work. I don't think its scenic to just see, but rather great to find a bunch of Native American points of interest. I just don't think they are terribly fun stops personally and my degree is in history! You'd do better to tour on a slant village at Fort Abraham Lincoln here, and a much prettier drive going through the ND badlands.

East Meadow, New...
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4. Re: North Dakota first time???

Hmmmm you really gave us food for thought and we did a lot of research on youtube, websites, guidebooks, and by reading the Medora pamphlet online. I agree that the Native American Scenic Byway route will probably be less interesting than described in the National Geographic scenic drives book and the native American stops may well be underwhelming. So I avidly and carefully looked at the alternatives you suggested. While Teddy Roosevelt National Park looks gorgeous, we wonder if it will feel redundant to Badlands National Park. Medora looks like a fun place and if our young grandchildren were going to be with us, it would be great for them....even if a bit pricey. I think we will wait until we are there next week and play it by ear. The sculptures along the Enchanted Highway look great and would be an attraction for us since I am a metal sculpture hobbyist.

Thanks for the excellent input.

North Dakota
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5. Re: North Dakota first time???

TR Park is quite different from the Badlands...even if you just drive North from RC, you can see them from I-94. They are much more colorful than SD...of course I probably am biased but I have heard the remark from non-NoDakers as well. We often see herds of wild horses or sheep even right from the Painted Canyon stop, as well as seeing elk and buffalo. It could just be Medora is a nice stop in the afternoon for you on your way East too. The Chateau de Mores is beautiful with a lovely story.

Just something to think about. Have fun!

East Meadow, New...
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6. Re: North Dakota first time???

OKAY...have switched our route, cancelled reservation in Pierre, made a reservation at Rough Riders Hotel and will spend one full day from Rapid City through Spearfish Canyon to TRNP, seeing as much as possible. We can see more the following day since the drive to Bismarck from there is a short one and we need not arrive until early evening. You convinced us and I think it will be much better so thank you!!!!!!!

Now, do you recommend the Medora Musical, which will cost us almost $80 or should we skip that?

I was told that the Medora Foundation has an expensive restaurant, a pizza place, and a burger stand but there may be more restaurants in town. What do you recommend- no burger stand, no pizza, prefer moderate place for salads and light healthful foods? Thanks again

Jamestown, North...
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7. Re: North Dakota first time???

I agree that the North Dakota Badlands are prettier than South Dakota. North Dakota has more scoria (the red rock) which adds more color contrast. Painted Canyon is a must for us every trip west even though we've seen it hundreds of times. If you like scenic drives, the Old Red 10 might be a good choice if you do decide to go to Medora. It runs parallel to the Interstate from Dickinson to Bismarck.

As JA Combs said, Bismarck has several things to do. There's the State Capitol, Fort Abraham Lincoln, the trolly in Mandan. Just north of Bismarck, you have the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Fort Mandan, as well as the Knife River Indian Villages and Double Ditch Indian Village.

Also on I-94, Jamestown has the National Buffalo Museum and White Cloud, the only DNA certified true albino bison in the world.

Further east on I-94, Valley City has a beautiful byway with Fort Ransom to the South.

I hope your trip is great!

North Dakota
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8. Re: North Dakota first time???

I like the musical personally. Its not fancy, but just good old fashioned fun. If its a beautiful night and you can watch the elk move his way up the hill before the show starts, its great. As for cost, you certainly don't look like it, but if you or your traveling companion are 55 or older, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the musical is 15% off for you. Also you can package musical tickets with your hotel stay sometimes to save more money. I really liked the pitchfork fondue but it was the first time I have ever eaten one of those. Heck if you don't want the steak, you can do the rest of the meal for $14 which includes cole slaw, baked potatoe, etc.

The rest of the places are fine, but not my favorites in the world. You'll have to let us know when you get back how it went. I know I love it there, but we sure like to hear up to date information from out of staters so we can be sure to give the best advice available.

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