Brought to you by North Dakota Tourism – 10 Must Do Family Activities in North Dakota.
Thinking of heading somewhere new this year for your family vacation? Have you considered North Dakota?! This Midwestern state is packed full of adventures that are perfect for families and memory making. Another plus is that you won’t spend an arm and a leg funding your trip!
Drive the Enchanted Highway
Start at Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone and head along the Enchanted Highway that ends 32 miles down the road in the small town of Regent. Your family will have fun spotting the large metal sculptures, which are placed along the county highway. You’ll be able to part at each one to snap a family photo. Get the full list of sculptures from the North Dakota tourism website and make a scavenger hunt for your kids to check off as they spot the creations.
If you like to hit the links, North Dakota is the perfect spot for you. North Dakota has more golf courses per capita than any other state in the country. Plus, the green fees won’t leave you broke, making it a great outdoor activity for families. There’s even a special kids golf course called Jack Hoeven Wee Links in Minot.
North Dakota is home to four amazing zoos all featuring a wild menagerie of mammals and birds. Visit and learn about some endangered animals at the Red River Zoo, or hop over to the Dakota Zoo which let’s you tour the whole zoo by train. You’ll also find the Chahinkapa Zoo and Roosevelt Park Zoo, making North Dakota a great spot for animal crazy kiddos.
If you have a dinosaur fan in the fam, North Dakota has great displays to amaze them. There are 8 stops you should add on to your North Dakota Dinosaur Tour. Especially the Dickinson Museum Center, which features 11 full-scale dinosaurs, including a real skeleton of a Triceratops.
Tackle Two Wheels
Whether you’re an avid mountain biking family, or just wanting to cruise along some paved paths, North Dakota has a bike route that will work for you. Find a local cycle shop to rent some gear, and check in with them as to the best routes for your family’s abilities. If you’re in the Bismarck area I hear there’s a paved trail that starts at Pioneer Park, follows along the Missouri River, and past the Dakota Zoo.
Smell Something Fishy
Take a trip to the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium is near Lake Sakakawea and Riverdale. Visitors can see the center’s five 300-gallon aquariums, which display many of North Dakota’s fish species. There are two trails located at the hatchery and provide a great opportunity for hiking, biking, fishing or cross-country skiing. The Wetlands Trail provides unique insight into the value of wetlands, and the Lewis and Clark Trail provides interpretation into the past. In October, trail-goers can witness the fall migration of salmon as they make their return to the hatchery.
Hike Through History
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is the perfect spot for families to head for a bit of history mixed in with some hiking. Fort Abraham Lincoln was once an important infantry and cavalry post. It was from this fort that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh cavalry rode out on their ill-fated expedition against the Sioux at the Little Big Horn. Kids will love running around and spotting the reconstructed earthlodges, which depict the lifestyle of the Mandan Indians, as well as portions of the military post, including the Custer House.
Paddle and Play
Many of the state parks around North Dakota are perfect for families. There are quite a few that include a lake, and allow for some fun water sport activities like canoeing or kayaking. One of the most popular vacation spots in North Dakota is the Lake Metigoshe State Park, named so because of its “clear water lake surrounded by oaks”.
Giddy Up Cowboy
Our family will never forget our horseback riding experience in southwest Montana, and North Dakota is another great spot to saddle up. Whether you want to take part in a short ride at a stable, pair it up with a stay at a ranch, or head out into a park with your trusted steed, North Dakota has plenty of horseback riding options.
Cool Discoveries with Lewis & Clark
Most people know the story of Lewis and Clark and Sakakawea; how the explorers came through North Dakota, wintered there and met a young Native American girl who would become vital to the success of the Corps of Discovery. Families visiting North Dakota can see where and how they lived during their stay at Fort Mandan and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Stop into the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center to view artifacts and learn more details about this historical journey.
Are you ready to pack your bags and head to the Midwest?! This is just a sampling of the fun that North Dakota has to offer families looking for an adventurous, yet affordable, family vacation.