Throughout the years that I’ve lived here, I have seen and done some pretty cool things for free or for a very reasonable price.
I love how North Dakota is teaming with history and inspiration. It is such a mystery to the outside world, even some people who have lived here for years do not understand its charm and beauty. I like to take Sunday afternoon drives with my kids and discover new things, I love going to places that are hands on and family friendly. Based on these considerations here is my list so far of free stuff to do in North Dakota and I am always looking for more ideas so if you have any input please leave a comment below.
Along I-94 there are some pretty cool attractions that are free to look at, except for your gas and food of coarse. It’s worth driving from one end of the state to the other just to check them out! I’ll start from the West side of the State and work my way East, let me know if I’ve missed anything;)
Prairie Fire Pottery Beach, ND
I have never actually seen this awesome pottery in person because we are always in a mad rush when we drive through Beach, but I’ve always wanted to, so I put it on my list! Here’s a link to check it out online.
Medora ND/Theodore Roosevelt National Park
What a cute town! It was settled in 1883 by a French nobleman named Marquis de Mores he named the town after his wife and set up a meat packaging plant there. He was way ahead of his time and unfortunately his enterprise never came to full fruition, all that remains is the main chimney now in Chimney Park. This is also where Theodore Roosevelt spent much of his time before he became President, he ran two cattle ranches near Medora, and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park was named in his honor. Although most of Medora’s attractions have a cost, there are a few free things to do.
There’s a cute little upstairs art gallery that you will see as you enter the town, it has beautiful paintings and pictures of the Badlands. There is also the Painted Canyon Visitors Center and the cutest playground I have ever seen. The entire playground is built to look like an old wild west town. Medora is very much worth checking out as it is the number one tourist attraction in North Dakota.
Continue down I-94 and you’ll come to the booming town of Dickinson, ND. It was recognized as one of the top ten small towns to live in in the US! There are some fun free things to do here like checking out the Heritage Park Museum, the staff are very nice and offer a lot of hands on kid friendly exhibits.
The Dickinson State Agricultural Park is so lovely, especially in spring and summer when all of the flowers are in bloom. There are trails all around the gardens and you feel as though you could get lost in the beautiful forests and orchard areas. The enclosed fire pit with log benches all around would be a nice place to have a fireside and roast marshmallows. The best part is that there is always a good supply of firewood on hand.
Don’t forget to browse through the shops of downtown Dickinson and the Ukrainian Cultural Institure or you could spend the afternoon at the library, with its beautiful architecture and cozy armchairs it makes for a nice place to relax, there is also a really cute children’s section. It’s one of the nicest small town libraries I’ve visited.
For some more lively adventure you could go boating down the Dickinson River. I don’t know the actual name of this river but it is the only one in town so it’s pretty hard to miss. There is a parking lot in the Eagle Park that makes a great place to load and unload your boat or tube. The river flows from Patterson Lake at a very slow pace giving it almost no current so it’s pretty safe, just watch out for the dam to the East near Jaycee Park because that is where the river ends. I’ve noticed quite a few of these lazy rivers around the State, it makes me want to carry a blow up raft around with me all summer long just in case I get the urge to float down river. This is a fun thing to do with a crowd of people, the more the merrier!
The Enchanted Highway
North Dakota is home to a few of the world’s largest things. The Enchanted Highway is a series of seven of the Worlds Largest scrap metal sculptures. They all begin at the Geese in Flight Sculpture off exit 72. This incredible sculpture is 90 feet high and 150 feet wide and weighs 50 tons. If you keep driving South for 32 miles to the town of Regent you’ll see the rest of these amazing sculptures. They were made by a local artist Gary Greff to help promote tourism in the town of Regent. Word of warning! After the first sculpture you will drive at least ten more miles until you see another one, but it’s well worth the drive so just sit back and enjoy the ride:)
Assumption Abbey, Richardton ND
This is a fun place to tour if you’re looking for beautiful architecture and history. It was completed in 1909 and still houses the monks today. They make wine, soap and other things to sell. I’ve personally tried the lavender soap and it is lovely!
Sue is the “Worlds Largest Holstein Cow”. You can see her from the freeway between Richardton and Bismarck. Be sure to stop and check her out along the way, she stands on top of one of the only hills and there’s a view in every direction as far as the eye can see. The serenity is quite breathtaking!
Bismarck and Mandan ND
There are so many fun things to do in Bismarck and Mandan that I am not going to go into much detail about them now. They are all worthwhile though and you will never have an excuse to be bored! Here are some of the free attractions.
Chief Looking’s Village Historic Site
Keelboat and Steamboat parks
Bismarck Art and Galleries Association
As you mosey on down the road you’ll come to Jamestown, the free attraction that brings in more than 100,000 visitors per year is Frontier Village where “The World’s Largest Buffalo” is held. This was also the hometown of one of my favorite authors Louis L’Amour. I have not visited Jamestown yet, but I am looking forward to it this summer!
As you near the end of your Interstate 94 tour what better place to leave off than Fargo. This is the biggest city in North Dakota and once you’ve lived out in the country for so long and then come to a big city like Fargo you forget that there are so many people in the world!
The city is right on the State line of Minnesota so that’s always fun to straddle the line and be in two placed at once. There are also some fun things to check out for free like the Celebrity Walk of Fame and the baseball legend Roger Maris Museum. I must admit that I’ve only been to Fargo a few times and because it is so huge I haven’t been able to experience all of the wonderful things there are to do, so please if you have any input we’d all love to know.
Look out for my next post as we look for free things to do in Grand Forks and in the Heart of the Bakken!