When I tell people I’m on a journey to visit all 50 states, they usually jokingly ask me, “which one do you think will be the hardest?” Most people suggest either Alaska and Hawaii simply due to distance, but others suggest states like Idaho, Wyoming, and North Dakota, because they think there is nothing to do there.
One of the reasons I began this journey is because I had a sneaking suspicion that “flyover states” have more than meets the eye. If you live in one of those states, I’m sorry that city folk have dubbed your state only worth flying over and not worth a visit – they’re wrong.
For North Dakota, I knew that I wanted to either visit Fargo or the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park is much more difficult to get to and we only had a weekend, so it had to be Fargo this time but one day I’ll make it to the park as I’m trying to check all of those off as well!
People who are on the 50 states journey like me often save North Dakota for last intentionally because they have a “best state for last club.” All you have to do is show up to the Fargo-Moorehead Visitor’s Center and tell them that it’s your 50th state and you’ll get a t-shirt. Well…it was my 43rd, not my 50th, because the timing just worked out for a weekend trip to Fargo, but I still took a picture in front of their sign (shown below). No matter which state it is for you, here are my suggestions for spending a weekend in Fargo.
How to Get to Fargo
While Fargo does have its own airport (Hector International), it’s not the easiest place to get to from most cities. For us to fly from Nashville, we needed to grab a connecting flight out of MSP. We knew we needed to rent a car anyway, so we decided to fly into Minneapolis and drive the 3 1/2 hours to Fargo rather than connecting from MSP to Fargo and then renting a car. This way, we avoided the stress of having connecting flights, AND we got to make a pit stop at the Mall of America for lunch.
The drive from Minneapolis to Fargo is flat and easy through the scenic farmlands of Minnesota. If you have more than a weekend and want to make a true road trip out of it, you can stop at various lakes and parks! The halfway point is a town called Alexandria, Minnesota. The area has over 350 lakes (wow!) and dozens of trails and other activities.
If you’re taking this road trip with kids (which I don’t really recommend; my itinerary involves a lot of drinking), you can stop at “Shenanigans Indoor Playground.” Depending on the time of year, you can also stop in at Country Blossom Farm for pick-your-own apples, strawberries, raspberries, or pumpkins. You can also just stop in to visit the bakery.
When to Visit Fargo
I’m sure Fargo is beautiful at any time of year, but we visited during Labor Day weekend in 2019 and it was perfect. The weather was very comfortable (though we did find a bit of rain), and Fargo can get pretty icy cold in the winter with temperatures below zero. During the summer months, you may be more able to find lake activities and hiking opportunities, but we very much enjoyed our late summer/early fall visit.
What to Pack for a Trip to Fargo
Fargo is easy and casual. Unless you have very specific plans in mind, there is no need to pack your “fancy” clothes. If you’re visiting in the spring or fall, be sure to pack a sweatshirt or light jacket. If you’re visiting in the winter, good luck – you’ll need your heaviest coat and snow boots.
Where to Stay in Fargo
We stayed at the Comfort Suites Medical Center*, and I highly recommend it. It’s an affordable two-star hotel that does not sacrifice safety and comfort. The room was bigger than we needed and the location was perfect. You could technically walk to the Red River Zoo from this hotel, and everything else you might want to do is no more than 10-15 minutes away. However, if you have a favorite hotel chain that you prefer, there is certainly no shortage of Fargo hotel options.
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What to do in Fargo
Fargo-Moorehead Visitor’s Center(s)
Fargo technically has two visitor’s centers today. One is located downtown inside a local art gallery called Gallery4, and the other is just off I-94 and might even be the first thing you notice when you drive into town.
The Fargo-Moorehead Visitor’s Center off I-94 is where you’ll find the “best state for last club” sign and the famous woodchipper from the movie Fargo. You’ll also find a beautifully landscaped North Dakota sign, a celebrity walk of fame with over 100 celebrity handprints (including Metallica, Bill Gates, and more), as well as the typical visitor’s center things you might be interested in (brochures, maps, and a small gift shop).
Pro tip: if you’re driving an electric vehicle, this visitor’s center has a charging station available for $0.30 kwh with a $4.95 session fee.
If you visit the downtown center (why not try both?), you’ll also have the chance to check out some incredible local art as well as purchase some local honey, sauces, and other Fargo products.
Drekker Brewing Co. & Suna’s North African Bistro
Even if you’re not a big beer drinker, this place is cool. If you ARE a big beer drinker, even better – you’ll love this. Check out their website or social media pages before you go to see what’s going on, and time your visit according to when they’re hosting one of Fargo’s many food trucks!
When we went, Suna’s North African Bistro was there and we had the most amazing Egyptian food that I still dream about. If you can’t catch them at Drekker, check out their social media profiles to find out where they will be while you’re in town – I can’t recommend it enough.
Food truck or no food truck, Drekker Brewing Co. is a great place to hang out. You can sit inside and play a few games while you drink a beer with your travel buddies, or you can sit outside around a fire pit.
When it comes to the beer selection, you really can’t go wrong if you pick the type of beer that you like. They have IPAs, stouts, brown ales, pale ales, SEVERAL sours, and hard seltzers. They also have some cool t-shirts, hats, and other gift shop items available for sale.
The Shack on Broadway
The Shack on Broadway is THE place for breakfast in Fargo. Since it is THE place, you might find a wait – so I don’t suggest going there if you’re just in a hurry for some coffee. If you have time to sit and enjoy a nice hearty breakfast, do yourself a favor and stop in! As you can see from my photos, the portions are generous and everything is crisped up perfectly. The restaurant itself has an old road-side hometown diner feel with a fairly large menu.
The Red River Zoo
If you’re looking for tigers and lions, the Red River Zoo in Fargo is not really the zoo for you. It’s a small non-profit, but it’s a great way to spend an hour or two, especially if you’re traveling with kids. You’ll find camels, wolves, otters, red pandas, bald eagles, several barnyard animals, and more. Tickets are cheap, at $11.25 for adults and $8.75 for kids (under two is free).
Praire Rose Meadery
We had absolutely no idea what to expect from our first mead experience, and it ended up being the highlight of our weekend in Fargo – we even ended up purchasing a few bottles to take home!
Prairie Rose Meadery is a small, family-owned meadery. They won the “National Homebrew Competition” in 2006 and again in 2013.
If you’re unfamiliar, mead is an alcoholic beverage commonly referred to as “honey wine,” though it’s not really a wine at all. It’s made by fermenting honey with water and yeast, sometimes including fruits, spices, grains, or hops. Most mead tastes incredibly sweet and has relatively high alcohol content, so be careful just how much tasting you do at Prairie Rose if you plan on driving afterwards!
When you visit, you can enjoy a glass or you can do a tasting, which I highly recommend (especially if you’ve never tried mead, but even if you have). I tried the Blackberry, Mint, Vanilla Cinnamon, and Apple. My now-husband tried the Traditional Clover, Maple, Pineapple Chipotle, and Boysenberry. However, we each tried sips of each others as well. We enjoyed all of them, though I remember thinking the maple was a bit too sweet for my taste (my husband LOVED it). The Vanilla Cinnamon definitely has a kick to it.
After our tasting, we were feeling pretty good – and then Bob, one of the owners who was tending the tasting room, suggested I try one of his concoctions – I wish I remembered the exact recipe, but I believe it was the lemon mead with a splash of ginger beer. Or maybe it was the traditional mead with a splash of lemon juice and ginger beer? Not sure, but it was a cocktail I would have loved to have drank by the pool.
Bob was so nice and talked to us a lot about his business. We asked why mead was not really commonplace, and he pointed out that there is actually a meadery in Nashville, where we were living. For some reason, it just hasn’t taken off like other alcoholic beverages have. It is a bit of a strong drink, but it’s delicious.
Before we left, Bob even offered to take a picture of us in front of the bar!
Fargo Brewing Company
If you’re not interested in trying mead or if you have more time to check out another brewery during your weekend in Fargo, I recommend stopping by Fargo Brewing Company. It doesn’t have the same vibe as Drekker – it’s a bit more of a bar type of place than a true brewery, but they still have a handful of craft beers that you can enjoy. It’s a great place to unwind or have good conversation over a beer or two.
The Boiler Room/Downtown Fargo
The Boiler Room is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Fargo, so dining here is a great excuse to wander around downtown if you haven’t already done so. It has almost a speakeasy vibe, because it’s located in the basement of the historic Loretta building.
Their menu is full of “upscale bar food” as well as 25 cocktails and an extensive beer and wine list (including local brews on tap). You can’t go wrong with their menu, but they are famous for their scotch eggs appetizer!
Weekend in Fargo
We had an amazing weekend exploring much of what Fargo has to offer. It’s a city that you can 100% “do” in a weekend. My only gripe is that it’s not the easiest city to get to for most of America, so I’m not sure I’ll be back. A five or six hour flight with a connection or a two hour flight with a three our drive is not ideal for such a short trip, otherwise I might spend another weekend or two there!
All in all, Fargo is a great place to drink some beers, eat some good food, and enjoy a bit of midwestern culture.
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