From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Located in central North Dakota is Bismarck, the capital city of the state. It’s famous for being home to the North Dakota State Capitol, a tall art deco structure set on beautifully landscaped grounds.
Within this popular city, you’ll also find the Dakota Zoo, which sits alongside the Missouri River and is home to hundreds of species of exotic and native animals. Residents and visitors alike also praise the region’s award-winning restaurants, fascinating museums, and scenic state parks.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Bismarck has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Bismarck, North Dakota? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Bismarck isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks and national parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
Established in 1907, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is one of the oldest and is widely known for its historical landscape. While hiking, biking, and even horseback riding, enjoy the beautiful views of Bismarck’s vast hills and flowing rivers. Learn about the state park’s colorful history when you stop by the Visitor Center, and camp overnight along the Missouri River in cabins provided by the park.
With over 13 miles of breathtaking trails, the Cross Ranch State Park is the hottest destination spot for adventurers all over the nation. Enjoy historic scenery that was once graced by Lewis and Clark as a part of their Corps of Discovery Expedition. Visitors can spend the night in cabins, yurts, and tipi for an unforgettable experience.
Just 7.5 miles north of Bismarck, this site attracts visitors of all ages due to its historic past and accessible walkways that take you on an incredible scenic journey. Established during the 1700s, this recreational area used to be an ancient Mandan earthlodge village and is now one of the most visited sites in the region.
Camp, hike, and wildlife watch while visiting this iconic national park named in honor of the 26th president of the United States. Explorers young and experienced can adventure along the rolling hills and rugged landscape for an unforgettable encounter with nature. If you’re looking for the perfect winter getaway, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is open all year-round, making it the perfect ski and snowboarding destination.
Still need to get your nature fix? If you’re craving seeing even more of the beautiful scenery that surrounds Bismarck, then there are also plenty of hiking and walking trails for you and your family to enjoy.
This 3.6-mile loop trail located just 8 miles outside of Bismarck is the perfect place to get in touch with nature and enjoy North Dakota’s historical landscape. Catch a glimpse of the Missouri River and discover the trail’s exciting past by visiting fort replicas and remains. Visitors can hike, run, and camp with the entire family, including dogs as long as they are leashed.
Enjoy the city’s beauty by walking, running, biking, or hiking this 4.7-mile trail. Visitors can overlook the flowing Missouri River and get a taste of the local history and culture thanks to the multitude of informative displays. Bring the whole family or allow yourself to escape for a little while when visiting this popular trail on days when you’re craving fresh air and some sun.
Venture just 8 miles outside of the city’s bustling environment to take in a spectacular view of North Dakota’s awe-inspiring scenery. Visitors can hike, bird watch, and fish along this trail, which is short enough for the kids to enjoy. You can take the whole family on a group bike ride or walk. It’s also the perfect place to have a picnic and appreciate the city’s beautiful nature.
Bismarck is home to a bustling and trendy dining scene, so there’s sure to be a restaurant, café, or diner to satisfy your cravings. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long hike, or simply feel like treating yourself to a delicacy, then you’re in luck. Here are our top restaurant recommendations!
Looking for the perfect spot to catch the latest game and enjoy a great steak and seafood dinner? Then Jack’s Steakhouse & Seafood is the place for you! Established over 22 years ago, this restaurant has been voted Bismarck’s Best Steakhouse. Bring the whole family or just stop by to order a couple drinks and appetizers while watching some football.
50 burgers and 50 brews sound too good to be true, but Sickies really has it all. Just stop by and have a taste of their award-winning signature dishes and drinks. If you’re craving a little more than just burgers and beers, make sure to try their mouth-watering chicken wings, crunchy wraps, garden-fresh salads, and delicious milkshakes and malts.
Stop by this well-known local restaurant to enjoy authentic traditional Mexican food. For the past 15 years, La Carreta has been making customers feel warmly welcomed and incredibly satisfied. The restaurant uses local ingredients to create high quality dishes and house cocktails. You can stop by to try out their signature lunch specials or call for take-out.
Since 1995, the Walrus has been serving fresh food and delicious drinks that leave locals and visitors coming back for more. Located downtown, this neighborhood restaurant is perfect for catching a bite to eat after a long day of exploring the city’s beauty. Their menu is guaranteed to have something that satisfies every family member, such as pizzas, pastas, burgers, and salads.
Stop by this restaurant to enjoy one-of-a-kind dishes that both locals and visitors constantly rave about. Try their signature fried cheesy pickles or Korean BBQ sauce grilled wings to understand why The Toasted Frog is unlike any other restaurant. If you’re craving something sweet to eat, then you have got to try the Pear Pie topped with caramel sauce and cinnamon ice cream.
After feasting and enjoying all that the hiking trails and state parks have to offer, you may be wondering: “what next?” Well, when it comes to Bismarck’s attractions and activities, you’re only just getting started. Here are some of the most fun things on offer in and around the city!
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
Visitors from near and far head on over to the Dakota Zoo to catch a glimpse of Bismarck’s exotic wildlife. For just $5, hop on a train and ride through the entire zoo for an unforgettable adventure. Families and kids will find themselves enjoying the various exhibits and displays that give more information about the zoo’s inhabitants. Tickets cost $7 for children, $10 for adults, and $9 for seniors.
Bismarck’s historical landscapes and exotic wildlife aren’t the only things that kids can discover. For the past 25 years, this hands-on science center has been inspiring the scientist in everyone, allowing kids of all ages to have fun while learning. Gateway to Science prides themselves on being an engaging space with a variety of activities and programs that entertain and inform children. Make sure to check their latest upcoming events to never miss out on the excitement and adventure.
What should you do in Bismarck once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
Bismarck is a city not only filled with stunning scenery but also astonishing talent. End your night with a performance by the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra to witness the artistic excellence of some of the best musicians in the state. Enjoy guest performances by local artists when you buy season ticket packages for the whole family.
The adventure doesn’t stop when the sun goes down! Lewis & Clark Riverboat Cruises are a once in a lifetime experience that includes an unforgettable boat ride across the Missouri River. Reserve your tickets today and take the whole family on a memorable adventure. Simply relax and enjoy a tasty snack and refreshing drink as you ride across the sparkling river.
What can you do in or around Bismarck that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
The historic Buckstop Junction sends visitors on a journey back in time. Take the whole family on a guided tour of the little old town. Tour tickets are only $6 for adults, $3 for students, and free for children 5 years old and younger.
Bismarck’s Superslide Amusement Park has been putting smiles on families faces for over 50 years. Each attraction requires a certain number of tickets to ride with single tickets costing just under a dollar. Visitors can purchase a sheet of 25 tickets for $20 to ride almost all the attractions.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Bismarck? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Bismarck that won’t cost you a cent.
Bring the whole family on down to the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum to discover the city’s riveting history – for free! Walk along the Capitol Arboretum Trail or visit any four of the interactive galleries that feature thousands of artifacts and specimens.
Discover and learn about the vast history of the North Dakota State Capitol facility when you schedule a tour and walk along the famed grounds. The State Capitol is the perfect tourist attraction for visitors of all ages, making it a must when visiting the city of Bismarck.
Relax your mind and your body at ND Life Spa. Treat yourself to a deep tissue or Swedish massage to feel rejuvenated and reawakened. You can even sooth your muscles and spirit when you use their infrared sauna designed to penetrate the skin, releasing harmful toxins.
Treat yourself to a spa day with Kharma Vida. Whether you’re looking for facial or body treatments that will leave you feeling revitalized, this spa has it all. They also offer a variety of beauty services such as waxing and eyelash extensions. Walk-ins are welcomed every day of the week except Sundays, which are exclusively by reservation.
Stay fit and healthy with the help of Verge Fitness. This facility offers a variety of studio classes for everyone to enjoy and features high-end gear and equipment. After an intense workout, make sure to stop by the spa to relax and unwind.
Transitions Yoga features multiple workshops and events for beginning and experienced yogis. The first class is always free, and class passes are available for purchase so that you never miss a lesson. You can even purchase monthly unlimited passes to attend as many classes as you’d like!
Further explore North Dakota’s great beauty and boundless history when you travel to the beautiful city of Fargo. (And be sure to check out our Fargo local guide, too!) Explore the historic pioneer village of Bonanzaville and the popular Red River Zoo. Take the whole family to the Fargo Air Museum or the Children’s Museum Yunker-Farm for fun-filled activities. You can even enjoy a nice family picnic at Lindenwood Park.
Head on over to the city of Grand Forks and visit the well-known North Dakota Museum of Art. For some quality fun in the sun, take the whole family to the Splashers of the South Seas waterpark or The Greenway park and garden. End the day by visiting the Downtown Grand Forks Historic District to experience the city’s enticing charm as the sun sets along the Red River.
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Bismarck that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Bismarck? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.