Now that spring has sprung, dad and mom are itching to get out of the house as much as the kids. The great outdoors and everything that makes it unique in North Dakota awaits. For a day of fun, try these experiences, or make up some of your own.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Historic Medora
Children's Museum at Yunker Farm
Scheels All Sports
North Dakota Heritage Center
Lewis and Clark Wagon Train and Trail Ride
Fort Seward Wagon Train
International Peace Garden
Fargo Blues Festival
North Dakota Zoos
In West Fargo, Bonanzaville USA is a picturesque restored pioneer village, a self-contained city consisting of 40 museums on 12 acres that exhibits life in 1880s Dakota Territory. The area displays an original sod house, country school, country church and log home, and the 1881 home of David H. Houston, inventor of roll-type film used by Eastman-Kodak.
The 70,000-acre park and its rugged topography honor Theodore Roosevelt, who ranched in the Badlands and later established the national park system. As 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt said, "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota." He came to the Badlands in 1883 to hunt and established the Maltese Cross and Elkhorn open-range cattle ranches. The park is home to Roosevelt's cabin and marks the original Elkhorn ranch site. The North Dakota Badlands provide a spectacular backdrop for the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, home to the world-famous Medora musical.
The bright red barn is just one of the attractions at this learning museum for children. The more than 50 hands-on exhibits are designed to engage, educate, stimulate creativity and encourage interaction between children and the exhibits. Yunker Farm is rated as one of the top 25 children's museums in the United States by Child magazine.
Considered "the largest sports store in the world," Scheels All Sports features 88 sports specialty shops — more than 4 acres of shopping — under one roof. Sports enthusiasts and families alike will spend hours here discovering the 45-foot working Ferris Wheel, gun and archery shooting galleries, a sports simulator and much more. The Fargo area has great options for lodging, whether you are looking for a romantic getaway at the trendy Hotel Donaldson, with its hot tub suites, or dozens of other great places to spend the night.
The State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center on the Capitol Grounds acts as a time machine. Through its doors visitors can discover Plains Indian life, the Old West or bonanza wheat farms. Step from an Indian camp into a homesteader's yard as you wander through the vast displays of history and culture that make North Dakota truly unique.
Taking a trip through time is easy when you walk through the Dakota Dinosaur Museum in Dickinson that features 10 full-scale dinosaurs. There are complete rhinoceros and bison fossils, fossil plants, mammals and reptiles. The museum also features a seashell collection and fluorescent minerals, and has a collection of rocks and minerals found throughout the world. Participate in history by digging for real bones in seasonal digs that are offered in multiple areas across the state.
Travel part of the Lewis and Clark Trail on the back of a horse or in a covered wagon. The trail begins near Mandan, N.D., and ends at Fort Mandan, Lewis and Clark's reconstructed 1804-1805 winter quarters, near Washburn, N.D. The West River Teamsters are your hosts. Breakfast is served daily at 6 a.m. and there are regular rest stops and lunch breaks. An evening meal is served at camp at the end of the day's ride, followed by a campfire and good company. Lewis and Clark enthusiasts join the group throughout the trip to share stories and songs of the era, Native American culture and other North Dakota specialties.
The wagon train starts at the historic Fort Seward Park, overlooking the city of Jamestown. Fort Seward Park was once the site of a U.S. Infantry Post. The covered wagon train adventure features history talks, camping and nature lore. It is not required to own or to ride a horse to participate. The wagon train will stop at known historical sites, marked and unmarked, along the way.
The world's greatest tribute to peace can be found at the International Peace Garden on the border shared by the U.S. and Canada near Dunseith. See 2,200 acres of colorful gardens, landscapes and botanical areas, as well as the Peace Chapel and a memorial designed with remnants of wreckage from the World Trade Center towers. It's open year-round, but the best view of flowers is in July and August.
North America's largest Scandinavian festival draws more than 55,000 people over its five-day run at the State Fair Center in Minot. The festival features daily entertainment on the big stage, as well as free entertainment scattered throughout the grounds. In between all the entertainment, enjoy the many booths featuring handmade and other items. There's also plenty of food to try.
This annual classic car event features a display of some 500 vehicles of 1979 and older vintage. Specialty cars are also included. There's live rock and roll, as well as rhythm and blues music in Burlington Park. Food vendors are on hand.
This two-day, 12-band blues explosion features world-class bands, great food and camping within walking distance. The event is held at Newman Outdoor Field. Dan Aykroyd, a.k.a. Elwood Blues, has twice given it a thumbs up on his nationally syndicated House of Blues radio hour.
North Dakota has some of the best zoos in the region. In Bismarck, Dakota Zoo is open year-round. Winter hours are limited, but you can see how the more than 600 animals live when the weather turns cold. Two trains can take you on a tour of the zoo and the driver offers a bit of history on the animals and the habitats. There's also a concession stand, an ice cream parlor and a gift shop.
In Fargo, the Red River Zoo sits on 33 acres of land and features an outstanding living collection. Several endangered species live and breed in natural habitat throughout the zoo. More than 300 animals of 75 species make their home at the zoo. The zoo opens for the season on May 1 and is open through Labor Day. A shorter schedule is followed for Labor Day through Oct. 10.
In Minot, Roosevelt Park Zoo is open May through September. The zoo provides enjoyment and education through educational programs and displays, and conservation awareness. Hundreds of animals call the zoo home, including Bengal tigers, African lions, flamingos, African penguins and Grant zebras.
In Wahpeton, the Chahinkapa Zoo is home to more than 50 species of animals and birds in a colorful environment of natural displays. The zoo also features the Rodger Ehnstrom Nature Center, an outstanding wildlife museum. Grandpa's Petting Zoo offers children a chance to have hands-on experience with an opportunity to feed domesticated farm animals.