27 Amazing Hidden Gems in North Dakota

Located in the northern part of the USA, North Dakota is in the area known as the Great Plains. The state shares borders with Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, and Canada’s Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

A large state, North Dakota is in both the top five most sparsely populated states and the top five least populous states. There’s a lot of land with (relatively) not a lot of people! This isn’t without its benefits though; the state has the lowest unemployment rates in all of the USA and also some of the country’s lowest crime rates.

It has the unfortunate claim to fame of being the least-visited state in the USA. Don’t let this put you off, though; this means that there are heaps of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered! Don’t, however, plan to go exploring offbeat villages and towns—this state only has cities. They may be cities with populations of fewer than ten, like Maza, Ruso, Bergen, and Grano, but they’re still referred to as cities.

Locals are inventive when it comes to naming their cities too; why not call by Flasher, Zap, Cannon Ball, Medicine Hole, and Buttzville on your trip?!

Speaking of inventions, did you know that the Kodak camera was born in North Dakota? The state can also boast of coming out top in several things, including being the USA’s largest producer of honey, growing the most sunflowers, and having the most churches per capita and the most national wildlife refuges in the country.

North Dakota is also a global superstar in some respects. It hosted the world’s biggest pancake feed. It has the world record for the most snow angels ever built in one place. It is home to the world’s biggest metal sculpture and the biggest buffalo in the world. At least locals are proud of these facts!

An arguably more impressive fact is that you’ll find the geographic heart of North America in North Dakota.

Plan your trip to the USA’s northern friend (Dakota means friend in the Sioux language) and tick some of these cool hidden gems off your bucket list:

1. Garrison Dam, Garrison

Garrison Dam GarrisonSource: northlight / shutterstock
Garrison Dam Garrison

One of the world’s biggest earthen-built dams in the world, Garrison Dam can be found between Riverdale and Pick City. Constructed between the mid-1940s and mid-1950s, it is the handiwork of military engineers.

Stretching for two miles, it’s an impressive feat of engineering. It did, however, lead to the destruction of traditional life for three large tribal groups when they had to relocate.

Enjoy the river views with a drive over the dam, or head down under the dam and chill out alongside the Missouri River where you can enjoy camping, picnicking, and fishing. Learn more about the dam’s construction and purpose with a visit to the hydro-electric plant. The energy created by the facility is enough to serve several hundred thousand people.

While at the dam you can also see the large Lake Sakakawea reservoir, named in honour of a lady from the Shoshone indigenous group, the third-biggest artificial lake in the USA.

2. Baan Rao Thai Restaurant, Minot

Baan Rao Thai Restaurant MinotSource: Baan Rao Thai Restaurant / Facebook
Baan Rao Thai Restaurant Minot

Located in North Dakota’s “Magic City” of Minot, Baan Rao Thai Restaurant is a great find for lovers of authentic Thai cuisine. Perhaps call in for a bite to eat after visiting Roosevelt Park and Zoo, the Scandinavian Heritage Park, Taube Museum of Art, or another of the city’s local attractions.

Tuck into curries of nearly every colour, massaman curry, or jungle curry. Enjoy fiery bowls of noodles and popular plates like fried vegetables, chicken with cashew nuts, stir-fried basil, claypot prawns, fried rice, and Thai omelet. Spicy soups like tom yam gung and tom yam jin gai will really get the digestive juices flowing.

With several regional specialities on the extensive menu, take a culinary tour of Thailand without leaving North Dakota and sink your teeth into the northern Thai favourite of khao soi, larb and som tam, both from the Isan region, and Penang curry, popular in the predominantly Muslim area in the south of Thailand.

From noodles to rice dishes and from soups to typical Thai snacks, you couldn’t find better Thai food unless you were actually in the Land of Smiles!

There is also a small shop attached to the restaurant where you can purchase ingredients imported from Thailand.

3. The Village of Murals, Jud

The Village Of Murals JudSource: Rondel Matney / Facebook
The Village Of Murals Jud

A small city (remember, no towns and villages!) with around 75 residents, Jud is the kind of place that you wouldn’t normally give a second glance to. Situated around 35 miles from Jamestown, it’s well worth a visit when in the area because of its fabulous street art.

The paintings embellish walls, doors, shutters, and whole buildings throughout the city, created by arty locals who wanted to make the area look attractive, appealing, and fresh all the time.

The side of the Post Office building sports a pale floral design on a postage stamp. A snowy night scene is emblazoned on the front of the Dog House Bar and Rodeo. Dagen’s Grocery, which dates back to the early 1900s, sports a Coca Cola design as well as other features. Scenes of rural and countryside life decorate some structures, with fields, hills, flowers, pheasants, and rivers.

Sure, Jud can’t compare to some of the world’s most famous street-art destinations—it simply isn’t big enough—but for a small destination in North Dakota the artwork is unique and pleasant to see.

4. USA’s Oldest Mosque, Ross

USA’s Oldest Mosque RossSource: Laurel Fairbrother Kaae / Facebook
USA’s Oldest Mosque Ross

In as remote a part of North Dakota as you could possibly imagine, the oldest still-existing mosque in the USA can be found. Built in the late 1920s by Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, access to the small mosque is by way of dusty unpaved roads through the prairies. A patchwork of pastures, agricultural land, and oil fields spreads for as far as the eye can see. Cattle graze in the fields and the trilling sound of birdsong fills the air.

While Islamic places of worship were built in the USA prior to this particular mosque, this is the oldest mosque still around. It isn’t the original building, though; the first mosque deteriorated so much that it was demolished in the late 1970s, eventually being rebuilt in the same spot in 2005. The people responsible for its resurrection were descendents of the original mosque’s founders.

The first mosque was established by a small local Muslim community who had farms in the area. To begin with, they worshipped in a basic basement. Today’s mosque may be humble but it’s a far cry from those early years.

Four minarets stand at the corners of the symmetrical building and pictures of the mosque’s founders can be found inside. Outside there’s a historic Muslim cemetery, still used as a burial site.

5. Edinburg General Store, Edinburg

Edinburg General Store EdinburgSource: Scott Latimer / Facebook
Edinburg General Store Edinburg

A large store in a small city (/town), Edinburg General Store is more like a museum than a shop. Spread over three levels, it’s a terrific place to see first-hand what life was like in the past. Relatively unchanged since it opened, the store is packed with a combination of practical everyday items and whimsical finds.

Souvenirs, hardware, antique furnishings, pottery, household goods, trinkets, and more can be found in the eclectic store. Looking for personalised pieces of pottery from diverse areas? Here’s your place. You can order pottery to be made for numerous other places. Oh, and three mini trains chug their way around the balcony too!

Adding further to the quirkiness factor, you’ll find a room dedicated to birds on the ground floor. After all, Edinburg isn’t called the Bird Capital of the state for nothing!

6. Paul Broste Rock Museum, Parshall

Paul Broste Rock Museum ParshallSource: Casaviva México / Facebook
Paul Broste Rock Museum Parshall

A fairly small museum with grand ideas and ambitious plans, Parshall’s Paul Broste Rock Museum was established by a rock-loving artist, farmer, and collector. His huge collection may suggest that Mr. Broste was also a bit of a hoarder when it came to rocks and fossils.

The museum contains items from across the world. Don’t expect just any old drab rocks, though; many pieces have been beautifully cut and polished into fine spheres of rocky attractiveness, which have been delicately balanced on a welded steel mount that was designed to resemble a tree. According to Paul Broste’s widow, he was drawn to circular rocks because they had no beginning and no end. Who know that rock collecting could be so deep?!

The extensive collection ranges from exquisite sparkling diamonds to pieces of glass. Tiger’s eyes, opals, pieces of quartz, and agates are examples that can be found in the collection. You’ll also find a dinosaur egg and pieces of a petrified tree stump.

The building itself is equally as impressive and unique. Purpose-built to contain the ever-growing collection, Broste sold his home to raise the required funds. He named the hill the Parshall Acropolis and created a striking building that’s rather like a merging of a traditional English cottage and a Spanish mission.

A real treasure for anyone with a passing interest in geology, the museum also contains several other interesting exhibits, such as indigenous artefacts, family heirlooms, and paintings created by the eccentric Mr. Broste himself. The quirky museum is especially popular with kids.

7. Knife River Indian Villages, Minot

Knife River Indian Villages MinotSource: Traveller70 / shutterstock
Knife River Indian Villages Minot

Just south of the city of Minot you’ll find the fascinating Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Travel back through the years and discover how indigenous groups lived in times gone by.

The site was established in 1974 to conserve the much-older cultural heritage and nature of the area. Archeological remains are scattered throughout the grasslands and forests, seductively whispering of long-past legacies. There are also wetland areas, which are home to various bird species and sandbars to add to the diverse terrain.

Learn more about the agricultural practices of the Plains Indians and their lucrative trading ventures as you explore historic villages alongside the gentle Knife River. Scenes of riverfront life, with joyful women sitting outside their huts while men chatted and smoked and children played with dolls and sticks, are easy to imagine as you hear the stories and explore the site.

8. Circus Monument, Wahpeton

Circus Monument WahpetonSource: Nick Whitten / Facebook
Circus Monument Wahpeton

An unusual and rather morbid hidden gem in Wahpeton, the Circus Monument remembers and respects three unfortunate people called Charles. Charles Walters, Charles Smith, and Charles Miller all worked for the famous Ringling Brothers Circus. On a fateful day in 1897, tragedy struck—quite literally—at the circus.

A storm was brewing and the circus folk needed to get the big top erected ready for the show. As they struggled with the tent pole a lightning bolt hit the pole, killing two of the men immediately. Charles Miller, the foreman, died later on as a result of the accident, and a further three workers sustained injuries but lived to tell the tale.

Incredibly / horrifically, the circus went ahead as planned on the very same day. They clearly lived by the mantra that the show must go on!

The three unlucky Charleses were buried locally, far from their homes, and a granite representation of the tent pole stands in their memory. It even has marks etched into it to show the scorch marks from the lightning strike. Visit this out-of-the-way graveyard and remember the ill-fated circus workers struck down in a storm.

9. International Peace Garden, Dunseith

International Peace Garden DunseithSource: International Peace Garden / Facebook
International Peace Garden Dunseith

Situated on the border between the USA and Canada, the garden sits at the point where North Dakota Highway 3 turns into Manitoba Highway 10. This spot was chosen because of the highway being the world’s longest north-south road and to signify the strong friendship and ties between the two North American nations.

A scenic garden with many species of plants and flowers, don’t expect a peaceful stroll in the park; the garden is huge, so much so that discovering it by car can take a couple of hours! The garden covers more than 2,300 acres.

Follow the 1.5-mile-long hiking trail around Lake Stormon for great views and a tranquil ambience. Admire the various cascading fountains around the gardens. Straddle the 49th Parallel and have one foot in the US and another in Canada. Take a refreshing dip in Lake Metigoshe.

You can also tag on a visit to see the huge turtle statue, called Tommy, at nearby Bottineau. The 30-foot-tall turtle isn’t just a regular turtle, however; Tommy sports a gigantic grin, is wearing a crash helmet, and is riding a snowmobile! That’s definitely not something that you see every day!

10. Fort Ransom State Park, Fort Ransom

Fort Ransom State Park Fort RansomSource: DanJohnsonPhotography / shutterstock
Fort Ransom State Park Fort Ransom

While North Dakota is largely known for its flatlands, Fort Ransom State Park is a great place to see diverse landscapes. Access to the park is, in itself, enchanting, with glorious vistas in all directions. Picturesque valleys were formed by the flow of the Sheyenne River, and many visitors are surprised to find hills in North Dakota.

The area is even more beautiful in the autumn when the surrounding trees change to glorious seasonal colours of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns.

The forest of Fort Ransom State Park was once home to some of the state’s earliest homesteads, so there is history and heritage to enjoy here too. One original dwelling has been preserved, allowing visitors to step back into the back and see how people of the past lived.

The hiking trails will surely appeal to fans of active outdoor exploration. Want to stay for longer? Pitch a tent in the camping area and soak up the tranquility at the heart of nature.

11. Peacock Alley, Bismarck

Peacock Alley BismarckSource: Peacock Alley / Facebook
Peacock Alley Bismarck

A great eatery with a long history, Peacock Alley is a cool place to dine when in the state capital of Bismarck. Housed within what was the lobby of a famous local hotel, The Patterson Hotel, Peacock Alley first started operations in 1933 at the end of the prohibition period.

Locals had been able to get their alcoholic beverages illicitly from the hotel previously, though, with an illegal drinking hole, gambling den, and prostitutes all rumoured to have been part of the hotel’s appeal.

Although the hotel closed down in the 1970s, Peacock Alley is still going strongly. Now under new management, the restaurant focuses on beef dishes.

The historic building has original wooden furnishings and stained glass windows along with interesting antiques.

A laid-back establishment today, the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Start the day with hearty steak and eggs or ham and eggs, waffles, a breakfast burrito, the imaginatively named “Hangover Skillet”, and more.

At lunch time, be tempted by an array of burgers, sandwiches, and prime cuts. Come evening time, the dinner menu includes classic cuts of steak, burgers, salads, soups, pasta dishes, fresh salmon, chicken curry, and pork loin.

Visitors with a sweet tooth can enjoy dessert delights like chocolate fudge brownie bites and cheesecake.

12. ND Pyramid, Nekoma

ND Pyramid NekomaSource: hlopex / shutterstock
ND Pyramid Nekoma

Did you know that North Dakota has its very own eerie and mysterious pyramid right in the middle of … nowhere! Unlike other famous pyramids around the globe, this one cannot be attributed to ancient civilisations. There were no pyramid-building ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, or other groups roaming the prairies looking for a suitable construction spot.

North Dakota’s flat-topped pyramid was built by the US government. It was part of the Safeguard Program during the Cold War. The odd structure contained interceptor missiles and short-range missiles, all geared at protecting the USA from hostile attacks.

Its strange appearance makes it look as though it could have been beamed down by extra terrestrials. Many conspiracy theories surround the structure, with tales ranging from a facility for human testing to it having been built for some grand purpose by the Illuminati.

A relic from times of fear and uncertainty, those interested in Cold War history will surely find this a fascinating gem.

13. Kenmare

KenmareSource: Kenmare Community Development Corporation / Facebook
Kenmare

A small city in Ward County, Kenmare, with its population of just over 1,000 people would likely be known as a town in any other state. However it’s defined, though, there’s no denying that this small settlement is sorely underrated.

Surrounded by picture-perfect scenery, Kenmare has plenty of history and an olde-worlde vibe. If you’re visiting in October, don’t miss the yearly eight-day GooseFest event.

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy fishing, boating, and wildlife spotting at nearby Lake Darling, and Mouse River Park has several hiking routes as well as camping facilities. Into fishing? Visit Nelson’s Perch Pond. Follow Kenmare’s Scenic Trail and admire the views.

There are six churches spread throughout the small town. Other historic sites include an old movie theatre, a windmill, a reconstructed pioneer town, and a nostalgic toy museum.

Kenmare also offers plenty for people who want to take a few days to relax and recharge, with a wellness centre, a golf club, and a swimming pool.

14. Roosevelt Inn, Watford

Roosevelt Inn WatfordSource: The Roosevelt Inn / Facebook
Roosevelt Inn Watford

You’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d strayed across the state border line into South Dakota if you visited Roosevelt Inn in Watford. The former US president’s head looms larger than life, having been removed from a site close to Mount Rushmore.

The 30-foot bust was carried all the way to the hotel and has remained here ever since. Taking pride of place in the parking area, it’s certainly an attention-grabbing piece of stone!

The hotel has heaps more Roosevelt memorabilia too, including pictures and posters. There’s other artwork to admire as well, such as an autographed Andy Warhol print.

In a great location for enjoying outdoor discoveries, Roosevelt Inn is just a short drive from Roosevelt National Park. Various rooms and cabins are available if you just can’t drag yourself away from Teddy and want to spend the night.

15. Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum, Minot

Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum MinotSource: Kenneth Li / Facebook
Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum Minot

On the National Register of Historic Places, Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum is a hidden gem in downtown Minot. Admission is free, making it even more appealing, though you should call ahead to check it’s actually open to avoid disappointment and a wasted journey.

The museum is within the restored brick-built Soo Line Depot, which dates back to 1912. Often said to have been one of the nicest depots ever constructed, the building itself is impressive.

Inside you’ll find a large collection of items related to the history and development of transportation systems in the west of the USA. It’s fitting that railway travel is included, but you’ll also find displays dedicated to buses, planes, and private cars.

In addition to admiring vintage vehicles you can also peruse an assortment of old manuscripts, books, maps, and newspapers. Younger generations may have never used a telephone directory thanks to the internet and the ease of information right at our fingertips. Seeing how people used to lookup businesses and private individuals is sure to make younger visitors raise a quizzical eyebrow.

16. Viking Statue, Fort Ransom

Viking Statue Fort RansomSource: Sanibel Life on the road / Facebook
Viking Statue Fort Ransom

Located just a short way from the heart of Fort Ransom, the 25-foot-tall Viking statue looms on a hilltop. Reflecting local beliefs that people from North Dakota are descended from Vikings, the statue was erected in 1972.

Rather un-Scandinavian-like, the statue is jet black. Made from wire mesh and tape, wearing warrior attire, including a helmet with horns, and sporting a huge moustache, it is quite the sight.

One foot rests on a rock and one arm is raised in quite an aggressive manner. The raised hand previously held a weapon, though this has broken away, leaving the Viking empty-handed.

If you want to climb up to the Viking for a closer peek, be prepared for a challenging climb! Once there, however, you can marvel at the monstrous figure from up close and also enjoy views down over the surrounding area. You’ll certainly feel like a hulking Viking after the hike up!

17. Japanese Gardens, Grand Forks

Japanese Gardens Grand ForksSource: Grand Forks Park District / Facebook
Japanese Gardens Grand Forks

Take a trip to Japan with a visit to the tasteful and charming Japanese Gardens in Grand Forks. Found within the large Sertoma Park, the exquisite gardens were given to the city by Japan’s city of Awano. The gardens weren’t a random gift—Awano and Grand Forks are sister cities and Grand Fork’s Japanese sibling gifted the gardens to celebrate the area’s comeback following the Red River Valley flood of 1997.

It’s a unique attraction in North Dakota, so come here to get your fill of all things lovely and Japanese. Calming, soothing, and serene, the pretty gardens boast hills, trees, flowers, rocks, and water features, all working together in harmony to promote nature’s majestic handiwork.

There are also three large stone lanterns. Each one has its own name and symbolism.

The wider park has walking and biking trails, a children’s play area that is suitable for children with mobility problems, picnic tables, an arboretum, and a tranquil spot for meditation.

18. Turtle River State Park, Arvilla

Turtle River State Park ArvillaSource: Turtle River State Park / Facebook
Turtle River State Park Arvilla

A delightful park that sits alongside the Turtle River, Turtle River State Park is one of North Dakota’s lesser-visited parks. Located in a lush valley, the park is very scenic.

The park was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. A great place for a relaxing few hours, a day, or a longer getaway, there are plenty of activities to enjoy here all throughout the year. Camp or stay in basic cabins to enjoy the peaceful ambience for longer. Pack a picnic for an al fresco feed at the heart of nature.

Explore the woodlands and spot diverse flora and fauna with the hiking trails and biking routes in the spring, summer, and autumn. Cross-country skiing is a terrific way to get active and explore when the winter brings a heavy snowfall.

Grab fishing equipment from the park’s office and see what you can catch from the Turtle River. The chances are that you’ll manage to hook a rainbow trout or two.

Visitors can learn more about the area and its wildlife at the outdoor education centre. There’s also a souvenir shop and bathrooms.

19. McHenry Loop and Hobo House, McHenry

McHenry Loop And Hobo House McHenrySource: Neil Marsolek‎ / Facebook
McHenry Loop And Hobo House McHenry

A great place for anyone interested in railroad history and unusual attractions from times gone by, the McHenry Loop dates back to the end of the 19th century. Quite inventive, especially for its time, the loop removed the hassle of shunting and maneuvering trains, engines, and carriages. Instead, a huge loop was created at the end of the track to make turning around a piece of pie.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is the only such loop to still exist in all of North America. That alone makes it pretty unique in our book!

The Hobo House is an old shed that attracted many drifters and vagrants over the years. The bright red walls bear the engraved tags of past visitors, including Hank the Tie Tramp and the Omaha Kid.

While graffiti is generally frowned upon, these defacements, with some that date back to the late 1800s, offer glimpses into the past and the people that once roamed along the railroads.

The site also has a museum where you can learn more about railroad history and the construction of the large looped track.

20. Lund’s Landing, Ray

Lund’s Landing RaySource: Travel North Dakota / Facebook
Lund’s Landing Ray

If you’re addicted to juneberries and they’re not in season, head to Lund’s Landing in Ray to satisfy your appetite. The delicious pies are available during any month of the year.

If you’re not sure what a juneberry is you may know it by another name: a Saskatoon berry. The red berry, which turns black when ripe is native to the western part of North America. A super food, many people from the east have never even tried a juneberry. And that’s a shame.

Whether you love juneberries or are curious to try for the first time, the juneberry pie at Lund’s Landing is divine. Once you’ve had one slice you may need to order another!

The waterside eatery sells other food too, mostly homemade fare. Accommodation is available and you’ll be given a warm welcome whether coming for a piece of pie or spending the night.

Take to the waters in a kayak or canoe, go fishing, watch various birds, play a round or two of golf, and camp in a regular tent or a cool teepee. But, don’t forget to try the pie!

21. Section 9 Cyber Café, Fargo

Section 9 Cyber Café FargoSource: Section 9 / Facebook
Section 9 Cyber Café Fargo

There are several hidden gems in North Dakota’s largest city of Fargo and Section 9 Cyber Café is one such jewel that is ideal for gamers. Go with your mates or go alone, either way is sure to be a lot of fun.

The gaming den has several classic machines to play on, including the PlayStation 2 and 3, the Nintendo 64 and the Super Nintendo, and the Xbox 360. There are tons of games to choose between. Online play is also possible with the computers and consoles that connect to the internet.

For something way out there, why not immerse yourself in virtual reality for a while? Staff members will guide you through the process in the full-sized specialist room. There are a number of games to throw yourself into, and you can explore an alternative world with a buddy thanks to the room being equipped with two stations.

The cyber café hosts regular events and you can book out a private space for a special occasion.

22. Gackle

GackleSource: David Rivinius / Facebook
Gackle

No, that’s not a spelling error! Gackle is a small city in North Dakota’s Logan County. With a few more than 300 residents, it’s a great place to experience small-town (though, technically small-city) North Dakota. Many people haven’t heard of Gackle. And that’s great, because it means that you can explore alone and away from other tourists!

Quaint, cheerful, and friendly, all visitors are sure to receive a warm welcome to Gackle. You might get a few curious looks but that’s largely because the locals aren’t that used to seeing outsiders around these parts.

Named after a farmer, German was once a primary language in the city. Look at the writing engraved on the walls of the First UCC Church and you’ll spot the German lingo.

There are a few local eateries where you can dig into some classic Midwestern American favourites.

There may not be much to actually do and see in Gackle, in terms of sights and attractions, but that’s part of the city’s character, charm, and appeal. Call by to see local life, unwind, wander around, and exchange a few smiles and pleasantries before continuing on your adventures.

23. Wally the Walleye, Garrison

Wally The Walleye GarrisonSource: Patty Schatzle Judge / Facebook
Wally The Walleye Garrison

Any ideas what a walleye is? We weren’t sure and had to check, but it’s a species of freshwater fish. A type of pikeperch, it can be cooked up and eaten.

North Dakota’s Garrison, in McLean County, proudly proclaims itself to be the walleye capital of the world. To celebrate the fact, you’ll find a giant walleye statue staring at you through its large silver eyes.

The 26-foot-long green and golden sculpture sits between two flagpoles in a leafy park. His jagged teeth in his open mouth look quite ominous!

Oh, and we’re not making assumptions about the fish’s gender; his name is on a signboard below him. He is called Wally. Wally the Walleye. Guess it sounds snappier than William. Or Wallace. Or Wayne.

Interestingly, there’s also a town called Garrison in Minnesota. And that other Garrison also stakes claim to being the world’s walleye capital. What are the chances?!

24. Hotel Donaldson, Fargo

Hotel Donaldson FargoSource: David Alan McRoy / Facebook
Hotel Donaldson Fargo

While the popular Hotel Donaldson, commonly also referred to as HoDo, in Fargo is not at all a secret, it does have an enchanting hidden gem right under your nose.

Step inside the lobby and you’ll come across a beautiful mosaic mural covering an entire section of wall. A lovely contrast with the adjoining bare brick wall, the decorative wall features many colours, designs, shapes, and patterns. It’s a piece of art, created by artist James Adam Kemp, that deserves to be admired.

Human-like forms, piano keys, abstract designs, and flowers can all be spotted in the melee. Created using items found throughout the historic building, the art seeks to honour influential women from the local area too.

While certainly a gem, this isn’t the hotel’s secret, though. The secret is a small door cunningly disguised in the art. If you find the tiny cupboard you should take something away with you and leave something behind. You never know what treasures are hiding in the mosaic.

25. Gunlogson Nature Preserve, Cavalier

Gunlogson Nature Preserve CavalierSource: North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department / Facebook
Gunlogson Nature Preserve Cavalier

Tucked away within Icelandic State Park, Gunlogson Nature Preserve is a delightfully peaceful and beautiful place.

As well as offering lots of natural splendour, the park is also home to several wildlife species that cannot be found in other parts of the state. Rare creatures that call the preserve home include the northern waterthrush, the common loon, the piliated woodpecker, and the mourning warbler.

It’s certainly a great place for keen ornithologists. Budding botanists should keep their eyes peeled for shade horsetail, showy lady’s slipper, ladyfern, marsh fern, and delicate sedge, among others.

Covering around 200 acres, walking trails lead through the nature preserve. In the winter months it’s a top spot for strapping on the snowshoes to go exploring the forests and seeing the wetlands.

It was the first state nature preserve in North Dakota, following a donation of wildlife-rich land along the Tongue River to the state by a nature-loving man called G.B. Gunlogson.

The wider Icelandic State Park area provides access to the sparkling Lake Renwick and a Pioneer Heritage Centre.

26. Rainbow Garden, Mayville

Rainbow Garden MayvilleSource: Rainbow Garden and Sculpture Walk / Facebook
Rainbow Garden Mayville

Rainbow Garden in Mayville is perfect for art-loving travellers, poetry fans, nature enthusiasts, and, in general, anyone who enjoys spending time in attractive places that are away from the beaten path.

There are seven themed gardens throughout the complex. Perhaps you’ll get some inspiration for your own outdoor spaces at home and try to recreate some of the pretty plots.

Get culinary and medicinal inspiration in the Herb Garden. Find out how to compete with electronics and capture kids’ attentions in the Children’s Garden. Try to find your way out of The Labyrinth and feel as though you’ve been transported across the Atlantic with a stroll through the English Garden. The other gardens are the Cottage Garden, the White Garden, and the Rock Garden.

As well as plants, flowers, trees, walls, and fountains, the Rainbow Garden is also home to the striking Sculpture Walk. Admire the creative talents of sculptors from around the US and lose yourself in poetry.

27. Ludwig and Christina Welk Homestead, Strasburg

Ludwig And Christina Welk Homestead StrasburgSource: Welk Homestead State Historic Site / Facebook
Ludwig And Christina Welk Homestead Strasburg

Another item on this list that can be found on the National Register of Historic Places, the Ludwig and Christina Welk Homestead can be found just outside of Strasburg. Commonly shortened to simply the Welk Homestead, it was built by a couple of Russian immigrants with German heritage.

Ludwig and Christina Welk were two of a large number of people with German ancestry who left Russia for the USA between the 1870s and 1920s.

Constructed from dried mud bricks the home sits on more than six acres of land. The Welks used the farm to grow various crops and raise cows and chickens. It was also where they raised their children, including the famous accordion Lawrence Welk.

You may have seen the name in musical-related literature or even his face on the TV—he had his own national TV show, called the Lawrence Welk Show, for more than 25 years.

The homestead remained in the family until 1965. It is a great place to learn more about Lawrence Welk and agricultural practices from the turn of the 20th century. Additionally, visitors can see a blend of cultures reflected in the architecture.

The site also has a barn, a summer house, known as a dacha, an outdoor kitchen for use in the warmer months, a granary, and a blacksmith’s forge. The restored home is open for visits and volunteers keep things ticking over.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in North Dakota (ND)
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27 Amazing Hidden Gems in North Dakota:

  • Garrison Dam, Garrison
  • Baan Rao Thai Restaurant, Minot
  • The Village of Murals, Jud
  • USA’s Oldest Mosque, Ross
  • Edinburg General Store, Edinburg
  • Paul Broste Rock Museum, Parshall
  • Knife River Indian Villages, Minot
  • Circus Monument, Wahpeton
  • International Peace Garden, Dunseith
  • Fort Ransom State Park, Fort Ransom
  • Peacock Alley, Bismarck
  • ND Pyramid, Nekoma
  • Kenmare
  • Roosevelt Inn, Watford
  • Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum, Minot
  • Viking Statue, Fort Ransom
  • Japanese Gardens, Grand Forks
  • Turtle River State Park, Arvilla
  • McHenry Loop and Hobo House, McHenry
  • Lund’s Landing, Ray
  • Section 9 Cyber Café, Fargo
  • Gackle
  • Wally the Walleye, Garrison
  • Hotel Donaldson, Fargo
  • Gunlogson Nature Preserve, Cavalier
  • Rainbow Garden, Mayville
  • Ludwig and Christina Welk Homestead, Strasburg