Family travel in North Dakota

Jamestown, North Dakota giant buffalo (courtesy minnemom at Flickr CC)Every week until we run out of states, I plan to post about family-friendly vacation ideas, attractions and events in each one of the US states, taking input mostly from Twitter and Facebook.

Yes, I know how to search for travel ideas on a destination or attraction Web site, but a tweet or a Facebook Wall recommendation is a much more engaging and public way to spread the word.

Please don’t email suggestions to me; that’s nice but it is one-to-one communication. Tweet me and/or Facebook me, so that all of our networks can see what’s cool about your state.

We’re going in alphabetical order but started with the end, so our first state for the series was Wyoming, then we investigated Wisconsin , West Virginia , Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma, Ohio and now we’re moving on to….North Dakota!

Their state tourism organization is on Twitter at @NorthDakotaTour, plus there’s a Travel Legendary North Dakota blog, a North Dakota Flickr Group for photo-sharing, a North Dakota YouTube channel and here’s the ND Tourism Facebook page.

When I asked for ideas, here’s what came in….

Twitter Travel Tips for North Dakota

***  From the North Dakota tourism office via @NorthDakotaTour on Twitter  —  Lions, Tigers, and Bears are just a few of the animals in our ND zoos. For more ideas see:  What To Do on our Web site.

***  From Dominique King via @midwestguest on Twitter — I’m sure you’ll get several suggestions to visit Teddy Roosevelt Nat’l Park in North Dakota, but it really is not-to-be-missed; TR Park is the main reason we want to go back to ND for a longer trip! We did manage to see the “World’s Largest Buffalo” in Jamestown, ND though.

***  From the Fargo/Moorhead ND tourism office via @FargoMoorhead on Twitter  —  A few great kid-friendly attractions in the Fargo-Moorhead area: Yunker Farm, Red River Zoo, Fargo Air Museum, Thunderroad Fun Park.

***  From Linda via @minnemom on Twitter  — Bagg Bonanza Farm near Wahpeton — see what a big bonanza farm was really like.

***  From Pam Mandel via @nerdseyeview on Twitter — Okay….OH MY GOD, Teddy Roosevelt National Park; you’ve read my weirdly related post, Teddy’s Advice.  Also, the Enchanted Highway.

Facebook Travel Tips for North Dakota

***  From Tammy Carlson Langerud on Facebook  —  Theodore Roosevelt National Park & Medora.

Since I’ve been a kid, I’ve always enjoyed Theodore Roosevelt National Park & the nearby historic, frontier town of Medora. In TR Park, families can hike, bike or horseback their way across the colorful, jagged landscape that inspired a young Theodore Roosevelt. (He called his time in the N.D. Badlands the “romance of my life.”) The park also boasts great wildlife viewing (bison, elk, antelope, wild horse, bald eagle. etc.)

Lil’ buckaroos will get a kick out of Medora and all its kid-friendly activities. The favorites? The Medora Musical, a professionally produced musical, and the unique pitch-fork fondue. Both are family friendly and held nightly from Memorial Day through the weekend after Labor Day.

Here are two more fun family friendly North Dakota attractions to add to your list.

***  From Emily Arnegard Schneider on Facebook:  Family Friendly Attraction in North Dakota –

The scenery along the Enchanted Highway in southwestern North Dakota from I-94 to Regent is truly larger than life. This 32-mile stretch of highway is graced by amazingly large metal sculptures inspired by the prairie and its people.

The beginning of the Enchanted Highway is marked by a sculpture of giant geese flying over a setting sun, known as “Geese in Flight,” at the Gladstone exit on I-94. The remaining folk art figures, ranging in height from 35 feet tall to 70 feet tall, include pieces such as “Teddy Rides Again,” “Grasshoppers in Field,” “Tin Family,” “Fisherman’s Dream,” and more. They eventually lead you to Regent, home to the Enchanted Highway gift shop featuring miniatures of each statue.

***  From Linda (minnemom) on Facebook  —  As a mom and ND native and recent ND traveler, here are my recommendations:

Medicine Wheel Park in Valley City is very unique. My kids loved following the “planets” on the walking paths, and seeing new ways to measure time. Jamestown: Frontier Village and World’s Largest Buffalo. It’s free and fun and a nice stop off the highway.  If you like Really Big Things, also see the Sandhill Crane in Steele and Salem Sue in New Salem, as well as the big walleye in Garrison.

Bismarck is a family-friendly town. State Capitol (skyscraper on the prairie) and Heritage Center are adjacent to each other, and parking is free. Gateway to Science Center is small but good. Fort Abraham Lincoln has the Custer House and On-a-Slant Indian Village–both good history lessons that are interesting for kids. Dakota Zoo is nice.

Get off the beaten path in North Dakota! Take the Old Red/Old Ten Scenic Byway and see the ghost town of Sims, or drive the Enchanted Highway and see how a straight road has been enhanced with these large metal sculptures.

Medora is our favorite, especially the Musical. My kids wanted to go back as soon as the show was over. Medora also has Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the Chateau de Mores Historic Site, and a downtown that has lots for families to do.

Near Williston, Fort Union National Historic Site and Fort Buford State Historic Site are only a few miles apart. They are different yet both interesting. In that same vicinity, there’s an old railroad bridge near Fairview over the Yellowstone River that is now for pedestrians. At the other end of the bridge is a tunnel, so take your flashlight.

Interesting things to eat: At the drugstore in Stanley, stop in for a Whirla-whip. Think DQ Blizzard but about 50 years earlier, and you can create your own flavors.  If you’ve never had Juneberry pie, you need to stop at Lunds Landing on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea, 22 miles east of Williston, and have a piece. You can take a walk on their birding paths while you’re there.

Minot has a nice zoo inside the equally nice Roosevelt Park.

Lewis and Clark are part of North Dakota’s History; see the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan near Washburn.

Some of my favorite places to visit as a kid were Sully’s Hill and Fort Totten near Devils Lake.  Grand Forks has a beautiful greenway and the bike trails in the city are nearly all completely flat. There’s a nice waterpark at the CanadInns motel, which is attached to the Alerus Center.

The Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm is a very nice children’s museum in Fargo. It has a park and playground on the premises as well.

There you have it, a whirlwind trip around the state of North Dakota. I hope your readers will take some time to visit….as one tourism professional told me, “Once people are here, they love it–the wide open spaces, the friendly people, the affordability, the things to do. We just have to get them to come here and see it for themselves!”

Thanks so much for the contributions!

The next state in the series is North Carolina (it will post on Tuesday 15 Sept; I’m taking a week off from the 50 state series to launch a new business.)

Send your North Carolina highlights to @SheilaS on Twitter or write them on my Facebook Wall (please tell me you’re a 50 state-er if you want to friend me.)

My purpose for this series is not only to highlight worthy kid-friendly vacation destinations in all 50 states, but by using Twitter and Facebook I want to also encourage tourism organizations to learn more about connecting with their visitors using social media and online networks.

Please add your own North Dakota suggestions in the comments below, if we’ve missed anything. Thanks!