Are you contemplating a trip to North Dakota this year? Here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in North Dakota. These impressive sights and destinations will leave you in awe.
Brimming with natural charm, steeped in rich history, and flaunting a rural chic that’s hard to resist, North Dakota is a dream destination that’s often overlooked. But let me assure you, this state is home to some of the most beautiful places in the United States. From lush landscapes that effortlessly merge into the horizon to quaint towns teeming with personality, North Dakota captures the hearts of all who visit.
North Dakota packs a punch with its iconic scenery, rich traditions, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re yearning for a tranquil retreat or an adventurous outing, this is a state that satiates every kind of wanderlust. Among the best places to visit in North Dakota are tranquil parks, bustling cities, and unique cultural landmarks.
If you’re a nature lover, you’ll find some of the most scenic places in North Dakota. This includes rolling prairies, crystalline lakes, and striking badlands. For the urban explorers, the most beautiful cities in North Dakota boast delightful blends of past-meets-present architecture, vibrant arts scenes, and irresistible foodie trails. Whether you’re visiting North Dakota for the first time or a frequent visitor, each experience is unique and memorable in this corner of the world.
This is your ultimate guide to the pretty places in North Dakota that are sure to make your heart skip a beat. So, whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone in search of a peaceful retreat, I invite you to join me on this exciting journey, as we unveil the beautiful places in North Dakota.
The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in North Dakota
Ready to explore all the most picturesque locations in North Dakota? As stated earlier, there’s something for everyone in this section of the Midwest. So, continue reading to discover the spectacular scenery in North Dakota.
Are you seeking scenic city life and cultural attractions? Or perhaps a relaxing retreat in nature is more to your liking? Whatever you’re envisioning, North Dakota can meet your expectations. Here are all the prime spots in North Dakota you should be aware of:
1. Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Among North Dakota’s beautiful places, the enchanting Theodore Roosevelt National Park stands out. Named after the 26th President of the United States, this park is a testament to Roosevelt’s enduring passion for nature conservation. For visitors, the park serves as a magical gateway into the untamed beauty of the North Dakota Badlands.
Picture yourself driving through sweeping vistas, where wild horses roam free and herds of bison wander against the backdrop of the rugged landscape. The park, split into three distinct sections – the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. This offers a diverse range of landscapes and wildlife encounters.
The South Unit, renowned for its scenic loop drive, promises panoramic views of the badlands and encounters with prairie dogs. The North Unit is quieter and replete with hiking trails for the adventurous. The Elkhorn Ranch Unit, Roosevelt’s “home ranch,” offers a serene environment where the echoes of the past are still perceptible.
While the park is a year-round destination, fall is a particularly bewitching time to visit when the leaves change hues and the weather cools. This makes it a perfect time for camping, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a fervent hiker, or simply someone seeking tranquillity amid nature, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a place you must see in North Dakota.
2. The Enchanted Highway
If you’re exploring the best places to visit in North Dakota, a drive along the Enchanted Highway is an absolute must. Known as one of the most unique road trips in America, this 32-mile stretch of highway boasts some of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures. It’s truly a testament to the creative genius of local artist Gary Greff.
The journey begins at Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone and ends in the charming town of Regent. This offers a mesmerizing ride through the open prairie. Each of the seven massive sculptures, including “Geese in Flight,” “Deer Crossing,” and “Grasshoppers in the Field,” is paired with a pullout area and a mini park for tourists to relax, picnic, and admire the artistry.
Every bend of the Enchanted Highway unveils a piece of art that’s both whimsical and impressive. This makes it one of the most scenic places in North Dakota. At the end of the road, Regent offers a welcoming break with its Enchanted Castle. This is a Tudor-style hotel that adds a fairy-tale charm to your journey.
Whether you’re a road trip enthusiast, an art lover, or simply a traveler looking for unique experiences, the Enchanted Highway provides a captivating ride through North Dakota’s heartland and is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in North Dakota.
3. The International Peace Garden
Straddling the U.S.-Canadian border near Dunseith is one of the most beautiful places in North Dakota—the International Peace Garden. Celebrating the harmonious relationship between the United States and Canada, this 2,339-acre park is a vibrant sanctuary of serenity and beauty.
Established in 1932, the garden is bursting with color from over 150,000 types of flowers that bloom here every year. The floral displays, intricate patterns, and thoughtful designs provide endless photo opportunities. It definitely makes the garden a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
Not to be missed is the Peace Tower, with its four pillars symbolizing people coming together from the four corners of the earth. The park is also home to the Peace Chapel. This is the only place in the world where you can be in two countries at the same time!
Apart from the stunning gardens, there are plenty of recreational activities available. From hiking and biking to canoeing and bird watching, the International Peace Garden offers endless opportunities for outdoor fun. It’s also home to North America’s largest cactus collection, inside a beautiful 2,500 sq ft conservatory.
Whether you’re an avid gardener, a peace seeker, or a cross-border explorer, a visit to the International Peace Garden is one of the best things to do in North Dakota.
4. Maah Daah Hey Trail
Adventurous souls seeking the most scenic places in North Dakota will find their haven in the breathtaking Maah Daah Hey Trail. Stretching 144 miles across the state’s most rugged terrains, this trail links the North and South Units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There are tons of captivating sights to see along the way.
The name Maah Daah Hey translates to “an area that will be around for a long time” in the language of the local Mandan Hidatsa tribes, and it couldn’t be more apt. This epic trail offers unrivaled opportunities to experience North Dakota’s diverse landscapes. It covers everything from the vibrant Little Missouri Grasslands to the commanding badlands.
Whether you prefer hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding, the trail caters to every level of outdoor enthusiast. Each bend presents a new spectacle – undulating prairies, dense forests, tranquil river valleys, and stunning rock formations.
You can also expect to encounter an array of wildlife on your journey. This includes mule deer, bison, and over 100 species of birds. Not to mention, the night sky offers an unmatched stargazing experience.
All in all, the Maah Daah Hey Trail is not just a trail; it’s a journey through time. It’s a challenge for the adventurous, and undoubtedly a beautiful place in North Dakota you must explore.
5. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Among the prettiest places in North Dakota, the historic Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park boasts an irresistible blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage. Located on the banks of the Heart and Missouri rivers, this park was once an important military post and the home of the Mandan Indians.
At the park, step back in time and explore the reconstructed Mandan Indian On-A-Slant Village with earthlodges dating back to the 1500s. Walking through these lodges gives you a sense of the rich history of the indigenous tribes that once inhabited these lands.
Not far from the village, you can tour the Custer House, the reconstructed home of Lieutenant Colonel George Custer. Period furnishings and costumed interpreters paint a vivid picture of life at the fort in the 1870s.
The park is not only about history, though. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy camping, picnicking, hiking, and biking amidst the park’s scenic surroundings. Plus, the breathtaking views of the Missouri River from the blockhouses are a sight to behold.
With its compelling blend of history and nature, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is indeed a beautiful place in North Dakota. It’s truly a must-visit for every history enthusiast and nature lover.
6. The Historic Town of Medora
When you’re contemplating where to go in North Dakota, don’t overlook the historic town of Medora. Nestled in the breathtaking North Dakota Badlands, Medora is a charming town that transports you back to the days of the Old West.
This town was named after the French noblewoman, Marquise de Mores, who established a meatpacking plant here in the late 19th century. Today, Medora is home to a range of attractions that draw visitors from near and far.
A must-visit is the Chateau de Mores, a 26-room mansion that offers a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle of the Marquis and his family. The town is also the gateway to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This is where you can enjoy a scenic drive or embark on a hiking adventure.
But what truly sets Medora apart is the renowned Medora Musical. Performed in the Burning Hills Amphitheatre against a backdrop of stunning badlands, this revue-style show is a true celebration of American patriotism and the pioneering spirit.
With its historic charm, vibrant arts scene, and awe-inspiring landscapes, Medora is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in North Dakota.
7. Lake Sakakawea
An oasis in the heart of North Dakota, Lake Sakakawea is an enchanting spectacle of natural beauty and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Formed by the Garrison Dam, this reservoir is one of the three largest man-made lakes in the United States. This makes it a must-see in North Dakota.
The lake’s sparkling blue waters stretch over 180 miles, offering ample opportunities for fishing, boating, and swimming. The surrounding shoreline, dotted with sandy beaches and scenic picnic spots, is perfect for those seeking a relaxing retreat or a fun-filled family day.
Don’t miss out on the Lake Sakakawea State Park. This spot is known for its excellent camping facilities and extensive network of hiking and biking trails. For avid birdwatchers, the park is a paradise, home to a rich variety of bird species.
History buffs, on the other hand, will appreciate the Sakakawea Scenic Byway. This picturesque route weaves through native American history, telling the story of Sakakawea, a Shoshone woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition.
Whether you’re an angler, a hiker, or a history lover, Lake Sakakawea offers a multitude of experiences. This makes it one of the beautiful places of North Dakota.
When considering the most beautiful cities in North Dakota, it’s impossible to overlook the charm of Fargo. As the state’s largest city, Fargo is a vibrant cultural hub that combines urban sophistication with small-town hospitality.
Fargo, made famous by the Coen brothers’ movie and subsequent TV series, has much more to offer than just cinematic fame. The city is teeming with an eclectic mix of attractions. This includes everything from historic buildings and world-class museums to delightful coffee shops and trendy boutiques.
Start your exploration at the historic downtown area, known for its beautiful Art Deco buildings and lively arts scene. Don’t miss the Plains Art Museum, an impressive display of contemporary and traditional art housed in a restored warehouse.
Then, step into cinematic history at the Fargo Theatre, an iconic 1920s movie theater with a dazzling neon marquee. For fans of the eponymous movie and series, a photo with the ‘Woodchipper’ from the movie is a must!
But Fargo’s allure extends beyond the city limits. The city is surrounded by natural beauty, from the serene Red River to the expansive prairie landscapes. This offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.
All in all, with its distinctive character and scenic surroundings, Fargo is a beautiful place in North Dakota and a must-visit for any traveler.
9. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
If you’re wondering about a unique place to visit in North Dakota, look no further than the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Located near Stanton, this historic site offers a captivating glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of the Northern Plains Indians.
This area was once the home of the Hidatsa and Mandan tribes, where they lived in earth-lodge villages along the Knife River. Today, you can explore the reconstructed earth lodges and imagine the vibrant community life that once thrived here.
Don’t miss the chance to walk the Village Trail. This takes you to the remnants of the Big Hidatsa Village, Awatixa Xi’e Village, and Awatixa Village. These archaeological sites give a fascinating insight into the tribes’ agricultural practices and their trade network that extended as far as the Pacific Coast.
The visitor center houses a museum showcasing an array of artifacts, including tools, weapons, and traditional clothing. You can also learn about the tribes’ encounter with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Whether you’re a history buff or a nature lover, the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site offers a unique and insightful experience. This makes it a pretty place in North Dakota.
10. North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum
When it comes to showcasing the rich tapestry of history that shaped North Dakota, few places do it better than the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum. This is more than a museum – it’s a time machine, transporting visitors back through millions of years of the state’s history.
The museum’s fascinating exhibits span the geological formation of the land, the lives of the area’s first inhabitants, and the arrival of European settlers. The Adaptation Gallery: Geologic Time includes real dinosaur fossils, making the museum a must-visit for any paleontology enthusiasts.
Even the architecture of the museum itself is an attraction, with its sweeping lines and earth tones reflecting the natural landscape of North Dakota. Located in the capital city, Bismarck, the museum is a truly unique place to visit in North Dakota.
11. Lake Metigoshe State Park
Located on the U.S.-Canada border, Lake Metigoshe State Park is a paradise for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. The park is nestled in the breathtaking Turtle Mountains, a region known for its rolling hills, lush forests, and the shimmering Lake Metigoshe.
Lake Metigoshe is the crown jewel of the park, a beautiful waterbody perfect for boating, fishing, and swimming during the warm summer months. In the winter, it transforms into a hotspot for ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. The park’s network of trails, both on land and water, provide countless opportunities for exploring the scenic surroundings.
The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, red foxes, and a diverse range of bird species. This includes the colorful Western Grebe.
Whether you visit for a day or stay overnight in one of the park’s cozy cabins, Lake Metigoshe State Park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in North Dakota.
12. Little Missouri National Grassland
As the largest grassland in the United States, the Little Missouri National Grassland is one of the most beautiful places of North Dakota. Covering over one million acres, this sprawling landscape offers a unique and awe-inspiring natural spectacle that’s hard to find anywhere else.
The grassland is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, with its abundant wildlife ranging from prairie dogs and wild turkeys to mule deer and pronghorn antelope. It’s also a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to numerous species, including the rare piping plover and the endangered least tern.
For outdoor lovers, the opportunities for adventure are limitless. You can explore the Maah Daah Hey Trail, a 144-mile trail offering unforgettable hiking, biking, and horseback riding experiences. The views from the trail, encompassing the rolling prairie, rugged badlands, and the winding Little Missouri River, are simply breathtaking.
If you prefer a slower pace, you can enjoy picnicking amidst the grassland’s serene beauty or go stargazing under the vast, unpolluted skies.
The Little Missouri National Grassland is a stunning testament to North Dakota’s untamed beauty. As such, this makes it an absolute must-see when visiting North Dakota.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Visiting the Beautiful Places in North Dakota
Interested in broadening your understanding about the most scenic spots in North Dakota? Here are some common inquiries I frequently receive about the top North Dakota attractions and activities.
What is the best time of year to visit North Dakota?
The best time to visit North Dakota is during the summer months from June to August when the weather is warm, and all attractions are open. Fall can also be a beautiful time to visit for the changing foliage.
Where is the prettiest place in North Dakota?
North Dakota is home to some stunning natural landscapes. And one of the most beautiful places in the state is Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Here’s a bit more about this location and other beautiful spots in North Dakota:
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Divided into three separate areas, the North Unit, South Unit, and Elkhorn Ranch Unit. This national park offers breathtaking badlands scenery. The rugged landscapes, mixed-grass prairies, and winding Little Missouri River create a stunning backdrop for wildlife viewing, hiking, and photography. The Painted Canyon Overlook is particularly famous for its colorful vistas.
- Maah Daah Hey Trail: This 144-mile non-motorized single-track trail runs through the Little Missouri National Grasslands. It offers some of the most beautiful views of the Badlands. It’s a favorite among hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.
- Lake Sakakawea: The largest man-made lake in North Dakota. Lake Sakakawea offers beautiful shorelines, clear waters, and excellent opportunities for fishing, boating, and camping.
- Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park: This park provides a mix of history and natural beauty. There are reconstructed military and Native American buildings and scenic views of the Missouri River.
- International Peace Garden: Straddling the border between North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada, this garden is dedicated to peace and friendship between the two nations. It features beautiful floral displays, fountains, and a peace chapel.
What are the top attractions in North Dakota?
Some of the top attractions in North Dakota include Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the historic town of Medora, Lake Sakakawea, Fargo, and the International Peace Garden.
Is North Dakota good for outdoor activities?
Absolutely! North Dakota is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching. The Maah Daah Hey Trail in the Little Missouri National Grassland and the trails in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are particularly popular.
What is North Dakota most known for?
North Dakota is most known for its stunning natural beauty, from its expansive prairies and Badlands to its serene lakes. It’s also famous for its rich history, particularly the historic town of Medora and the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site.
Is North Dakota a good place for a family vacation?
Yes, North Dakota offers plenty of attractions and activities for a family vacation. Children would enjoy visiting the Dakota Zoo, exploring the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, and participating in outdoor activities like fishing and boating at Lake Sakakawea.
Which Dakota is better to visit?
Comparing North Dakota and South Dakota in terms of which is “better” to visit depends on individual preferences, interests, and what you’re looking to experience. Both states offer unique attractions and beautiful landscapes. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park: Offers stunning badlands scenery, wildlife viewing, and hiking opportunities.
- Fargo: Known for its arts scene, museums, and cultural attractions.
- Lake Sakakawea: Great for fishing, boating, and camping.
- International Peace Garden: A symbol of peace and friendship between the U.S. and Canada.
- Maah Daah Hey Trail: A renowned trail for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
- Mount Rushmore: The iconic monument featuring the faces of four U.S. Presidents.
- Badlands National Park: Known for its dramatic landscapes, fossil beds, and hiking trails.
- Custer State Park: Offers wildlife viewing (including bison), scenic drives, and outdoor recreation.
- Black Hills: A beautiful mountain range with opportunities for hiking, biking, and exploring caves.
- Deadwood: A historic town known for its Wild West history and gaming.
Is there anything worth seeing in North Dakota?
Definitely! North Dakota is home to an array of worth-seeing attractions. From the breathtaking landscapes of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Little Missouri National Grassland to the unique Enchanted Highway and the historic Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. Additionally, the charming cities like Fargo and Bismarck offer a variety of cultural and historical attractions.
What is pretty in North Dakota?
North Dakota is full of pretty sights. Some of the prettiest include the stunning Lake Sakakawea, the International Peace Garden with its array of beautiful flowers, and the expansive vistas of the Little Missouri National Grassland. The state’s beauty also extends to its cities, with Fargo’s historic downtown and Bismarck’s capitol grounds being particularly scenic.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in North Dakota
From the rugged badlands to the sweeping grasslands, North Dakota is a state that surprises at every turn. It’s a place where nature and history come together, where the wild spirit of the frontier still thrives, and where the beauty of the landscape is as diverse as it is enchanting.
Whether you’re drawn to the allure of outdoor adventures, intrigued by unique cultural experiences, or simply seeking the tranquility that comes with immersing yourself in nature, the best places in North Dakota await your exploration. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to discover the unspoiled beauty of the Peace Garden State. In North Dakota, every journey promises to be an unforgettable adventure.