Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Did you know that Dakota is the Sioux word for “friend” or “ally?” It is also the state that grows the most sunflowers. Another interesting fact about Dakota is that huge herds of bison once roamed the plains of North Dakota. By 1900, fewer than 600 were left. President Roosevelt spearheaded efforts to save the bison, and today about 90,000 live in North Dakota. True buffalo are found only in Asia and Europe. Early European settlers thought bison looked like buffalo and, hence, confused the names.
North Dakota has had several nicknames, including Flickertail State, Roughrider State, and Peace Garden State. (*For more fun facts on North Dakota, click here.)
I have driven cross-country in an RV, a pick-up truck, and a van and have not made a stop in the Dakota's yet! I don't know why, I have always been intrigued by the "Badlands" since President Roosevelt made it so compelling as to entice him to run for President of the United States!
But North Dakota, the state of wild prairie roses and American elm trees, with a hard-to-forget motto, "Liberty and Union Now and Forever, One and Inseparable," has become high on my bucket list for traveling the USA. And as I plan for my adventure there here are the TOP 5 places I simply must visit in N. Dakota and it's non-negotiable:
1 - The Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Hiking the nature trails through coulees and breaks here make me feel eager to meander here, visit the prairie dog town, the Oxbow Overlook and the Edge of Glacier Pullout, and of course the scenic Badlands in the South Unit of the park and the reason why Roosevelt ran for president.
Last but not least, Medora, specifically to have some steak fondue on a pitchfork and to see the Medora Musical is the rootin'-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the west! There's no other show quite like it.
Set in the outdoor splendor of the rugged North Dakota Badlands, this professionally produced, high energy, western-style musical show is proudly dedicated to the legacy of America's 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, and the time he spent here in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory.
2 - The Lewis & Clark Trail.
3 - Peacock Alley in downtown Bismarck - Apparently this place is like a walk through North Dakota history. Foanerly the prominent and luxurious Patterson Hotel, Peacock Alley offers unrivaled historical ambiance, combining today's taste with yesterday's traditions. Prime rib, gourmet burgers and monthly chefs specials are offered for lunch or dinner. I look forward to doing my food tour here!
4 - The Pointe of View Winery, in Burlington, brews rhubarb wine and they don't ship to New York, so there is not much choice but to go there myself and taste their rhubarb and chokecherry wines, and their mead.
5 - The Dakota Hills Winery & Vineyard, in Knox, makes different apple wines strongly influenced by German culture.
6 - The Grahams Island State Park, located on Devils Lake, is named after the first known white settler in the area, Captain Duncan Graham.
7 - "World's Largest Buffalo" in Jamestown, is a sculpture of an American Bison built in 1959 by local businessman Harold Newman. It can be seen from Interstate 94, overlooking the city from above the James River valley. The statue is a significant tourist draw for Jamestown and the source of its nickname, The Buffalo City. It is 26 feet (7.9 m) tall, 46 feet (14 m) long and weighs 60 tons. The sculpture is complete in many respects of detail. It is sculptured after a male bison in mid-stride and is anatomically correct; of course, I have to take a photo for IG here!
8 - The International Peace Garden, in Dunseith.
Since 1932, nestled in the Turtle Mountains of North Dakota and Manitoba, the International Peace Garden is one of the continent's most symbolic and scenic attractions. The garden encompasses 2,300 acres of nature's beauty, two pristine freshwater lakes, scenic hiking and driving trails, wildflowers, waterfalls, and a large variety of North American birds and animals.
*Native from North Dakota, Josh Duhamel tells us why visit his beloved state: