Just one glance at its rolling, grass-covered plains or its rugged, majestic badlands makes it easy to understand why North Dakota is the state that inspired President Theodore Roosevelt throughout his life. Roosevelt, also known as America’s conservationist president, fell in love with the wild and beautiful terrain, and group travelers are sure to as well.
The same land that offers serene views of wildlife and the comfort of hearty cuisine also showcases an exciting blend of cultures and captures the essence of the adventurous American West. Here are the highlights of the state’s group attractions and experiences that best demonstrate the spirit of North Dakota.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
The wide-open plains meet brilliantly colored rock formations in this North Dakota territory that awed and inspired its namesake. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park, divided into distinct units, offers visitors the opportunity to explore over 70,000 acres full of protected wildlife like wild horses, bison and elk. In the North Unit, groups can take a 14-mile scenic drive up to its famous overlooks for sweeping views of the park. The South Unit’s biggest claim to fame is the Badlands. Groups can experience these rocky and colorfully banded buttes and ridges with a 48-mile scenic drive or with ranger-led programs.
International Peace Garden
Designed to represent the peace and friendship among nations, the International Peace Garden is a tranquil conservatory and garden in the Turtle Mountains. With land on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border, this must-see attraction also counts as an international travel destination, so visitors should be sure to bring their passports. Groups can take guided tours of the 2,300 acres of flowers, lakes, trails and water features. Some of the most popular attractions among visitors are the Floral Clock, gifted by Bulova, and the Sunken Gardens, full of water features, sculptures and flowers.
Scandinavian Heritage Park
To honor the Scandinavian heritage of many North Dakota residents, the Scandinavian Heritage Association created a tribute in the heart of Minot. At the Scandinavian Heritage Park, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden are represented through architecture and sculptures. Groups can take self-guided tours to visit the park’s landmarks, such as the Gol Stave Church Museum, a replica of the intricately crafted, towering medieval Stave churches in Norway. Some of the park’s other famous Nordic structures include a Danish windmill and a 240-year-old log cabin from Norway. The Scandinavian architecture and history can be enjoyed from the park’s walking trail.
Up and Coming
Point to Point Park
Named for the game Theodore Roosevelt loved to play with his children, Point to Point Park aims to give each visitor a thrilling experience. Just like the rules of the former president’s favorite game, groups must go over, under or through every obstacle they encounter in the park. However, the so-called obstacles at this new attraction include fun activities like mini golf, a lazy river and a zip line, which are open during the warmer seasons. Point to Point Trails, open year-round, offer visitors a fantastic view of Medora and the surrounding North Dakota bluffs.
As one of the biggest producers of sunflowers in the U.S., North Dakota lights up with a “Sunflower Superbloom” annually in August and September. Each year, North Dakota Tourism puts out an updated map of farms across the state where visitors can see the fields. In 2022, there was a bit of a delay in the planting season, meaning the bright yellow flowers bloomed even longer in many fields. Over the past couple years, more farms have added sunflowers to their collection of crops. A QR code is now available in every field to take you straight to the online sunflower map. Groups can take their pick of farms across the state where they can stroll through the flowers, pose for photos and get seeds for planting their own sunflowers, free of charge.
MHA Interpretive Center
Opened in 2021, the MHA Interpretive Center is a multipurpose cultural site designed to honor the Three Affiliated Tribes. Located in the heart of the Fort Berthold Reservation, the center contains a museum that details the history of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people through interactive exhibits and tribal artifacts. The center also contains a large kitchen for preparing traditional meals, a 500-seat amphitheater for ceremonies and performances, and a classroom for demonstrations of MHA traditions. Groups can tour the expansive museum, participate in cultural demonstrations and grab a hot drink and souvenir in the museum’s coffee and gift shops.
Founded by the Father of Fargo, Jasper B. Chapin, this boutique hotel in downtown Fargo aims to combine the conveniences of modern life with the comforts of North Dakota traditions. Sweeping views of the city and the contemporary, minimalist décor create a tasteful backdrop for a group’s travels, while the amenities, including a fitness center and Nordic sauna, add an element of luxury. At Rosewild, the hotel’s restaurant, Nordic plains culinary traditions and local ingredients collide to create exciting cuisine for every meal, from Norwegian salmon to hearth-roasted chicken to an aged ribeye. Groups can enjoy a classic cocktail and a family-style meal of seasonal chef picks for dinner.
Rough Riders Hotel
The rustic charm of the historic Rough Riders Hotel comes from its long history. President Roosevelt once stayed in this 76-room inn located in downtown Medora, so history buffs will feel right at home. Historic rooms full of antique wooden furniture invoke all the nostalgia of the West, while the hotel’s modern amenities make today’s travelers comfortable. Theodore’s Dining Room offers a selection of Western favorites, like braised buffalo shanks, a dry-aged bone-in pork chop and prime rib. Travelers can grab a craft cocktail or local beer from TR’s Tavern to accompany their meal.
Pitchfork Steak Fondue
For a dining experience groups won’t soon forget, Pitchfork Steak Fondue offers a Western-style cookout with the Badlands as a backdrop. During the summer, groups can dine outdoors while cowboys cook up their choice of sirloin, chicken, trout and vegetables, skewered on the tines of a pitchfork and roasted over a wood fire. A wide selection of homemade fondue sauces and fresh sides served buffet-style accompany each visitor’s meal, and to round out the evening, a choice of lemon bars and brownies await. The restaurant is right next door to the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, where groups can head to catch a performance of the “Medora Musical,” also known as the “Greatest Show in the West.“
A brand-new addition to Bismarck, Huckleberry House brings both Nordic fare and a unique culinary flare to the table. The elegant restaurant overlooking the Missouri River is decorated throughout with chic, minimalist furniture and warm wood tones. On the menu, groups will find food and beverages uncommon to North Dakota; the menu features creative cocktails to sip on and entrees with rich and flavorful Scandinavian and German ingredients, including lingonberries, sauerkraut and Danish blue cheese. To surprise and delight their tastebuds, guests can try international culinary classics like smoked salmon rillettes, cheese buttons, Hasselback potatoes and buttermilk chicken schnitzel.