What to do
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Interpreters in frontier Army uniforms explain realities of life at this post from which Lt. Col. George Custer rode out to the Little Bighorn. See his re-created house and reenactors marching on the parade grounds. Living-history tours also visit reconstructed Mandan earth lodges at On-a-Slant Indian Village. Seven miles south of Mandan. (701) 667-6340; parkrec.nd.gov
Lewis and Clark Riverboat This beloved boat that looks like a vintage paddle-wheeler departs for short trips through history on the Missouri River. (701) 255-4233; lewisandclarkriverboat.com
North Dakota State Capitol Building and Grounds Nicknamed "The Skyscraper on the Prairie," North Dakota's 1934-era capitol building is the tallest man-made structure in the area (at 241 feet). You can take a guided tour, including a visit to the 18th-floor observation deck, for free. Also on the grounds: an arboretum trail, prairie trail and numerous statues and memorials, in addition to the North Dakota Heritage Center. nd.gov
North Dakota Heritage Center New galleries almost doubled the size of this attraction. Explore the dinosaur age, native tribes and modern cultural issues. (701) 328-2666; history.nd.gov
Where to eat
Kroll’s Diner We like local chain Kroll’s for all-day breakfasts, kuchen and knoephla. Check out the retro one in Mandan. (701) 667-0940; sitdownandeat.com
Harvest Brazilian Grill Carnivores head to this churrasco-style Mandan restaurant for perfectly seasoned meat delivered on huge skewers. The Parmesan pork alone is worth the trip, but also try the Brazilian rice and beans. Spendy for North Dakota? Yes. Good for a special occasion? Absolutely. (701) 751-4393; harvestbraziliangrill.com
Laughing Sun Brewery At North Dakota’s first brewery-taproom, learn about bitterness units from the bartenders, then sip on a warming porter or an easygoing strawberry wheat. Local bands play several nights each week. In Bismarck. (701) 751-3881; laughingsunbrewing.com
Peacock Alley Located in the former Patterson Hotel, this classy eatery celebrates the parade of famous politicians who have stopped in through the decades. The two-for-$15 lunchtime option is a deal, and dinners are excellent for special occasions. (701) 221-2333; peacock-alley.com
Pirogue Grille Bismarck's chef-owned downtown restaurant has built a solid reputation on locally inspired dishes. In the main dining room, enjoy the breast of chicken with smoked cheddar and apple slaw. Order our favorite on the bar side: a juicy lamb burger. (701) 223-3770; piroguegrille.com
The Little Cottage Cafe One bite of the fluffy French toast and crispy bacon, and you'll understand why regulars pack this all-day breakfast spot; the knoephla is superb, too. (701) 223-4949.
The Blarney Stone Irish Pub Stop for a pint or a meal; you'll feel an old-world welcome among the hardwood paneling, small rooms and glowing fireplace of this downtown restaurant. (701) 751-7512; blarneyirishpub.com
Where to stay
Radisson Hotel Bismarck Perks at this downtown chain hotel include plush bedding and free Wi-Fi. From $119. (701) 255-6000; radisson.com
Rolling Plains Adventures For your-wish-is-our-command hospitality, comfortable cabins and tasty breakfasts, check out this 17,000-acre ranch in McKenzie, 25 miles southeast of Bismarck. From $189. (602) 510-6094; blacklegranch.com
For information: Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 767-3555; discoverbismarckmandan.com
In Washburn (40 miles north of Bismarck), take a selfie with statues of the explorers in front of the just-expanded Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
North of Stanton (25 miles west of Washburn), earthen mounds hold hints of the Knife River Indian Villages that once thrived near the Missouri River.