Top Things to Do Around Bismarck, North Dakota | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do Around Bismarck, North Dakota

Innovation keeps history fresh here along the Missouri River. A museum expansion and the state’s first brewhouse-pub represent the novel things to check out in this south-central North Dakota area. Check out our trip guide for ideas on what to do, where to eat and where to stay.


Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Interpreters in frontier U.S. Cavalry uniforms explain life at this post from which Lt. Col. George Custer rode out to Little Bighorn. See his re-created house at this park 12 miles southwest of town. At the On-A-Slant Indian Village, explore a replica of the earthen mound village where the Mandan tribe lived from about 1575 to 1781.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center Lewis and Clark spent more of their epic journey in North Dakota than any other state. Inside a timber-frame building in Washburn, 40 miles north of Bismarck, slick touchscreens and displays detail the duo’s expedition. Also on-site is a replica of the explorers’ winter home, Fort Mandan, made from cottonwood logs.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Lewis and Clark Riverboat Narrated cruises on a 40-foot flat-bottom riverboat focus on the Missouri River from Lewis and Clark’s perspective.

North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum Stand beneath a T. rex and a Triceratops as they battle. Stare down a mammoth. See casts of sea creatures that swam here millions of years ago. North Dakota’s past takes shape at this museum, which nearly doubled in size after a $52 million makeover.

North Dakota Heritage Center

North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Tourism.

North Dakota State Capitol Building and Grounds As the tallest structure in the region—242 feet, completed in 1934—the Capitol earned its unofficial nickname of The Skyscraper on the Prairie. An arboretum trail, statues and memorials dot the grounds.


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.

Kroll’s Diner We like local chain Kroll’s for all-day breakfasts, kuchen and knoephla. Check out the retro one in Mandan.

Laughing Sun Brewery In the state’s first brewhouse-pub, taste a Lewis and Clark Riverboat strawberry wheat or smoked vanilla porter while looking into the brewhouse. Live music and works from an artist-in-residence continue the creative atmosphere.

Little Cottage Cafe Fluffy French toast. Crispy bacon. Superb knoephla. Add cheap prices and friendly service, and it’s easy to see why locals pack this tiny diner. (701) 223-4949

Peacock Alley Black-and-white photos at this eatery in the former Patterson Hotel celebrate famous politicians who have stopped in through the decades. The two-for-$15 lunchtime option is a deal, and dinners of hanger steak, grilled salmon or smoked ribs are excellent for special occasions.

Peacock Alley

Peacock Alley

Pirogue Grille Walleye, bison and house-made venison sausage are staples at this chef-owned downtown spot. Locally inspired entrees change with the seasons.

Terra Nomad Minimalist surroundings, gourmet coffee, and a vegan-friendly breakfast and lunch menu (think pureed asparagus soup) provide a fresh alternative to the area’s meaty joints.


Radisson Hotel Bismarck Perks at this downtown chain hotel include plush bedding and free Wi-Fi.

Rolling Plains Adventures For hunting and fishing adventures, check out this family-owned, 17,000-acre ranch 25 miles southeast of town. Also available: ATV excursions, cattle drives, horseback rides, camping, cattle branding and hayrides.

For more information: Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau (800) 767-3555;

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