A hipster and a small town walk into a big-city bar ... no punch line. That’s just a typical night in this pop-culture icon with plenty to show off and nothing to prove.
At 12:15 p.m., you won’t find a barista behind the counter at Twenty Below Coffee Company. Instead, carafes and a mason jar stuffed with dollar bills encourage guests to help themselves.
“Our staff takes time to sit down and eat together every day,” says Michael Moran, co-owner of the pour-over coffee shop. That kind of communal sentiment crops up throughout Fargo. (To wit: A nonprofit plants tiny gardens across the city, encouraging anyone to pluck a couple of peppers or tomatoes for dinner.)
Broadway forms the backbone of an evolving downtown. Creative shops, breweries and restaurants, such as the Unglued handcraft market and posh Mezzaluna restaurant, enliven the area around the landmark Hotel Donaldson and the Fargo Theatre. Throw in a youthful spirit—drawing from three large universities in the Fargo-Moorhead area—and you get summer festivals like Sway Day, aiming for a world record in hammock lounging.
Until recently, this homey outpost for hipsters was a best-kept secret of the North, known to most people only for a cult-classic film. Now it’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. Walk around, and it’s not hard to see why
Bonanzaville USA Explore 40 buildings (such as a general store, log cabin, blacksmith shop and saloon) that simulate life when “bonanza” farms —huge acreages, most of which grew wheat—ruled the prairies in the late 1800s. bonanzaville.org
Downtown Fargo Street Fair Downtown buzzes in mid-July, with 250 booths of goods handmade by artists from across the country. Billed as North Dakota’s largest free outdoor event, it also has plenty of fair-style food. downtownfargo.com
Fargo Air Museum Volunteer guides explain the history of the airplanes on display, from a replica of the Wright Brothers’ Flyer to an unmanned drone with a 100-foot wingspan. fargoairmuseum.org
Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center Grab a fur-lined bomber hat and pose with the wood chipper from the Coen brothers’ cult-classic film Fargo. fargomoorhead.org
Fargo Theatre The marquee of this restored 1926 Art Deco spot announces its independent films, concerts and other live events. fargotheatre.org
Hjemkomst Center In neighboring Moorhead, Minnesota, a full-scale replica of a Viking ship stands as the centerpiece of this museum. Other exhibits include a re-creation of an ancient stave church. cityofmoorhead.com
Plains Art Museum Sun shines past wooden beams in this former International Harvester building, now home to a collection of 4,000 pieces, including contemporary Native American art. plainsart.org
Unglued The indie emporium stocks handmade goods—think a brick-and-mortar Etsy—from 200 local and regional artists. ungluedmarket.com
Zandbroz Variety Coffee-table books and titles by local and regional authors fill shelves in this independent bookshop, which branches out to include jewelry, tableware and gifts. zandbroz.com
Blackbird Woodfire Soft, chewy crusts made with North Dakota flour support premium toppings on wood-fired pizzas. blackbirdwoodfire.com
Brewhalla Drekker Brewing Company’s new location features a taproom, event space and patio in a restored 1880s railroad building. Try bold brews like Techno Viking. drekkerbrewing.com
Cafe Aladdin The laid-back Mediterranean restaurant carries specialty grocery items at its three Fargo locations. We recommend the sampler of spanakopita, falafel, baba ghanoush, hummus, pita bread and stuffed grape leaves. cafealaddinfargo.com
Luna Fargo Creative fare might include duck breast with bok choy and wild blueberries. Purple Rain ice cream? Don’t ask—just eat. lunafargo.com
Mezzaluna Fine dining spotlights pan-seared salmon and bison meatloaf. Staffers at the U-shape marble bar shake up high-end cocktails. dinemezzaluna.com
Twenty Below Coffee Company The owners call their shop a “radically inclusive” space. On some days, that might mean a potluck lunch at the community table for anyone who brings food. 20below.coffee
Wild Terra Cider and Brewing Sip on-tap ciders and kombucha teas in a former stable converted to a loft-like cidery with reclaimed wood. wildterraciderandbrewing.com
Wild Terra Cider and Brewing. Photo courtesy of Wild Terra.
Hotel Donaldson Regional art adorns the 17 stylish rooms in this 1893 brick hotel. The HoDo Restaurant serves smoked bison hanger steak as well as daily vegan creations. Herbs from the rooftop garden flavor some HoDo Lounge cocktails. hoteldonaldson.com
Sky Prairie Lounge
More information: fargomoorhead.org