5 Ways to Explore Bismarck, North Dakota
Mammoths, bison ... and minted lamb burgers? You can find them all in North Dakota's capital city, where a $51 million expansion of the North Dakota Heritage Center adds another colorful stop to the city's selection of restaurants, activities and outdoor fun. Make it an adventure-packed weekend with these five top draws.
1) North Dakota Heritage Center A 97,000-square-foot expansion put the final touches on this museum. Stand beneath a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Triceratops as they battle it out, then come face-to-face with a mammoth, ground sloth and giant bison that once roamed the state. In another gallery, match seeds with the crops they produce and climb into a tractor. A breathtaking glass atrium resembles early Native American earthlodge architecture, and special night lighting twinkles like the Northern Lights. Free. history.nd.gov
2. North Dakota State Capitol Building and Grounds From the Heritage Center, it's pretty easy to spot "The Skyscraper on the Prairie," North Dakota's 241-foot-tall capitol. Free guided tours of the area's tallest structure include a visit the 18th-floor observation deck. Also on the grounds: an arboretum trail, a prairie trail, and numerous statues and memorials. nd.gov
3. Pirogue Grill This chef-owned spot uses local ingredients to create fine-dining wonders downtown. In the main dining room, enjoy the breast of chicken with smoked cheddar and apple slaw. On the bar side, order the juicy minted lamb burger on homemade focaccia, served with crunchy homemade potato chips. piroguegrille.com
4. Lewis and Clark Riverboat Visit Bismarck between Memorial Day and Labor Day to embark on a narrated tour along the Missouri River. The old-fashioned 40-foot-long riverboat docks underneath Interstate-83. On Tuesdays and Sundays, there are pizza excursions; Wednesdays through Sundays, cruise at sunset. For a bargain, take advantage of Monday Madness (90-minute evening cruises for $10). lewisandclarkriverboat.com
5. 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 town. On-site adventures include guided ATV riding and horseback riding. Forays take visitors to wagon ruts dating to the Western expansion. The accommodations are nothing fancy. But if you're looking to experience an authentic slice of North Dakota history and hospitality, you'll find some here. rollingplainsadventures.com