One might think it’s hard to get excited about a state whose official beverage is milk. It turns out, however, that North Dakotans need all that calcium to help them tackle all the things to do in their state. Natural and man-made attractions abound, with miles of natural lakes, hiking trails, and even a museum where full-scale dinosaurs still roam the Earth.
Parts of North Dakota’s wilderness recall America’s lost frontier, such as the rugged, rolling Badlands, the Sheyenne River, and the grassy expanses of the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail, which remains off-limits to cars. Chart an expedition down the famed Lewis and Clark Trail, which runs through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. This trail also leads to the ancient doorstep of Lewis and Clark’s legendary Native American interpreter, Sakakawea.
Though thousands of miles from the nearest ocean, North Dakotans are no strangers to watersports. Expansive lakes can be found throughout the region, chief among which are Lake Metigoshe in the Turtle Mountains and Devils Lake in the state’s northeast corner. Lake Metigoshe is a haven for boating and, contrary to its rather menacing name, Devils Lake is a fisherman’s paradise that proudly wears its title as the Perch Capital of the World.
North Dakota’s rural attractions allow one to take a step back in time, but not so giant a step as one can take at the Dakota Dinosaur Museum in Dickson. Full-scale skeletal casts of the stegosaurus and other prehistoric reptiles cast shadows over the museum’s extensive fossil collection. The Unique Antique Car Museum in Marmarth similarly features beasts that once roared. The museum’s restored vintage autos and license plates date as far back as 1916.
Nothing quells a growling stomach quite like ice cream, and North Dakota has some of the best. In Stanley, the Dakota Drug pharmacy boasts an original soda fountain and the lone Whirl-A-Whip ice-cream machine still in operation.