by Merle Exit
North Dakota is a great vacation destination whether you stop in a few cities or go across the state beginning with Fargo. Plains Art Museum, the largest art museum in North Dakota, is set in a renovated turn-of-the-century warehouse and features both national and regional works of art as well as a studio where artists can devise prints. www.plainsart.org
World War II buffs will definitely appreciate a tour of the Fargo Air Museum. The aircraft is operative, but not in the museum. Check out the North Dakota area memorabilia and purchase a dog tag ($7 bucks including the chain). www.fargoairmuseum.org
Off to Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretative Center in the abutting city of Moorehead, Minnesota. It is here that you learn about the Viking ship Hjemkomst, view a documentary that chronicles the reconstruction of the 76-foot hand-built ship (It’s in the Center) and its 6000-mile voyage across the Atlantic in 1982. Oops, it crashed in New York. I think that I was also privy to the history of each brick of the building, yah? www.hcscconline.org
Come and sit by my side if you love me, Do not hasten to bid me adieu, But remember the Red River Valley, And the girl that has loved only you. It may not be a Viking ship, but the pontoon boat will suffice. Just down the hill from the HHIC. Cool and refreshing as we breeze along the Red River on the S.S. Ruby a 45-minute tour with tales of history, geography and wildlife. The pontoon operates only if the river and weather permit it to do so. https://ssruby.com
Yankees fans or just baseball yahoos, alert, alert. There is a Roger Maris Museum in the Fargo’s West Acres Shopping Center. It includes major awards, uniforms and some of the home run balls from 1961, the year he broke Babe Ruth’s record with 61 home runs. This is not, however, a stopover on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. http://www.westacres.com/roger-maris.php
Bonanzaville, USA, located in West Fargo (701-282-2822) sports a Red River Valley historic village featuring old (1800s and early 1900s) main street businesses, cabins, and bonanza farm homes, as well as museums of cars, airplanes and dolls. There is a tour in the main building that will take you on a historic journey.
William G. Fargo, director of the North Pacific Railroad, a native New Yorker, teamed up with his partner Henry Wells when they worked in the banking and express shipping industry. You guessed it…Wells Fargo Stage Line and later The American Express.
The Native Americans called their nation an alliance of friends, Da-co-tail. It included the Dakotas and the land in the West where generations of member tribes roamed (with the buffalo) and hunted. www.bonanzaville.org
If you love cute animals there is the Red River Zoo, a relaxing way to spend a few hours. www.redriverzoo.org.
I recommend a stay at Hotel Donaldson with it art-inspired rooms, artisan cuisine a rooftop hot tub and some complimentary tidbits like wine and cheese and a bakery basket. Accommodations at this boutique hotel are just fabulous as well. www.hoteldonaldson.com