- North Dakota
The sister cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota, offer great historical attractions and cultural events.
You will be impressed by the appreciation and preservation of history and strong Nordic influences in this region. For a summer vacation that encourages educational and fun activities, take the family for a road trip to North Dakota and Minnesota. The summer weather is warm and breezy, and the beautiful plains stretch out as far as you can see.
An Impressive Viking Ship and Stave Church
Set amongst large trees and lovely landscaped greenery, the Hjemkomst Center (“hjemkomst” is Norwegian for “homecoming”) is home to two historical attractions. Located in Moorhead, this venue focuses on the region’s Scandinavian heritage and traditions.
First, check out the incredibly impressive Viking ship called The Hjemkomst, which is a handmade replica of an authentic ship. It was envisioned and built by a local gentleman who sadly did not see its completion, but his family members sailed the ship from Duluth, Minnesota, to Norway in 1982 in his honour. When I saw the incredible craftsmanship and the conditions in which one had to live on such a long voyage, I gained an immense respect to those who undertook the journey.
The next thing you must see is the Hopperstad Stave Church, a replica of a Norwegian stave church dating from 1100-1200 AD. Built by a local resident in 1998, this impressive structure is filled with intricate details, wood carvings and painted biblical images.
Replica Viking ship at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota
Annual Viking Festival
During the summer, plan your visit to coincide with the Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival. It’s a celebration of Viking traditions and Scandinavian culture. You can sample delicious traditional foods, see unique crafts at the marketplace and stroll through the center taking in all of the history, sights and sounds. Local residents take the details of traditional Viking life very seriously, aiming to be as authentic as possible in their attire, food and wares.
The Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead
I just loved this museum! It’s located in a historic building built in 1913 that was once Moorhead’s post office. On the National Register of Historic Places, it hosts a fantastic art gallery with both local artworks and world collections. I saw everything from contemporary paintings to mixed-media pieces. The mask collections are impressive, spanning from South America to Indonesia. Respectfully, I must say this isn’t your typical small-town art gallery.
Bison sculpture at the Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead
Bonanzaville Pioneer Village
Next, I headed to a perfect venue for families. Located in West Fargo and spanning 12 acres, including 400,000 artifacts and 43 historic buildings, the Bonanzaville Pioneer Village is an authentic replica of local pioneer life. I took my time and strolled through the many exhibits, seeing everything from vintage automobiles to old-fashioned stores to the Eagles Air Museum with its 20 aircraft.
Bonanzaville Pioneer Village in West Fargo, North Dakota.
Fantastic Food and Cocktails at the HoDo Lounge
After such a busy day of art, culture and local history, I was ready to kick back and relax over cocktails, a great meal and music. An excellent spot, the HoDo Lounge is located in the Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo. Famous for its farm-to-table cuisine, live music on Thursday nights and awesome mixologists, the lounge spoiled me with its decadent fare in a casual atmosphere. The live music was great, and I enjoyed an impressive plate of charcuterie.
Fargo and Moorhead are two lovely cities that complement each other in every way. Their joint history and great cultural attractions make this a fantastic place to take in some impactful culture and enjoy great family fun.