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9 Best Things to Do in Grand Forks, North Dakota

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Are you looking for places to visit and things to do in Grand Forks, North Dakota? Check out the top attractions and activities we’ve compiled below. A tour of Grand Forks is something you’ll love, especially with the right information on what to do and where to go. 

Grand Forks is situated in the Northeastern corner of North Dakota. It is known for its agricultural roots, notably the production of hay, corn, wheat, and other grains.

However, Grand Forks is not dominated by the agricultural industry alone. It’s home to a diverse economy that thrives in multiple areas, including healthcare, education, food processing, defense, and manufacturing. As for the population, the city has around 59,000 residents as of the 2020 U.S. census

Grand Forks is home to the University of North Dakota and is known for its extensive park system and many festivals. Some popular attractions in Grand Forks include the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

Grand Forks is a city with plenty to offer, whether you’re looking for entertainment, food, or a place to call home. But, with so many things to do in the city, it can be challenging to decide what to do first. 

No worries, though. This post will highlight some of the top things to do in Grand Forks that make it one of the best travel destinations. But, as you plan your trip, don’t forget to identify good travel insurance coverage. This will help ensure that every aspect of the trip goes well.

TL;DR – Our Favorite Things to Do in Grand Forks

Things to Do in Grand Forks, North Dakota

1. Tour the North Dakota Museum Of Art

Address: 261 Centennial Dr, Grand Forks, ND 58202, United States

Located on the University of North Dakota campus, the North Dakota Museum of Art is in the heart of North Dakota tourism. The museum has a variety of exhibits that explore the history of art in North Dakota and across the United States.

Opened in 1970 as the University of North Dakota Art Galleries, the museum is one of the exceptional places in North Dakota. The facility features a video information room, three exhibition galleries, a cafe, and a gift shop. The good thing is admission to this private, not-for-profit institution is free.

Highlights of the museum include paintings by famed regional, national, and international artists such as Kiki Smith, María Magdalena Campos Pons, Rena Effendi, and Aganetha Dyck. Some of the exhibits in the museum include “The Plains of Sweet Regret,” “Bugs and Such,” “An African Affair,” and “In Our Own Words: Native Impressions.”

If you’re around town, this museum is well worth a visit. It’s one of the prominent artistic landmarks in North Dakota.

2. Tour the Flood Memorial Monument

Flood Memorial Monument, North Dakota
Flood Memorial Monument by Alexwcovington licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

If there’s one thing that Grand Forks has a deep history of, it is horrific levels of flooding. Thus the city has put up the Flood Memorial Monument to pay tribute to the people who have lost their lives since the 1896 tragic flood. 

The monument is located near the Sorlie Bridge overlooking the Red River. It’s a beautiful masterpiece made of twelve towering plaques. Each plaque on the rock structure marks every year that flooding occurred and the peak height the flooding reached.

At the top is the mark of the 1997 colossal flood. This occurred in May 1997 and swept over Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was the most severe flood since 1826.

The Red River, which marks the US-Canada border, had started overflowing its banks due to incessant rains. By the time the enormity of the flood became apparent, it had already killed at least 82 people and caused an estimated $3.5 billion in damages. 

That historic flooding left much of the city submerged under up to 30 feet of water and affected countless lives and homes. In commemorating these devastating events, Grand Forks constructed the flood memorial and museum that celebrates the community’s resilience in tragedy. 

The site brings back sad memories of these horrific events. And, if you are in the area, it is worth visiting to pay your respects to those who lost their lives in this devastating event.

3. Visit the Ralph Engelstad Arena

Ralph Engelstad Arena, best things to do in Grand Forks
Ralph Englestad Arena by Robthepiper – Own work, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0,

Address: One Ralph Engelstad Arena Dr, Grand Forks, ND 58203, United States

The Ralph Engelstad Arena is a world-class sports and events complex in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The arena opened on October 5, 2001, and is known as the home of the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks ice hockey team and hosts major concerts, family shows, and other events.

The most popular attraction and the primary motivation for constructing the arena is the University of North Dakota hockey.

Hockey attendance reached an all-time high at the new Ralph Engelstad Arena’s inaugural season (2001-2002), the first season in the facility. In the ice hockey arena’s first season, single-game tickets for all 11,634 seats were purchased within the first 43 minutes and completely sold out.

Big-name performers played in the arena, including notable artists Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood. Artists and sports teams like Sugarland, the Minnesota Wild, and Toby Keith also performed here. As well as other professional sports teams played in Ralph Engelstad Arena.

4. Visit the Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge

Address: Grand Forks, ND 58203, United States

Visit the Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge to relish some scenery and wildlife in Grand Forks. The refuge was founded in 1936 and contained 1270 acres of land. It was set up to develop and take care of the Red River’s system of grasslands and wetlands.

This beautiful nature reserve is home to many migratory and breeding waterbirds and thus is a great place to watch the birds. Here, you’ll see some of North America’s most beautiful birds and learn about their breeding habits and ecology.

More than 300 species of birds have been found in this beautiful place. It’s home to Giant Canada geese and almost 39,000 shorebirds, representing 29 species. Kellys Slough is a lovely spot for outdoor activities, especially during a family outing or a day out with friends.

If you want more nature time, the refuge is just 21 minutes from Turtle River State Park, another great place to enjoy wildlife. Plan your trip well, and you’ll be able to enjoy both tourist attractions.

See related: Places to Visit in Your 20s in the US

5. Touring the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site

Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site
Image by ND.gov

Address: 555 113 1/2 Ave NE, Cooperstown, ND 58425, United States

This State Historic Site is a must-see for visitors coming to Grand Forks. The site contains a museum that best tells the story of the Cold War and various exhibits on missile technology. 

The site also preserves some of the world’s largest and most lethal intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites spread over 6,500 square miles. This missile site is a sobering reminder of the destructive power of nuclear warfare.

In addition, the site plays a significant role in how the U.S. responded to a nuclear threat. So, a Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site tour is an excellent idea if you’re looking for an exciting and educational day out.

See Related: Things to Do in Bismarck, North Dakota

6. Sample Varieties of Fine Wine At Grape Mill Vineyard & Winery

Grape Mill Vineyard & Winery

Address: 18696 430th Ave SW, East Grand Forks, MN 56721, United States

If you want a unique experience in Grand Forks, head to Grape Mill Vineyard and Winery. This winery allows visitors to sample their fine wines and view their vineyards up close. And besides the great wine, you’ll also learn a bit about the grape and the wine-making process. 

In 2006, Halverson started planting the initial 200 vines. However, the vineyard has grown over the years in leaps and bounds. Overlooking the beautiful banks of the Red Lake River, these cold-hardy grapevines produce flavors specific to this region. 

The vineyard has at least 2,000 vines, including Brianna, Marquette, Frontenac Gris, La Crescent, and Frontenac Blanc. Grape Mill Vineyard & Winery is the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon with friends or family in the greater Grand Forks area.

See related: 15 Best Wineries in Minnesota | Top Vineyards to Vist

7. Learn about Aviation in the Fargo Air Museum

Address: 1609 19th Ave N, Fargo, ND 58102, United States

If you’re looking for day trips from Grand Forks, the Fargo Air Museum is well worth the journey. Located at the Hector International Airport, the Fargo Air Museum is a must-see attraction for aviation enthusiasts and history buffs. The museum was established in 1996, and it houses over 60 aircraft, 90% of which are in good flying condition.

The collection comprises a variety of helicopters, military planes, and stunning airships. Some aircraft on display include a P-51D Mustang, Cessna O-1Bird Dog, Schleicher K7, Lancair 360, and a Fairchild PT-19. The museum offers educational guided tours that allow visitors to explore the planes in detail and spend some time learning about the history of aviation. 

Book your tickets in advance if you want to visit the place, as the museum often fills up quickly. Adults above 12 years pay $10; students, military, veterans, and seniors pay $8; and children between 5 and 11 years $6. For kids below four years, entrance is free.

This museum showcases vintage aircraft from around the world and is a fascinating place to visit. 

See related: Things to Do in Minot

8. Spend Time at the Wild Red River Zoo

Red River Zoo entrance,

Address: 4255 23rd Ave S, Fargo, ND 58104, United States

If you’re looking for a family-friendly outing that will keep you active and entertained, the Red River Zoo in Fargo is the perfect destination for a day trip from Grand Forks. The zoo is home to exotic and native animals worldwide, making it the ideal place to learn about wildlife. 

Opened in 1999, the Red River Zoo is home to over 600 animals representing over 89 species. This makes it one of the most diverse zoos in the United States. Some of the animals in this zoo include White-lipped Deer, Tanuki, Pall’s cats, Meerkats, Bison, Tamatins, and East Caucasian Tur. 

This 33-acre zoo offers a variety of activities for visitors, including animal feeding shows, children’s activities, and bird watching. It is also one of the few zoos globally that allow visitors to feed the animals directly. You can feed them pandas, grapes, panda biscuits, and even bamboo.

Kids can also enjoy feeding the animals and playing with domestic animals like hogs and rabbits. To enter the zoo, adults pay $9.75, while kids aged 2 to 14 years pay $7.75. An additional $2 is charged for carousel rides. But it’s entirely free for kids under two years. 

See Related: Best Restaurants in Fargo, North Dakota

9. Shop at Columbia Mall

Columbia Mall, Grand Forks
Scheels Store front by Scheels

Address: 2800 S Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, ND 58201, United States

If you’re in Grand Forks and want to shop, head to the Columbia Mall, Grand Forks. Opened in 1978, the Columbia Mall is a regional shopping mall in Grand Forks. Due to its proximity, the Columbia Mall draws many customers from Canada.

The mall houses two department stores, including the Scheels and JC Penney, and a 430-seat food court. It is owned by G.K. Development, Inc. of Barrington, Illinois, and has over 70 specialty merchant spaces. Not only will you be able to find all your favorite retailers, but you can also enjoy some great food options in the food court.

Places to Stay in Grand Forks

1. Best Western Harvest Inn & Suites Top Recommendation

Located in Grand Forks, 5.7 km from University of North Dakota, Best Western Harvest Inn & Suites provides accommodation with a fitness centre and free WiFi throughout the property. The hotel has an indoor pool and guests enjoy a daily breakfast buffet.

2. La Quinta by Wyndham Grand Forks

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Grand Forks offers a wide range of services and amenities designed with the comfort of the guests in mind. Free Wi-Fi in all rooms, 24-hour front desk, facilities for disabled guests, express check-in/check-out are just a few of the facilities that set La Quinta Inn & Suites Grand Forks apart from other hotels in the city.

3. Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Grand Forks, ND

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Grand Forks, ND provides a perfect base for guests to discover all that Grand Forks has to offer. This hotel is just minutes from the city centre and offers easy access to nearby attractions such as the University of North Dakota.

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