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 to 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 only dominated by the agricultural industry. 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 of the 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 a good travel insurance cover. This will help ensure that every aspect of the trip goes well.
Table of Contents
- TLDR – Our Favorite Things to do in Grand Forks
- Best Things to Do in Grand Forks, ND
- 1. Tour the North Dakota Museum Of Art
- 2. Tour the Flood Memorial Monument
- 3. Visit the Ralph Engelstad Arena
- 4. Visit the Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge
- 5. Touring the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site
- 6. Sample Varieties of Fine Wine At Grape Mill Vineyard & Winery
- 7. Learn about Aviation in the Fargo Air Museum
- 8. Spend Time at the Wild Red River Zoo
- 9. Shop at Columbia Mall
- Where To Stay in Grand Forks
- Knights Inn Grand Forks
- Hampton Inn Hotel and Suites
TLDR – Our Favorite Things to do in Grand Forks
WE get it, you’re hungry for Grand Forks attractions, but don’t have the time to trawl for info. Here are some of our top things to do in Grand Forks, North Dakota!
- Best Park – Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge
- Best Museum – North Dakota Museum Of Art
- Most significant landmark – the University of North Dakota
- Best all-round accommodation – The Hampton Inn Hotel and Suites
- Best free activity – River Cities Speedway
- The best activity for kids – Tour the North Dakota Museum Of Art
- The best activity for adults – Visit Ralph Engelstad Arena
- Best food – Heart attack roll and squid
- Best nightlife – Dreamers Lounge
Best Things to Do in Grand Forks, ND
From shopping to sightseeing and learning history, there’s something for everyone in this city. So, if you are looking for things to do in Grand Forks, here are our top picks.
1. Tour the North Dakota Museum Of Art
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 main artistic landmarks in North Dakota.
2. Tour the Flood Memorial Monument
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. And 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 one 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 to overflow its banks due to incessant rains. And 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 commemoration of these devastating events, Grand Forks constructed the flood memorial and museum that celebrates the community’s resilience in the face of tragedy.
The site brings back somber 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
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 inside the first 43 minutes and completely sold out.
Big-name performers, including notable artists Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood, played in the arena. 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
To relish some scenery and wildlife in Grand Forks, visit the Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was founded in 1936 and contains 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 be able to 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 actually home to Giant Canada geese and almost 39,000 shorebirds, representing 29 species. Kellys Slough is a beautiful spot for outdoor activities, especially during a family outing or a day out with your friends.
And if you want more nature time, the refuge is just 21 minutes from the 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: 8 Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US
5. Touring the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site
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, if you’re looking for an exciting and educational day out, a tour of the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site is a great idea.
6. Sample Varieties of Fine Wine At Grape Mill Vineyard & Winery
If you’re looking for a unique experience in Grand Forks, head to Grape Mill Vineyard and Winery. This winery offers visitors the chance to sample their fine wines and view their vineyards up close. And besides the great wine, you’ll also get to learn a bit about the grape and the wine-making process.
In 2006, the Halverson’s 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.
Currently, there are at least 2,000 vines in the vineyard, 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.
7. Learn about Aviation in the Fargo Air Museum
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 alike. 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.
If you want to visit the place, book your tickets in advance, 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 all around the world and is a fascinating place to visit.
See related: 13 Fun & Best Things to do in Minot, North Dakota
8. Spend Time at the Wild Red River Zoo
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 from all over the world, 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 acres 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.
9. Shop at Columbia Mall
If you’re in Grand Forks and want to shop, then head over to the Columbia Mall, Grand Forks. Opened in 1978, the Columbia Mall is a regional shopping mall in Grand Forks. And 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 more than 70 specialty merchant spaces.
Not only will you be able to find all of your favorite retailers, but you can also enjoy some great food options in the food court. There’s something for everyone at this mall, so be sure to stop by and shop here.
Where To Stay in Grand Forks
Knights Inn Grand Forks
Located two miles from the North Dakota Museum of Art, the Knights Inn is your go-to hotel for all your entertainment needs. Their luxurious rooms and suites are perfect for hosting lavish affairs, and the on-site casino will keep you entertained all night long.
The hotel offers a variety of amenities and services to make your stay as comfortable and convenient as possible. These include;
- Free Wi-Fi
- Flat-screen TVs
- Coffee makers
- Complimentary breakfast
- An indoor pool
Adding all these to the air-conditioned comfortable guest rooms and suites means that it has everything you need to make your visit to Grand Forks memorable. Plus, they always offer guests special discounts and offers on attractions in the area. Book Knights Innmake a reservation for an unforgettable night in Grand Forks.
Hampton Inn Hotel and Suites
Located in the heart of the historic downtown Grand Forks, the Hampton Inn Hotel and Suites is just steps away from all of the action. It is 1.4 miles from the Alerus Centre events venue and just 2.6 miles from the University of North Dakota. This central location means you can quickly get to all of the attractions and activities that Grand Fork offers.
Their contemporary rooms feature free Wi-Fi, minifridges, microwaves, and coffeemakers. Breakfast bags to go or breakfast is complimentary.
Their upgraded rooms also include hot tubs, fitness rooms, an indoor pool, and a 24-hour pantry. And the hotel has a coin-operated laundry facility and a business center.
- 8 Fun & Best Things to do in Medora, North Dakota
- 16 Best Things to Do in Fargo, North Dakota
- 11 Best & Fun Things to Do in Deadwood, South Dakota
Use Skyscanner to book the cheapest flight possible. Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine as you can find flights around the globe and from every airline possible. You'll be in great shape to get the best price possible.
You must grab a free trial or join Scott's Cheap Flights Premium to get cheap flight alerts directly to your email inbox. My favorite cheap flight alert was 25,000 Delta SkyMiles to London non-stop.