North Dakota, gateway to the west with its open prairies and rolling hills, is home to the United States first National Mammal, the Bison. North Dakota may be small in terms of population, but it boasts some of the world’s most beautiful natural playgrounds like the 283-acre Beaver Lake State Park and Crow Flies High Scenic Overlook. North Dakota also pays homage to the country’s early settlers with the Fort Seward Covered Wagon Train. An annual week-long pilgrimage, complete with a chuck wagon and covered wagons. This sparsely populated state is full of interesting and fun things for kids of all ages to see and do.
1.Beaver Lake State Park
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Dedicated to honoring the early settlers along Beaver Lake shoreline, Beaver Lake State Park was officially opened in 1932. Situated on 283-acres of prime real estate, this historic park is ideal children of any age. Beaver Lake State Park boasts a wide-ranging camping venue with five primitive campsites, 25 modern campsites, three group campsites, and three camping cabins, with easy access to the park’s Lake. The 25 modern campsites have electricity and running water. Cabins feature mini-fridges, microwaves, and air conditioning. There are six hiking trails, two of which are over a mile. Other activities include mountain biking, fishing, and swimming.
3850 70th Street Southeast, Wishek, ND, Phone: 701-452-2752
2.Black Tiger Bay State Recreation Area
Black Tiger Bay State Recreation Area in North Dakota is located on the eastern shores of Devils Lake. It offers an exciting way for kids to enjoy a day in the semi-wilderness, and on the lake. This secluded park provides some of the most scenic views in all of North Dakota, while boasting one of the best fishing areas in the state as well. Children eager to learn to fish, or the child who already knows how to, will enjoy the largest body of water North Dakota has to offer. The park provides ramps for two-single lane boats and an expansive parking lot.
152 South Duncan Drive, Devils Lake, ND, Phone: 701-766-4015
3.Bonanzaville Pioneer Village and Museum
In West Fargo, North Dakota, Bonanzaville Pioneer Village and Museum sits on 12 acres. It provides visitors with a look into the lifestyle of the early settlers in this territory. The venue has forty buildings, many of which are historic from the area’s past. It provides an educational experience that can only be done on site. The village arranges the buildings into a town-like setting with one building being a general store, another a drug store, and a fire station. Bonanzaville Pioneer Village and Museum offers an annual Pioneer Days event, featuring activities of the pioneer era. Admission for children six to 17 is $6. Ages five and under are free.
1351 Main Avenue West, West Fargo, ND, Phone: 701-282-2822
© Chahinkapa Zoo
The first zoo built in North Dakota, Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Sitting on 29 acres and showcasing more than 200 animals, this state’s iconic zoo is an idyllic and a fun learning experience for any kid. The zoo is open May through October, and available during the wintertime by appointment only. Featuring animals from six continents and 70 species, the zoo is sure to capture the imagination of all who visit. The venue also offers a unique opportunity for guests to see how the animals are trained.
1004 R J Hughes Drive, Wahpeton, ND, Phone: 701-642-8709
5.Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm
© Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm
Named among the best 25 children’s museums in the country, Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm in Fargo has more than 50 interactive exhibits. Housed in a farmhouse built in 1876, the first in the Dakotas, it’s an ideal place for children 11 and under to learn and play. The family-friendly museum offers hands-on exhibits that spur creativity and encourage engagement with activities like the popular cow milking station. The museum’s home-like ambience makes learning fun for the whole family. Outdoors, there are gardens, nature trails, a pumpkin patch, a carousel, a miniature train, and other activities on the 55-acre property.
1201 28th Avenue North, Fargo, ND, Phone: 701-232-6102
6.Cross Ranch State Park
Offering more than 13 miles of scenic trails and over 500 acres of state parkland, Cross Ranch State Park in Center, is nestled next to the Missouri River where famed explorers Lewis and Clark roamed centuries ago. The park is a great way to showcase nature’s wonders to kids of all ages. With a designated site that provides camping for 65 RVs and tents, Cross Ranch features rolling prairies, marshy river bottoms, and cottonwood glens. This scenic park also provides campers or day hikers with cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, and kayaking and canoeing in the summer.
1403 River Road, Center, ND, Phone: 701-794-3731
7.Crow Flies High Scenic Overlook
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Just west of New Town, in Mountrail County, Crow Flies High Overlook is a butte located in Crow Flies High State Recreation Area. It provides the same views Lewis and Clark saw on their epic expedition. Four Bears Bridge is also visible from the butte, although the original bridge is underwater now. Here, older children will bear witness to what was once fertile land that was taken over by the US Government to make Lake Sakekawa, named after an Indian chief from the Hidatsa tribe. Crow Flies High offers a sightline to where the town of Sanish now sits beneath the reservoir.
10031 Highway 23, New Town, ND, Phone: 701-859-3071
8.Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge
Des Lacs (French for “of the Lakes”) National Wildlife Refuge in Kenmare, got its name from the French trappers who migrated to this area because of the many furbearing animals. This unique area was formed from the runoff thousands of years ago by glacial Lake Regina. Now this 19,500-acre wonderland is a refuge for migrating birds like tundra swans and snow geese. The birds are attracted to this area because of the managed wetlands and natural lakes. Children of all ages will enjoy the beauty of American White Pelicans feasting on small fish, and the sight of Giant Canadian Geese.
Ward County Road 1, Kenmare, ND, Phone: 701-385-4046
9.Double Ditch Indian Village Historic Site
© Double Ditch Indian Village Historic Site
Double Ditch Indian Village Historic Site, formerly a large village the Mandan Indians had inhabited for 300 years, is now an archaeological site. This earthlodge village (a semi-subterranean village) built with wood, straw, grass, and other local products was built to sustain the heavy winds, sun, and snow of the great plains. This historical site provides viewers with an insight into how villagers lived in the late 1780s and earlier. The archaeological digs here now show how massive these earth-lodges were for the era when they were constructed. This is truly an awesome experience for kids who are interested in archaeology.
ND Highway 1804, Bismarck, ND, Phone: 701-328-2666
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10.Fargo Air Museum
© Fargo Air Museum
Ideal for the child who loves airplanes and or flying, Fargo Air Museum provides kids with an array of still serviceable and flying airplanes. Since opening its doors in 2013, this museum, which boasts planes from the Wright Brother’s era to unmanned surveillance aircrafts, offers a fun-filled and educational experience to all who visit. The museum offers guests self-guided tours, or guided tours with one of veteran pilots can be arranged through the office. The venue provides two-gigantic, indoor hangars that house the planes. Admission for children aged five to 11 is only $5. Admission for adults is $8.
1609 19th Avenue North, Fargo, ND, Phone: 701-293-8043
11.Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
North Dakota’s oldest state park, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in nearby Mandan, provides a plethora of outdoor adventures for children young and old. The park provides a number of scenic trails that wind through the hills providing panoramic views of the iconic river bottom. The park also allows fishermen to cast their lines from either the Heart or Missouri rivers. Kids who want to camp under the stars have over 80 modern (electricity and water) campsites to choose from, and 19 primitive (without water or electrical) campsites. Guests can also visit the unique Earth lodge homes the Mandan Indians once used.
4480 Fort Lincoln Road, Mandan, ND
12.Fort Ransom State Park
© Fort Ransom State Park
Named after a military fort from the 1860s, Fort Ransom State Park, nestled in the Sheyenne River Valley, provides an exciting outdoor experience for children and nature lovers alike. Secluded behind heavy woods, this scenic park is also one of the few designated horse parks in the state of North Dakota. It has 68 corrals to accommodate its many equestrian riders. Fort Ransom State Park also offers fun during the winter months with cross-country skiing. For those interested in early life in this valley, Fort Ransom State Park celebrates Sodbuster Days in early fall.
5981 Walt Hjelle Parkway, Fort Ransom, ND, Phone: 701-973-4331
13.Fort Seward Covered Wagon Train
Starting in 1969, Fort Seward, Inc. hosted a family-oriented covered wagon train that has now become an annual event for adventurous kids and their families. Starting at the Fort Seward Infantry Post in Jamestown, the event, typically held in June, is a great way to promote the way people traveled during the time of covered wagons. Participants can bring their own saddled horse, ride in a wagon, or walk. No electronics or other modern conveniences are allowed. The wagon train includes camping, history talks, and nature lore. This adventurous journey comes complete with a chuck wagon.
615 10th Avenue Northwest, Jamestown, ND, Phone: 701-251-1875
14.Gateway to Science Center
© Gateway to Science Center
Providing a hands-on approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Gateway to Science Center in Bismarck has been an inspiration for children in math and science for over 25 years. This unique science center offers an interactive, year-round gallery designed to stimulate the mind of every child who enters. GSC offers a variety of programs throughout the year like summer camps, Girls Who Code, and Preschool Discovery Hour to motivate kids to want to continue learning about the sciences. The gallery offers over 90 exhibits that provide hands-on learning opportunities. The admission fee is $6 for kids aged five to 17.
1810 Schafer Street Suite #1, Bismarck, ND, Phone: 701-258-1975
15.Icelandic State Park
© Icelandic State Park
Icelandic State Park in Cavalier, pays homage to the homesteading spirit of North Dakotan’s of yesteryear. This 912-acre playground offers a wide variety of outdoor entertainment that will surely satisfy every child. There are two-different campsite options to choose from at Icelandic State Park making this an affordable oasis for entertaining the whole family. Campsites with electrical hookups are $25 per car, and campsites without electricity are $17. This historic park features restored buildings to explore, like Hallson Church and Akra Community Hall. Offering a sanctuary for birds, wildlife, and plants, the park’s Gunlogson Nature Preserve was the first dedicated nature preserve in the state.
13571 ND Highway 5, Cavalier, ND, Phone: 701-265-4561
16.International Peace Garden
© International Peace Garden
Dedicated to the celebration of peace, International Peace Garden offers all who enter this sacred park the hope of understanding, cooperation, and friendship among nations. Besides being a park that promotes peace and harmony, it also provides outdoor activities that are great for families with kids. Located in Dunseith in the Turtle Mountains, it offers 36 campground sites that can accommodate both large RVs and small tents. The sites come complete with picnic tables and fire pits, so you can rough it with a little bit of comfort. Inside this tranquil garden, children will witness relaxing water features, colorful flowers, and a stone courtyard.
10939 Highway 281, Dunseith, ND, Phone: 701-263-4390
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17.Lake Sakakawea State Park
© Ric Ergenbright Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
Nestled adjacent to Garrison Dam, lies Lake Sakakawea State Park in Hazen, North Dakota. It is an ideal venue for a family who wants their children to see and learn about what nature has to offer. This expansive park provides over 300,000 acres of lake, making this man-made reservoir an outdoor playground that is fun for the whole family. Kids will love camping under the stars and trees, hiking on trails, and spending long hours on the swim beach. Perhaps best known for its fine fishing, Lake Sakakawea has fishermen coming from all over for a chance to catch Chinook Salmon, Walleye, and Northern Pike.
781 42 ½ Avenue Northwest, Hazen, ND, Phone: 701-487-3315
18.Lewis and Clark Riverboat
The Port of Bismarck is the home of the Lewis and Clark Riverboat. For nearly two centuries, it has provided visitors wanting to explore the Missouri River from a passenger vessel with that opportunity. Children studying the expedition of Lewis and Clark in school will be able to see with their own eyes what the explorers saw. They’ll discover how much the water’s current plays a factor in how fast the explorers could navigate this stretch of water. Lewis and Clark Riverboat cruises usually last 1.5 hours, depending on the route and weather. Food and drinks are served on cruises.
1700 North River Road, Bismarck, ND, Phone: 701-255-4233
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19.National Buffalo Museum
© National Buffalo Museum
Home of the World’s Largest Buffalo – a statute that stands 26 feet tall and weighs about 60 tons – the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown is dedicated to preserving bison history. This not-for-profit organization is housed in 6,000 square feet of space built with rustic logs. The museum focuses on the restoration of the National Mammal of the United States. In addition to the museum building, visitors can see 25 to 30 live buffalo that freely roam 200 acres of land. They’re visible on both sides of the interstate. One of the most exciting features is a rare white bison. Admission for kids five to 14 is $6.
500 17th Street Southeast, Jamestown, ND, Phone: 800-807-1511
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20.Red River Zoo
© Red River Zoo
Red River Zoo in Fargo houses over 600 animals that represent 89 species. It sits on 33 acres of developed land that once was a farm. This interesting zoo is well known for exhibiting and breeding some of the rarest cold climate species in the world. A few of these special animals are the Russian Red Tree Squirrel, Red Pandas, Sichuan takin, and Pallas’s cats. The zoo also showcases a rare 1928 working carousel. Kids can ride the carousel for two dollars. Children of every age love the Red River Zoo with its eclectic display of animals. Admission for children aged two to 14 is $7.75.
4255 23rd Avenue South, Fargo, ND, Phone: 701-277-9240
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21.Roosevelt Park Zoo
North Dakota’s oldest zoo opened in Minot, North Dakota, in 1921. It offers educational experiences for young and old. The zoo’s wide walkways make it very friendly for strollers and wagons, which can be rented here. Educating children is one of the main focuses at this iconic zoo. The venue offers a Zoo Tot Class, ideal for kids aged two to five, emphasizing learning about science through exploration and encouraging observation. Roosevelt Park Zoo has two pricing schedules, one for winter and another for summer. Children under the age of two are free both sessions. Admission for children aged three to 12 is $3 during winter, and $5.50 during summer.
1219 East Burdick Expressway, Minot, ND, Phone: 701-857-4166
22.The Dakota Zoo
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Originally featuring just 15 acres of developed land, The Dakota Zoo in Bismarck has expanded to a whopping 90 acres, and is the home to over 600 animals, fish, reptiles, and birds representing 125 different species. Visitors can easily stroll this lovely zoo, or for a small fee can catch a train that winds through the zoo enabling them to see all it has to offer. The Dakota Zoo provides children with the chance to pet critters in up-close-and-personal animal encounters. For the inquisitive child, the zoo offers an opportunity to see how the animals at The Dakota Zoo are trained.
602 Riverside Park Drive, Bismarck, ND, Phone: 701-223-7543
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23.The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
© The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame (NDCHF) in Medora is housed in a 15,000-square-foot contemporary center. The Center of Western Heritage and Cultures is dedicated to preserving the history of Native Americans, ranchers, and rodeo cowboys in North Dakota. It offers patrons a nostalgic look at the rodeos and ranching that made this community a hub of the lifestyle that was the Old West. The facility offers a theater, an open-air patio of 5,000 square feet, and traveling and permanent western cultural exhibits. Children will love the NDCHF. Admission for students is $6, and all children 18 and under are free on Wednesdays and Sundays.
250 Main Street, Medora, ND, Phone: 701-623-2000
24.Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Named for the 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora is the only National Park in America directly named after a single person. It encompasses over 110,000 square miles of beautiful wilderness. The park offers an educational experience for children of all ages, with those 16 and younger having free admission. Entrance fees vary from non-motorized tours, $15 to non-commercial private vehicle tours at $30 a carload. The park offers two primitive campground sites for sleeping under the stars, with no electrical hookups or showers. The park also provides visitors with self-guided driving tours allowing them to witness wildlife at its best.
315 Second Avenue, Medora, ND, Phone: 701-623-4466
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25.Turtle River State Park
Offering year-round fun, Turtle River State Park in Arvilla, a Civilian Conservative Corps constructed dwelling built in the 1930’s, provides kids who love the outdoors a variety of activities to do. Showcasing over 700 square miles alongside the Turtle River, this expansive park offers 10 miles of carved trails that meander their way through forested hills and beside a well-stocked trout river. This splendid park provides year-round activities like hiking, camping, biking, cross-country skiing, and picnicking in areas that are well-shaded during the summer months. Kids wanting to learn the skill of fly-fishing need look no further than this oasis in Arvilla.
3084 Park Avenue Northeast, Arvilla, ND, Phone: 701-795-3180
25 Best Things to Do in North Dakota with Kids of All Ages
- Beaver Lake State Park, Photo: Tyler Olson/stock.adobe.com
- Black Tiger Bay State Recreation Area, Photo: GCapture/stock.adobe.com
- Bonanzaville Pioneer Village and Museum, Photo: Kraft74/stock.adobe.com
- Chahinkapa Zoo, Photo: Chahinkapa Zoo
- Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm, Photo: Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm
- Cross Ranch State Park, Photo: Pavel/stock.adobe.com
- Crow Flies High Scenic Overlook, Photo: Iliya Mitskavets/stock.adobe.com
- Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: pictureguy32/stock.adobe.com
- Double Ditch Indian Village Historic Site, Photo: Double Ditch Indian Village Historic Site
- Fargo Air Museum, Photo: Fargo Air Museum
- Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Photo: Nicki/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Ransom State Park, Photo: Fort Ransom State Park
- Fort Seward Covered Wagon Train, Photo: greatandlittle/stock.adobe.com
- Gateway to Science Center, Photo: Gateway to Science Center
- Icelandic State Park, Photo: Icelandic State Park
- International Peace Garden, Photo: International Peace Garden
- Lake Sakakawea State Park, Photo: Ric Ergenbright Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
- Lewis and Clark Riverboat, Photo: Mechislav/stock.adobe.com
- National Buffalo Museum, Photo: National Buffalo Museum
- Red River Zoo, Photo: Red River Zoo
- Roosevelt Park Zoo, Photo: scott/stock.adobe.com
- The Dakota Zoo, Photo: Svetlana Sotnikova/stock.adobe.com
- The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, Photo: The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Photo: zakzeinert/stock.adobe.com
- Turtle River State Park, Photo: sergiy1975/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: coppec/stock.adobe.com