Road trips have never been a more popular way to get from place to place than they are now. Whether you’re from the upper Midwest or flying into Minneapolis and driving West, this itinerary can help you find the best places to stop on your road trip through Minnesota & North Dakota.
Here’s a Google maps link for the 728-mile trip, follow it if you need some directions, feel free to move it around to work for whatever trip works for your family.
The MSP Airport is a great place to fly into if you’re looking for a nice road trip through the Minnesota and North Dakota area. Start in the Twin Cities and hit the big stops like the Mall of America, Como Park, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and then hit the road on your way up to Fargo (with stops along the way of course).
Just about an hour Northwest of the cities, you’ll find St. Cloud. This beautiful city is located right on the Mississippi River and features a nice downtown area, nature walks, and places to stop for lunch like the Park Diner.
For more information on St. Cloud, check out their website.
Once you pass St. Cloud, you’re officially in Minnesota Lakes Country (although there are over 10,000 lakes in the state, so you’re never too far away from one). Alexandria has beautiful lakes to visit and many other outdoor activities to partake in.
Look on Explore Alexandria’s website to see more about what to do in this lake town.
Itasca State Park
Park Rapids is a bit out of the way, but worth every minute. Itasca State Park is right outside of Park Rapids and has the headwaters for the Mississippi River. Walk across this mighty river (actually in the water!), take some nice hikes, and head into Downtown Park Rapids (one of the 10 most charming Minnesota Main Streets) for a stroll and some great shopping.
Another lake town in Minnesota, Detroit Lakes has favorites like Zorbaz pizza, the public beach on Detroit Lake, WE Fest Country Music Festival, and the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area. This is the perfect stop to get out and enjoy some lake time and a Zorbaz club pizza while you’re at it.
A little bit North Dakota (Fargo), a little bit Minnesota (Moorhead), and a whole lot of good times! With 60+ hotels, 450+ restaurants, and endless things to do, a night in Fargo is a must in this itinerary (although, we may be biased).
Start your visit in Fargo at the Visitors Center where you can get information on all of the fun things to do as well as take a photo with the infamous Woodchipper prop from the movie Fargo. Then head to the Downtown Fargo area where great restaurants, public art, and local shops line Broadway. This is also where the nightlife comes alive.
Just about an hour Southwest of Fargo, you’ll find Fort Ransom in the heart of the Sheyenne Grasslands. This prairie land will allow you to see some of the best, open skies, as well as killer sunsets. A scenic by-way will bring you into the park and some nice-and-easy hikes and wildlife viewing will greet you when you get there.
For more information on what to do in Jamestown, check out Discover Jamestown’s website.
North Dakota’s capital city has no shortage of history. Start your visit here with a trip to the North Dakota Heritage Center (a free museum!) and wander through the galleries to get a better understanding of the history of North Dakota. Right next door, the capitol building stands as the tallest building in North Dakota, they offer tours every hour on the hour (this is suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19).
Bismarck has much more to offer, check out on their website.
Medora is one of North Dakota’s biggest tourist attractions with the beautiful Theodore Roosevelt National Park within North Dakota’s Badlands (ND’s only National Park), the Medora Musical, and Bully Pulpit golf course. Medora is a great place to stay with a few options for campgrounds as well as hotels.
Check out Medora.com for some more options for things to do in this country-western town.
For more ideas on itineraries through North Dakota and beyond, check out North Dakota Tourism’s website for some trip ideas.