Aerial view of the tourist town of Medora, North Dakota, outside of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

8 Serene Towns in North Dakota for a Weekend Retreat

North Dakota is known for prominent cities like Fargo and Bismarck, where you will find attractions like the Fargodome and Dakota Zoo. In the Peace Garden State, discover small towns with a population under 6,000 with notable histories, serene ambiance, warm residents, and intriguing tourist attractions. Explore these eight serene towns solo or with friends and families on a weekend retreat.


Street with shops in Bottineau, North Dakota
Street with shops in Bottineau, North Dakota. By In memoriam afiler - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Bottineau, formerly called Oak Creek, was founded in 1883. The name was eventually changed one year later to honor the indigenous Metis pioneer Pierre Bouttineau. During the infamous September 11 World Trade Center attack, a North Dakotan local lost her life, and the Annie House for the handicapped and wounded war heroes was built in her honor.

Start your serene vacation in Bottineau by visiting the parks and gardens in town. These parks have camping facilities, hiking, snowshoeing, and biking trails, as well as resort homes. The major park in the city is Lake Metigoshe State Park. You can stay the night at Lake Metigoshe State Park Lodge. Not too far from the park is the Turtle Mountain State Recreation Area, known for its serenity and beauty. Bottineau Winter Park comes alive during Winter. You can go skiing and snowboarding if you are around in winter. You will also get to see the 30-foot-tall turtle at Tommy the Turtle Park. The Mystical Horizons is a historical landmark and a great stargazing venue. Get a bottle of beer at Doghouse Saloon before retiring for the night.

Watford City

Looking south down Main Street at the intersection of 2nd Ave in Watford City.
Looking south down Main Street at the intersection of 2nd Ave in Watford City.

Watford City was named after Watford, Ontario, the hometown of Dr. Morris. It used to be just Watford, but because people confused it with Wolford, another city in North Dakota, the word “City” was added to the name of the town.

Adventure begins at the North Unit Visitor Center and Long X Visitor Center, where you will find all important tourist information and guides so you don’t miss out on the city attractions. Watford City has a rich oil and fur history. Get to know all about it at McKenzie County Heritage Park & North Dakota Oil Museum, and Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. This town is packed full of parks for children, pets, and adults. You can check out up to 5 parks or more during your weekend here: Children's Park, Tourist Park, American Legion Park, Bolken Park Outdoor Ice Rink, Rotary Park, and Doc Nelson Dog Park. Explore Watford City’s Stonehome Brewing Company, where you can hang out with locals near a fireplace. If you are looking for a venue for any ceremony, you can book a space at Rough Rider Center. Relax at the Six Shooters movie theater before reserving accommodation at Little Missouri Inn & Suites or The Watford, where you can also order some food.


View of the main street in the historic town of Medora, North Dakota, United States.
View of the main street in the historic town of Medora, North Dakota, United States. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

In Medora’s history, one moment that can never be forgotten is President Roosevelt's visit in 1903, which led to the purchase of the Rough Rider’s Hotel by the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation. The hotel still exists today, and you can lodge there for the weekend.

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park has its main gate in Medora, which is about 1 minute through Pacific Ave and Broadway. If you are looking for time alone, take a scenic drive or hike to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, South Unit, which is a National Reserve in Medora, where the Visitor’s Center is located. The Medora Children's Park is a great place for kids to hang out and have a fun time. Chateau de Mores State Historic Site is a historical museum and the home of the founder of the town, who named it after his wife and also helped the town develop into what it is today. Another museum is Maltese Cross Cabin, which is a prestigious monument in the town. If you are interested in Cowboy tales and heritage, check out the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Enjoy family time at Perception, a tourist attraction, before going for a meal in Escape Medora, where you can also get to know locals. Stay the night at Badlands Motel.


Danish Mill in Kenmare, North Dakota.
Danish Mill in Kenmare, North Dakota. By Masterhatch, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Kenmare might have been named for a town in County Kerry, Ireland, called Kenmare. The population of the town has since declined from 1,437 in 1910 to 901 in 2024. However, it remains an excellent location for tourist relaxation and discovery.

Get to know the town’s National Preserve at the Visitor Center, which will lead you to the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge. Take a scenic tour of the Centennial Park. Then proceed to the Danish Mill Park, which has a prominent history of its own, which you can ask the locals to recount for you. Discover the wilderness and wildlife refuge in town at Lostwood NWR. Check out the nine-hole grass green course with pristine nature views at Kenmare Country Club. San Way Ve Motel and Quilt Inn are excellent accommodation options with breakfast and wifi provisions.


Post office in Jud, North Dakota.
Post office in Jud, North Dakota.

Jud was named after Republican Judson LaMoure, who has three towns in LaMoure County, including the county named after him. Jud stands out because of the pretty murals decorated all around the town walls.

The town of Jud is a cozy town with a small population of 63 people. You can drive around town or take a walk while watching locals go about their day. Visit Dagen's Grocery Store, formerly called Ole B. Johnson and Sons, which serves as a hotel and store. This store was built in 1905, and tourists from all over the nation come to see the beautiful mural painting in the store.


The Beulah School Structure, currently known as the School House Apartments.
The Beulah School Structure, currently the School House Apartments. By Jon Roanhaus, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The city of Beulah was founded in 1914 and named for a local’s niece. Beulah is a town where tourists are welcomed. You will find cozy places to stroll and drive through in this town. Whether you are solo traveling or out with friends and family, the Beulah Park District is a recreational area to rest, picnic, and have fun. Book lovers should go to the Beulah Public Library for great book picks and events. Relax and rejuvenate at the clean Dakota Farms Inn with a tasty breakfast and internet. You can go to the Energy Wellness Center for the weekend to stay fit and to participate in sporting activities like basketball and golfing.


Hill Avenue Downtown, Grafton, North Dakota.
Hill Avenue Downtown, Grafton, North Dakota. By Jcardusek, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The town of Grafton has a state school for the disabled, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also one of the cities that uses the mayor-council system of government.

Start your weekend retreat at Grafton Parks, where you can also go camping and play sports with residents. Another NRHP site in Grafton is Elmwood House, a Victorian house also known as Williamson House. Get drinks, pizza, and burgers at Last Chance Bar & Grill. Then go golfing at Fair Oaks Golf Course. Retire for the night at AmericInn by Wyndham Grafton or Selectinn.


Street view of shops in Walhalla, North Dakota.
Street view of shops in Walhalla, North Dakota. By In memoriam afiler - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Walhalla is North Dakota’s second oldest town. It is a town surrounded by trading posts. One of them is Kittson Trading Post, which is also one of the oldest buildings in North Dakota. You will find this building in Walhalla State Historical Park. Get to know about the town’s fur trading history at the Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site. Explore the Walhalla Country Club, where you will access incredible hilly views and a 9-hole golf course. The club is not too far from the Pembina Gorge and the 2,800-acre Pembina Gorge State Recreational Park. Sip juicy cocktails and have some chicken strips at Jackson's Bar. Enjoy excellent customer service when you reserve a room at Forestwood Inn And C Store on Sunset Ave.

Unwind in North Dakota's Tranquil Towns

These small towns are some of the coziest places to be in North Dakota. They have low populations and numerous attractions to visit. Eat tasty meals and watch the sun go down during scenic tours. A visit to any of these eight serene towns will leave you refreshed after your vacation.

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