United States Post Office in Medora, North Dakota. Editorial credit: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

9 of the Most Quaint Small Towns in North Dakota

Known to be one of the least populated states in the US, North Dakota does not typically rank high on the list of places to visit among tourists, primarily because its beauty and charm are unknown to them. North Dakota is an amalgamation of some of the most scenic towns with much to offer vacationers. Discover the quaint charm of North Dakota's towns, its history, and the natural beauty of places like Jud, Walhalla, and Valley City, ideal for a peaceful vacation.


Colorful mural of nature painted on the Post Office in Jud, North Dakota.

A colorful nature mural was painted on the Post Office in Jud, North Dakota. By Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis) - Jud, North Dakota, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34911871

It's unusual to hear about a town with less than a hundred people. But the fantastic thing is that this statistic hardly takes away from the coziness and warmth of Jud. The town gets its name from Judson LaMoure, who was among the first state legislature members. Travelers and explorers will find some exceptional murals painted across the town; interestingly, each is made by a town resident! These include images of beautiful landscapes, cottages, stamps, cartoon characters, and even patriotic scenes. The town is almost akin to an art gallery. To know more about the history and origins of Jud, tourists can plan a visit to the National Historic Place, which was built in 1904. Originally called 'Dagen's Grocery,' this building was a combination of a store and a small hotel. Those who like to explore natural beauty can find their way to Bluebird Lake, just a mile from the town center.


Main street of Walhalla, North Dakota, featuring shops on both sides.
The main street of Walhalla, North Dakota, features shops on both sides. Image credit In memoriam afiler, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Walhalla is a small North Dakota town located close to the border of Canada. It is the second oldest town in the state and was developed in 1845. To explore the history of the town, travelers should visit Kittson Trading Post, the oldest building in the state, as well as the Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site, which has some fascinating Euro-American structures that Antoine Blanc Gingras, a Métis businessman, built. Moving on to the west side of the town, there is the Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area, which has miles of beautiful trails, ideal for horseback riding, biking, or just hiking! Enjoy the community spirit of Walhalla by attending the events the town hosts, such as the Giant Pumpkin Festival.

Valley City

Bridge over Valley City, North Dakota.
Bridge over Valley City, North Dakota.

The City of Bridges, or Valley City, as it is commonly known, is nestled in the beautiful Sheyenne River and is the ideal vacation destination for those who like the sight of bridges. Among the 11 bridges built in the town, the Highline Bridge and the Valley City State University footbridge are famous. The Highline Bridge is considered to be among the biggest engineering marvels worth seeing in the state of North Dakota. It was constructed in the early 1900s and measures 3,860 in length and 162 feet in width. Besides the bridges, travelers must also explore the Rosebud Visitor Center, where they learn about Red River Valley's history through intriguing exhibits, such as the 1881 Superintendent’s railcar that retains its original furnishings. Don't forget to add the Valley City State Planetarium to your itinerary and visit some unique gift shops like Noos Shop, Urban Couture, and Kyly Creations.


View from a sidewalk in Garrison, North Dakota, showcasing stores, cars, and the street.
View from a sidewalk in Garrison, North Dakota. By Andrew Filer - https://www.flickr.com/photos/afiler/6176528631/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=115302832

Garrison is a small scenic town located at the borders of the beautiful Lake Sakakawea. Built around one of the largest artificial lakes in the US, Garrison could be the perfect holiday destination for travelers who enjoy fishing. The town is also called the ‘Walleye Capital of the World.’ History buffs would love to explore the Heritage Park and Museum, which gives a sneak peek into 20th-century town life and hosts events such as the Dickens Village Festival. The town is remodeled during this festival to look like an old Victorian village with classic elements like horse-drawn carriages and parades!


United States Post Office in Medora, North Dakota.
United States Post Office in Medora, North Dakota. Editorial credit: Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

When talking about North Dakota, it is rather challenging to skip the quaint town of Medora, which houses just about 150 residents and is nestled in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. A substantial historical attraction is the Chateau de Mores, which was once home to the founder of Medora. Visiting this historical site will allow you to explore the town's history. Medora is also home to museums such as the Maltese Cross Cabin and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Make every meal in Medora memorable by visiting popular dining spots like the Gospel Brunch, Theodore's Dining Room, TR's Tavern, and Sheriff Bear's Ice Cream!


Street view of shops in Bottineau, North Dakota.

Street view of shops in Bottineau, North Dakota. By In memoriam afiler - https://www.flickr.com/photos/99909734@N00/2659003133/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=119604150

Referred to as the "Four Seasons Playground," Bottineau is located at the north end of North Dakota, close to the US-Canadian border and the International Peace Garden. One of the central attractions of the town is Tommy the Turtle, a 26-foot-tall statue built in 1978. It leads travelers to the beautiful Turtle Mountains and is a pretty photographic spot. Ice cream lovers should not miss a trip to Pride Dairy, the town's local creamery, considered among the best in the United States! There are some excellent dining options in Bottineau, including Denny's Pizza and Family Bakery and Restaurant. Lake Metigoshe, Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway, and Bottineau Winter Park are other vital attractions close to the town.


Traill County Courthouse in Hillsboro, North Dakota, USA.

The Traill County Courthouse is in Hillsboro, North Dakota. By Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis) - Hillsboro, North Dakota, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3433077

Hillsboro is located close to two of the biggest cities of North Dakota, Grand Forks and Fargo. It was home to European settlers in the 1860s. Today, Hillsboro has a population of about 1600 and is known for its warmth and hospitality. It is primarily an agricultural community with a lot of history behind it. Some interesting places in Hillsboro that travelers may visit include the Plummer House, located inside the Trail County Museum Complex. This majestic three-story brick mansion was once the home of Lillie and Amos Plummer and features some beautifully carved woodwork and stained glass windows. Other attractions in the town include Woodland Park, Goose River Golf Club, and the Pioneer Museum.


Aerial view of Jamestown, North Dakota, along Interstate 94.

Aerial view of Jamestown, North Dakota, along Interstate 94.

A comparatively more significant community in North Dakota, Jamestown has approximately 16,000 residents. Despite its size, Jamestown has a charming small-town vibe. Located between Fargo and Bismarck, the town is often called "The Pride of the Prairie." Travelers can enjoy learning about the history of Jamestown by visiting the famous Stutsman County Museum. An interesting fact about Jamestown is its association with buffalo, which is why a visit to the National Buffalo Museum should be on every visitor's list. For some outdoor adventure, one can start their exploration at the Jamestown Reservoir, which is home to several picnic shelters, boat launches, swimming beaches, and hard-surfaced biking and walking trails, among other things.

Devils Lake

Barren trees on Devil's Lake in North Dakota, USA.
Barren trees on Devil's Lake in North Dakota, USA.

Outdoorsy vacationers would love Devils Lake, another small town in North Dakota with many exciting activities to offer. These include kayaking, swimming, water boating, and other watersports! Another widespread interest in Devils Lake is fishing. Some must-visit attractions of the town are the Lake Region Heritage Center, White Horse Hill, and Grahams Island State Park. Explore popular restaurants like Applebees's Grill+Bar, Ackerman Acres, and Coyote Pizzeria for a nice meal.

Discover the Charm of North Dakota's Small Towns

City life is becoming consistently hectic, and a break from the daily hustle is welcome. The small towns of North Dakota, with their peaceful and quaint vibe, can be the ideal vacation spots for those seeking fresh air while surrounded by beautiful natural elements. As is evident from the details of the various towns discussed in the article, the state has something to offer each traveler- history, culture, outdoor adventure, or quiet time. So, plan your next holiday in one of these less-explored small towns of North Dakota!

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