Salem Sue, the World's Largest Holstein Cow, was built in 1974 to honor local dairy farming industry.

The 7 Best Small Towns In North Dakota To Chill Out

Located along the Canada-United States border, North Dakota is a lovely state in America. While being the 19th largest in size, North Dakota is one of the least populous states in the country. Thanks to this, you can find ample natural land throughout with minimal human interference. Whether this is in the form of prairies, savannas, or even badlands, there is no shortage of natural beauty in North Dakota. So, to take advantage of this, many people visit the state to chill out and escape city life. Moreover, with many amazing small towns offering amenities, attractions, and more, there is a wide range of destinations to choose from.


The Walhalla Trading Post, a historical landmark in Walhalla.
The Walhalla Trading Post, a historical landmark in Walhalla. Image credit: Elcajonfarms via Wikimedia Commons.

Located in Pembina County, Walhalla is a lovely town with a quaint population of 900 people. The town is known for its rich history as the second oldest town in the state. Thanks to this, it is the perfect place to relax if you are a history buff! For example, one of the premier historical sites here is the Kittson Trading Post. This trading post was built in 1843 and is currently the oldest building in North Dakota! Similarly, the town is home to other historical sites such as the Gingras Trading Post, Great Northern Railway, and more.

While the local history will fascinate you, Walhalla also offers great natural retreats to chill out. Nestled along both the Pembina Gorge and Tetrault Woods, you can choose between a range of scenic views and outdoor activities in this town. If you want to spend the day near the water, visit the Pembina River, which is great for canoeing, swimming, fishing, and more. For a different experience, spend some time in the Tetrault Woods, home to amazing hiking trails, vibrant trees, and much more. So, if you want to take a break and relax, Walhalla is an ideal small town to check out.


"Tommy Turtle", symbol of Bottineau
"Tommy Turtle", the symbol of Bottineau. Image credit: Bobak Ha'Eri, via Wikimedia Commons.

Commonly referred to as the "Four Seasons Playground," Bottineau is a lovely small town in North Dakota. The town sits on the Canada-United States border with a lively population of 2,200. What makes Botineau so special is the vast array of natural sites, wildlife refuges, and geographical formations around it. Turtle Mountains is one of the most popular destinations near the town, with massive mountains reaching 2,000 feet (600 m) in elevation. Here, tourists can enjoy various recreational activities such as hiking, bicycling, wildlife watching, and more. To delve deeper into nature, visit Lake Metigoshe State Park. This park offers modern and primitive camping, which is perfect to chill out and relax in the sun. Moreover, if you visit in the winter, the park has 250+ miles of trails for skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, etc.

After spending your time outdoors, it's time to check out the town itself. With an area of 1.3 square miles (3.4 sq. km.) Bottineau exudes a small-town vibe. Testament to this, you can find small cafes and restaurants throughout the streets. For example, the Sanctuary Guest House & Tearoom is a great place to spend the evening and grab a bite. That being said, no matter what you plan on doing, be sure to take a picture with "Tommy Turtle." This turtle statue stands more than thirty feet in height and has become a famous landmark!

New Salem

Sign at Salem Sue, the worlds largest Holstein Cow, erected in 1974 by the New Salem Lions Club in honor of the local dairy industry.
Sign at Salem Sue, the worlds largest Holstein Cow, erected in 1974 by the New Salem Lions Club in honor of the local dairy industry. Editorial credit: Steve Cukrov /

New Salem is the perfect small-town retreat with an area of just 1.4 square miles (3.6 sq. km.). Located in Morton County, this town has less than 1,000 people. Testament to this, the town offers peaceful vibes and is the complete opposite of an urban metropolis. That being said, there is still a lot to see and do in New Salem. If you're a history buff, visit the New Salem Historical Society. This small area is home to 10 historical buildings, including a church from 1904 and a depot from the 1980s. You can spend an entire day here and go through the 150 years of local history.

While the rest of New Salem is quite peaceful, offering the perfect environment to chill out, there is one more major attraction. This is "Salem Sue," a massive cow statue in the middle of nowhere. This statue is the largest of its kind, standing at more than 35 feet tall. So, visit this spot with kids, and everyone is sure to enjoy their time in North Dakota.


Post office in Jud, North Dakota.
Post office in Jud, North Dakota. Image credit: Andrew Filer from Seattle via Wikimedia Commons.

When it comes to small towns in North Dakota, there isn't much smaller than Jud. This rural town is located in LaMoure County, away from major cities and towns. To top it off, the town is home to less than 100 residents so you can always find a peaceful and quiet vibe here. That being said, while there aren't many people in town, it is filled with arts and culture. This is because the locals have worked hard to revamp the old and boring walls by designing unique murals and paintings throughout town. These murals cover all sorts of designs, including flowers, mountains, animals, and much more. Testament to this, the town has garnered the nickname, "The City of Murals" as you can find dozens of murals on everything from buildings to garages. So, just a relaxing walk around town will make you feel like you're in an art gallery.

Once you've taken in the lovely murals, the rest of town is filled with quaint cafes, restaurants, and shops for a fun time. One of the best places to eat is Just Cafe, a local favorite offering amazing coffee and snacks. If you're looking for some more adventure, visit the nearby Bluebird Lake. This scenic lake offers a completely secluded and scenic location which is perfect to chill out in the outdoors!

Devils Lake

Devil's Lake, North Dakota.
Devil's Lake, North Dakota.

The name of both a town and body of water located in Ramsey County, Devils Lake is the perfect place to chill out in North Dakota. This town houses a self-sufficient population of 7,200 away from urban traffic, stress, and problems. However, what makes the area special for a relaxing retreat is the town's namesake, Devils Lake (the lake). This lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota covering an area of 3,810 square miles (9,900 sq. km.) With such a massive area, the lake has become an ideal destination for many outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, boating, and more. It is especially popular for fishing with an abundance of walleye, perch, white bass, and other popular species.

Located on the shore of Devils Lake is Grahams Island State Park. This park occupies nearly 1,000 acres and is filled with a completely new set of natural sights and activities to enjoy. For example, you can spend the day hiking through the waterside trails, hunting for big game, or even just birdwatching from a scenic viewpoint. If that's not enough, set up camp in the park so you can spend your time surrounded by nature in a relaxing environment. So, if you're looking to chill out in North Dakota's natural beauty, Devils Lake should be on your list.


Business district in Edgeley, North Dakota.
Business district in Edgeley, North Dakota. Image credit: Andrew Filer from Seattle via Wikimedia Commons.

Edgeley is a lovely small town nestled in LaMoure County, North Dakota. The town is quite small with an area of less than 1 square mile but what it lacks in size, it has in culture. The town offers a unique mix between modern amenities and rural living. To this end, you can find that the town boasts amazing recreational facilities such as sporting areas, a great school system, and educated people. Along with this, Edgeley is also a large agricultural center for the region thanks to its hard-working population of 700 people. So, you won't have to forego the luxuries of urban living while enjoying a peaceful retreat in this town.

Speaking of luxuries, the town is home to amazing restaurants, cafes, and stores that are sure to charm anyone visiting. If you're looking for a small bite, visit Babb's Coffee House which is known for some of the best quesadillas in the county. Or, for a proper meal, spend your evening at The Lunchbox Eatery and try out the delicious Lobster Mac! After this, stop by Seasons Bar and Lounge for a beer with the locals to end your day right.


Downtown Medora, North Dakota, USA
Downtown Medora, North Dakota, USA. Image credit: Acroterion, via Wikimedia Commons.

Medora is a scenic small town that encapsulates North Dakota's natural beauty. This stunning town is right next to the 70,000-acre Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Here, you can enjoy an endless array of natural activities and sights which are a testament to North Dakota's charm. For example, the park is known for its badlands which boast unique hills surrounded by greenery and water. This environment is perfect for hiking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding, and more. Moreover, if you want to engulf yourself in the beauty of North Dakota's countryside, camping options are available at the park.

While there is no end to the natural opportunities surrounding Medora, the town itself is also quite enjoyable. Home to only 120 residents, it perfectly fits the description of a small town! That being said, this small town packs a bang with some interesting attractions. If you're a music lover, there is no place better than the Medora Musical. This theatre has regular performances featuring singing, dancing, music, and more for a fun time in the countryside. After watching some country dance, why not follow the theme for lunch? Just grab a bit at the Cowboy Cafe, which is known for its home-cooked meal and wild-west style.

North Dakota is the perfect place to escape the rush of urban life and chill out! The state boasts some amazing towns with enjoyable attractions. From New Salem's historical background to Medora's endless natural beauty, there is an infinite array of things to do. So, whether you want to relax in town, camp in the woods, or grab a beer with the locals, North Dakota is perfect to chill out!

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