Downtown Medora, North Dakota. Image credit Dennis MacDonald via Shutterstock

The Best Small Towns in North Dakota for a Weekend Retreat

North Dakota, also known as the Roughrider State, is a blossoming state filled with history, natural beauty, and adventure. With a rich past shaped by Native American culture and pioneer spirit, this state boasts a blend of charm and warm hospitality.

From the vast prairies to the scenic Badlands, its diverse landscapes are dotted with quaint towns. With a plethora of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and mouth-watering local cuisine, North Dakota is an ideal destination for a weekend retreat. Discover the best towns in North Dakota that have charm and a vibe you just cannot resist.


The Botno Theater amidst small businesses in the town of Bottineau, North Dakota.
The Botno Theater amidst small businesses in the town of Bottineau, North Dakota. Image credit Bobak Ha'Eri - Own work, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons.

Bottineau got its name from a Métis pioneer, hunter, and successful land speculator, Pierre Bottineau. It was founded in 1883 as a customs station and an overnight stagecoach stop. This charming town with a modest population just south of the Canada-United States border is a pleasing destination for a weekend retreat.

Popular attractions in Bottineau include the Bottineau Winter Park ski area, open during the winter, and the Bottineau Country Club Golf Course, where you can enjoy fun activities with your family and friends. Homen State Forest and Birchwood Village RV are outdoor spots that everyone can enjoy. The Turtle Mountain Inn and Cobblestone Inn are amazing accommodation options in town.


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

Jamestown is popularly known for its buffaloes, which is evident in the establishment of the North American Bison Discovery Center. It is also home to the largest buffalo in the world. This town is great for outdoor exploration, and you should definitely visit if you are an outdoor enthusiast.

The Stutsman County Memorial Museum and the Fort Seward Military Post preserve and display the town's history. The town's Art Center, in collaboration with Hansen Arts Park, hosts art activities for art lovers. The Frontier Village brings the world of the prairie pioneers to life, leaving you in awe of Jamestown's rich heritage.

Buffalo Grill and Hondo's Hideaway serve some of the best foods in town, and you might like a comfortable night at the Jamestown Motel.


Aerial view of the tourist town of Medora, North Dakota.
Overlooking the tourist town of Medora, North Dakota.

Nature and history are the watchwords in Medora. Founded in 1883 along the transcontinental rail line of the Northern Pacific Railway, Medora has a history in the railroad development of North Dakota.

Surrounded by the breathtaking mountains and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park's south unit, you can enjoy the beauty of the Badlands by planning various fun and family activities such as horseback riding, hiking, and scenic drives through the park's stunning landscapes.

Refuel at local eateries like Sheriff Bear's Burgers and Ice Cream and Theodore's Dining Room, where you can enjoy the best meal and meet the locals. You can also explore the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame to learn about the Western culture that the town is renowned for.


Downtown street in Lisbon, North Dakota.
Downtown street in Lisbon, North Dakota. Image credit Andrew Filer (In memoriam afiler), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lisbon, situated in the Sheyenne National Grasslands, serves as a gateway to Fort Ransom State Park and the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. The town was named by Joseph L. Colton after his wife's hometown.

The Sheyenne River flows through the town, showcases its pristine nature, and opens opportunities for outdoor recreation. Kayakers can paddle the gentle river at the park. Adventure seekers can explore nearby Sheyenne State Forest, Fort Ransom State Park, and the scenic byway, which offers stunning views of wooded hillsides. The Annual Ransom County Fair in August is a must-visit event.


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

Kenmare has many outdoor spots for relaxation to enjoy the town's beauty and tranquility. The town is known for its cattle, having originally shipped 125,000 heads of cattle in 1894. The community is dotted with smaller ranches spread across the Des Lacs and Mouse River Valleys.

Kenmare also hosts Goosefest in October, as its lakes are visited by flocks of geese. It attracts visitors, including local legends such as former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant. Goosefest also features live entertainment, cook-offs, hunting contests, and a Goose Hunter’s Hall of Fame induction.

Visiting during the festival also gives visitors the chance to explore the other attractions in town, such as Danish Mill and Lake County Historical Museum, which preserves the town's history. The San Way Ve Motel is a second home for many tourists, and you can find comfort there, too.

Devils Lake

Barren trees in the 160,000-acre Devil's Lake in North Dakota.
Barren trees in the 160,000-acre Devil's Lake in North Dakota.

Devils Lake, with its breathtaking view and scenery, is a unique experience. Regardless of your interests as a traveler or holiday fanatic, Devils Lake has something for you.

Known as the largest natural lake in North Dakota and renowned as the "Perch Capital of the World," Devils Lake is a fisherman's paradise. It is abundant with walleye, northern pike, and white bass. Outdoor entertainment is at its peak at the Woodlands Resort, a full-service lakeside resort. Proz Lakeside at the Cove treats tourists and locals to some of the best recipes in town.

Devils Lake Inn and Sunlac Inn are some of the best accommodation options in town. They offer comfort and community.


Post office in Beulah, North Dakota.
Post office in Beulah, North Dakota. Image credit Andrew Filer from Seattle (ex-Minneapolis), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beulah is a charming town in the heart of North Dakota's "power-belt" region. It is a confluence of different cultural traditions.

To explore the area's fascinating past, you should visit the Mercer County Museum, which tells the stories of early settlers from Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and Germany.

Enjoy the scene at the Pfennig Wildlife Museum, which features an impressive collection of 175 mounted animals from around the world. Enjoy delicious cuisine at one of the fabulous dining spots, such as Fanatic's Sports Bar and Grill, Country Kettle, or Jimmy's Pizza.

Lake Sakakawea is a great recreational spot for boating, fishing, and sightseeing. Scotwood Motel is a great accommodation option for visitors.

Valley City

A rail bridge over the Sheyenne River in Valley City, North Dakota.
A rail bridge over the Sheyenne River in Valley City, North Dakota.

Valley City is filled with history and beautiful overlapping landscapes. The town's railroad history is a turning point in its history, and visitors can see the memorabilia firsthand at the Rosebud Visitor Center.

A walking tour is best advised to get a feel for the town, as you can explore different sites and take pictures. A visit to the Hi-Line Bridge, one of the highest and longest single-track railroad bridges in the nation, shows you the beauty and history of the town and the reason for its nickname, City of Bridges.

Other attractions include Medicine Wheel Park, Bjornson Park Golf Course, and the Valley City State University Planetarium, which stands out with its out-of-this-world experience. To add comfort to your trip, stay at the Three Oaks Guest Inn.


Downtown street in Walhalla, North Dakota.
Downtown street in Walhalla, North Dakota. Image credit In memoriam afiler, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Standing as a historic settlement in North Dakota, Walhalla offers visitors a warm and welcoming experience. Begin your journey with a visit to Waters Family Restaurant and Bakery for a delicious meal, and afterward, explore the Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site, which showcases the 1840s home and trading post of Antoine Blanc Gingras.

The Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area, with thousands of acres of pristine wilderness and trails, is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, ATVing, and off-road motorcycling.

In the winter, you may go skiing or snowboarding at Frost Fire Park. You might also like to treat yourself to a show of art and talent at the Frost Fire Summer Theatre. You can relax and feel comfortable by lodging at the Sanctuary Guest House and Tearoom or the Walhalla Riverside Campground and enjoying the friendly hospitality of the town.

North Dakota's charming towns offer a refreshing escape and a soothing relief from the hustle and bustle of city life. Visitors will revel in the warm hospitality, rich history, and breathtaking natural beauty that these hidden gems have to offer.

So why wait? Come and discover the magic of North Dakota for yourself. You will leave feeling refreshed and inspired and looking forward to your next visit.

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