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Learn about North Dakota’s rich history, legendary sites, folklore, and life in an era gone by at one of the many museums scattered around the state. From railroad museums to art galleries, you’ll find a wealth of unique exhibits to explore during your visit to North Dakota’s top cities. Learn about the history of aviation at the Fargo Air Museum or discover the Lewis & Clark Trail from a fresh perspective at the North Dakota State Railroad Museum.
North Dakota boasts a rich heritage and you can learn about local and regional legends at area art museums and discovery centers. Explore the Taub Museum of Art and learn about life in the prairie lands at the Prairie Village Museum. Whether you want to learn about the Buffalo Trails, pioneer life, or see old trains and railroads, you’ll find plenty of cultural and educational venues that help you piece together the history of North Dakota.
Covering 12 acres, Bonanzaville, USA is a living history museum set in eastern North Dakota in West Fargo. Found easily by Interstate 94, the Bonanzaville complex is open from May to October. Encompassing 47 structures, Bonanzaville, USA displays a pioneer village operated by the Cass County Historical Society. The Bonanzaville museum hosts the annual Pioneer Days and the Fiber Arts Festival.
Located in Epping, northeast of Williston, North Dakota, the Buffalo Trails Museum consists of eight historic buildings including a homesteader’s log cabin, a country school, and even a dentist’s office (the tools used were a little different back then). The area is open for tours in the summer months; call ahead for details. You can get to Epping by following U.S. 2/85 north out of Williston, then turning east on County Road 6 to town.
Found near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway 10, the Cass County Museum is located in West Fargo of the Fargo metro area as a part of Bonanzaville. The museum features displays of Native Americans of the Red River Valley through history, plus early farms and homesteading, and the modernization of North Dakota including an original 1903 Ford Model A.
A variety of military and civilian aircraft are on display at the Dakota Territory Air Museum found in Minot, North Dakota. Exhibits include a Lockheed T-33 Jet Trainer which once served as the first aircraft assigned to the nearby Minot Air Force Base in 1957. Also, check out original World War II aircraft passenger planes from the 1920s, great replicas of a 1910 Curtiss Pusher, and the Wright Brothers’ first successful flyer at Kitty Hawk. Other features include a working airport beacon first used in 1949, plenty of aviation photographs and gear, and even some original Minot Fire Department trucks from the 1920s and 1930s.
Offering art and history focused on southwestern North Dakota, the Dickinson Museum Center is a massive complex located in Dickinson. The center features the Joachim Museum, the Prairie Outpost Park, and the Pioneer Machinery Building. The Joachim Museum includes art and history exhibits of regional significance, while the Prairie Outpost Park holds five historic and six reproduction buildings reflecting the area's heritage – with free tours available from Memorial Day till mid-August. The Pioneer Machinery Building yields early ranching and agricultural objects from around the region.
The Fargo Air Museum showcases a wonderful collection of historic Warbirds, radio-controlled aircraft, and rotating aircraft on exhibit. EAA 317 restoration projects include, the Merlin GT, BT 13, Fisher 404, and the Stinson Reliant V77. The museum's future "Restoration and Education Wing" will help facilitate these projects.
Kids love climbing aboard the vintage WWII jeep, or into the cockpit of the Huey helicopter cockpit and polywagon airplane. Be sure to visit the Museum Gift Shop to browse the selection of clothing, models, books, toys, art and additional gift items. Enjoy your time in this wonderful Fargo museum for a touch of North Dakota heritage.
A complex set up as an original frontier town – from the church and schoolhouse to a house and train depot – the Frontier Museum is located in Williston, North Dakota. Plenty of early and mid-20th century items are on display in the buildings. The Williston Frontier Museum is open Memorial Day to Labor Day – and group tours are available.
Housed in an original school from 1914, the Lewis & Clark Trail Museum hosts a series of homestead artifacts from early life in North Dakota, from the Lewis & Clark days to early 20th century. Other historic buildings are on the grounds. Alexander is located along U.S. 85, about 27 miles south of Williston. It’s also just north of the North Entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Located in a former Burlington Northern yard office, the North Dakota State Railroad Museum is an indoor-outdoor museum featuring a wide variety of tools used on the railroad – along with rolling stock, tools, signs, books and magazines, and more. An impressive HO scale model railroad is also on display. Some items donated to the museum from companies like Burlington Northern, the Soo Line, Canadian Pacific, and more. The ND State Railroad Museum is located in Mandan along Interstate 94 near Bismarck.
In a restored railroad depot with a classic design (it was built in 1912), the Old Soo Depot Transportation Museum showcases a variety of railroad memorabilia and other modes of transportation through the American West. Very close by is the Railroad Museum of Minot and the Magic City Express, all in downtown Minot, North Dakota.
Creator Paul Broste calls this “my acropolis on a hill”, and this beautiful structure built in 1965 of natural granite stones houses some remarkable displays and collections of rocks, including fine and polished specimens from North Dakota and around the world. The unique Infinity Room is a must-see. Open May 1st through Labor Day, call for hours or special tours. Parshall is about 56 miles southwest of Minot, accessible via U.S. 83, ND Highway 23, and ND Highway 37.
Originally established in 1965, the Plains Art Museum is located in downtown Fargo in eastern North Dakota. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. PAM is house in the renovated International Harvester warehouse. PAM features permanent collection and a “Collection on Wheels” – a literal traveling gallery dubbed the Rolling Plains Art Gallery. The stationary galleries feature artwork from Andy Warhol, Salvador Dalí, James Rosenquist, and more.
Check out “the Scandinavian Giant” and six exhibition halls along with 23 fully-furnished historic buildings detailing life on the prairie through history at the Prairie Village Museum in Minot, North Dakota. Steps away you’ll find the Geographical Center of North America, a must for picture-taking! Rugby is about 60 miles east of Minot along U.S. 2, but it’s a quick ride. Another 45 miles north is the International Peace Garden along the U.S.-Canadian border.
Offering over 100 years of trains, tools, technology, track, and more, the Railroad Museum of Minot features a 3/5 scale steam engine (this is the Magic City Express part) along with three rail cars and a caboose that can take you on a nearly mile-long track tour of Roosevelt Park. The museum is open Saturdays and various times during the week in summer but if you call for any other time you can book a special tour. Check it out next time you're in Minot, North Dakota.
Commemorating the New York Yankee outfielder from Fargo, the Roger Maris Museum was established in 1984. North Dakota visitors may explore exhibits highlighting Maris' life. Maris is most famous for setting a Major League Baseball record in 1961 by hitting 61 home runs – breaking Babe Ruth's record of 60. Located in the Fargo West Acres Shopping Center, the museum averages seven million visitors each year. Stroll the museum to view the artifacts and displays from Maris' youth and baseball days. Relax in the video room and watch one of the videos, while sitting on actual Yankee Stadium seats.
A combination gallery and museum, the Taube Museum of Art hosts numerous exhibits throughout the year. It’s located right in downtown Minot, North Dakota and has no admission charge, although donations are – of course – appreciated.
When Lake Sakakawea was forming due to construction of the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, two towns were about to get submerged by the new lake: Van Hook and Sanish. Consequently, they had to move, and they decided to combine and form a new town. So, New Town, North Dakota was created in the early 1950s near Williston. The Fort Berthold Reservation was also located in an area where the lake would take over, and today the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes share affiliations.
The Three Tribes Museum showcases this history, along with artifacts, displays, pictures, and more. The museum is open mid-April through early November and occasionally host traveling exhibits.
The Yunker Farm is centered around a brick house built in 1876 in Fargo; it was actually the first brick house in Dakota Territory. The Yunker Children's Museum features more than 50 hands-on exhibits for both children and parents. The Yunker Farm itself sits on 55 acres and has a miniature train, carousel, playground, pumpkin patch, nature trails, miniature golf course, wild flower meadow, children's alphabet garden, butterfly garden, Pipi Longstockings Playhouse, community gardens, a dog park, and acres of wide open space. They’re doing something right: Child Magazine rated the farm as one of the top 25 children's museums in the country.