Last year I traveled somewhere every month of the year. Now, in 2016, I had to take it a step back given my recent move to New York City. Since the year began I’ve only taken two true trips outside of moving. I find myself missing my travels (and even airports) because it was always an adventure.
Now that I’m slowly settling into my new surroundings I am letting my travel goals expand, making a wish list, and looking a little bit outside of the box. I’ve been the big cities, I’ve been to many of the “top” destinations, but there’s a little authenticity missing from the places I can cross off on a map.
You see, I’ve been in New York a little over a month now and it’s more evident here than anywhere else I’ve been how far and wide people travel to come to this country. Doesn’t that make it almost mandatory for those of us that live here to see the parts of it outside of the city? Shouldn’t we see more of the country we call home?
After all my travels, and now that they have simmered down, I’m really embracing the idea of exploring America. I’m seeking destinations that are more “a diamond in the rough” than an obvious bucket list item. After a little bit of research, it’s shocking to see just how many incredible places in the US have kept a low radar.
One of these places turned out to be not just a single city, stop off of the highway, or a bite to eat. It turned out to be the entire state of North Dakota. So I decided to dive a little deeper and find the hidden gems in the “Peace Garden State.”
These are 9 of my personal favorites:
- The Enchanted Highway. Ever driven across the US? Really nothing to look at, right? Wrong, in North Dakota, you can take a trip down this unique highway that showcases seven different stops of ornate roadside art (even one of Teddy Roosevelt).
- Japanese Garden Park. These gardens were a gift from the city of Grand Forks’ sister city, Awano, Japan. This 22-acre park is perfect for some real cute picnic with bae or biking around with your BFF.
- Edinburg General Store. Located in the Bird Capital of North Dakota, this is a unique shopping experience you’re sure to remember with three G-scale trains around the perimeter of the balcony and antiques you can’t find anywhere else.
- Paul Brose Rock Museum. You know you collected rocks when you were little whether you like to admit it or not. How would you like seeing an entire museum made of rocks from all over the world? You would, of course.
- International Peace Garden. This is known to be a truly beautiful place filled with blooming plants and bright flowers right on the border of the US and Canada symbolizing peace between the two nations.
- Mom-and-Pop Shops. What might look like nothing from the outside, sounds like the food I want inside my belly. Right now. You won’t go hungry in this state… after all, it’s home to the world record for the largest hamburger sitting beefy at 3,591 lbs.
- The city of Fargo. Not to be based on the movie. Quite the contrary, this city has loads of hidden gems on its own from hidden art, a secret door in a mural you’re encouraged to leave (and take) something out of, old fashion soda pop shops, and more.
- The World’s Largest Walleye. I didn’t even know what a walleye was, but I still think it would be fishy of you for not wanting to Instagram this roadside statue.
- W’eel Turtle. If you’re just not into giant fish then maybe this giant turtle made entirely out of 2,000 tire rims would be more picture-worthy. And, if you’re not feeling either … the World’s Largest Holstein Cow is in New Salem, ND. There you have it.
The state might’ve not been on your “must-see” list prior to reading this, but I hope it’s opened up your eyes to North Dakota and all the hidden gems it has to offer. Mostly, I hope you think outside of the typical “Top 10” places to visit and get to know a little more of the greatest country on earth. After all, we’re damn lucky to live here.
So the adventure begins, starting in North Dakota. And if you’re interested in other states, check out my tips for Capital Reef Country, Utah!
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Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post for North Dakota Tourism. All opinions are my own.