When travelers set out onto the open road, they tend to look at the coastlines as their final destination. After all, that’s where you find the “happiest places on earth,” right? Is that really all this great country has to offer? Two great coastlines?
When traveling through the middle of the country, it’s rarely thought of as being the destination. And yet, those states, the “fly over” or “drive straight through” states have so much more to offer a family vacation than you would ever know, if just got off the interstate. It’s time to get to know these states personally. If you plan on always skipping the great Mid-West, you are choosing to skip a land steeped rich in history, hidden fun treasures, beautiful landscapes, nature like you’ve never seen, and so much more. Let’s dive into one of those states and stay for a while!
(Can you tell which kid doesn't cooperate for photos?)
Welcome to North Dakota! No, you won’t find Mt. Rushmore or The Black Hills here; instead, you will find another fantastic family destination and an experience your whole family will never forget.
On our recent family trip, our first stop and definitely one of my favorites was Medora. I had an itinerary, but honestly didn’t know what to expect out of this adorable little town. On first sight, it was exactly that – small and cute. Little did I know all it had to offer our family.
For Medora, being smaller is a huge asset. It makes this amazingly historical place completely walkable and easy to soak it all in. We are so used to driving around, but realized the best way to see Medora is to walk its streets. It’s immediately obvious that a lot of time, thought and energy was put into this town to make it the place to be! There are designated signs all round town that guide you through the history of the area as you walk around. You almost feel like you are on a personal guided tour.
The streets are beautifully appointed with art, historical buildings, and even some fun interactive displays. We were on our way to the Cowboy Museum and found a tent for the kids to play in. The Cowboy Museum is a must see in Medora and will give you an interactive, up close view of the history in the area and what it was like for the cowboys. Plus, kids will get a kick out of all the props they can use to become real cowboys and cowgirls. Our kids could have stayed here playing all afternoon!
For a small town, they take food to the next level, and have some amazing family friendly restaurant options. For amazing food with a view, Pitchfork Fondue is a must! Up on a hill, you will get a cowboy feast like none other, complete with your choice of a 12oz deep-fried steak (yeah, you read that right!) or other meat options like ribs or brisket.
I have had meals a-top skyscrapers in New York, gourmet picnics in beautiful parks, but they all pale in comparison to the views of the vistas in Medora. Looking out over the badlands thinking about what it took for past generations to get to this beautiful land, all while enjoying an amazing feast was definitely a highlight of our trip.
The great food options don’t end there, though. If you want some finger lickin’ good food, you can also head over to the Little Missouri. You will find options that will please kids and adults alike. We couldn’t get enough of the fried cheese curds and fried green beans.
If you choose to eat at the Pitchfork Fondue, you will definitely want to grab some tickets to the Medora Musical, which is located on the hill as well, right next to the Pitchfork Fondue. In an open amphitheater, you will be treated to laughter, music, and dancing. During the performance we saw kids were even asked to participate on stage and received a special treat to celebrate the 100th birthday of The National Parks. Our daughter thought it was one of the coolest things to be able to be on the same stage as the actors, if only for just a minute.
(One of the best and cutest playgrounds in the country can be found in Medora!)
Medora is home to the amazing Theodore Roosevelt National Park and it has some great surprises for travelers. While travelers flock to other national parks and block roads in the hopes of spotting wildlife, Theodore Roosevelt National Park offers one of the most up close wildlife experiences without the crowds. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to thousands of prairie dogs, buffalo, coyotes, and more. The prairie dog towns are something you just don’t see anywhere else. You can get right up to wildlife without the safety concerns that exist at other parks.
Kids and adults will love watching these cute little creatures, so be sure to plan plenty of time at the park. In our first 35 minutes in the park, we saw wild hares, buffalo, prairie dogs, and a coyote. It was one of the best national park experiences we have had.
Medora is bursting with fun and adventure and you will definitely want to at least plan a few days in this North Dakota treasure. Want to see more of North Dakota? Be sure to keep an eye out for more of our journey and head over here to start planning your legendary North Dakota family trip!