Travel guide for exploring Fargo-Moorhead

Most likely, your only contact with Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota is through the Cohen brother’s dark comedy Fargo. But I hope this travel guide for the Fargo-Moorhead area provides an incentive to plan a visit that makes the most of the region’s museums, art and culture, great food, and college events.

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Things to see and do in the Fargo-Moorhead area

With five colleges and technical schools between the two cities, the Fargo-Moorhead area has an active visual and performing arts community. While there’s no dramatic natural scenery in the area, a wonderful network of mostly wooded trails runs near and along the river in both cities. There are also a few museums and historic sites interpret the area’s past. And, for college alumni or their parents, there is a full schedule of college sports and other events.

Learn a bit of regional history

There are several places to touch the area’s history, although not as many formal historic sites as one might expect.

Clay County Historical and Cultural Society

The single best place to learn a bit of local history is the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead.

Operated by the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, the Hjemkomst Center includes a museum with an always changing selection of well-researched and engaging exhibits, a permanent exhibit on the Hjemkomst Viking-style ship, and the replica Hopperstad stave church.

See some art

The Fargo-Moorhead area has two significant art museums. Both feature a nice mix of local, national, and international work. There are also a number of smaller galleries and shops.

Despite all of the colleges in the area, only Moorhead State University has a public gallery on campus. However, both the Plains and Rouke regularly host student and faculty exhibits along with work by artists from around the region and across the world.

Plains Art Museum

The Plains Art Museum would be a must-see stop even in a much larger city. This state-of-the-art facility includes several galleries, workshop space, and a nice little gift shop. Regular programming includes intriguing exhibits of fine art and craft by both well-known and emerging artists from the region and around the world. There is also a full schedule of classes, seminars, performances, and other events.

gallery in an art museum

The museum is generally open Tuesday – Sunday. Entry was free as of fall 2019, but check their website for hours and current admission information.

Attend a performance

With three colleges between the two towns, the Fargo/Moorhead area offers more, and higher quality, theater and music than one might expect in a place of its size.

Head to a park

Fargo and Moorhead both have parks and many miles of trails along the Red River.

Just outside Moorhead, Buffalo River State Park has trails that loop through both prairies and woodland. They also have a (man-made) swimming hole perfect for families.

Where is Fargo-Moorhead and how do I get there?

The cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota share a metropolitan area around the Red River.

regional map showing driving time to Fargo-Moorhead

Travel to the Fargo-Moorhead area

Given the Fargo-Moorhead area’s distance from major cities, you probably won’t end up here by accident. But it isn’t that hard to get here either, and the area makes a great weekend escape or multi-day break on a cross-country road trip.

Getting around once you arrive

Like most Midwestern American cities, you’ll probably want a car — or at least a bicycle — to get around the Fargo-Moorhead area.

It’s possible to visit downtown Fargo or Moorhead without a car, especially if you stay right downtown (which is walkable) or near one of the colleges (where there is usually regular, frequent bus service). Unfortunately, the vast majority of hotels in both cities are located on the edges of town or along I-94, where transit service is often more limited.

While there are no downtown hotels in Moorhead, the area is easily reached on foot from downtown Fargo.

Eating and drinking

Way back when I was in college there really weren’t a lot of options for eating in either Fargo or Moorhead. Thankfully, that has changed completely. Today both cities offer a range of truly great restaurants.

Sleeping in Fargo-Moorhead

Despite being a college town, lodging near the colleges – particularly in Moorhead – is limited. Currently (fall 2019) there are no bed and breakfasts or small inns in the metropolitan area. Indeed, there is very little lodging at all in either downtown. Most hotels are located near I-94 and I-29 or (the vast majority) on the west side of Fargo near the shopping mall and assorted chain restaurants.

Warning: During the school year homecoming, graduation, football games, and other events can fill every room in town. If you are traveling from a distance and have a flexible schedule, check for lodging BEFORE selecting your travel date.

Links to more inspiration and information

The Fargo-Moorhead tourist office offers a wide variety of information in a useful and engaging form.

The city of Fargo has a page with a brief history of the city and links to additional resources.

Exploring North Dakota