Family fun in Fargo, North Dakota

I’m going to be honest. I knew relatively nothing about Fargo before we touched down. I even had to have my husband explain the iconic wood chipper scene to me because I still haven’t seen the movie.

While Keryn and her brood made a family trip to Bismarck, North Dakota was new to our family.

I was told by friends that grew up in North Dakota to prepare myself for how flat it is. And while they were correct about the terrain, the town of Fargo did anything but fall flat.

This Pacific Northwester would compare Fargo to the eastern Washington city of Spokane. Both are historic railway towns that have beautifully preserved their history while embracing the present. Downtown Fargo is a smattering of exposed brick and industrial architecture with inclusive signs in nearly every shop and friendly faces wherever you go.

Fargo pleasantly surprised us by how accommodating it is for families. There was something every member of our family could enjoy.

My husband was enthralled with the historic buildings and architecture. My 6-year old son wanted to live at the Fargo Air Museum. My daughter loved learning about red pandas at the Red River Zoo.

And as for me, it was a sheer joy to watch my family fall in love with a new destination. And also the shopping.

With only a few days to explore Fargo, we packed as much as we could in to our visit. Here are a few recommendations we have for your next family friendly weekend getaway to Fargo.

Family Fun Activities

Mural Spotting

Kids of all ages will enjoy hunting for the colorful and creative murals of downtown Fargo. With our trusty mural map in hand, we scoured the streets for the work of local artists. My kids are six and four and will often tell us they “have little” feet when they get tired of walking. Thankfully, the majority of the murals are clustered together and miraculously, there were no complaints.

My personal favorite was the Greetings from Fargo mural, while the kids couldn’t get enough of the Mario Wall. I suggest making a game of it and see how many murals your family can find. We told our kiddos that if they found at least six, they’d be rewarded with an ice cream treat.

If you want to get the entire family involved on the hunt, have the Downtown Fargo Mural Map on hand.

Pro Tip: While on your mural hunt, be sure to take a photo in front of the iconic Fargo Theatre marquee.

Red River Zoo

Our first impression of the Red River Zoo was both confusion and delight at the statue of the tiger-bison hybrid that greeted us. Before even getting our tickets, we were met by a lazy sloth and a handful of active primates in the lobby enclosure.

While the zoo appears smaller than the one we have at home, it is packed with both native animals in their natural habitats and endangered species. The Red River Zoo specializes in the care and breeding of some of the world’s rarest cold climate species. My personal favorites were the grumpy looking Pallas cat and the Sichuan Takin. The latter looked like a cross between a giant guinea pig and a goat. I truly didn’t even know it existed until our visit.

Our kids were enamored with the bactrian camels (with their two humps) and the prairie dogs exhibit (seeing them pop out of their dens was like watching a game of whack-a-mole). My daughter was particularly enthralled by all of the many interactive exhibits at the Children’s Zoo Farm that allowed her to get a hands-on experience. She hand-fed the resident cow, two adorable alpacas, and a couple of greedy goats.

Boasting some of the world’s rarest cold climate species, the Red River Zoo is not to be missed. Be sure to give yourself a couple of hours to explore. Our kids spend the first twenty minutes playing on the playground before we even got to the animals!

Fargo Air Museum

One of the best things to do in Fargo is visit the Fargo Air Museum. Aviation fanatics and casual fans will love the two hangars that make up the museum. Our machine-obsessed son ran from exhibit to exhibit, naming the P-47 thunderbolts, Focke-Wulf Fw 190, and even his early favorite, a life size Dusty Crophopper from the Disney movie, Planes.

I often worry that museums won’t have anything that caters to the younger members of the family but my four year old quickly located the children’s play area complete with aviation themed coloring pages, activities, and toys. There was even a little library of age appropriate airplane books.

We learned that the majority of the planes on display still fly. Some of the museums more prized planes are a Wright Brothers’ Flyer and the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft.

The whole family enjoyed the Fargo Air Museum and it wasn’t until we were leaving that I realized how close it was to the Fargo airport. This would be a great activity to let the kids stretch their legs before getting on a flight.

Family Friendly Restaurants in Fargo

Parents rejoice! Fargo is a great destination when it comes to family friendly restaurants. Our family has one child that will eat literally anything and another on a strict diet of chicken nuggets (cooked just right) and apples. Thankfully, we found restaurants where everyone ate and this mama couldn’t have been happier. Here are a few of the Fargo restaurants that everyone enjoyed.

Black Coffee and Waffle Bar

Who doesn’t love waffles? Our kids were thrilled when we told them they’d get their choice of waffle for breakfast at Black Coffee and Waffle Bar. They opted for the Apple Strudel (baked apples, cinnamon, caramel, and whipped topping) and the S’mores (chocolate chips, marshmallows, graham crackers, and whipped topping). We’re going to ignore the fact that they basically had dessert for breakfast. We were on vacation, after all!

The adults opted for savory waffles. We split One Bad Pig which came with a simple and delicious topping of ham and Swiss cheese. We chased our waffles with delicious honey lattes before we hit the town.

Address: 550 2nd Ave N. Fargo, ND 58102

Wurst Bier Hall

We love a cheeky name. As you might expect, Wurst Bier Hall serves both bratwursts and beers and they were actually the best! Not only will you find a selection of 41 local, regional and seasonal beers but the food menu was creative and delicious.

We ordered the bacon flight (because, why not?) and the potato and onion pierogis for the kids. My husband, the most adventurous eater of the bunch, ordered the rabbit and rattlesnake brat (really!) while I enjoyed the buffalo cheddar. Each brat is fully customizable and there’s an assortment of sauces at each table.

If I’m going to be honest, I’m disappointed that we didn’t have more time in Fargo because I wanted to try every item on the menu.

While it is a beer hall, minors are allowed accompanied by a 21+ adult before 9pm. We were there for lunch and found it perfectly acceptable for our littles.

Address: 630 1st Ave N. Fargo, ND 58102

BernBaum’s

The baristas at Young Blood Coffee told us that we can’t visit Fargo without having a meal at BernBaum’s. This unassuming sandwich shop is located inside a midcentury modern furniture store. As soon as we stepped inside I felt like I was in the 1950s. There were even black and white cookies on the counter!

The deli had an eclectic menu of latkes, shakshuka focaccia, bagels and more. We were still full from breakfast but we couldn’t stop by without at least trying something. We decided to split the Iceland Bagel Plate. It came with a generous portion of house-cured gravlax, lox, pickled fennel, cucumber, onion, capers, and micro greens. This is another spot that I can see myself visiting again. I loved the throwback vibes and the food selection was incredible.

Address: 402 Broadway N. Fargo, ND 58102

Pounds

I love the guilty pleasure that is Pounds. This place is my jam. First, they serve something called a Hippie Bowl (with the slogan “More healthy than not”). Did I order one? Of course. I went with the Yin and Yang, a base of coconut rice and a sweet potato veg blend topped with avocado smash, kimchi, and grilled chicken. It was a party for the senses. It was sweet, savory, umami, and every note in between.

The menu boasts an assortment of burger creations, three different kids of fries, loaded mac and cheese, and so much more.

If you’re in need of an adult beverage, the drinks are just as exciting as the food. I ordered a spiked Capri Sun but also eyed the various drinks that came out topped high with fruit, fruit snacks, and even mini cupcakes!

While the menu is kid friendly, the restaurant closes to the 21 and under crowd at 8pm. We had our dinner around 7 o’clock and had a wonderful time but I could see it getting rowdy on the weekends.

Address: 612 1st Ave N. Fargo, ND 59102

Kroll’s Diner

Another great throwback is Kroll’s Diner. This 50s style restaurant serves up traditional German and American dishes that are both delicious and filling. Aside from the ambiance, the diner is known for its award winning knoephla “dumpling” soup. Other German specialities include fleischkuechle (Breakfast sausage, American cheese, and scrambled eggs wrapped inside a pastry and deep-fried), kuchen (traditional German fruit and custard filled pastry), and cabbage rolls.

The food was wunderbar! It came in very generous portions and had the care and attention to detail of a home cooked meal.

Address: 1033 45th St. S. Fargo, ND

Thoughts on Fargo

I feel that Fargo is the perfect place to start your introduction to North Dakota. We barely scratched the surface of all there is to do. Just like downtown Fargo’s architecture, the restaurant scene merges both the old and the new.

Oh- and for the Fargo movie fans, you can find the wood chipper at the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center. While it didn’t mean much to me, my husband made a special request that we visit it before we left.

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