8 Must-Visit Small Towns in North Dakota

Written by Devika Khosla
Published: December 5, 2023
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North Dakota has many unique destinations that offer a quintessential small-town feel. The Peace Garden State boasts historic sites and natural beauty. These are the eight must-visit small towns in North Dakota.

1. Medora

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, USA

Explore the beautiful hiking trails at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota.

©Ryan Stone / Unsplash – License

Founded in 1883, Medora is nestled in the heart of the Badlands in Billings County. It is a picturesque town with Old West charm. Visitors can explore the historic Chateau de Mores, a preserved house and museum of the de Mores family. In addition, the scenic trails of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are great for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of North Dakota. Medora is home to quaint shops and restaurants that are worth exploring. With a population of 123 people, Medora is the 217th most populated city in North Dakota.

2. Rugby

Geographical Center of North America monument in Rugby, North Dakota.

This monument marks the geographical center of North America in Rugby, North Dakota.

©Scottserkin at English Wikipedia / Public domain – License

Rugby is a small town with a population of 2,481. This little spot is the geographical center of North America. In fact, the town is home to a monument marking the exact center of the continent. In addition to its charming village square, Rugby also features the Prairie Village Museum, which comprises 22 historic buildings and eight exhibition halls.

3. Lidgerwood

The Lidgerwood City Hall building is well-known in Lidgerwood, North Dakota.

© Andrew Filer, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

With a population of 594 people, Lidgerwood is a small town in southeastern North Dakota. The town has treasures like the Lidgerwood Community Museum and the nine-hole Lidgerwood Golf Course, which is open from mid-April to mid-October. Lidgerwood is also home to many parks, including Pool Park. Visitors to Legion Park, known as the Tank Park or the Helicopter Park, can see tanks and helicopters displayed. Lidgerwood also has a few churches, including St. Boniface Catholic Church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, and Bergen Church.

4. Cavalier

Lake Renwick is located in Icelandic State Park in Cavalier, North Dakota.

©McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0 – License

Tucked away in the scenic Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area, Cavalier is a charming town with a rich history and a population of 1,242. This small town in North Dakota formed in 1875 and houses many attractions. Visitors can explore the 900-acre Icelandic State Park on Renwick Dam. The park is a popular destination for recreational activities like fishing, swimming, kayaking, and boating, in addition to hiking. The Pembina County Courthouse, built in 1912, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

5. Valley City

Guests can enjoy a chanting session at Medicine Wheel Park in Valley City, North Dakota.

© National Archives and Records Administration , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Valley City is known as the “City of Bridges” due to its high number of bridges. One of the most popular bridges is the historic Hi-Line Railroad Bridge that stretches across the Sheyenne River. Dating back to 1908, the structure is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. A notable attraction in Valley City is Medicine Wheel Park. Spanning 30 acres, the park has a Native American medicine wheel and stones laid out in astronomical alignment. In addition, there are sacred burial mounds, earthen sculptures, and scenic walking paths.

6. Cooperstown

The Oscar-Zero missile alert facility minuteman is worth a visit to Cooperstown, North Dakota.

© Chad Kainz from Chicago, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

With a population of 959, Cooperstown is the 59th most populated city in the state of North Dakota. It is home to the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site, which details the history of the Cold War. The museum explores the role of the Minuteman missiles in national defense. In addition, visitors to this small town can explore the downtown area, where the historic Griggs County Courthouse stands. It was built in 1884 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

7. Crosby

The picturesque Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is near Crosby, North Dakota.

© USFWS Mountain-Prairie, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Located in the scenic Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence area, Crosby is a small town with a rich agricultural history. Visitors can see the Divide County Museum, which showcases the history of the region. In addition, they can explore the nearby Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge in the town of Kenmare. Spanning 10,500 acres, the refuge is home to various species of birds and wildlife, including American white pelicans and giant Canada geese. Moreover, Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is popular for its scenic hiking and walking trails.

8. Hettinger

The Hettinger County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

©Andrew Filer, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Located a few miles from the South Dakota border, Hettinger is a small town situated in southwestern North Dakota. The main attraction in the town is the Dakota Buttes Museum, which has displays and exhibits that document the history of the region. Visitors can also see the Hettinger County Courthouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, Hettinger boasts farms and ranches and is a popular town for outdoor recreational activities like birding, fishing, and hunting.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © TobyG/Shutterstock.com

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