Top 5 North Dakota Museums That Are Worth Traveling For (2024)
North Dakota provides endless surroundings to explore in lush woodland settings with the mesmerizing water-fed natural landscape. Apart from the famously breathtaking scenery of the state, North Dakota is also renowned for its rich history and culture. The state’s museums and historical sites provide a fascinating view of the past long gone.
Visiting the state of North Dakota and spending time outdoors exploring the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Kale Sakakawea, and others are excellent choices. However, if you are a history buff and you want to genuinely learn about the state’s rich history, traditions, and culture, a visit to some of the top-rated museums in North Dakota is the best option to consider.
Top 5 North Dakota Museums That Are Worth Traveling For
Let’s take a look at the top North Dakota museums that are worth traveling for.
1. National Buffalo Museum
The National Buffalo Museum is famous all over the US for being home to the rare albino buffalo. Run by the North Dakota Buffalo Foundation (NDBF) is to spread awareness of the historical and cultural significance of the North American bison. The National Buffalo Museum maintains a big bison herd and carries out many educational programs to promote the bison industry.
Located at the Frontier Village near the intersection of Highway 281 and Interstate 94, the museum focuses mainly on the history of bison in the state’s plains culture. Displays at the museum include many artifacts belonging to the Plains Indian tribes, a wide variety of artwork, 19th-century firearms used by bison hunters in North Dakota, remains of a prehistoric bison, and even a separate children’s room that features all the wildlife of North Dakota. You can also view a video presentation on the history of the bison.
The live herd of bison at the museum includes around 30 bison along with White Cloud, the famous rare albino White Buffalo. White Cloud and her four brown calves are members of this herd, along with her only rare white calf known fondly as Dakota Miracle.
You can buy many amazing things that are unique and tastefully made with a bison theme from the museum’s gift shop.
2. Frontier Village, Jamestown
Located in Jamestown, the Frontier Village is one of the main attractions of North Dakota. The National Buffalo Museum is also located in the same complex as the Frontier Village. Surrounding the bison attraction is the Frontier Village, made up of an entire block of ancient buildings that have been built to resemble a completely historical old town. The town is full of artifacts hailing back to the frontier life and how the prairie pioneers lived.
The complex full of ancient pioneer buildings include an old-time drugstore, a barbershop, church, post office, school, jailhouse, and many other interesting structures. An interesting fact about this place is that these ancient builds moved here from various other frontier spots across North Dakota to preserve them in one area.
Some of the highlights you can see include the first railroad depot in Jamestown, the writing shack of Louis L’Amour (the famous American novelist and short-story writer), and you can even shop for beautiful handmade handicraft items. During the summertime, there is a fascinating Wild West shoot-out show that is put up on Saturday afternoon.
3. North Dakota State Railroad Museum
The famous North Dakota State Railroad Museum is home to an expansive 3000-square foot railroad display. This museum is a must-visit for those who love trains. Some of the main attractions you can see here include railroad pictures and artifacts, the railroad hall of fame, five acres of rolling stock, and the 3000-square foot railroad displays.
This is a delightful place for children, with free entry to the museum, especially the 1890 Steele Depot and the SW Diesel Switcher Engine.
4. Dickinson Museum Center
Another famous museum that is a must-visit in North Dakota is the Dickinson Museum Center. The Dickinson Museum Center is responsible for preserving and showcasing the history of the state through its museum complex. The museum center not only showcases the history of the city of Dickinson but also of Southwest North Dakota and Stark County.
The museum is sprawled over a 12 acres park that is home to many buildings. Inside the complex, the museum center is divided into the Badlands Dinosaur Museum, the Joachim Regional Museum, the Prairie Outpost Park, and the Pioneer Machinery Hall. In the Badlands Dinosaur Museum, you can also view thousands of fossils, minerals, and rock specimens. There is even a complete skeleton of a Triceratops and an award-winning feathered dinosaur model.
The Joachim Regional Museum is the perfect showcase for local art and history. Some of the permanent exhibits here include a dollhouse and a Western art gallery. The Osborn Research and Reading Room are also located here.
Located in the park east of the museum, the Prairie Outpost Park has five historical and five reproduction buildings. There are many groups that manage the buildings and are responsible for hosting various cultural events in the park, including Scandinavians, Germans from Russia, and Czech heritage organizations.
Some of the historic buildings in this section of the museum include a train depot, general store, church, school, and a house. The reproduced buildings include an ethnic German-Russian stone house, a print shop, a Scandinavian Stabbur, a blacksmith shop, and a Czech town hall. A windmill, a coal car, a Northern Pacific train caboose, a veteran’s chapel, and the Heritage Pavilion picnic shelter are some of the other famous structures located inside the park.
Meanwhile, the Pioneer Machinery Hall focuses on the early ranching and agricultural history of Stark County. You can view various machines here like threshing machines, tractors, and even horse-drawn and mechanized farm equipment.
5. North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
If you are interested in cowboys, then a trip to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is a must. You can learn all about the Wild West here and about Western history and culture. This is a unique museum in North Dakota that pays homage to the culture and traditions of the Native American community in North Dakota. Ranching and rodeo communities are also included here through dynamic displays.
There are many other museums that you can check out if you plan to stay longer in North Dakota, including:
- Fargo Air Museum – A must for aviation fans
- Dale & Martha Hawk Museum – History museum that displays vintage cars and antique tractors.
- Bonanzaville – There is an authentic pioneer village here, 43 ancient heritage buildings, and thousands of artifacts that showcase the state’s pioneer days.
- Paul Broste Rock Museum – This museum is all about rocks. There are different types of rocks on display here that hail from all over the world and have a unique history. Many rare and unique rock specimens are on display here.
- Plains Art Museum – This is the largest art museum in the state, focusing on regional folk art, Native American art, and contemporary art.