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Things to do in Bismarck

North Dakota Heritage Center North Dakota Heritage Center Bismarck, North Dakota
The North Dakota Heritage Center can be found on the state's capitol grounds in Bismarck, North Dakota's official history museum that opened in 1967 under the direction of the Heritage Center Commission and run by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The center contains many permanent and changing exhibits, and became a "hub of history" in 2008, after uncovering a very rare and in great condition mummified dinosaur. There permanent displays include Bright Dream and Hard Time that spans the period from 1915 to 1941, the First People from 9000 BC to 1738 AD, Settlement Period from 1870 to 1915, and Era of Change from 1738 to 1870. The main gallery traces the state's magnificent history from the early dinosaur to the Great Depression, and broken down further into seven different display areas that include; Corridor of Time, Dakota Kids, First People, Birds of North Dakota, Era of Change, Bright Dreams and Hard Times and the Settlement Era. The Hall of Honors can be found on the bottom level that exhibits photographs and relics that pertain to the USS North Dakota as well as a beautiful silver service set. Another part of the display are items that were given to Americans by the French people on the French Gratitude Train when WWII ended. One of the most exciting and interesting displays is the new special exhibit called, Dakota the Mummified Dinosaur that was discovered by Marmuth, North Dakota, a duck-billed dinosaur that had been mummified, from 65 million years ago. The center has both traveling exhibits and temporary ones that complement their permanent displays. There is also an on-line exhibit that includes; gardening, Lewis and Clark, North Dakota governors, the French Gratitude Train, People of the Upper Missouri and Lincoln's legacy. The center contains many interesting facts about the early life of the people that lived here, then immigrated here, and finally settled to create a great state that has grown into one of the finest American states in the north mid west that is very interesting, diverse and a challenge to live, work and enjoy the cooler aspects of the region.

State Capitol Building
State Capitol Building Bismarck, North DakotaThe North Dakota State Capitol Building is where the state legislature and executive branch take care of the state's business and laws, located in Bismarck, in the newer 19 story structure that sits on a 160 acre site, that contains many other buildings that pertain to the government of the state and others. This is the tallest structure in the state and houses the judicial branch as well as many other government agencies. The large grounds have begun to be the heart of the state's government department with many walking trails, monuments and parks that allow visitors to gain some idea of what the state is about and their exciting and interesting history. There are six structures all together on the grounds, constructed in different times and styles during the state's growth and history. The first state capitol building was constructed sometime between 1883 and 1884, gaining numerous additions during the early 1900s until 1930, December 28, when it burned to the ground. This most unfortunate accident meant that the state would have to rebuild its capitol building in the worst economic time the nation had ever endured and the loss of so much materials that pertained to the government and its history. Between 1931 and 1934, the tower and wing were constructed and cost $2 million, and the workers were paid 30 cents an hour. This low pay eventually caused some strikes, which then ended up in martial law being declared in June, 1933. The state was then forced to sell off half the land to pay for the costs of building. This new 19 story structure was believed to have enough space for the government to grow for many years, but it seemed that the state and its functions grew quicker than expected, so by 1955, the state needed the new state office building. Over the years, the quicker that the state acquired more space, it would be filled just as quick, however, the population of the state was on the decline. The six buildings that are located there include the main capitol structure, the state's office building, the Liberty Memorial building, the state's department of transportation building, the North Dakota Heritage Center and the governor's residence. There are two outstanding parks located here for the workers and others to enjoy, the Capitol Park and the Myron Atkinson Park. The center of the grounds contains the Capitol Mall which is a large expanse of grass that has walking paths and American elm trees on both sides and had been the place where the North Dakota's snow angel world record breaking occurred in 2007. This angel had 8,962 people laid out on the snow and a picture was taken from the top of the capitol building tower. The main capitol building is 241 feet high, with 19 stories, in an art deco style skyscraper, the tallest in the state and is referred to as the Skyscraper on the Prairie. The Liberty Memorial building contains the state's library and offices for the Special Education unit of the Department of Public Education and is the oldest structure on the grounds, although completely remodeled in 1982 to upgrade it to modern codes. The governor's residence was constructed in 1960 that replaced the earlier house that is further down the same street and was in bad condition with old fixtures and coding. The new residence was renovated in 2000 and contains 10,000 square feet in eighteen rooms.

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Dakota ZooDakota Zoo Bismarck, North Dakota
The Dakota Zoo is located by the splendid banks of the Missouri River in Bismarck, North Dakota and was the third zoo to open in the state. It started on a 67 acres farm owned by Betty and Marc Christianson who lived on the northern side of town, housing domestic animals like horses, cats and dogs, and actually trying to make money by raising minks. During those years, the locals knew that these good folks loved animals and many began dropping off strays or hurt animals that the Christiansons would take care of. Soon the number of animals increase quite a bit, and people started coming here to watch the animals as they moved about the property, and many children would go up and touch them as they love to do. It wasn't long before a local TV station came out and did a story on the humane folks and that instigated local people to start a zoo in their city. After a petition had circulated and 780 residents signed it, Marc went before the board to see about starting a self-supporting zoo, and in 1958, the board was able to make 88 acres of Park District land available, in the Sertoma Park area. The biggest part of the building was done by Marc and his crew with donated materials, and it opened in June 1961 with 75 mammals and 23 birds on 15 acres of the park that was developed. During that first season, 40,000 folks paid 10 cents to see the critters running around and having a great time in their own environments, and by 2007, there were 3400 zoo members and over 100,000 people were coming here each year to see the 125 species that were housed here.  Some of the animals living here include; longhorn cattle, highland cattle, elk, bison, miniature donkeys, goats, pigs, pronghorn, miniature horses, Clydesdale horses, llama, reindeer, mountain goats, Przewalski's horse, aoudad, mouflon, Dall sheep, bighorn sheep, bactrian camel and moose; which are located in the southern part of the zoo in wide open spaces and called ungulates. In the predator exhibits are the snow leopards, turkey vultures, bears, tigers, servals, wolves, coyotes, bobcats, lynx, badgers and mountain lions in the northern area of the zoo. There is a bird house, monkey barn, reptile house, prairie dog town and butterfly house.  

 Lewis and Clark Riverboat
Lewis & Clark Riverboat Bismarck, North Dakota
The Missouri Riverboat Inc. is the owner of the Lewis and Clark Riverboat that has served the Bismarck, North Dakota region for almost two decades, cruising along the magnificent Missouri River like the old riverboats of the 19th century. The line was owned privately for a while, but is now part of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation that helps support heritage tourism in the area that includes the riverboat tours, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, the Mandan Heritage Plaza and Five Nations Arts. About 40 years after the local settlers had taken apart Fort Lincoln for its nails, wood and other materials that could be salvaged for their use, the CCC came along and rebuilt that important part of the region's history so from 1934 to 1938, they constructed fieldstone buildings, block houses, palisades and earth lodges; but didn't rebuild the Custer House. During the 1950s, some historians in the area tried to do it but failed, although the idea didn't go away. In the historic Lewis and Clark Hotel in Mandan, the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation was started to promote and manage the rebuilding, development and promotion of Fort Abraham Lincoln and various other state parks and historic sites throughout the state. In 1989, the group opened the rebuilt doors of the Custer House that had uniformed 7th Cavalry soldier guides assisting visitors return to 1875 and the wild west. S o now, visitors can relive some of that glorious and difficult period along the Missouri River, docked in the historic port of Bismarck and cruising along the river just like the old riverboats did so many decades ago. Take the journey that Sakakawea, Sitting Bull and Custer did but in the comfort of luxurious surroundings on the last 150 passenger boat on the upper Missouri River. The company has group rates for their regular tours or the gourmet Saturday dinner cruise, as well as being able to charter the vessel for any party or special needs of your own. They will take you for however long you chose, with the opportunity to cater any and all types of events and occasions, with a fully stocked bar to help. It is a great cruise with marvelous views, sights and sounds watching many animals along the banks or in the sky, giving you a memorable time and trip on the upper Missouri River.

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Local Restaurants in Bismarck

East 40 Chophouse & Tavern
Appetizers; shrimp & artichoke dip is shrimp & artichokes in lemon garlic, feta & parmesan sauce, warm pita bread for dipping; smoked salmon cheesecake is house smoked salmon cheesecake with tomatoes, baby greens, chipotle & lahvosh crackers; tavern wings is jumbo chicken wings with choice of buffalo, Caribbean jerk or Asian sesame glaze; mushrooms etouffee is sautéed sherried mushrooms baked with house crab etouffee topped with gruyere cheese & served with warm bread. Steaks, served with choice of horseradish smashed potatoes, maize fries, baked potato, saffron rice or orzo mushroom pilaf with choice of soup or salad; ball tip steak is 10oz. aged ball tip bottom sirloin seasoned & grilled; top sirloin is 12oz.; NY strip is 12oz. center cut; filet mignon is 10oz. center cut; Porter at East 40 is 40 oz. porterhouse; ribeye chop is 20oz. bone-in. Poultry served with choice of soup or salad & fresh bread; chicken Oscar is sautéed chicken breast with deviled crab, steamed asparagus, sauce béarnaise, horseradish smashed potatoes, chicken demi glace; chicken gruyere is chicken breast with prosciutto, wild mushrooms & gruyere cheese over saffron rice pilaf with chicken demi glace & tomato sauce. Wild Game & Veal; wildwood meatloaf is ranch style elk & wild mushroom meatloaf served over horseradish mashed potatoes, tomato & caramelized onion gravy; buffalo ribeye is 12oz. Dakota raised buffalo ribeye served with sweet chili jam, adobo demi glace & Lyonnaise hash browns; veal chop is 12oz. pan roasted with butter & house seasoning served over smoked cheddar & sundried tomato ravioli with veal jus.

Space Aliens Grill & Bar
Appetizers; outer space onion blossom is large sweet onion cut & cooked until it explodes with zesty Cajun ranch sauce; chicken strips is boneless chicken breast strips breaded & deep fried with choice of dipping sauces; wings from planet X with dipping sauce; Martian munchies is strips of boneless pork seasoned & slowly smoked with space aliens bbq sauce; outer space fries, mozzarella cheese sticks, rockets is mix of cheese, diced potatoes & jalapeno lightly breaded with ranch dressing; solar eclipse is some of each; nachos; Cajun ranch potato skins; rib basket. BBQ ribs in various sizes; Steaks; aged & hand cut sirloin seasoned & charbroiled topped with crispy onion petals & served with side spaceship or Caesar salad, garlic toast & baked potato; sirloin steak with garlic butter sauce either 6oz. or 12oz.; whiskey bourbon steak is marinated with southern spirits either 6oz. or 12oz.; South American steak is marinated in blend of South American sauces 12oz. or 6oz. Chicken Dinners with garlic toast, baked potato; whiskey bourbon chicken is chicken breasts marinated in southern spirits & charbroiled, single or double; lemon herb chicken is chicken breasts marinated in lemon herb sauce & charbroiled, single or double; BBQ chicken single or double; chicken strips platter is boneless chicken breast strips breaded & deep fried, garlic toast & baked potato. BBQ beef brisket platter is slow smoked beef brisket with garlic toast & baked potato.


Chicken Oscar East 40 Chophouse & Tavern Bismarck, North Dakota


Buffalo Rib Eye East 40 Chophouse & Tavern Bismarck, North Dakota



 Sirloin with Garlic Butter Sauce Space Aliens Grill & Bar Bismarck, North Dakota

Whiskey Bourbon Chicken Space Aliens Grill & Bar Bismarck, North Dakota

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 2301 University Dr.

Hertz Car Rental Bismarck Executive Air- 2301 University Dr.

Former Governor's Mansion Former Governor's Residence Bismarck, North Dakota
The last North Dakota governor's residence is located on the southwest corner of the state's campus in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was the second official house that had been constructed for the governors of the state. The original governor's mansion was constructed in 1884 as a private residence for Bismarck businessman, Asa Fisher, who had homesteaded in the area of Edwinton that eventually became Bismarck, in 1872. Asa would become rich in banking, liquor sales and real estate, and in 1893, he sold it for $5000 so it could be used as the governor's home from 1893 until 1960. It was home to 20 of the state's governors, until 1975, when the legislature passed House bill 1315 that changed the ownership of the mansion to the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and then remodeled so that it looked more like it did originally in 1893. It opened to the public that year as a state historic site.  The two and a half story Victorian house has a carriage house next to it, and the interior of the house contains marvelous room antiquities that would have been used in that period of history in this region. The old carriage house contains a great exhibit called, "from bucket of oats to Quarts of oil" and the garden has more than 60 types of heritage plants. The house was originally constructed by local contractor, Justice O. Grout and once finished was one of the biggest homes in the region. Eli Shortridge would become the first governor to live in the house, and the last was John E. Davis, that also was still in office to move into the new residence. 

North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Bismarck, North DakotaThe North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is the definitive interpretive center for the history of Native Americans, rodeo, ranching and the wild western style of the Badlands and plains, with the legacy and culture of the Great American west preserved for generations to come. The 15,000 square foot structure was designed by city architect, Arnie Hanson that includes a 5000 square foot patio area, and located in Medora, North Dakota, right at the gate to the Teddy Roosevelt National Park. The outstanding hall contains a hall of honorees, western culture displays, multi-purpose meeting room, interpretive center for permanent and changing exhibits and a 45 seat theater. There is a marvelous exhibit that interprets and honors the Native American cultures and tribes, rodeo stars, ranchers, trail drivers and homesteaders.  The Hall of Fame is of course the main reason for the center, with trustees choosing who the inductees would be in various categories like; lifetime leaders of rodeo & ranching; Great Westerner of North Dakota, rodeo producing & livestock ranching, rodeo, special achievement, western art & entertainment, cowboy long rider, and legacy award; which are announced every July and then presented with their awards and inducted in August at the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame roundup.  This is the perfect venue for anyone that ever thought about being a cowboy or heading into the real wild west, full of horses, buffalo, cattle, ranches, mountains and valleys, rivers and streams, riding all day and coming in for the night, having exhausted yourself doing whatever you are meant to do or wanted to try. Check out the inductees and see how they fulfilled their dreams and aspirations about being a cowboy and see if it is cracked up to be all that you thought it would.  

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Camp Hancock State Historic SiteCamp Hancock State Historic Site Bismarck, North Dakota
The Camp Hancock State Historic Site preserves the original site of Camp Greeley that was an early military post that was located here in the 1870s to protect the work gangs that were involved in building the Northern Pacific Railroad. The year after it was built, 1873, the name was changed to Camp Hancock after the commander that took over the post. There is a log headquarters structure that still is standing on the site which has been made bigger and renovated a few times to house the materials and relics that are housed here. The log exterior has been covered over by clapboard siding to make it more appealing and is now an interpretive museum for the relics and pertinent information about that period in local history. The post was in operation from 1872 to 1877, and then became a quartermaster depot and signal office from 1877 to 1894. Its main purpose was to protect the supplies, crews and equipment that was used and needed by the railroad, as well as the people of Edwinton, the early town of Bismarck; renamed in 1873 also. The post had been used as a storage facility for the US Army's quartermaster corps, that shipped supplies further along by wagon, steamboat and rail to the other outposts that were located along the river and farther west. In 1874, a Signal Corps reporting station was set up at the post, to transmit messages, maintain national weather patterns and other chores. The fighting in the plains had mainly subsided by then, and the last troops were withdrawn by 1877, with the post continuing to run as a quartermaster depot and signal station, with just a small contingent of technical personnel. The army decommissioned the post in 1894, and the buildings would continue to be used by the US Weather Bureau until 1940. It was then used by the US Soil Conservation Service from 1940 until 1949 when a fire forced them to abandon it and it was turned over to the State Historical Society in 1951. The society opened the remaining structure as a museum in 195, and a retired Northern Pacific locomotive was brought here to commemorate the role that the railroad had in the need and history of the camp and city. In 1965, the oldest church in the city was moved to the site, had been used as the Bread of Life Church from 1881 to 1949 and part of the city's history and events.

Buckstop Junction
Buckstop Junction Bismarck, North DakotaBuckstop Junction is a unique place in the city of Bismarck, North Dakota that is maintained by the Missouri Valley Historical Society and contains many historical structures that have been saved and preserved by this society as an attraction to the residents and visitors interested in viewing old buildings, businesses, farmhouses, and other types of buildings that have survived the time and trouble of history. It is a marvelous place full of interesting and unique structures that can't be found anywhere else in the world, coming from around the area instead of being taken down or destroyed to make way for the future and more modern types of buildings. Set up in a small village, the buildings line the main thoroughfare and will give visitors the opportunity to go back in time to yesterday and view the types of buildings that were built back then and the marvelous amenities that can be found in them, mostly useable for the people of that period. It includes; Lein School #2 used from 1906 to 1958; Yegen Store, built by the city's first banker and grocer, who started it all in a tent, constructed in 1877; Fort Clark Post Office built in 1910 and operated from 1917 to 1948; 1st State Bank of McClusky, constructed in 1905; Goodrich Barber Shop built in 1908; Sterling Railroad Depot built in 1885 by the Northern Pacific Railroad; Coal Mine camp includes power shovel, mine shaft, scale house and Chapin building from the mining town of Wilson; Fort Lincoln Service station built in 1932 to service the military vehicles; Capital Aviation Hangar built in the early 1930s to house the first north-south passenger line in the nation; Driscoll Blacksmith Shop built in 1919 by Ole Hartle and houses a working forge; the Lewis Hotel built in 1914 with a restored ballroom and bar, with the downstairs area containing a model train; Bethel Lutheran Church built in 1916; Foley Home built in 1907 by James Foley, poet laureate of the state; Andrew Miller farm museum built in 1910 to be a warehouse used by Bismarck Lumber; Homestead sites that include; the Melberg claim shack built in 1889; the Gellner house built in 1906 near Goodrich and housed a family of nine. There are many relics located in these marvelous old structures and many external items that are equally interesting and in great condition considering their age today.

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