A Fargo-Moorhead Mini Guide

Every city has landmarks, places that attract lots of visitors and attention thanks to their location, history or stellar marketing campaigns. They’re eye-catching, they show up in the tourism brochures and even a casual visitor can figure out that they’re worth a look. Visiting marquee attractions is a great way to get to know a city.

But they never tell the whole story. To really dig deep into a place, you have to get off the beaten path. Browse the little shops, stop into a restaurant that looks interesting, linger over coffee and see where the day takes you.

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It’s about giving yourself permission to wander and getting to know the people that live in a city, both on the street and online. That’s what Prairie Style File — both this website and  the social media communities that have grown up around it — is all about.

Here are some of my favorite Fargo-Moorhead spots, both the marquee attractions and some great, less obvious choices.

Is it a definitive list? No way. But it will get you started. And don’t forget to follow Prairie Style File, connect with me on social media and comment below to tell me your favorites!

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Art and commerce combine in downtown Fargo, arguably the city’s most vibrant neighborhood

Wander The Neighborhood:
The Marquee Attraction: Downtown Fargo
Downtown Fargo is kind of famous these days. National and international press, as well as thousands of NDSU fans packing the streets for ESPN College GameDay broadcasts two years in a row have brought this revitalized historic district lots of attention in the past few months. Broadway is the undisputed hub of this vibrant district, where you’ll find lots of shopping options, restaurants, bars and art in a walkable, historic and awfully photogenic environment.

Dig Deeper: SoMA and historic 8th Street
For a different historic Fargo experience, head south to SoMA (south of Main Avenue) . The small shops on 8th Street have a pleasantly sleepy vibe, while the boutiques, coffee shop and pizzeria on the south side of Main Avenue are busy and buzzy. Grab something to snack on and stroll through nearby Island Park (see below) or continue south on 8th Street to take in the most breathtaking historic homes in town.

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Deliciousness abounds at Sandy’s Donuts in West Fargo and Fargo

Score Something Sweet:
The Marquee Attraction: Nichole’s Fine Pastry
Nichole’s Fine Pastry is a stellar spot to indulge a sweet tooth. You’ll find a huge range of fanciful desserts, from eclairs and towering cakes to rich gelato to lusciously layered fruit tarts. In addition to delectable desserts, the busy shop with the butter yellow walls serves a rotating selection of sandwiches, salads and soups, as well as wine and champagne for an elevated lunch experience or a romantic late-night rendezvous.

Dig Deeper: Sandy’s Donuts
For an equally transcendent, but more down-to-earth dessert, head to Sandy’s Donuts. Whether you like your donuts plain or fancy, cake or raised, filled or frosted, there’s something for everybody at this hometown favorite. The crew at Sandy’s Donuts has been making these fried delights for generations, but now that they’ve added a second shop in downtown Fargo, expect that visibility for both locations will go way, way up. Get there early for the best selection.

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Even the littlest art fans love the Rourke Art Museum

Explore Art:
The Marquee Attraction: Plains Art Museum
The Plains Art Museum is a Fargo must-do. The airy, modern museum (and former warehouse) is a local landmark and it consistently features cutting-edge programming and cool, interactive events. There are three main gallery spaces and the exhibits spill out into the hallways and the main level’s cafe seating area as well. This is  great spot to grab lunch, do a little shopping in the carefully curated gift shop or take an art class.

Dig Deeper: The Rourke Art Musem
The Rourke Art Museum’s collection is housed in an equally stunning building, but some travelers (and even some residents) forget to make the short trip across the river to Moorhead to see it. The historic space offers spacious galleries downstairs and a warren of smaller rooms just up the fantastic staircase. There’s something amazing about seeing a Warhol and a Lichenstein just hanging out in the upstairs gallery. And if you play your cards right, you can have them all to yourself.

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A relaxing view in Island Park

Get Moving:
The Marquee Attraction: Lindenwood Park
If you’re looking for family fun for all ages, Lindenwood Park is packed with options, from picnic shelters, to summer bike rentals to the city’s only universal playground for children of all abilities. Lindenwood’s trails, which wind from the central Fargo park up and along the Red River, provide a unique look at the city. When the snow falls, try cross country skiing!

Dig Deeper: Island Park
Island Park is Fargo’s oldest park, located just south of Downtown. Despite its prime location, many visitors and residents have never explored it. The pool is fun in the summer and the beautiful canopy of mature trees make the park a popular walking and picnic spot all year long. The west-facing lawn is a great place to sun yourself on a lazy afternoon and the tennis courts and playground are always busy, but rarely packed.

Midwest is Best Shirt
Midwest IS best! Photo from Unglued: Market

Find a Fun Gift:
Zandbroz Variety is a downtown staple. It’s anchored Broadway for years and its colorful, ever-changing window displays entice customers to stop in and browse their beautifully displayed books, gifts, paper goods, jewelry, toys, accessories, music and kitchen and home decor items. There’s something for everyone here and it’s a pleasure just to wander the aisles.

Dig Deeper: Unglued
This little shop is bursting with modern crafts and handmade treasures from artists and designers all over the region. You’ll find a constantly rotating selection of jewelry, apparel, cards, barware, accessories for guys and girls, home decor and fun, functional and sometimes quirky gift ideas with a decidedly local bent. Don’t forget to grab a cupcake from Bakeology at the register when you check out!

All right guys, what did I miss? I want to know your favorite spots!

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2 Replies to “A Fargo-Moorhead Mini Guide”

  1. Does Zandbroz still have that little coffee shop in the back? It’s been so long since I’ve been there, but they have (had?) the BEST mocha shakes!!! — in big, cold, old-fashioned metal malt glasses! — each one easily enough for two, but so delicious you won’t want to share!

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