I was on Twitter a few weeks ago when a friend asked about what she should do in Minot. If you’re a regular person, you respond with recommendations (which I did). If you’re also a travel writer, you immediately start drafting a story.
Minot gets a lot of press for being the host city for both the North Dakota State Fair and Norsk Hostfest but I was more interested in what was happening in town during the rest of the year. I didn’t know much about this western North Dakota city before I visited and it had lot of surprises in store for me.
Gol Stave Church at the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot
It’s college town with a decidedly residential vibe. It’s been both challenged and changed by the 2011 Souris River flood and the influx of money and people from the Bakken oilfields a few miles to the west.
But “The Magic City” isn’t all textbooks and industry. I was thrilled to find a well-supported arts scene, including housing for artists at Minot Artspace Lofts (I lovethis!) and an appealing, walkable downtown that’s on the cusp of really breaking out. The creative and entrepreneurial energy reminds me of what was percolating in Fargo a few years ago. I can’t wait to see what comes out of Minot next.
In the meantime, here are some of my favorite places to check out when you’re in town.
Pizza at The Starving Rooster
Eat and Drink
The Starving Rooster: This place is all about delicious woodfired goodness, so the menu is packed with brick oven pizzas and rotisserie meat panini and pasta dishes. I’m totally going back for brunch next time, because I spotted four different kinds of pancakes on the menu (buttermilk, red velvet, chocolate chip peanut butter and lemon blueberry). It’s a chill place to grab a beer too.
10 North Main: This place is kinda famous because actor/North Dakota Tourism poster boy/Minot’s favorite son Josh Duhamel is a co-owner. But it’s definitely not a vanity project. The menu is continental (think roast duck, walleye and steak) but thoughtfully considered and decidedly un-fussy. The restaurant is upscale for this part of the state and reservations are strongly recommended, since it gets packed and it’s only open after 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Breakfast at Charlie’s Main Street Cafe
Charlie’s Main Street Cafe: This bustling, family-run joint in the heart of downtown has been a Minot fixture for generations. It has a small town cafe vibe and the menu is full of homespun classics, from housemade soups to slices of pie and classic German kuchen for dessert. You can read about my adventures at Charlie’s here.
Souris River Brewing: This laid-back restaurant and brewery offers around a dozen beers and a surprisingly deep menu featuring locally sourced food. You’ll find bison and elk on the menu, but it’s also a great option for vegetarians and vegans, with salads and sandwiches that take meat-free dining to the next level.
The Tap Room: This little basement hideaway is my go-to place for a drink in Minot. It features a rotating selection of craft beers, including quite a few from the western part of the U.S. (Wyoming, Montana and a surprising among from Utah) that I wasn’t familiar with before stopping in. It’s cozy and mellow, a great place to play board games with friends. You can read a little about it here.
Pretty things at Dakota Chappy
Dakota Chappy: Fashion designer and shop curator Chappy Windsor is a North Dakota original. She’s out to revolutionize the way women dress by creating and stocking super comfortable, versatile garments that layer with ease. And she’s spreading her prairie glam gospel along the way. Here’s my look inside her shop.
Main Street Books: This is one of my favorite indie bookstores, anywhere. The couches are comfy, the coffee is free and there’s a great kids play area and local books section. Everything is arranged in such a visually pleasing way that I can (and frequently do) spend waaaaaaay too much time here. Seriously, I might just move in.
Michele F: Every inch of this downtown shop is overflowing with clothing and jewelry that exemplifies Michele F’s funky aesthetic. It’s a little bit glittery, a little bit western and a whole lot of boho and it just works. Don’t miss the gorgeous sparkling druzy and precious stone jewelry. A lot of it is designed by Michele and the Minot showroom is the only place you can see it.
Move and Explore
Yogifyu: I love yoga, but I don’t often seek it out when I’m on vacation, since I’d usually get plenty of exercise exploring a new place on foot. I made an exception to check out this yoga studio in downtown Minot and I’m totally glad I did — the Hatha yoga class I attended was the best yoga class I’ve ever been to — like, ever.
Scandinavian Heritage Park: This is Minot’s main tourist attraction and it’s a nice spot for a wander or a picnic. The buildings (including a Stave church from Norway) and the statutes are a tribute to the region’s Scandinavian lineage and there are picnic tables to sit and relax. The tourism office is right inside if you want to pick up some more information about the city.
Roosevelt Park Zoo: I’m not normally a zoo person, but I have a toddler at home, so they’ve been growing on me. And this one is a fun way to spend an afternoon. It’s shaded, walkable and the animals (especially the gibbons and the big cats — lions, amur tigers and snow leopards) were especially active when I visited.
Inside Taube Art Museum
Taube Museum of Art: This sweet little museum space is an anchor of the downtown Minot art scene. It had work from student artists on display when I was there and there’s also a nice gift shop that features local artists and makers.
62 Doors Gallery & Studios: This collaborative gallery/studio space houses work spaces for nine artists, a printmaking and art studio, a commons area and a gallery that hosts frequent exhibitions. I love the creative energy in the air here.
Margie’s Art Glass Studio: What do you get when you combine an art glass studio and showroom, an espresso and smoothie bar and a make-your-own ceramics studio? Awesomeness, that’s what. I’m all about anything that encourages people to be creative, so this place was a win for me.
So what do you love in Minot? What did I miss? I’ve only been there a few times, so I’m always looking for new places to add to my list.
If you’re headed to Minot, don’t forget to contact Visit Minot for more specific tourism info.