13 Exciting Things to Do in Bismarck North Dakota

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Are you looking for a fun weekend getaway with the kids where you can escape the crowds? Bismarck North Dakota is an excellent destination! Bismarck is and incredibly family friendly town that’s home to some amazing outdoor areas to explore, several museums, a great zoo, and a huge amount of history. There are plenty of things to do with kids in Bismarck, so let’s take a look at our top Bismarck suggestions for families!

exciting things to do in bismarck

Planning a road trip through North Dakota? Make sure to read our other articles about the area:
9 North Dakota Road Trip Stops Not To Miss
19 Adventures for Kids At Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Where to stay in Bismark North Dakota

Choosing the best place to stay in Bismarck can have a big impact on your trip. Choose someone that’s centrally located and with great amenities so the whole family can relax. Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Bismarck:

  • Courtyard by Marriott: We love that there’s a great outdoor seating area here that’s really family friendly. The outdoor heaters make it pleasant even on cool nights. The kids will love that the indoor pool can be used year-round, and the business center makes it easy if you need to work on the road.
  • Bismarck La Quinta Inn: The La Quinta in is a nice hotel that really stands out because they make little details nicer. some of our favorite features of the hotel are the coin-op laundry for guests, the pool waterslide, the in room soaking tubs, and the better than average breakfast.

Kayak The Missouri River in Bismarck

Kayaking the missouri river bismarck

If you’re visiting Bismarck North Dakota in the summer, the absolute best activity to do is to kayak the Missouri River. Bismarck is located on the Missouri River, so it’s an easy trip to get out and enjoy some fresh air with your kids and is the best way to really see and appreciate the beauty of the area. We went in the middle of the week and didn’t see another boat for the entire morning that we were on the water.

kayaking the missouri river with kids bismarck

The Missouri River is a great place to kayak with kids since the water has a gentle current to keep you moving along, and the water is generally calm (except on really windy days). We recommend kayaking with Missouri Kayak Adventures since they can easily shuttle your kayaks to and from where you need to go, making for an incredibly relaxing day! Of course, this is an easy place to paddle your own kayaks, and a great place to teach kids how to kayak!

Visit The Bismarck Art Alley

bismarck art alley

The Bismarck Art Alley is a hidden gem in Bismarck North Dakota, and it’s an amazing place to visit while you’re traveling with kids. The Bismarck Art Alley is an unassuming alley off of 5th Ave with a full display of outdoor street art. It was so fun to show our kids the fun ways that artists have depicted the history and people of North Dakota through their colorful street art. While you’re there, head around the corner for some yummy Neopolitan pizza at Fireflour Pizza. The Bismarck Art Alley is the best thing to do with kids in downtown Bismarck.

bismarck art alley

Explore The North Dakota Heritage Center

Dakota heritage Center

The North Dakota Heritage Center is Bismarck’s premier history museum, and it’s a great place to bring your kids. The best part of the Bismarck North Dakota History Museum is that it’s completely FREE! Inside the museum you’ll find exhibits about dinosaurs, local history, Native American culture, and local wildlife.

Dakota heritage Center

Our kids favorite exhibit was the dinosaur simulation where the kids got to give their dinosaur certain traits and characteristics and then see how they would do in a fight against another dinosaur. It was so much fun and an incredible way for them to learn about animal adaptations.

Dakota heritage Center
Treehouse Section of Dakota Heritage Center

If you’ve got little one’s they’ll love visiting “The Treehouse” a section of the museum that’s basically a little children’s museum. Our kids (ages 9 & 11) were a little old for most of the kids exhibits here, but they still had a blast for a solid 30 minutes. If I had my younger children with me, we would have easily spent an hour or more in this section of the museum.

Meet The Animals At The Dakota Zoo

Dakota ZOo

Don’t write off the Dakota Zoo just because Bismarck isn’t a large metropolitan area. The Dakota Zoo was one of the best zoo experiences that we’ve ever had as a family, because everything about the zoo was small and intimate. We went in the middle of the week during the summer, and we were shocked that we were some of the only people there.

Dakota ZOo

This meant that our kids could get right up to the animal enclosures and spend as much time as they wanted observing the animals with no other kids around. We literally spent a solid 25 minutes at the otter exhibit and the kids couldn’t stop giggling at how interactive the otters were (they would high 5 them, any time the kids would touch the glass). It was honestly magical.

Visit Chief Lookings Village

Chief lookings village

If you’re looking for a simple way to learn more about the Native American History of the area, head to Chief Lookings Village. Here you’ll find an interpretive trail that has several signs all about the native history here, AND you’ll get some of the best views of the Missouri River from here.

Chief lookings village

After you do the short walk on the interpretive trail, drive a bit farther down the road to a beautiful little park that’s full of flowers in the summer and has a great little playground. The views here are stunning and this is the best place in Bismarck for a picnic!

Play At the Best Parks in Bismarck

Bismarck is packed full of amazing parks that your kids will love to explore. Visiting several parks is a great way to break up your day as you explore Bismarck with kids AND best of all it’s a free way to get kids active and moving their bodies. Here’s a list of the best parks in Bismarck and Mandan:

Pioneer Park
1500 River Road, Bismarck
Playground area, wooded trails, right next to the Missouri River, and sand volleyball.

pioneer park bismarck

Lions-Hillside Park
2601 E Calgary
Park features a skate park, disc golf course, sand volleyball and tennis courts.

Kiwanis Park
318 S Washington St
2 playgrounds, spider climbing net, bouldering rock climbing area, fitness trail loop.

Kiwanis Park bismarck

Make A Splash at Raging Rivers Waterpark

raging rivers waterpark mandan north dakota

Another must do activity for a summer in Bismarck is to visit Raging Rivers waterpark. The waterpark has 4 large waterslides, a kids play area with several small slides and fountains, and a lazy river. This Bismarck waterpark is fun for kids of all ages, and parents will love that it’s small enough to easily keep an eye on everyone. If you’re looking for a great deal, head there in the late afternoon for their twilight pricing from 4pm-8pm of only $10 per person.

Check Out The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

lewis and clark

If you’re looking to really learn more about the Lewis and Clark expedition, head to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive center outside of Bismarck. In the exhibits at the center, you’ll learn how the expedition prepared for their journey, the tools and materials they packed to prepare, and how they planned where to go. The center also highlights the role of Sacagawea on the trip and how vital she was to the journeys success (such a great topic to discuss further with kids). Sacagawea great addition to both the female and native history of our nation. If you’re visiting Fort Mandan as well, visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center first so you will have a better understanding of the expedition when you get to Fort Mandan to see where they stayed.

Explore Fort Mandan

Fort Mandan North Dakota

Fort Mandan was the winter camp for Lewis and Clark in Bismarck, before the explored the west. The fort has a visitor center with a recreated fort and several interesting displays to teach more about the expedition. The highlight for kids at Fort Mandan is the kids area to play at, complete with dree up costumes, a play tent to “camp in”, a dugout canoe that kids can pretend to paddle, and a life size model of Seamen, Lewis’s giant Newfoundland dog who accompanied the expedition. The fort is located about 45 minutes from Bismarck.

While you’re there, make sure to take a tour with one of the park rangers to walk you through the recreated fort and describe the area to you. Tours leave hourly and take just under one hour.

Have A Blast At These Fun Bismarck Restaurants

Bismarck and Mandan are packed full of super fun and exciting places to eat that are sure to be a hit with the entire family. Here are some of our favorite local places to eat in Bismarck:

Copper Dog Café, Mandan

copper dog cafe mandan

Breakfast is hands down my favorite meal to eat out for, and the waffles at Copper Dog Café were incredible. I especially loved that there was a good combination of sweet and savory options so you can find exactly what suits your mood and dietary needs! We tried several different options and all decided that the Banana Nut was by far the most delicious.

CraftCade, Bismarck

craftcade bismarck

If you’re a lover of the 90’s and delicious food is your thing, you’ll love the CraftCade. The restaurant is part arcade and part restaurant/brewery. It’s packed full of arcade games that are included for free with your meal and their New York Style pizza is amazing. The best part about the menu is the names of the dishes like “The Fresh Prince Pizza”, “Pac-Man Pretzels” and “The Ace Ventura Sandwich”. On Sundays the restaurant is open to all ages, and the rest of the week it’s exclusively 21 and older.

Sickies Garage Burgers, Bismarck

sickies garage bismarck

Sickies makes the best burgers in Bismarck and the fries and drinks are amazing as well. If you’re wanting a burger with EVERYTHING, make sure to try the Big Shot, loaded with pineapple, fried egg, fried pickles and their special sauce – it’s AMAZING. The sweet potato fries with Rusty Bucket seasoning were also out of this world!

Space Aliens Grill, Bismarck

space alien Grill Bismarck

This place is a serious riot! While the food here was just fine, the atmosphere took it over the top. Our kids loved walking all around the restaurant and looking at the cool space memorabilia while we waited for our food. There’s also a little arcade here with most games costing $1-2 to help add a little more fun and excitement to your meal!

Bismarck has a lot of fun things to do with kids. The town offers places to eat, play arcade games, go to the museum and participate in outdoor activities. With everything Bismarck has for families, it is a good place for a vacation or just as stop on your next road trip!

What is the best time of year to visit Bismarck?

Bismarck can be visited any time of the year, but summer (June through August) is the most popular due to warm weather and numerous outdoor activities. However, if you enjoy winter sports, you might consider visiting in the colder months.

What are the best historical sites in Bismarck?

Bismarck has several historical sites, such as Fort Abraham Lincoln, the former home of General Custer, and the On-A-Slant Indian Village. The North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum offers exhibits on the state’s history.

What’s the best way to get around Bismarck?

Bismarck is relatively small and easy to navigate by car. There is also a public transportation system called Capital Area Transit, and taxis and rideshares are available.

What special events and festivals are held in Bismarck?

Bismarck hosts several events throughout the year, including the Downtowners Street Fair in September, the North Dakota State Fair in July, and various cultural events at the United Tribes International Powwow.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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