Blooming prairies, herds of bison, meandering rivers, and small-town pride — if this sounds like your ideal summer getaway, then you need to make North Dakota your next vacation destination. Located in the northern part of the Great Plains, this expansive state offers plenty of opportunities for both outdoor recreation and city exploration. Book a stay at North Dakota vacation rentals for your upcoming getaway. Check out the top summer cities and towns in the “Peace Garden State.”

1. Fargo

a merry-go-round at red river zoo
Source: Flickr / Fargo-Moorhead CVB

Book a vacation rental in North Dakota’s largest city for days of family fun. Start your trip at the Red River Zoo, where you can see wolves, river otters, and the rare Pallas’s cat. Your kids will love the 1928 Allen Herschell carousel. Worried about food? Concession stands give out popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream. For more outdoor adventures, see the historic pioneer buildings and interpretive exhibits at Bonanzaville in nearby West Fargo.

If you are looking to get out of your vacation rental for the evening, then check out the many bars and breweries in Fargo. Fargo Brewing Company and Drekker Brewing Company are both on hand for quality artisan beer.

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2. Grand Forks

river paddling

Located on the Red River, Grand Forks offers plenty of summer fun on the water. Be sure to bring your canoe or kayak to your vacation rental, as you will not want to miss a scenic ride on the river. Summer is also a time of special outdoor events in the historic downtown section, including the Town Square Farmer’s Market. Fresh food is available for purchase here, and live music adds to the fun.

For more fast-paced fun, go catch a car race at River Cities Speedway, complete with a clay track. Grab a bit to eat at the historic The Kegs drive-in restaurant and enjoy delicious Sloppy Joe’s and root beer from the comfort of your car.

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3. Bismarck

a bear in a zoo
Source: Flickr / William Andrus

Bismarck’s unique-looking capitol building is a must-see site. The building is 21 stories tall and is open for tours. Summer is a great time to visit the capitol site, as the surrounding acres showcase beautiful flowers and trees, The Arboretum Trail takes you through the grounds, and Capitol Cafe offers a welcome chance to relax and eat.

Super Slide Amusement Park is a place of outdoor fun for all ages. Rides include a giant slide, roller coaster, and Ferris wheel. Want to get up close to grizzly bears, alligators, and pythons? Stop by the Dakota Zoo for an afternoon with animals from near and far.

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4. Valley City

a country house at valley city
Source: Flickr / Andrew Filer

Known as the “City of Bridges,” Valley City is a great place to explore in the summer. Take a tour of the city’s many bridges by foot, a great way to spend a calm summer evening. You will also not want to miss the great shopping opportunities downtown, with gift shops, a quilt shop, and antiques ready for you to explore.

City parks are a great place to take the kids. Head over to the Valley City Park Bandshell to experience Music in the Park outdoor concerts. If you want to add fishing and boating to your to-do list, Lake Ashtabula is only a short drive away.

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5. Jamestown

a bison buffalo herd

If a summer vacation in a small prairie town sounds more up your alley, then check out vacation rentals in Jamestown. Bison rule this town, with the World’s Largest Buffalo Monument standing guard over the community. Learn about the place of bison in American history at the National Buffalo Museum, where you can also view live herds.

Head over to Jamestown Reservoir for a day of summer fun swimming, walking, or enjoying a picnic. For dinner, you may want to check out Sabir’s Buffalo Grill, where steak, shrimp, and a selection of beer and wine await you.

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6. Medora

wild horses in theodore roosevelt national park
Source: Flickr / Roderick Eime

For a true Great Plains experience, plan a stay in Medora. Nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a massive park full of prairie wildlife, hiking trails, and ranger-led programs. Horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and wildlife watching await you. For a fun outdoor day with friends, check out the scenic Bully Pulpit Golf Course.

Musicals and other live events take place in Medora during the summer, including the famous Medora Musical. For an interesting dining experience, try Pitchfork Steak Fondue, where chefs actually cook meat on pitchforks old-time style.

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7. Walhalla

a moose bull

If you value outdoor scenery and recreation, then check out Walhalla’s vacation rentals. This small town lies close to the Canadian border and is surrounded by scenic hills. This “Moose Capital of North Dakota” is a great place for wildlife watching, with moose, elk, grouse, and pheasant calling the surrounding countryside home.

The Pembina River is a popular spot for summer water fun, especially canoeing and tubing. Nearby Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area and Tetrault Woods State Forest provide space for hiking, horseback riding, and biking.

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8. Garrison

garrison outdoor park
Source: Flickr / Justin Meissen

Garrison is another place for fun on the water. Lake Sakakawea is a popular summer fishing place here. It features several boat launches, so don’t forget to bring your boat your vacation rental. City park attractions include an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, picnic shelters, and playgrounds for the kids. Hit some balls at Garrison Golf Course, or go for a stroll through nature at nearby Fort Stevenson State Park.

Take the family to Four Seasons Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor for a full meal and cooling soft served ice cream. For drinks under the summer sky, head over to the “backyard” of Lazy J bar for an enjoyable evening with friends or your significant other.

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9. Lisbon

sheyenne savanna
Source: Flickr / Justin Meissen

Lisbon is a great choice for vacation rentals if you want a small-town stay with plenty to do. During part of the summer, the Lisbon Farmer’s Market offers delicious farm fresh food. Check out the schedule for Movie in the Park to catch a classic while relaxing on your lawn chair or blanket beneath the stars.

Sheyenne National Grasslands is a place where you can enjoy the now rare tallgrass prairie in all its glory. Be sure to bring your binoculars to view native prairie birds and mammals. Nearby Fort Ransom State Park has trails for hiking and waterways for canoeing.

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10. Devils Lake

casino roulette table chips

Sunny beaches await you at Devils Lake. This great summertime hot spot is perfect for swimming or setting out the beach chair to relax in the sun. Boating and fishing are two other popular summertime activities here, with walleye, bass, and pike providing a welcome challenge to anglers. For a fun evening of gaming and fine dining on the lake, nearby Spirit Lake Casino is the place to go. Be sure to also head to downtown Devil’s Lake to explore its many small shops.

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