With a rich history, gorgeous scenery, and vibrant cities, North Dakota offers visitors the best of both country and city living. Walk the pathways followed by explorers Lewis and Clark in the morning, then head into energetic downtown areas for an afternoon of shopping. Book a stay at a vacation rental in North Dakota for your Thanksgiving getaway, and look forward to unforgettable memories.

1. Bismarck

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Get your Thanksgiving off to a great start at the CFA Turkey Trot in Bismarck. Race options include 5K and 10K runs and a 5K competitive walk, as well as a fun walk for the less competitive. The race starts early, leaving plenty of time for a leisurely Thanksgiving meal and to watch the football games back at your vacation home. Take advantage of the great shopping opportunities downtown on Small Business Saturday. From fabulous art at Gallery 52 to one-of-a-kind heirlooms at Bismarck Antique Mall, downtown Bismarck makes it easy to get a head start on your holiday shopping.

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2. Fargo

Source: Flickr/Matt Zimmerman

For a Thanksgiving getaway you won’t soon forget, head to Fargo. Granite City Food and Brewery serves up a three-course, family-style Thanksgiving feast sure to satisfy your holiday cravings, or if you prefer a more casual atmosphere, Marlin’s Family Restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet throughout the afternoon. Saturday and Sunday bring Santa and Mrs. Claus to the city’s annual Santa Village at Rheault Farm. Elves, live reindeer, and sleigh rides delight the younger members of your party while you savor the beauty of the gorgeous light displays and nibble on homemade cookies. Consider bringing a new or gently used toy for donation.

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3. Dickinson

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If great shopping is essential to your vacation experience, check out Dickinson’s Black Friday and Small Business Saturday promotions. Be sure to wear plaid on Friday, and keep your eyes out for local businesses displaying a plaid ribbon. These go-plaid locations offer discounts to any customer wearing plaid on Black Friday. On Saturday, downtown is the place to be, with more super sales, carolers, and vendors selling warm drinks and tasty snacks. Keep your eye out for Santa’s arrival by horse and buggy at some point during the afternoon. For a dramatic addition to your vacation, drive over to nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a glimpse of the Painted Canyon.

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4. Williston

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North Dakota is known for its wild terrain, and one of the best ways to experience that wildness is from a kayak or canoe. A vacation rental with a garage makes it easy to store your boat when not in use, and late autumn is the perfect time to look for wildlife and birds without foliage obscuring your view. Try an easy float down the Missouri following part of the famous route taken by the explorers Lewis and Clark, then learn more about their expedition by taking the walking tour at nearby Lewis and Clark State Park. On Saturday, head into town for the annual holiday stroll with great local shopping, s’more-making stations, and train rides.

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5. Grand Forks

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Make Grand Forks your Thanksgiving vacation destination for fabulous shopping, a hip art scene, and beautiful hiking trails. For your feast, head to Altos in the Canad Inn or Eagles Crest Grill at the Kings Walk Golf Course. Both offer bounteous buffets with all the traditional favorites plus their own house specialties. If you’d rather eat in the comfort of your vacation rental without spending hours in the kitchen, pick up a fully cooked Thanksgiving feast at Hugo’s Grocery or Super One Foods. Be sure to place your order in advance. Head to the theater district to see a holiday show over the weekend. The Nutcracker ballet is an annual tradition at the Chester Fritz Auditorium, and the Empire Arts Center hosts holiday musicals throughout the season.

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6. Crosby

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If running’s your thing, but you’d rather spend Thanksgiving Day eating, consider a Thanksgiving vacation in Crosby. Crosby’s annual Turkey Trot 5K Fun Run/Walk takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving, starting at the community center. There’s a pancake breakfast after the event, and same day registration is allowed. When you’re not running, visit the Writing Rock State Historic Site to see prehistoric Native American hieroglyphics. Visit near sunset for a spectacular display against the vast North Dakota horizon.

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7. Jamestown

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The art scene is alive and well in Jamestown, with The Arts Center frequently offering special exhibits during the holiday season, including holiday decorations in the outdoor Art Park space. Head downtown on Friday to see art in action at the illuminated Holiday Dazzle Parade. Let the magical atmosphere put you in the holiday spirit. Take an afternoon to immerse yourself in Native American culture at Frontier Village, and wonder at the size of the world’s largest buffalo sculpture, standing 26-feet tall and weighing over 60 tons. For comparison, admire the bison herds that roam around edges of the village, but be sure to stay a safe distance from these wild animals.

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8. Minot

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Get your Thanksgiving off to an active start at the Magic City Turkey Trot in Dakota Bark Park. Costumes are encouraged, and many participants sport turkey hats and Pilgrim garb. After your run, prepare a scrumptious Thanksgiving meal at your vacation rental, or go out to Hometown Buffet for all your Thanksgiving favorites served up in a casual atmosphere. If you’re interested in the area’s Scandinavian roots, save a day to explore the Scandinavian Heritage Park. The park features traditional Scandinavian buildings to tour, a giant Dala horse, and statues of famous Scandinavian Americans.

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9. Garrison

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If you love an old-fashioned holiday celebration, spend your Thanksgiving weekend in Garrison for its Dickens Village Festival. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, Garrison transforms into a quaint Victorian town. This family-oriented event includes a lighted parade, Victorian-style entertainment, and house tours. Shop for unique presents in the craft-vendor area, then stay into the evening for the annual performance of Dicken’s
“A Christmas Carol.”

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