Bismarck is the capital city of North Dakota and the second most populated city in the state. A focal point of retail and health, Bismarck is the economic center of south-central North Dakota.
Situated on the Missouri river, the city is home to many green parks and coffee shops. Bismarck, ND offers a range of exciting things for travellers, so if you’re planning a visit, check out our guide on fun things to do!
1. Explore Dakota Zoo
Suitable for all ages, Dakota Zoo is one of the highest rated attractions in Bismarck, ND.
The park is spread over 90 acres and with over 600 animals representing 125 species, the zoo will keep the whole family entertained for hours! Kids can feed the farm animals in the petting area or enjoy a train ride around the zoo. There are also scavenger hunts, playgrounds, and bouncy castles.
Couples can enjoy picnics in the zoo’s beautiful grounds as well as hike a number of walking trails. There are often live musicians playing, as well as regular exhibitions. Wheelchairs and electric strollers are available to rent at the ticket office.
Priced at $12 for adults, $8 for kids and $10 for seniors, the zoo is highly affordable!
2. Discover North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum
If you’re looking to find out a little more about Bismarck and the surrounding area, then look no further than the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.
The museum is one of only 5 in the world which has a fossilized dinosaur on display! The exhibitions range from Native American history to underwater species, and even Ancient Earth. The center boasts an interactive treehouse area for children to explore. This area features a flight simulator, a bank, fire station, steamboat and more.
James River Cafe is situated in the museum, serving a variety of meals and snacks. Entrance is free and so don’t miss out on this must-visit!
3. Learn something new at Gateway To Science Museum
Bismarck, ND’s Gateway To Science museum is a hands-on science center and kids museum. The museum hosts several interactive exhibits to touch, play with and discover.
All ages are catered for at the center, from pre-schoolers to adults in an entertaining and educational environment. Pretty much every exhibit is hands-on and they cover a wide range of STEM related subjects. With over 90 exhibits and new ones constantly being introduced, there’s plenty to discover, even for repeat visitors. Staff are friendly, knowledgeable and always willing to help. With a new building on the way soon, the museum will be five and half times bigger than its current size!
The Gateway To Science museum often holds free family days so it’s worth checking out their website when you’re in town.
4. Check out the North Dakota State Capitol Building
Built in the art deco period of 1930, the North Dakota State Capitol Building is the tallest building in the state. The government building offers free tours or you can go alone if you want to explore at your own pace.
The building hosts the North Dakota hall of fame, featuring paintings and sculptures of some of the state’s most famous people. The senate chambers are also well worth a visit. The Capitol Building is an Instagrammers dream, with plenty of opportunities to capture beautiful shots.
The observation deck on the 18th floor offers stunning views of Bismarck and the surrounding area.
5. Be amazed at the Belle Mehus Auditorium
Home to a number of events, the Belle Mehus Auditorium is a beautiful, classic style auditorium. The building opened in 1914 and is featured on the National Register of Historic Places.
The auditorium is an integral part of Baismarck’s local community and hosts all kinds of events from live concerts to circus acts and even political events.
Visitors to the auditorium are always impressed with the views and acoustics offered. It’s claimed there isn’t a single bad seat in the house!
So, if you’re looking for a good way to spend the evening in Bismarck, check out the auditorium’s website to see what events are happening during your stay.
6. Have fun at SuperSlide Amusement Park
If you’re looking for a great day out in Bismarck, the SuperSlide Amusement Park is fun for all the family.
The family focused amusement park has a variety of rides such as go-karts, super slides, swings, bumper cars and teacups.
Sports fans will love the park and can choose from Bankshot basketball, batting cages and the 18 hole mini-golf course.
All attractions at the park can be used with the purchase of tickets from the ticket office. Prices for the rides and food are reasonable. Keep your eye out for ticket deals which are always updated!
7. Enjoy the Missouri River
At 3,767km, the Missouri river is the longest river in North America. Starting in western Montana, the river ends in St Louis, Missouri, where it meets the Mississippi river.
Many water activities are available on the river as it passes through Bismarck. Choose from boating, kayaking, water skiing and more if you’re the adventurous type.
The scenery is beautiful and there are benches and parks situated all along the river to just sit and watch the world go by.
The river boasts a great number of fish and is an excellent spot to do some walleye fishing. During the winter, many boating companies offer ice fishing trips on the river.
8. Chill out at Laughing Sun Brewing Co.
The first brewpub in North Dakota, the Laughing Sun Brewing Co. was opened in 2012. The pub is the perfect place to enjoy locally crafted beers and ales in an indoor and outdoor setting.
Members of the local community such as artists, musicians and comedians perform here and everyone is encouraged to get involved. There is live entertainment every day and night as well as special one-off events such as axe-throwing.
The brewpub is known for its high quality beers as well as food menu. The BBQ is regarded as the best in the city with the brisket and pulled pork being must-trys!
9. Play at Hawktree Golf Club
Widely regarded as the best course in North Dakota, the Hawktree Golf Club is Bismarck’s premier location for golf.
This uniquely designed 18 hole course is known for its stunning scenery and challenging holes.
Spread over 80 acres of land, the course has a variety of wildlife, beautifully kept grass, stunning views and incredible water features.
The Hawktree Golf Clubs offers lessons for beginners and experienced players alike and hosts the yearly competition: The Hawktree Club Championship.
After a day on the greens, why not sit back, relax and grab a meal and drink at the Hawk’s Nest Bar & Grill.
10. Indulge in some retail therapy at Kirkwood Mall
With 850,000 square feet of space, Kirkwood Mall is the largest shopping center in Bismarck, ND. If you’re looking to enjoy some retail therapy or enjoy some of the best dining options in the city, Kirkwood Mall has you covered.
Fashion fans love the mall for stores such as Target, Victoria’s Secret, JCPenney and H&M.
You’ll never be short of eating options with restaurants such as Five Guys, Blaze Pizza, Mamma Bear Cafe and Pancheros.
Kirkwood Mall is a clean and modern mall with something for everyone. If you’re looking to add something to your wardrobe, grab a bite to eat, or just do a little people watching, be sure to stop by.
11. Take a walk at Keelboat Park
Set alongside the beautiful Missouri river, Keelboat Park is a great place to ride a bike, jog or enjoy a walk.
The park is home to some excellent artwork and interpretive historic information. There is a replica keelboat and the sculptures in the park are made by students of the United Tribes Technical College.
Visitors to the park can sit alongside the river to enjoy a picnic, relax and catch the stunning sunsets.
There are boat rides which take you from the park and down the river and back. Alternatively, you can enjoy a walk along the highly rated walking trail.
12. Admire local art at Bismarck Art & Galleries Association
In 1983 the Bismarck Art & Galleries Association was founded and became the centerpiece for art in Bismarck, ND.
The gallery displays pieces from local artists and holds monthly exhibitions. The gallery’s website is updated weekly, so check out what events they’re holding during your visit.
The art gallery is a private, non-profit organisation which aims to preserve local culture from Bismarck. Staff at the gallery are exceptionally friendly and informative and attendance is free!
The gallery store sells paintings, wood carvings, pottery and artwork made by local artisans. So grab a souvenir or two as a reminder of your time in Bismarck, ND
13. Spend the day at Sertoma Park
Another beautiful park in Bismarck ND is the gorgeous Sertoma Park. Situated next to Dakota Zoo and the Missouri river, the park is a 3-mile length of riverside plain.
There are enough activities at the park to keep visitors entertained all day long. There are tennis courts, horseshoes pits and sand volleyball courts. Kids will never get bored exploring the number of new playgrounds.
Throughout the park there are poetry boxes. These encourage people to write and share poems. You can either write your own, or a favourite of yours and put it in the box for someone else to read.
The park has a 4-mile winding trail that interlinks with other trails in Bismarck, ND. Once you’ve enjoyed a stroll through the well-kept park, why not enjoy a picnic in one of the many shelters located in the grounds.
14. Play for high-stakes at Nickle’s Lounge & Casino
If you’re looking for the perfect place to kick back and unwind after a long day exploring the city, Nickle’s Lounge & Casino is the ideal place for you.
Nickle’s is the perfect place to grab a cocktail and play a few hands of blackjack alongside Bismarck’s high rollers. There are over 100 slot machines and other games include pull-tabs and darts.
The restaurant here is highly rated amongst visitors and the ribeye steak is one of the best in the city. Just be careful at the gambling tables after a few drinks, the cocktails here pack a punch!
15. Watch a game at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark
Home to the Bismarck Larks, the Bismarck Municipal Park is a great place to spend a few hours watching a baseball game.
The ground holds 1,900 spectators and gets lively during game day. The Larks play in the Northwood league and tickets can be bought through their website.
Even when the Larks don’t have a game, the ground is used by local college and school teams so there’s always something to watch!
FAQs on Things to Do in Bismarck, ND
What is Bismarck, ND known for?
Bismarck, ND is home to the first ever vehicular bridge to cross over the Missouri river: The Liberty Memorial Bridge. Built in 1922, for years, it was the only place within 500 miles where you could cross the river.
What’s the weather like in Bismarck, ND?
Bismarck has cold winters, with wind and snow being common and average temperatures at a low of -15°C and high of -4°C. Summers are warm, sunny and comfortable with an average high of 29°C and low of 15°C.
What are the most popular sports in Bismarck, ND?
Football, baseball and hockey are popular in the city. Bismarck is home to a professional indoor football team, the Bismarck Bucks
Come visit Bismarck, ND today
You should now have an idea of some of the great things you can do during your trip to Bismarck, ND. From luscious, green parks to museums to shopping malls, the capital city of North Dakota has it all and more.
There are plenty of things to do and see for all the family. Kids will love the zoo, the museums and the abundance of playgrounds. Couples can enjoy a romantic walk on one of the many trails, catch a live show together or enjoy a drink. Travelling alone? Go grab a drink and some great food at a local brewpub or bar.
If you’re spending time in North Dakota and looking to check out some other great things to do, take a look at our other guides of the state!