Five ways to step back into Idaho’s living Western heritage

Sacajawea Interpretive Center Salmon Idaho

History lives in Idaho. Firstly, attend a powwow to experience this living history . Soak up the atmosphere and watch the dancers spin. Listen to the chanting and drumming of a tribal culture that dates back hundreds of years. Six first nations people call Idaho home. Their living cultural diversity is ever-present and fascinating to learn more about. So,check out the exhibits at the Visitors Centre at the sprawling Nez Perce National Historical Park and get a trail map to help you explore. The Nez Perce, who call themselves the Nimiipuu, still live in the prairie lands west of the Bitterroot Mountains, part of the Nez Perce reservation. Then, drive the Northwest Scenic Byway. This section of US Highway 12 gives visitors access to some of the Lewis and Clark sites, places related to the Nez Perce Trail and pioneer era history. 

nez Perce Natl. Historical Park Visitors Centre
Idaho. Lewiston. Nez Perce Visitor Center and Museum.

Take a tour of the Idaho Penitentiary

2. The Idaho Penitentiary, opened in 1872 in the capital of Boise. and was home to some of the old west’s most desperate criminals. While there, experience over 100 years of Idaho’s unique prison history with a visit to Solitary Confinement, cell blocks, and the Gallows. It’s a chance to relive the Old Pen’s exciting past of daring escapes, scandals and executions.

history lives in Idaho at the ID Penitentiary
The Idaho Penitentiary image credit Caroline Davidson

Walk in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark

3. Lewis & Clark’s mission to explore the Louisiana Territory, northwest from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean, took them through 16 states. They followed the Lolo Trail (a section of  the Nez Perce Trail – the path of Chief Joseph and his tribe’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to reach Canada). Next, they travelled through the harsh landscape of the Bitterroot Mountains then along the Clearwater River heading west through Idaho. Ending their journey where the city of Lewiston now stands. It was in Idaho that they met Sakajawea, a Lemhi-Shoshone woman. Sakajawea is credited as instrumental in the success of their exploration and crucial to their survival.

Lewis and Clark Visitors Centre Museum

Full Idaho history immersion with extraordinary museums.

No ordinary museums here! Head to Moscow the Appaloosa Museum’s self-guided exhibits, interactive kid’s area and learn that Idaho is the birthplace of the this coveted and beautiful spotted horse breed.

Onwards to Blackfoot you’ll find the quirky and surprisingly entertaining Idaho Potato Museum. Idaho, of course, is famous for its potatoes but the history of the industry is engrossing. If that isn’t your jam (or perhaps your mash), then seeing the world’s largest Pringle or Marilyn Munroe wearing a potato sack is definitely worth the price of admission!

Lastly, don’t forget to have your picture taken with the big potato out front! I’ve been there several times and can’t wait to go back next visit to Idaho. Spuds rule!

Another not to miss is the Basque Museum and Cultural Center in Boise.

Marilyn Monroe makes a surprise exhibit at the Idaho Potato Museum
Idaho Potato Museum

On a mission– history lives in Idaho

The Cataldo Mission in Coeur d‘Alene’s Old Mission State Park, is Idaho’s oldest building. It was founded by Catholic missionaries and Coeur d’Alene tribe between 1850 and1853. Historically it is also the oldest surviving mission in the northwest. Its exhibits, parish house and Jesuit church are an illuminating window on the complicated relationship between the European settlers and one of the Idaho tribes.

Cataldo Mission history in Idaho
The Cataldo Mission, Coeur d’Alene Old Mission State Park

Fargo North Dakota <3 Being North of Normal …and so will you.

Five ways Fargo explodes the myths about this cool North Dakota city (spoiler alert: expect the unexpected!):

 

Downtown Fargo ND Fargo North Dakota

So far, so good! This city shot to fame around the world among cinema goers when Fargo, the 1996 Coen brothers’ dark comedy film hit the screen and won the Oscar for best original screenplay.

It depicted a cartoon stereotypical picture of a quirky, almost mythically miserable Midwestern town. But Fargo the town wants you to know it’s moved on and suggests you do likewise.

No.1: Fargo North Dakota is a hick town out in the middle of nowhere.

Fargo is actually a bustling progressive university city ( the largest community in North Dakota) only an hour’s drive across the North Dakota border from the large metropolis that is Minneapolis-Saint Paul. It is admittedly fairly flat but far from in the middle of nowhere!  For a midwestern city Fargo is a little off-center: in a good way. Hence the slogan, North of Normal. Visit Fargo and you’ll find it surprising and far above the norm.

Red River Fargo

The Red River devides Fargo form Moorhead, its sister city.

Oh and these days Fargo is formally known as Fargo -Moorhead as it is bordered on the Minnesota side by its sister city. The Red River runs through the two communities and is the natural boundary.

No 2: The weather sucks in Fargo.

Fargo gets cold in winter. Really cold. Fargo is not bitterly cold all year long and is far from the barren tundra depicted in the movie or the TV show of the same name. Did we mention snowmobiling, ice fishing, Frostival Festival??

Snoga- yoga at the Frostival Festival, Fargo, North Dakota     Fargo North Dakota Frostival

Frostival, Snowga, winter, Fargo, North DakotaThere are snowy winters like many similar locations in the US but from April to October Fargo has a short-but-sweet spring, followed by a hot summer (think 80–90-degree days on average), and a spectacular fall or autumn.

No.3: Fargo North Dakota natives speak with a thick accent and say funny things.

Well yes, there is an accent and a charming Midwestern way of saying things that is very appealing. But no, not everyone in Fargo says ‘don’tcha know’ at the end of every sentence!

But contemporary culture of all types abounds in Fargo; Fargo Blues Festival, Fargo Film Festival, Fiber Arts Festival and so much more. If you’re stuck in the 90’s, and the Woodchipper from the film is your must-do thing, you must first of all visit the Fargo Visitors Center where you can still have your picture taken with it wearing the famous trappers’ hats.

RedHawks play Fargo North Dakota    

The woodchipper on display form Fargo the Movie

Fargo movie woodchipper, Credit: North Dakota Tourism

No.4:  There’s nothing much to do in Fargo North Dakota.

Fargo is a mecca for young people and has developed all the vibrant facilities and fun that a university town should have- and then some. There are theaters, museums, breweries and major events, concerts and festivals. There are people here from all walks of life and from around the globe as Fargo (and North Dakota generally) is known for its friendliness.

Attractions are many and varied and appeal to all ages: from the Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm, Red river Zoo, The Fargo Air Museum, the Plains Art Museum and the historic  Art Deco theater, to Bonanzaville, the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony Orchestra or Opera, to Fort Abercrombie and the Bergquist Pioneer Cabin, you can satisfy, your craving for art, culture, history and entertainment here.

Fargo ND entertainment  Street Fair Fargo orth Dakota

The FargoDome holds up to 25,000 people and receives popular attractions from Monster Jam to Elton John and Celine Dion.

No.5 You wouldn’t want to live here (but want to know why the locals do)

Well, many people would disagree. In fact,  Fargo North Dakota was  named #8 on Livability.com’s 2020 List of the Top 100 Best Places to Live in the U.S. … and 6th Happiest City in the U.S.

It has the amenities of a large city with the attitude of a small one. While centered around agriculture it i s fast developing as a place for diverse and forward-thinking entrepreneurs and tech start-ups ( Fargo has been dubbed the Silicon Prairie).

Fargo art deco theatre Classic Fargo North Dakota  Fargo a thriving modern ND city

If your needs are more prosaic and great food and beverages are your scene, Fargo’s got you covered. Oh, and FYI to translate some local jargon: to some folks here, supper means dinner. Dinner means lunch. But breakfast pretty much still means breakfast.

From up-and-coming local craft breweries to uniquely local dining options you’ll be spoilt for choice. From Himalayan Yak, to Sons of Norway to Twenty Below Coffee, it’s a culinary voyage of discovery. Or take advice from a local foodie and sample charcuterie, coffee sand creamery delights: https://www.fargomoorhead.org/food-drink/article/a-locals-guide-to-where-to-eat-in-fargo-andrea-from-proof-distillers/

Fargo is a hidden gem of nightlife, food, art, and frankly, fun.

Or if sport is your jam?

Fargo has 17 ice rinks, 7 full size golf courses, 58 basketball courts and 30 baseball fields; well, you get the picture! If you’re a spectator, the Fargo Force is a tier one Ice Hockey team and there is baseball, horseracing, American football and on it goes.

American football in Fargo North Dakota  Fargo North Dakota has 7 golf courses

So,  geez, come and experience Fargo, North Dakota; you just might want to stay awhile, doncha know?  You betcha!!

Find out more

Frago North Dakota- North of Normal