Fargo, ND, does not have a good reputation, which is exactly why my 13 year old and I decided to visit.
Perhaps best known for the 1996 Oscar-winning film Fargo by the Coen brothers about a kidnapping that goes wrong — the film ends with a dead body in a wood chipper — the city has struggled to regain its reputation ever since. The movie-inspired TV series, which was recently renewed for a fifth season, hasn’t helped.
My eldest daughter, Anya, spent our spare time watching true crime documentaries and listening to the local police scanner (we’re crime fanatics through and through), and thought Fargo would be the perfect place for us to bond over the outrageous. Wood chopping machines, the potential for body snatching and all the blood that went into our favorite movie.
We had a lot of expectations: It would be a very sleepy community that says “geez” in every sentence, that has a lot of diners and a lot of farmers. And while the Fargo Police Scanner may not be very active, it may contain some interesting stories (we said fingers crossed).
We were wrong about everything.
The draw for many tourists are hockey and wrestling championships (the USA Wrestling Junior and 16U National Championships wrapped up here this summer), according to the Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. Other visitors stop by so they can check out the city from their bucket list to travel to all 50 states. Then there are — like us, about 20 percent of other dark tourists — who find themselves in Fargo because they are interested in the movie or TV series, according to the Visitors Bureau.
But anyone who has spent time in Fargo over the past few years will notice that far from the isolated farming community that produces canola oil and snow a ton, people may or may not be pushed into wood chippers.
It is thanks to the efforts of officials and residents of Fargo, who are tired of the way outsiders view their city. So they made a concerted effort to change its reputation.
In 2001, North Dakota State University acquired an vacated downtown ranch warehouse and implementation agency and converted it into the university’s Departments of Architecture and Visual Arts, and the Tri-College University office. The move alone has brought thousands of students (and funding) to the area, said Mike Allminder, president of The Kilburn Group, a redevelopment group based in Fargo.
In 2002, the city launched a major redevelopment plan with projects spanning 15 years, including massive tax incentives to reinvest in downtown Fargo and restore the entirety of Broadway (the main downtown street). The 2017 plan outlined strategies to bring in more housing and businesses, and to convert some streets into pedestrian walkways.
The entire city center – about 100 blocks – has been transformed from plot after plot of vacant parking and buildings to area sports boutique stores, James Beard Award-winning restaurants, a popular university and community plaza.
In the past four years, public and private investments have reshaped Fargo with more than $300 million. Fargo now looks like a little mix between Toronto and Madison, Wisconsin. It’s full of one-of-a-kind cafes and shops, local foods, and exotic attractions – perfect for a weekend getaway.
And my 13-year-old verdict: It wasn’t crime-packed at all, unfortunately. But she was so focused on shopping that she almost forgot to listen to the scanner.
Anya shopped in Paris, London and New York. And here’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d write: she now prefers the stores in Fargo to those elsewhere in the world. It’s relatively inexpensive, quirky, and you won’t find duplicates anywhere else.
Those looking to shop can spend all day on Broadway. Downtown Fargo doesn’t have chain stores, so Broadway is full of little shops selling everything from comic souvenirs to high-end clothing.
The unpolished market, on Broadway, feels like Fargo’s Etsy. It holds jewellery, cards, stickers, candy, candles, and a small selection of children’s T-shirts and sweaters, most of which are handcrafted by local artisans. We chose a mix of homemade hot chocolate, stickers for my daughter’s phone, and a postcard that said “Cheber Greetings from Fargo”.
Stop a few doors down at Kindred People, which is owned by a mother and daughter. The store sells the coolest clothes from silly T-shirts – “You betcha” – to ripped jeans and high-end accessories. Its sale section is incredible, with many items reduced to $5. I got a T-shirt that read, “Mama needs coffee,” to which Anya agreed, which is indeed a rarity. I got a crop top that can be used as a doll shirt.
When you’re done on Broadway, head to Main Street (a three-minute drive away), where you’ll find Mint + Basil, a teen and young adult’s dream. Anya said it was her favorite store in the universe (well, except for Lululemon, obviously). From trendy ribbed cabinets to home décor items to office accessories, this is the kind of store you go to when you want to pamper yourself without spending a fortune: It feels like a very modern designer put this one together, and it’s a definite dopamine booster.
We came to Fargo expecting fried food, diners and lots of meat. The chefs here had other things in mind. We were out of place, in fact, Anya had to go back to Kindred People to buy new clothes so she’d be cool enough for our dinner.
One of Fargo’s best restaurants is in a mall on a quiet street side, but that’s just another surprise Fargo has in store. Luna Fargo, located in the University of South Drive, was originally a coffee shop. It still looks like one, albeit filled with the aroma of steak, polenta, and garlic. In 2015, chef Ryan Nitschke and his business partner, Nikki Berglund – who also own and operate Nova Eatery (a food truck-style restaurant that opened in late September) and Sol Ave Kitchen (in Moorhead, a sister city to Fargo, connected to the Junkyard Brewing Company). , serving street food) – Turn the coffee shop into a full-service restaurant.
A native of Fargo, Mr. Nitschke earned a James Beard nomination for Best Midwest Chef and two AAA Four Diamonds. The highlight of the menu is the cheese platter, which is large enough for two people; It is stinky and varied and comes with both local and imported selections. The dinner menu rotates frequently, but everything is caught, killed and milked locally, if possible.
Exit the shopping center and park on a rooftop in downtown Fargo. Fargo has a slew of new rooftop restaurants, but 701 Eateries, on University Drive North, which opened last year, stands out because its rooftop, called Camp Lone Tree, has a fireplace, curling, bean bag games and truly excellent food. After a few drinks and appetizers, head downstairs to 701 Eateries’ Prairie Kitchen, originally an old-fashioned dairy, for Nordic cuisine and the best night out in Fargo. Anya and I have spied a ton of couples on first dates, thirds, and anniversaries, along with groups of people celebrating work dinners and bachelorette parties. It was a scene. Fried Brussels sprouts are one of the best dishes you will ever eat; And everyone needs to try Rommegrot, whether you have a craving for a Scandinavian pudding or you’ve never heard of it.
Or maybe you’re craving a bagel with home-cured graflax, luxurios, pickled fennel, and baby greens, with a side of latkes. You might assume that this wouldn’t be possible in Fargo, where the Jewish population is less than 1,000, and most likely closer to 400. (Total Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo population is 250,000; in 2019 there were 200,000 visitors).
But as a Jewish New Yorker currently living in Chicago, I can now say that the best Jewish food I have ever visited was BernBaum, on Broadway, a five-year-old Scandinavian Jewish restaurant in downtown Fargo. Anya couldn’t beat the fine but lackluster coffee and bread with rare species of fish piled high.
Rosewild is one of Fargo’s newest hot spots, located inside the trendy new Jasper Hotel on Broadway. This is the place to see and be seen, but it’s also the place to dine on Chef Jordan Hayes’ creations. Mr. Hayes specializes in fermentation, smoking, curing and pickling, and this is in just about every dish.
Anya and I obviously didn’t spend a lot of time visiting all the breweries in Fargo, but it was impossible to miss as we wandered downtown. The Fargo Brewing Company in University Drive North is a favorite here even for puppies (they host many dog-friendly events), and their beer is distributed throughout the state and in other parts of the Midwest. Stop by their tasting room to try the staples, limited editions, and experiments.
A whole museum about buffaloes? you betcha. One of the best things to do in the area (technically, about a 90-minute drive from Fargo, in Jamestown) is to visit the only National Buffalo Museum, where you’ll learn everything you never knew you wanted to know about the American bison. There’s also a 60-ton bison made of cement, which is almost a mandatory photo, because you’ll probably never see this again.
North Dakota is also the second largest producer of sunflowers (South Dakota ranks first), and peak sunflower season arrives in August, although you can still find tons of sunflower fields in September. If you drive in any direction for 15-20 minutes, you’ll be sure to get to the sunflower field when it’s in season. To look for sunflowers more systematically, check out a map of the North Dakota Tourist Office. This was a huge success for my daughter, who took enough selfies to fill her Instagram and Snapchat stories for weeks. Fortunately, we found a field where we were completely on our own, so this wasn’t too painful for me.
And since you’re in Fargo, you can also stand by the original wood chopping bracket. It’s in the Fargo Moorhead Visitor Center, located inside the grain elevator. You can even pretend to push the prosthetic leg into the slicer. There is also a signed original text.
At the Plains Art Museum, in a relatively small International Harvester repository, you’ll find a mix of local, national, and international artists, with an emphasis on contemporary Native American artwork. The museum offers tons of classes, from pottery to printmaking, which is especially appealing to kids who don’t tend to enjoy just staring at the art on the walls (no names mentioned).
However, Fargo’s cultural scene does not end with the art museum. Full of surprises, Fargo is the smallest city in America with a professional opera company, Fargo Moorhead Opera. We visited in the off season so were unable to attend, but this year’s productions include “The Marriage of Figaro” and “La Bohème” along with a one-act comic opera called “Bon Appetit!” Based on Julia Childs TV Show.
Oh, and if you come here and expect to walk around all the legendary filming locations in Fargo, you won’t be so lucky. The majority of Fargo was filmed in Minneapolis. Oh strange.
places to stay
A shiny new place to stay in downtown Fargo opened in 2021, and it’s the talk of the town. The Jasper Hotel is a reflection of everything the new Fargo aims to achieve: Located on Broadway in the middle of downtown, it feels like the ultimate boutique hotel. The pet-friendly hotel reflects a Scandinavian aesthetic and offers floor-to-ceiling views of the city, serves free Stumbeano coffee daily, and guests can wander downstairs to eat at the hotel’s Rosewild restaurant. Artwork by local artists adorns the walls, and Peloton bikes fill the fitness room. The hotel overlooks the Broadway theater, where pride flags were displayed every few feet.
#Geez #Fargo #classy