North Dakota
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Discover 14 of the Best Small Towns in North Dakota

North Dakota may be a land of towering buttes, bison herds, and majestic national parks, but the Peace Garden State is also home to charming small towns that showcase the very best of the Midwest in the heart of the Great Plains.

From scenic expanses of land where Lewis and Clark and Teddy Roosevelt once roamed to the geographic center of North America and the “Walleye Capital” of the state, North Dakota is a wonderland in the plains waiting to be explored.

Medora-North Dakota
Medora | photo via heyfeeney


Located in the Badlands, Medora has always been BIG little city in North Dakota, beckoning locals and visitors with history, scenery, and entertainment.

The famous Medora Musical celebrates the American West in a fun spectacle and outdoor enthusiasts can explore the majesty of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, characterized by its towering buttes. Visitors can learn more about Roosevelt’s well-lived life at local museums, historic sites, and even have brunch with T.R. himself.


Known as the geographical center of North America, Rugby oozes small-town charm and its unique geography is marked by a monument that makes for a cool photo op. Visitors can also climb the Northern Lights Tower for panoramic views of the area or duck into the Victorian Dress Museum, which houses more than 200 authentic dresses and offers a unique look into fashion.


Situated along the shores of Lake Sakakawea, Garrison invites locals and visitors alike to get hooked on all it offers. As the “Walleye Capitol of the World,” Garrison is a natural hotspot for fishing and hunting and is home to the North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame. Fishermen of all ages can visit City Park to snap a selfie with 26-foot Wally the Walleye.

Garrison is a popular wintertime destination too. As the home of the popular Dickens Village Festival, it has also been dubbed the “Christmas Capitol of North Dakota.”

Tommy Turtle Park-Bottineau
Tommy Turtle Park | photo via wegobecky


Traversed by famed explorers Lewis and Clark more than 200 years ago, Washburn invites visitors to learn about its connection to the famed explorers. History buffs can explore the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, which features exhibits and artifacts related to their journey, and the reconstructed Fort Mandan, where the Lewis and Clark expedition spent the winter of 1804-1805.

Just outside Washburn, travelers can discover Prairie Bells Grotto, a natural rock formation with towering cliffs, caves, and picturesque views of the Missouri River valley.


Nestled at the foot of the Turtle Mountains, Bottineau is a four-season paradise that’s also home to the state’s best ice cream. As the Gateway to the Turtle Mountains, Bottineau is a gateway to NoDak hidden gems.

Don’t miss a chance to snap a photo with Tommy the Turtle, the world’s largest snowmobile-riding turtle who’s over 26 feet tall.

On the western edge of the Mountains, Mystical Horizons, the “Stonehenge of the Prairie” includes stone and cement structures designed to view solstices and the equinox.

Bottineau is also a gateway to the 53-mile Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway, which includes hidden gems like Coghlan Castle, the International Peace Garden, and Lake Metigoshe State Park.

Devils Lake

There’s not a bigger draw at Devils Lake than the picturesque lake itself — a top fishing destination that’s stocked with walleye, perch, white bass, and northern pike. Eager anglers can fish on their own or hire a guide to take them to the best spots. 

Travelers can also enjoy a slice of Las Vegas in North Dakota at the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort.

Visitors can have further outdoor adventures at White Horse Hill National Game Preserve just south of town which includes miles of trails that wind through different habitats and are the home of deer, ducks, birds, and other animals.

Pembina Gorge-Grafton
Pembina Gorge | photo via cj_dettler


Whether you’re looking for more of the small-town experience or a getaway from the big city, Grafton has something to accommodate every visitor. Locals and visitors can take their pick of activities, choosing to explore more than four miles of bike paths in one of the state’s most bikeable cities.

Leistkow Park is an all-in-one family destination whose amenities include campsites, an 18-hole Frisbee golf course, a playground, athletic courts, and a family pool.

Golfers of all abilities can test their skills at the nine-hole Fair Oaks Golf Course and the seasonal farmers market offers fresh goods and fun theme nights.


One of the oldest towns in North Dakota is right on the US-Canada border and is the gateway to the Rendezvous Region, enticing visitors with beautiful lakes, clear lakes, and access to the nearby Pembina National Forest and Pembina Gorge.

Scenic beauty aside, Pembina is a town steeped in history, and history buffs can learn about Pembina at the Pembina State Museum, and sites like the historic Pembina County Courthouse, Home of the Oxcart Trails and the Metis Culture.

Valley City

Known as the City of Bridges, Valley City is home to different crossings — ranging from the 3,860 Hi-Line Bridge to the scenic Rainbow Bridge to the 255-foot Hospital Bridge. Taking a walking tour of these structures is a great way to exercise while getting an up-close view of history.  

After touring the bridges, visitors can stop into the Valley City State Planetarium for a unique night sky view, visit the Native American burial grounds at Medicine Wheel Park, or learn about the town’s history at the Rosebud Visitor Center.


Crosby has around 1,000 residents, but it’s the perfect getaway for folks who like discovering small towns.

Fans of history can visit the Pioneer Village (by appointment only), a living history museum that offers glimpses into the area’s past. The Writing Rock State Historic Site is another can’t-miss landmark where visitors can view majestic thunderbird carvings inscribed on a pair of boulders.


Nestled southwest of Fargo, Lisbon offers something for visitors of all interests. As the southern terminus for the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway,  Lisbon invites adventures to explore the secrets of the Sheyenne River State Forest and Fort Ransom State Park.

In town, visitors can catch a show at the Scenic Theater, which proclaims to America’s oldest continuously running theater. Two doors down, the Lisbon Opera House, which dates to the 1890s hosts historic tours and community events.


Once the home of a King Kong-like structure named “Og,” Harvey is an outdoor escape for North Dakotans and visitors alike at the headwaters of the Sheyenne River.

Adventurers can take advantage of numerous opportunities to explore the outdoors. Harvey is linked to the North Country National Scenic Trail, providing the perfect getaway for outdoor relaxation. The Butte De Morale is just 6 miles northeast too, inviting visitors to gaze upon one of the many vertical wonders that dot the Plains landscape.

Walhalla | photo via gregpondercpa


Situated near Pembina Gorge, Walhalla is one of North Dakota’s oldest settlements and is steeped in history, but offers plenty of excitement for visitors too. The Gingras Trading Post State Historic Site offers a glimpse into Walhalla’s rich history.

For a scenic view of the gorge, make sure to take the Rendezvous Region Scenic Byway.

Outdoor enthusiasts will love playing a round or two at Walhalla Country Club, a nine-hole course at the edge of Pembina Gorge, or catching some air at the Frost Fire Ski and Snowboard Area.


The “Western Gateway to the Rendezvous Region” offers history, nature, shopping, and outdoor recreation opportunities all rolled into one charming small town.

Start north of town and experience the majesty of the Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area. Head back to town and indulge in some retail therapy or dive into history at Cavalier County Dresden Museum. Nearby Mount Caramel Dam Recreation Area offers all-seasons enjoyment for all ages too. 

Navigate Your Way to North Dakota’s Small Towns

With access to some of the state’s most scenic areas, unique museums, and historical sites, North Dakota small towns have something to offer every traveler. Whether you’re basking in the sight of Pembina Gorge, following the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, or casting a line for walleye, you’ll discover the beauty and Midwestern charm of North Dakota.