Perhaps most people would not write ‘spend a winter weekend in Fargo, North Dakota’ on their bucket list. But I’m not most people.
Fargo is my other home. For the moment I consider myself a northern nomad, splitting time between Fargo, the city across the river from Moorhead (and my alma mater); Minneapolis, the place I’ve recently fallen in love with; and Rochester, the home of my northern roots.This past New Year’s weekend, the Fargo-Moorhead area became the place of my desire to celebrate, relax and refresh. Truth be told I spent about a week here, but a weekend in one of the coldest cities in America would be a good start, too. Below I’ve crafted a non-exhaustive insider’s guide to one of my fave cities in the North. See if you can visit before the snow melts!
You may not be able to depart for Fargo-Moorhead until the evening, but that’s all good, since the nightlife in Fargo is one of the best ways to start your weekend.
Their casual, neighborhood-like atmosphere is a great setting for a passion project meeting (decent WiFi, and you can order in pizza!), Bananagrams with friends or strangers, and live music sessions every single night. Plus, their Peanut Butter Bandit is the only beer I craved while abroad and the first I chased when I came home. It’s that good.
Hopefully you checked into the HoDo – the Hotel Donaldson – when you arrived to town. The art-inspired rooms, artisanal drinks in the dreamy lounge and the prime location on downtown’s revitalized Broadway street make the HoDo the perfect place to rest your head for the weekend.
Start your morning with a pastry and tea (or coffee) at Nichole’s Fine Pastry downtown. Grab a paper or magazine and catch up on the local news so you can prepare to converse with the Fargoans about how their city is creating their own entrepreneurial ecosystem. Take a walk down the street to Aendee where secondhand materials can be upcycled into accessories, like bow ties. If you have a piece of clothing and a story behind it, even better. Witness your old memories be transformed into new life.
The best local bookstore, Zandbroz Variety, can be found on Broadway. Bookseller recommendations, local authors and more can be found in this cute shop, but the main reason I go is undoubtedly for the handmade cards section. Unglued Market is another fun shop further up Broadway that supports local makers, and hosts events like craft fests and retreats.
Despite several good lunch options in the area, I tend to gravitate towards 20 Below Coffee for their community lunch hour. Fridays are potluck, but every other day you bring your own lunch and sit and chat with people. See if you can get there before they shut down the coffee bar from noon to one (for the community lunch hour) to grab something off their always-changing, but glorious seasonal menu.
If you’re feeling brave and resilient, a sunny afternoon in Fargo can be spent outside. Stretch your legs and walk the loop around Island Park, located by the downtown YMCA, or wander Fargo-Moorhead for the art murals.
When you’re ready to warm back up, grab a hot chai at Stumbeano’s (entrance in the alleyway) – their chai is my fave in town. Then, it’s time for an early dinner.
If you’re in the mood for feeling fancy, Rustica in Moorhead is a lovely option with an adventurous dinner platter. If you’d prefer casual, the Wurst Bier Hall has marshmallow dipping sauce with sweet potato fries, which is hands-down the best fry-sauce pairing I’ve had in the area.
A weekend to Fargo would be incomplete without a Theatre B show – so time your trip accordingly. The ensemble-based theatre performs new and cutting-edge work that makes you think, feel and want to grab a drink afterwards for more conversation. Try the Front Street Taproom after the show for a variety of local brews because, really, it’s hard to choose a favorite in town.
Begin your morning with a matcha tea at my latest obsession, Young Blood Coffee. For coffee they brew Four Barrel: a roasting company that is both ethical and sexy (words from Four Barrel, endorsed by me). The minimalistic design and natural daylight will give you the energy boost you crave for the last day of your trip.
Remember Stumbeano’s? Right next door is The Boiler Room, one of the best bets for brunch downtown. Like Stumbeano’s, you’ll find the entrance in the alleyway, as the restaurant is located under Broadway. The underground, cozy feel is a plus while you escape the bitter cold.
If you’ve ever found yourself curious about what a mobile sauna can do for your health, see if you can rent one for the afternoon. Folkways is a beautiful community building venture, and you should be sure to check out what they may be up to before you head to town (see: Christkindlmarkt, Frostival, etc).
The historic Fargo Theatre is one of the best parts about Fargo. The restored theatre offers the rare opportunity to catch independent and foreign films, and it’s a wonderful place to see live shows, too. This definitely is a must-see before you leave town!
You’ve likely gathered that my entire guide to Fargo-Moorhead is stationed in downtown Fargo as well as Moorhead. The two cities – sometimes referred to as the ‘other’ Twin Cities – are growing immensely, and there’s much that the area offers beyond what I’ve shared here. But since I lived in downtown Fargo and Moorhead, these neighborhoods became my highlights.
The greatest part about the small-ish city is that you can leave your car on the outskirts of downtown Fargo for free and spend the weekend on foot (except when you want to cross the river).
In case it isn’t obvious, I’m very much in love with Fargo-Moorhead, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. It seems that others feel similarly – every time we go, we find ourselves itching to return for more.
Thanks to Bri Lee (brilee.co) for the beautiful photos.
Post by: Amber Morgan. While Amber considers her soul nomadic, she’s also a proud advocate for the North. When she’s not on the road or abroad, you can find her in Fargo, Minneapolis or Rochester, Minnesota. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.