The 7 cutest small towns in North Dakota to visit in 2024

As one of the northernmost states in the country (it borders Canada!), North Dakota has much to offer the curious traveler. While tourist traffic here is a drop in the bucket compared to states like Florida (around 22 million versus well over 120 million in the Sunshine State), that doesn't mean ND isn't worth seeing.

On the contrary, this vast prairie state offers many good reasons to visit, not least because of its many pleasant little communities. Not only are these seven cutest small towns in North Dakota less crowded and overall more laid-back than most other U.S. destinations, but they're also worth visiting in 2024 for their natural beauty and historic charm.


The main street in the historic town of Medora, North Dakota. Image credit EQRoy via

With a population of just over 120 people, the small community of Medora definitely scores high in the “fun things to do” category. Located virtually directly off I-94, which connects Minnesota with Montana, Medora serves as the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a 70,000-acre area of ​​outstanding natural beauty popular with outdoor enthusiasts. The town has a close connection to President Theodore Roosevelt, who once ranched in the area.

Be sure to take a stroll down the town's small but attractive main street with its Wild West ambience, themed restaurants, quaint shops and charming hotels. Summer 2024 promises to be a great time to visit as the city celebrates the 55th anniversary of the popular Medora Musical, an entertaining outdoor show set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Badlands, featuring lively musical performances and an entertaining portrayal of Roosevelt's life and spirit by Roosevelt the American West.


Garrison, North Dakota is called the walleye capital of the world.
Garrison, North Dakota is called the walleye capital of the world. Photo credit: Andrew Filer via

Located on the shores of Lake Sakakawea, Garrison is not only a pretty town but also a nature lover's paradise. Lake Sakakawea offers opportunities for activities such as boating, fishing, and water sports, while Fort Stevenson State Park is popular for its hiking trails and historic fortifications. Downtown Garrison is fun to explore, especially in the summer months.

There's plenty of extra fun to be had if you visit Lake Sakakawea State Park in July. Events planned at the park in summer 2024 will include everything from live music to food to recreational activities, both on and off the water. Nature lovers will also appreciate the city's proximity to other natural wonders such as the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site and the scenic Lewis and Clark Trail.


The Geographical Center of North America Monument in Rugby, North Dakota.
The Geographical Center of North America Monument in Rugby, North Dakota. Photo credit Dirk Wierenga via

Rugby, known as the geographical center of North America, celebrates this fact with its Geographic Center Monument, which has become a popular selfie spot for visitors. After strolling through downtown, head to the Prairie Village and Museum. Comprised of preserved historic buildings, its exhibits and artifacts provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of early pioneers and the city's rich agricultural heritage.

Other fun things to do in Rugby include visiting the Northern Lights Tower. Just a short distance from the Geographic Center Monument, this 88.5-foot-tall steel structure celebrates the Aurora Borealis of the Northern Plains. Even though the Northern Lights cannot be seen, they still provide a unique viewing opportunity when illuminated at night.


Main Ave., Washburn, North Dakota.
Main Ave., Washburn, North Dakota. Image credit Ua747sp, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Washburn's picturesque location on the mighty Missouri River certainly adds to this small town's charm. In addition to exploring the Missouri River region (both on the water and from its banks), you can learn a lot about the region with a visit to Fort Mandan State Historic Site a few miles west of downtown Washburn. This fascinating recreation is famous as the camp where the Lewis and Clark Expedition spent the winter of 1804 to 1805 before venturing further west.

In addition to learning more about this famous expedition, exhibits and information are provided on the Lewis and Clark Trail, which offers a glimpse into the region's past and the crucial role it played in the exploration of the West. A fun 2024 event worth checking out is the Missouri River Bluegrass Festival, held in June.


Mayville State University, Mayville, North Dakota.
Mayville State University, Mayville, North Dakota. Photo credit Tammy Chesney via Shutterstock

The cute little town of Mayville is also worth a visit. Located in the scenic Red River Valley, Mayville offers a nice introduction to authentic small-town life in North Dakota with its pretty tree-lined streets and quaint town square. Just west of town, be sure to visit Island Park, a great picnic spot with water views.

The presence of Mayville State University gives the city life and has a small but attractive campus that is great for strolling. Be sure to snap a photo of the picturesque Mayville Lutheran Church, which is celebrating its 151st anniversary this year.


Downtown street in Casselton, North Dakota.
Downtown street in Casselton, North Dakota. Image credit In memory of a record holder, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Casselton is a prairie and wheat town through and through. Located just off I-94 and just a short drive east from the city of Fargo, it is a perfect example of a typical Midwestern farming town with a small but pretty downtown that has changed little over the decades. Be sure to visit Governors Park, a downtown attraction with exhibits about local leaders.

It's also a great place to spend time outdoors, with Casselton Reservoir/Tinta Tawa Park offering pleasant lakeside green spaces to relax in. If you're planning a visit to this area of ​​North Dakota in 2024, try to plan it for late July to coincide with the always fun Casselton Summerfest.


Downtown Lisbon, North Dakota.
Downtown Lisbon, North Dakota. Image credit Andrew Filer (In memoriam afiler), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Known for its historic Main Street, Lisbon perfectly embodies the essence of small-town life in North Dakota. The location in the beautiful Sheyenne River Valley doesn't hurt either and certainly adds to the city's appeal. Quaint Main Street runs parallel to the Sheyenne River and is home to unique boutiques, cozy cafes, and art galleries featuring works by local talent.

A great time to travel in 2024 will be August. At this time, Hoppel's Arena hosts the annual Ransom County Fair and Rodeo, a fun event for the entire family.

Each of these cities is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression with its unforgettable character and charm. In addition to the locals' warm hospitality that makes travelers feel at home, their rich cultural traditions reveal much about North Dakota's heritage. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast, a culture explorer, or just fascinated by local history, these seven cutest small towns in North Dakota are worth visiting in 2024.

Anna Harden

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *