City Nights & Northern Lights

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A 14-Day Two-Nation Sample Itinerary
From the Itineraries Midwest Spring 2009 Issue

Travel to one of the most diverse and unspoiled destinations on the North American continent. The northern lights still appear in the night skies in remote areas, yet the cities offer a wealth of entertainment and shopping temptations. Great for groups of all ages!

Explore Minnesota………………………………888-VISITMN
North Dakota Tourism………………………….800-435-5663
South Dakota Department of Tourism………………800-S-DAKOTA
Travel Manitoba………………………………….800-665-0040


Minneapolis & Saint Paul, MN

9:00am – 12:00pm
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul are not identical twins. Minneapolis’ contemporary, sleek skyscrapers contrast with Saint Paul’s European-style architecture. Enjoy a city tour including Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall, Guthrie Theater, Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden. In Saint Paul, the Victorian homes on Summit Avenue lead to the Saint Paul Cathedral, State Capitol, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Science Museum of Minnesota, James J. Hill House, and the Minnesota History Center.

12 – 6:00pm
Groups are greeted upon arrival at Mall of America®. A mall representative will assist with shopping materials and share some of the history of this “city within a city.” The USA’s largest shopping/entertainment center beckons shoppers with over 520 stores for tax-free shopping and 50 restaurants that appeal to a variety of tastes.

6 – 11:00pm
Enjoy an evening of entertainment in the Hennepin Avenue Theater District, Chanhassen Dinner Theater, or the Plymouth Playhouse.


Minneapolis/Saint Paul to Bemidji, MN (230 miles)

8:00am – 12:00pm
Travel the Great River Road along the Mississippi River to Little Falls, MN. Relive Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic with a visit to the Lindbergh Home and Interpretive Center.

12 – 1:30pm
In Bemidji, a giant statue of Paul Bunyan, mythical giant lumberjack, stands by Lake Bemidji with his blue ox, Babe. Legend says Paul’s footsteps formed Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes when he and Babe took a walk after a rainstorm.

1:30 – 5:00pm
In nearby Itasca State Park, the Mississippi River trickles out of a spring-fed lake, beginning its 2,552-mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors can walk across the headwater stones or a log bridge. Naturalist-guided excursions are available.


Bemidji, MN to Winnipeg, MB (229 miles)

8:00am – 1:00pm
From Bemidji, travel north to Winnipeg (Manitoba’s capital), a cosmopolitan city with an exciting and diverse range of attractions, activities, dining, shopping and people.

1 – 3:00pm
With roots as an early fur trade hub, and later a gateway to Canada’s pioneer west and a center of commerce, Winnipeg boasts rich history. Explore stunning turn-of-the-century architecture while strolling the streets of the Exchange District, a National Historic Site, and taste the old world charm of over 45 restaurants and cafés.

3 – 5:00pm
Climb aboard a replica ship from the fur trade era at The Manitoba Museum, or take a glimpse into the life of a voyageur at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site. Tour the Royal Canadian Mint to see how Canada makes their currency.

5 – 9:00pm
Spend a little time at one of the city’s two casinos. Evening activities include dinner theatre, Broadway musicals, gaming and dining.

Year-round festivals dot the social calendar of this urban oasis on the prairie. The world’s largest multicultural festival, Folklorama, in August and February’s “Kitchen Party” at the Festival du Voyageur are just two of the over 140 festivals you can enjoy throughout the year.


Winnipeg to Riding Mountain National Park, MB (142 miles)

12 – 4:00pm
Heading west along the Trans-Canada/Yellowhead Highway, take time to smell the lilies at Neepawa’s Lily Nook and visit the Margaret Laurence Museum, a living memorial to its author. Turn north onto Highway 10 and end up in Riding Mountain National Park, a wild and wonderful mecca with its cool lakes, rushing rivers and dense green forests. It is home to elk, deer, black bear and other magnificent wildlife, along with its own herd of bison, which roam the range at Lake Audy.

Enjoy the evening at the nearby townsite of Wasagaming or Clear Lake, located in the heart of Riding Mountain National Park. They offer shops, restaurants, a movie theater, a museum, visitor center, marina, accommodations and a championship golf course.


Riding Mountain National Park to Boissevain, MB (115 miles)

9 – 11:00am
Depart early and spot the wildlife as you drive south to Brandon. This is Manitoba’s second largest city with a population of 47,000.

11:00am – 2:00pm
Rich agricultural heritage is showcased at the Daly House Museum and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, where pilots from throughout the Commonwealth trained for World War II.

2 – 5:00pm
A warm prairie welcome awaits you in Boissevain, voted one of Canada’s most beautiful towns. It features outdoor art murals, the Moncur Gallery, the Irvin Goodon International Wildlife Museum, Walkinshaw Place’s map of Canada fields, and Dueck’s Cedar Chalet for a homemade meal.

5 – 7:00pm
Boissevain is located just north of the International Peace Garden in Dunseith, North Dakota. This 2,339-acre botanical garden commemorates peace between the U.S. and Canada. It has 155,000 flowers and is open all year with peak flowers in July and August.


Dunseith to Minot, ND (90 miles)

9 – 10:30am
The Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway covers 24 miles through the tree-covered Turtle Mountains with beautiful lakes, lush foliage and an abundance of wildlife.

10:30am – 12:00pm
In Minot, visit the Scandinavian Heritage Park. This Nordic heritage park features the Gol Stave Church Museum, a Danish windmill, Finnish sauna, a 240-year-old Norwegian log house, a replica stabbur, Swedish Dala horse, and visitor center.

12 – 3:00pm
The Roosevelt Zoo offers educational displays, zoo tours and more than 200 mammals, birds and reptiles.

3 – 4:00pm
Tour and sample wines at Pointe of View Winery. North Dakota’s first bonded and commercial winery offers a variety of experiences on North Dakota native fruits and sampling of the product.

4 – 6:00pm
Minot’s unique restaurants offer entrées ranging from pheasant to elk, in addition to more standard selections.


Minot to Bismarck, ND (110 miles)

9:00am – 12:30pm
Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site in Stanton was home to the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians and last occupied in 1845. This site has remains of three Hidatsa villages, with 210 depressions and the home of Sakakawea, as well as a modern museum, visitor center and a reconstructed earth lodge. Open year round.

12:30 – 3:30pm
In Washburn, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is a world-class interpretive site along the route Lewis and Clark traveled on their “voyage of discovery” more than 200 years ago. Nearby is the reconstructed site of Fort Mandan, winter home of Lewis and Clark, the Corps, and Sakakawea from 1804-1805.

3:30 – 6:00pm
In Bismarck, you can choose from a variety of activities. The North Dakota Heritage Center has one of the world’s largest collections of Plains Indian artifacts, second only to the Smithsonian. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, located on the banks of the Missouri River, includes On-A-Slant Indian Village—a Mandan Indian village which thrived for 200 years. Near the village is the Fort Abraham Lincoln Visitors Museum, displaying exhibits relating to the life of the Mandan Indians and the military history of the fort. Before you leave the park, tour the 7th Cavalry Commissary, barracks, horse stables and the Custer House—the last home and command of General George and Libbie Custer.

6 – 9:00pm
Conclude the day with a relaxing ride on the Lewis and Clark Riverboat.


Bismarck to Medora, ND (128 miles)

9 – 11:00am
Make a stop in Richardton at Assumption Abbey, a historic Bavarian Romanesque Catholic Church built in 1909 and identified by its twin spires. The Abbey library, gift shop, wine cellar and shop are open by request.

11:00am – 1:30pm
The Ukrainian Cultural Institute in Dickinson features folk art, research library, Ukrainian exhibits and food items.

1:30 – 4:00pm
Medora, an authentic Old West cow town, was founded in 1883 by the Marquis de Mores and named for his wife. Tour the 26-room, 2-story house known as the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site. The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame offers Western heritage and history of life on the plains with homesteaders and trail drivers, American Indians, rodeos, and the impact of the horse.

4 – 5:30pm
The Billings County Courthouse Museum holds memorabilia, history of the county and courtroom stories of cowboys. Bully the Play, a one-man performance from the Broadway play, presents the life of Theodore Roosevelt as president, father, husband and hunter in the North Dakota Badlands.

For dinner, experience Pitchfork Steak Fondue, a unique western steak meal served at the Tjaden Center on the bluffs, offering a spectacular view of the scenic Badlands. After the Fondue, sit back and enjoy the Medora Musical, a Broadway-style musical show staged outdoors in the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, which is carved into a Badlands canyon. Western entertainment and a patriotic salute are part of each show. Trail rides, mountain biking, hiking, museums, many gift shops and restaurants are bustling during the summer season.


Medora, ND to Deadwood, SD (220 miles)

9:00am – 12:00pm
Take a morning loop drive through Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The colorful North Dakota Badlands provide the scenic backdrop to this park. Named for the 26th U.S. President, the park memorializes his contribution to conservation. At the entrance to the South Unit of the park, tour the Visitors Center and Theodore Roosevelt’s Cabin from the Maltese Cross Ranch.

12 – 3:00pm
Enjoy a picnic lunch at the park followed by horseback riding, mountain biking, or hiking along the marked trails of the Badlands on the Maah Daah Hey Trail, or canoe through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the Little Missouri River.

3 – 7:00pm
Depart Medora for historic Deadwood, SD and enjoy a historic tour, learning about the 1876 gold rush and the colorful characters that passed through here.

Try your luck at gaming or visit historic attractions. In summer months, see re-enactments of the “Murder of Wild Bill Hickok” and the “Trial of Jack McCall.”


Deadwood to Black Hills to Rapid City, SD (112 miles)

9 – 11:00am
Travel on Hwy 385 to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, America’s Shrine of Democracy. This drive offers views of Pactola Lake, pine-covered mountains, and lush meadows.

11:00am – 1:00pm
Crazy Horse Memorial is a work in progress of a mountain-sized man and his spirited horse. Hill City offers many area artists’ shops on Main Street.

1 – 8:00pm
Board an historic 1880 train. Experience this relaxing 20-mile round-trip ride between Hill City and Keystone. Back in Keystone, enjoy activities like shopping, presidential attractions, exploring Black Hills caves, touring a gold mine, or panning for gold. Evening entertainment includes a lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial.


Rapid City to Black Hills to Rapid City, SD (147 miles)

9:00am – 12:00pm
Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop offers opportunities to watch for 1,500 bison as well as pronghorn, deer, prairie dogs, elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep in this 71,000-acre wildlife preserve.

12 – 2:00pm
Travel south to Wind Cave National Park and enjoy a tour of unique box-work formations in the fourth longest cave in the world.

2 – 4:00pm
Hot Springs offers The Mammoth Site, an active paleontological dig site. Their current mammoth count is 61, with 58 Columbian and 3 woolly mammoths.

4 – 5:30pm
The Journey Museum in Rapid City gives a wonderful overview of the Black Hills from the Lakota and white man’s perspectives. Downtown Rapid City is a mecca for shoppers looking for Native American art. Black Hills Gold Jewelry tours are available to see how this unique jewelry is made.

5 – 8:00pm
Join cowboys for a chuckwagon dinner, complete with singing and entertainment, at the Fort Hays Old West Town & Dinner Show.


Rapid City to Mitchell, SD (288 miles)

9 – 10:30am
Travel east on I-90 to the town of Wall, where a little country drug store (Wall Drug) became famous for offering free ice water, and now features one of the largest collections of original western art in the country.

10:30am – 1:30pm
Travel the SD Hwy 240 Loop through Badlands National Park and enjoy the spires and pinnacles of this 244,000-acre wilderness area.

1:30 – 4:30pm
Traveling east on I-90, you’ll find the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center in Chamberlain, offering artifacts as well as modern day Native American art.

4:30 – 6:00pm
Continuing east, attraction choices in Mitchell include the World’s Only Corn Palace, the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village and Dakota Discovery Museum.


Mitchell, SD to Austin, MN (261 miles)

8 – 11:00am
Tour Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s largest city, where options include a tour of Falls Park, the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science, the Outdoor Campus, the Great Plains Zoo, and great shopping opportunities.

11:00am – 3:00pm
Crossing the border into Minnesota, have lunch at a local restaurant in Pipestone. Since 900 A.D., Native Americans have gathered catlinite (soft stone) from the quarry at Pipestone National Monument for peace pipes. Visitors can learn the history of Native American culture at an interpretive center, watch Native American craftspeople carve the pipestone, and walk through the quarry.

3 – 7:00pm
Stop in Albert Lea and enjoy dinner and other group-friendly accommodations.


Austin to Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN (112 miles)

10:00am – 12:30pm
George A. Hormel began life in an 1861 log cabin, and then went on to build a meat-processing empire in Austin. The most famous Hormel product, SPAM®, became linked forever with World War II as a staple for allied troops.

12:30 – 2:30pm
En route to Minneapolis, visit Cabela’s (it’s not just for sportsmen) in Owatonna. A 35-foot mountain replica is inhabited with 100 trophies of wildlife species. See native and predator fish in a walk-through aquarium, snack on an ostrich or buffalo burger, and visit the art gallery. Depart for Minneapolis to conclude your City Nights and Northern Lights adventure.

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