There are so many interactive things to do in Jamestown, North Dakota, that we didn’t want to leave. Trust us when we say that you’ll want to discover Jamestown on your next summer vacation.
Located between Fargo and Bismarck on Interstate 94, Jamestown has a perfect mixture of interesting and interactive things to do. In this post, we’ll share a few of the things we discovered on our first (and won’t be the last) visit to Jamestown, North Dakota.
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Fuel up at Babb’s Coffee House
But first, coffee. Start your day off right at Babb’s Coffee House. This over-the-top-with-friendliness coffee shop was one of our favorite places in Jamestown. Coffee is made-to-order just the way you like it. And when I say they can make anything – I mean anything!
In addition, Babb’s Coffee House is a large space with plenty of room to spread out for a private conversation or to get some work done.
Memorabilia from the owners’ family as well as lots of cool art adorns the walls. And then, there are the baked goods. Made fresh daily with love, the pies and pastries were divine!
Best of all are the friendly folks who will greet you at the counter. It’s the kind of place you’ll want to visit again and again. We were in town for less than 48 hours and stopped there three times. Definitely put this place on your list of things to do in Jamestown.
Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site
We’re not sure we’ve ever seen another state preserve history quite as well as North Dakota. The State Historical Society brings history alive all around the state and the Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site is no exception.
You’ll want to plan a couple of hours for a visit to this venerable building. Take a docent-led tour to hear about its history and prepare to have fun!
The building is full of old offices set up as they were when the building was in use as a courthouse. What we liked best is that you don’t just look at the rooms. You immerse yourself in them.
Not only did we try on some period garb, we also tried out some of the old office gadgets and had so much fun stamping documents and making phone calls on the antique phones. We bet you’d never have included stenography and manual typewriting on your list of things to do in Jamestown, yet here they are.
Discover Jamestown through a walking tour
Jamestown is home to famed western author, Louis L’Amour. We took some time to enjoy the fresh Dakota air while strolling the streets in his footsteps on the self-guided walking tour that includes the local library. We had fun checking out some of the historic sites that influenced his writing and helped inspire some of the greatest Western stories ever told.
Download the walking trail HERE or pick up a paper copy at the Jamestown Library downtown.
Things to do in Jamestown: Visit Frontier Village
No visit to Jamestown would be complete without a visit to Frontier Village. Made up of original buildings from actual frontier villages in North Dakota, this “main street” has been filled with historical artifacts and interesting displays. You’ll want to take your time here to do a little exploring as you immerse yourself in history. We even found ourselves immersed in a jail!
Try the pie at Jonny B’s Brickhouse
A delicious thing to do in Jamestown is to head down to Jonny B’s Brickhouse. We enjoyed sampling the local beers on tap as well as hot pizza from their wood-fired oven. They have unique pies like “The German,” and “Peanut Butter Jalapeño Pepperoni” pizzas.
Jonny B’s also offers burgers, sandwiches, wings, and more. We loved the lively atmosphere that showed us this was clearly a favorite among locals.
Discover why Jamestown is called the “buffalo city.”
Right there at Frontier Village, you’ll find Dakota Thunder, the world’s largest buffalo. Standing 26-feet tall and weighing in at a svelte 60 tons, sculptor Elmer Petersen’s cement creation has been a popular roadside attraction for more than 50 years.
Also in the area is the National Buffalo Museum. Take some time and stop in to learn why this animal has been so important to the history and ecology of North America. The museum is home to artifacts, information and artwork related to bison.
It’s also home to Jamestown’s bison herd. You can stand on a hillside and watch these majestic creatures graze in the grassland below. You’ll definitely want to include time here on your list of things to do in Jamestown.
Travel tip: This museum has a fantastic gift shop and is a great place to purchase your ND souvenirs.
Discover frontier life in Jamestown at Fort Seward
From 1872 to 1877, the Union Army set up camp in Jamestown at Fort Seward. From there, they mostly oversaw construction of the railroad through the area. Today, Fort Seward offers visitors a thoughtful interpretive center filled with firearms and other artifacts excavated from the site.
It also offers camping, RV hookups, and the largest US flag on display in North Dakota.
Volunteers have worked hard to bring Fort Seward back to life, and they offer immersive living history programs, family activities, and more.
They also provide an opportunity to camp in conditions like the soldiers would have experienced. Tent, straw beds, campfire site, and a fantastic overlook view are all provided. Click HERE for more information or to book.
Have a meal at Sabir’s Buffalo Grill
Feeling famished? Head over to Sabir’s Buffalo Grill downtown. There you’ll find a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and bar with great drinks, beers, and wine.
With a kitchen serving up everything from steaks and burgers to wraps, salads and pasta, this restaurant a must on your list of things to do in Jamestown.
While you’re in the area…
After visiting Jamestown, head out and explore central North Dakota. Like in Jamestown, you’ll find a lot of immersive things to do.
Ronald Reagan Missile Site
Due to its location in the center of the North American continent, North Dakota is home to a number of nuclear missile bases.
Over the years, the military decommissioned many of the bases under the START Treaty with the former Soviet Union. While the Air Force destroyed the closed bases, North Dakota’s forward-thinking State Historical Society asked to preserve one of them. The Air Force Agreed, and so we have the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site.
Stepping into the base means stepping back to the mid-1990’s, the day the base was closed. You see it just as the soldiers who worked there did, right down to the magazines of the era on the rack.
As part of the tour, you get to ride the elevator down to the bunker below. You’ll view the control panels from which missiles could have been launched in the event of war. You’ll learn about the safeguards in place and actually be able to see the launch keys that could have ended the world as we know it.
The base’s address is listed as Cooperstown, though it is actually about 4 miles north of there in the middle of an empty field. It’s interesting to think of what lies below the surface…
Dakota Sun Gardens Winery
Near Carrington, North Dakota, you’ll find a winery unlike any other. Dakota Sun Gardens Winery sits in the middle of the prairie in beautiful gardens. Enjoy views of their expansive gardens while sipping wines they’ve carefully crafted from fruits grown on their property and nearby farms.
Haskap, aronia, chokecherry, and raspberry are some of the fruits used in crafting their wines. This results in unique flavors likely different than those you’ve had before. We had fun sampling and even purchased a couple of bottles of these award-winning wines to bring home with us.
Pipestem Creek Lodging
If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay, one possibility is Pipestem Creek Lodging. Located just outside of Carrington, this property offers a variety of cabins and lodging types as well as RV hookups and is ideal for nature lovers and birders.
Here, you can stay in a cabin or in more rustic accommodations like a nicely renovated corn crib. We enjoyed exploring the well-maintained trails on the property and checking out the vintage farm antiques for sale.
Central North Dakota
With so many things to see and do, Jamestown and central North Dakota are a must visit on any road trip through the midwest. We had so much fun immersing ourselves in this area, and we think you will, too.