48 Hours in Fargo – New Mobility

I’m a professional traveler and many people like me have certain goals (some admittedly silly) when it comes to traveling. Some want to visit all seven continents or a certain number of countries at a certain age. I turned 49 in September 2023 and was determined to visit all 50 states before I turned 50. So, a few months before my birthday, I made a plan to visit Wisconsin as number 49 and North Dakota as number 50. Milwaukee was easy, but North Dakota turned out to be logistically more difficult.

I live in Orlando, Florida, and there are no direct flights to Fargo, my chosen destination and the largest city in North Dakota. Technically, I could fly there with a stopover, but that posed a couple of problems. First, traveling by plane these days is crazy. A layover means more opportunities for my luggage to get lost, more opportunities for delays, and more opportunities for me to get hurt during transfers between my power wheelchair, an airport aisle chair, and an airplane seat. Additionally, there are no on-demand wheelchair accessible taxis in Fargo or public bus service between the airport and downtown, so I didn’t know how I was going to get from the airport to the hotel.

I decided to do something out of the ordinary and add a little adventure to the mix. I would use Delta frequent flyer miles to fly nonstop from Orlando to Minneapolis. I would spend one night there, take the Greyhound bus (the first one) direct to Fargo, spend two nights there, and reverse the entire process to return home. In both Minneapolis and Fargo, I found hotels just a few blocks from the bus stations so I could rely less on local transportation.

Now I had to decide what I was going to do in Fargo. I contacted the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau to help me put together an itinerary of the best things to do and places to visit in a short period of time. Here are the highlights of my 48 hours in my 50sth status as a wheelchair user.

Day 1

Green sofa and desk in a modern hotel room with windows overlooking the city.
Travel and Leisure magazine named Hotel Jasper one of the 15 best in the Midwest.

Check-in at the Jasper Hotel. Once I arrived at the downtown Fargo Greyhound station, I walked a few blocks north on Broadway and checked into the beautiful Jasper Hotel. It is ideally located in the city center with easy access to dozens of shops and restaurants, and in 2022, readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine ranked it one of the 15 best hotels in the Midwest. The Jasper has a great restaurant and lounge on the ground floor, and the wheelchair accessibility in my ADA junior suite, room 1419, was phenomenal.

White woman electric wheelchair user sitting under a colorful mural with "fargo" at the top of a scene that looks like a postcard.
Fargo is home to a thriving arts scene.

Explore downtown Fargo and its murals. North Dakota weather can be extremely difficult to predict, so after checking in, I took advantage of the partly cloudy skies to spend the afternoon exploring downtown Fargo. The sidewalks are wide, the curb cuts are wide, and most businesses have buttons to open the doors. Being the art fanatic that I am, I was thrilled to discover that there are about two dozen beautiful hand-painted murals downtown, most of which are easy to photograph from a wheelchair.

Dinner at Rosewild. After spending half a day on a bus and several hours touring downtown Fargo, he was ready to enjoy a good meal inside the Jasper Hotel at an award-winning restaurant, Rosewild. The menu pays homage to the rich flavors of the region, drawing inspiration from local produce and North Dakota traditions. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a menu that includes burgers, steak, fish and pasta.

Day 2

Breakfast at BernBaum’s house. I make it a point to ask locals where they like to eat in any city I visit, and the bartender at my hotel was very emphatic that I eat breakfast at the iconic BernBaum’s, just a block away. It’s a traditional Jewish shop with Nordic influences, where you can find favorites like bagels, latkes, and homemade knishes. And instead of a number to take you to your table while you wait for your order, they will give you a friendly plastic animal.

A white woman using an electric wheelchair sits in front of a sign that says "The best of North Dakota for the latest club"
North Dakotans have developed a sense of humor about the fact that their state isn’t at the top of most people’s travel lists.

Fargo-Moorhead Visitor Center. It’s always a good idea to stop at the local visitor center if you’re exploring a new city, but this one, just west of downtown Fargo, is an important stop for two reasons. First, if North Dakota is your 50th status, you can join their Best for Last club. You will receive a certificate and a t-shirt congratulating you on your greatest achievement. Plus, you’ll see the infamous wood chipper used in the film. fargoautographed by the Coen brothers.

The Hjemkomst Center. Located across the Red River from downtown Fargo, this museum and cultural center in Moorhead, Minnesota, proudly displays the region’s Scandinavian heritage. In the late 19th century, one in three Norwegians immigrated to this area, which is part of the reason for the distinctive North Dakota accent, of course! You’ll be able to see a Viking ship and a replica of a medieval Norwegian church, as well as local artifacts and souvenirs.

A wooden Viking ship displayed in a bright, modern museum.
Hjemkomst Center showcases the region’s Scandinavian heritage

Lunch in pounds. If you love a great burger and fries in a 1980s-inspired atmosphere, Pounds in downtown Fargo is a great place for a late lunch.

Shopping in Downtown Fargo. I loved many things about the shops and galleries here. First, even if they are in older buildings, most have buttons to open doors and accessible entrances. Secondly, most are locally owned and it’s great to talk to the gallery and shop owners while you browse. Third, there isn’t a tacky souvenir shop in sight.

Museum of Plains Art. I was excited to take a private guided tour of this small but impressive art museum just a few blocks from Broadway in downtown Fargo. The holdings lean toward modern and contemporary art, but highlight North Dakota artists, indigenous themes, and community collaborations.

Dinner at Spaghetti Western. Good, hearty Italian food hits the spot after a busy day of sightseeing, and Spaghetti Western fits the bill. They make the pasta in-house, and on the menu you’ll find favorites like spaghetti with grandma’s meat sauce, pasta carbonara, and spinach ravioli. Don’t forget to finish with your tiramisu or cannoli!

Day 3

Breakfast at Marge’s restaurant. Another great recommendation from my hotel bartender, Marge’s, is a local institution and is located two blocks from Jasper. There’s Midwestern nostalgia everywhere and brunch, complete with mimosas, is served daily.

Closeup of a round accessible door opening button mounted on a wooden post.
Automatic door openers were so common in Fargo that Longmire began expecting them wherever he went.

Take the bus to the NDSU campus. While I love the lack of tacky souvenir shops downtown, it poses a problem when purchasing North Dakota-themed souvenirs to take home to friends and family. But inspiration struck and led me to take the very accessible public bus from my hotel about a mile and a half north to the North Dakota State University campus bookstore, where they have every type of gift you can imagine.

Gallery 4. A local art gallery owner saw my real-time Instagram posts about Fargo and invited me to visit Gallery 4 downtown. Before heading to the bus station, I had just enough time to stop by this charming space and do one of my favorite things: support local artists by purchasing one of their beautiful pieces.

While I feel like I saw most of what Fargo had to offer in my 48 hours, I wish I had the opportunity to stay a little longer. The accessibility was phenomenal, the people were very friendly, and the fall colors were just beginning to change. This little corner of North Dakota truly was best for last.

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