We started our recent trip through North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota with a short stay in Fargo. We had a few ideas on how to spend a Friday night – check out the Roger Maris baseball museum, grab dinner at a German hall and get a upclose view of the infamous wood chipper from the “Fargo” movie.
Well, as road construction would have it, our plan to do all of this on a Friday night failed by one thing – we didn’t get to see the wood chipper. We missed it by about 15 minutes. The visitors center closed at 8 p.m., and we hit town shortly afterwards. Not to be dismayed, we would check it out the next day.
So, on to our first true stop – West Acres Mall and the Roger Maris Museum. Maris eclipsed the single season home run record in 1961. The North Dakota native hit 61 homers in 1961, passing up the great Babe Ruth. Maris’ record came during a 162-game season. He basically committed baseball blasphemy in passing Ruth as the single season home run king. Major League’s commissioner had an asterisk placed next to the record to indicate it took more games to achieve (Ruth played a 154-game season). It would be removed a couple of decades later.
The museum is located in one of the sections of the mall. It’s free to the public. Attendance isn’t tracked, but there were a few people checking it out when we arrived.
We enjoyed checking out the memorabilia that highlighted Maris’ playing career and achievements beyond the 61 home runs. He won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award twice. He won the Gold Glove one season.
Maris appeared in seven World Series during the 1960s, which was the most by any player during that time.
Afterward, we checked out a painted buffalo display at the mall. Public art is always a good thing to us. The buffalo, which was painted by a Native American artist, represented several tribal beliefs and traditions.
We eventually made our way downtown. We stayed at the Radisson Hotel, which was centrally located to attractions and nightlife.
We walked around downtown and grabbed dinner at the Wurst Bier Hall. I expected a true German beer hall, with a large selection of German brews. I had planned to grab a Bitburger if they had it. They didn’t. I love Bitburger, from my Air Force days stationed near Bitburg. Lisa had warned me it wasn’t a real German place, but I still held out hope she was wrong. She wasn’t.
However, the Bier Hall had a nice selection of wursts. Lisa tried a Philly steak wurst, while I went with a wild boar wurst with a side of red cabbage. We both enjoyed our dinner.
After dinner, we decided to take a stroll around downtown. It was easy to tell that North Dakota State was back in session, because there were a lot of college-age kids running around.
We walked along Broadway Street. I liked the street corner décor that highlighted the area.
We walked along the closed shops, including Made in Fargo. We eventually made our way past another colorfully decorated bison. Again, a great public art idea!
We found the Fargo Theater. It’s a single screen theater. Started in 1926, the theater offers visitors a chance to watch independent and foreign movies. The theater has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside, you could see an old projector and a Wurlitzer organ among the items on display.
We were impressed with what we saw next – a life-sized wood carving of Marge Gunderson from “Fargo.” The police chief was portrayed by Frances McDormand in the 1996 film by the Coen Brothers. Has it really been almost 20 years since the movie was made?
After an enjoyable walk about downtown Fargo, we headed back to the Radisson. It’s an outstanding hotel. I love the modern lobby area. A bar sits just off the lobby. A few guests were there enjoying a night-cap.
We had a great room. Our king-sized bed was a “Sleep Number” bed. You can control each side of the bed by setting a number for preferred softness or firmness. I was like a kid with a toy. Mean Lisa took the remote away and made me choose a number for my side.
I liked the work station in our room. The Radisson truly impressed with a spacious and comfortable work area. The outlets. My God, the outlets! It was like they read our minds and knew we love having more than enough outlets for our electronic devices and battery chargers. The Wi-Fi added to great internet access. Sold!
The staff at the hotel was outstanding – professional and informative. The hotel chain emphasizes a “Yes, I Can!” policy and this staff met it.
Following a great night’s sleep, we headed out the next morning in search of the “Fargo” wood chipper. We found it, and so much more.
The visitors center, just off of Interstate 94, is an attraction to itself. Outside, you will see more bison art.
The city’s Walk of Fame (once privately owned) honor visitors, such as the Jethro Tull band, Glen Campbell, Lynn Anderson, Bobby Vee, Garth Brooks and Art Linklater.
Inside, the movie’s wood chipper prop awaited us. It’s such a popular attraction that the center has hats that people can wear for photos. A staff member was kind enough to take some pictures of Lisa and me donning our winter hats and trying to get rid of that darned leg. She gave me a strange look as we left when I mentioned I would love a wood chipper for Christmas.
We grabbed breakfast at Krolls Diner. The restaurant is in a dining car. The hamburger steak is a must! Also, try the biscuits and gravy. For a northern place, Krolls does the dish well.
As we headed out for the next stop on our North Dakota leg of the trip, we checked out Space Aliens Bar and Grill. It’s a space-themed Chuckee Cheese of sorts. We’ll have to eat there on our next visit to the Red River Valley.
Our visit to Fargo may not have been the most normal one. We could have visited the Great Plains Art Museum or Bonanzaville, but we thought we’d try something different this time. We plan to visit again, taking in Fargo and Moorhead attractions (such as the Scandinavian museum).
Whatever your interests, we encourage folks to visit Fargo. The Radisson Hotel is the perfect location to use as base camp.
For more information on the Fargo-Moorhead area, please visit www.fargomoorhead.org.
Disclaimer: Thank you to the North Dakota Tourism Division for their help and support in arranging this visit. Thank you to the Fargo-Moorhead visitors bureau for the complimentary stay at the Radisson Hotel. However, all opinions and views are ours.