Grand Forks uses flood history to allow its beauty to shine through

Grand Forks

A statue honors the heroes and residents who braved the floods that have hit Grand Forks.

Grand Forks, North Dakota, endured two major floods in 1996 and 1997. The latter devastated the downtown areas of both the city and its Minnesota neighbor, East Grand Forks. But, with Midwestern strength, the area rebuilt. Today, flood walls add to the beauty of the riverfront.

Grand Forks

Flood walls line the riverfront trail.

Grand Forks is proud of its recovery. A new apartment building stands in a spot where other buildings didn’t survive the 1997 flood. Reminders of the flood’s damage and the city’s recovery are located at each end of the building.

Grand Forks

Remembering the 1997 flood.

The riverfront looks peaceful as you stroll along its banks. You can’t imagine that the Red River of the North could cause the type of damage it has in the past. People were fishing from a small dock. People can kayak the river, as well.

Grand Forks

The Red River looks peaceful.

Grand Forks has a typical Midwestern downtown. Several buildings were constructed during the early and mid-1900s.

Grand Forks

A downtown building.

The city has some unique businesses in the area. Badman Design features the metal smith artwork of David Badman. He grew up an Air Force “brat,” a nickname given to children of military members. He loves living in the Grand Forks area and sharing his art.

Grand Forks

Badman has beautiful metal art.

Badman has been in business for about 25 years and had had his downtown gallery for almost two decades. We enjoyed visiting with him as we scoped out the art, including American and Norwegian flags, television stands and lamps, in addition to so much more.

Grand Forks

A US flag artwork at Badman.

A small street side park near the gallery features artwork. We love attractions like it.

Grand Forks

We loved the look of this small art park in downtown Grand Forks.

I’ve visited Widman’s Candy before, but this was Lisa’s first stop. The home of chocolate “chippers – chocolate-covered potato chips – offers plenty of options for a person’s sweet tooth. Handmade chocolates and package candies can be purchased at the store.

Grand Forks

Widman’s Candy creates some delicious treats, such as the chocolate covered chippers.

The city has an amphitheater near the flood wall. Concerts are held there during the warm months. During the Christmas holiday, the area is decorated for the season.

Grand Forks

Downtown amphitheater.

The city has a lot to offer visitors. The Sertoma Park is home to a Japanese garden, a gift from its sister Awano. The garden’s Japanese stone lanterns highlight a path along a pond.

Grand Forks

Japanese lantern at the Sertoma Park’s Japanese Garden.

The park also has an accessible playground. It was the idea of a young girl, who had seen a similar park elsewhere. Her dream of having an accessible play area for all kids, including ones in wheelchairs, came true after a fundraising campaign.

Grand Forks

An accessible playground, which was the idea of a young girl.

Grand Forks is home to the University of North Dakota. I have been a fan of the school’s athletic teams for several years. So, any chance I get to visit the campus is OK with me. Lisa and I took a self-guided tour. It opened my eyes to some new facilities, as well as some items I didn’t know were on campus or had slipped my memory.

Grand Forks

The University of North Dakota’s art museum.

I showed her UND’s art museum. I visited it a couple of years ago during a Thanksgiving weekend hockey trip. The artwork at the museum is interesting. I especially enjoyed the sculptures outside the building.

Grand Forks

“Raindrops” statue outside the museum.

An eternal flame marks the location of the original building built on campus – “Old Main.” It was actually called Main Hall. It housed classrooms, offices and a library, in addition to other functions. The flame was dedicated in 1963.

Grand Forks

Eternal flame marks where the original UND building stood.

George Walsh served in the Dakota Territorial Council. He is considered the “founder” of UND because he proposed creating a state university in Grand Forks. A bust honors his actions.

Grand Forks

George Walsh is considered the founder of UND, because he lobbied for the school to be located in the city.

As we strolled around campus, we took in views of old buildings and contemporary ones. Merrifield Hall was completed in the 1920s.

Grand Forks

Merrifield Hall. It was built in the 1920s.

Twamley Hall was completed after World War II and served as the administration office in place of Old Main.

The English Coulee is a pond that stretches along one bank of the campus. It shines on a sunny day, with a few clouds in the sky.

Grand Forks

The English Coulee.

One of the most attractive newer buildings is UND’s Aerospace Building. The university’s aviation program is located here. Students study to become pilots. Some of the state of the art facilities include flight simulators and a fleet of training aircraft.

Grand Forks

North Dakota’s aviation program calls this beautiful building home.

UND has some unique art spread out around campus, including a soaring eagle. Our favorite was a piece in front of the campus theater.

Grand Forks

Art near the university’s arts program building.

Since our Grand Forks visit included an overnight stay, we spent a nice evening at the Staybridge Suites. It’s located across from the city’s convention center and indoor football stadium. Our room provided a comfortable stay.

Grand Forks

Our room at the Staybridge Suites. It was an excellent hotel in a prime spot, across from the convention center and football stadium.

The Staybridge offers a delicious complimentary buffet breakfast. Guests have plenty of meal options.

We enjoyed our visit to Grand Forks. I look forward to a return trip, as there are more attractions to check out, including a tour of UND’s hockey arena. We recommend visiting Grand Forks.

For more information on Grand Forks and its attractions, please visit or

Disclaimer: Thank you to Travel North Dakota for the complimentary hotel stay. However, all opinions and views are ours.

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