The city was initially named Edwinton, but was changed to its current name only a year later. The name Bismarck comes from Otto von Bismarck, a German statesman and politician. It was believed that the name change would attract foreign investment from Germany and encourage German immigration to the city.
Very little is known about Bismarck's history prior to the 1800s (during which time Europeans started immigrating to the United States in large numbers). It is believed that the first settlers in the area were the Mandan (a Native American tribe) and they are believed to have resided in the city for thousands of years.
During the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Corps of Discovery, a specially-established unit of the US Army, came into the area and stayed for a few years. The Corps of Discovery aimed to establish diplomatic relations and peace with the Native American tribes who resided in the area.
In 1872, Camp Greeley (later Camp Hancock) was established in the city to protect those working on the Northern Pacific Railway. During this time, the area continued to be flooded with immigrants and the city was officially born.
The discovery of large gold reserves in the Black Hills attracted numerous people to Bismarck, but this caused tensions with the Lakota tribe, who believed that the European immigrants had no business encroaching on territory sacred to them.
In the late 1880s, Bismarck became the capital of North Dakota.
As the capital of North Dakota, many of Bismarck's residents work for the North Dakotan government. Approximately 70,000 people live in Bismarck, making it one of the smallest cities in the United States.
Germans are the largest ethnic group in the city, comprising half of the total population of the city. Large numbers of Germans came from Russia during the 19th century, and they were drawn by the prospect of owning large amounts of land in the United States. Almost all German-Americans in North Dakota have Russian roots.
Bismarck's climate is characterized by cold, somewhat snowy and windy winters, and hot, humid summers. Thunderstorms occur in spring and summer, but much of the rest of the year is dry.
It is served by:
- Allegiant Air. Non-stop from Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix/Mesa; no one-stops or connections
- Delta. Non-stop from Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Frontier. Non-stop from Denver.
- United Express. Non-stop from Denver.
You can get to Bismarck from the east or west via I-94, or from the north or south via US-83. Taxi 9000 does offer cab service for the area. They are usually at the airport upon arrivals. The city is spread out, so a vehicle is recommended.
Greyhound provides bus service along major interstate routes in North Dakota.
The airport offers car rental services or you may use taxi services as well. The CAT (Capital Area Transit) now provides limited public transit service between the airport and Kirkwood Mall.
The city services public transportation by running several bus routes throughout the area. It is called the Capital Area Transit (CAT). Route maps and information should be available at all major bus stops and the airport.
- 1 North Dakota State Capitol Building, 600 East Blvd, ☏ , , email@example.com. The state's tallest building, and the location of all three branches of state government. Tours available M - F 9AM-11AM and 1-3PM year round, M - F 8AM-11AM and 1-4PM, Sa 9AM-11AM and 1-3PM, Su 1-4PM from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Bismarck Art and Galleries Association, 422 East Front Ave, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Art, photography and sculptures exhibits by local, regional and national artists. Open year round, Tuesday-Friday 10AM-5PM; Saturday 1-3PM Free admission.
- Buckstop Junction Missouri Valley Fairgrounds, ☏ , . Reconstructed village with buildings from the late 1800s to the early 1930s. Turn-of-the-century atmosphere. By appointment. Admission fee is $2.
- 2 Camp Hancock, 101 West Main, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. State historic site. Open May 16 to September 15, W-Su 1-5PM. It was established in 1872 as a military post, Camp Creeley, then renamed Camp Hancock in 1973. Its mission was to provide protection for work gangs building the Northern Pacific Railroad. The camp headquarters, a log building, is still standing on the site. Free, donations welcome.
- 3 Chief Looking's Village, Burnt Boat Drive NW, ☏ . Native American village site with self-guided tour of the grounds, contains earthlodge depressions and a fortification ditch.
- 4 Dakota Zoo (Sertoma Park), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Variety of animal exhibits, including endangered monkeys, moose, and brown bears, some in natural habitats. Open late April to end of September from 10AM-8PM daily. In the winter (October to late April), open Friday to Sunday, 1-5PM. Admission for children under age two is free, $4.25 for children 2-12, $7.25 for ages 13-60, and $6.25 for 60+.
- 5 Double Ditch Indian Village, Highway 1804 (7 miles north of Bismarck), ☏ , fax: . Remains of a large Mandan Indian earthlodge village that is believed to have been inhabited for almost 300 years until 1781. Eight interactive signs provide information on the site. Free, donations welcome.
- Old Governor's Mansion, 320 East Ave B, ☏ , fax: . State historic site. Restored Victorian mansion and carriage house. It was built in 1884, and housed 21 ND governors from 1893 to 1960. Exhibits explain the restoration process, architectural style changes, and furniture used by several governors. Open May 16 to September 15, Wednesday thru Sunday, from 1-5PM.
- 6 North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum, 612 East Boulevard Ave, ☏ . This is North Dakota's largest museum. It displays a collection of Plains Indian artifacts, and exhibits of North Dakota's military, agricultural, and natural history. Includes a special children's historical area. Sakakawea was the guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. Her statue is displayed near the center's entrance.
- Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Hall of Fame, 600 East Boulevard Ave, ☏ . In the State Capitol. Displays portraits of recipients of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, the state's highest, given to North Dakotans who have brought honor to the state. Open year-round, Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM and during Memorial Day to Labor day, also open on Saturday 9AM-4PM and on Sunday 1-4PM.
The Missouri River is a favorite with locals for fishing, swimming, and other water sports. Please keep in mind that rivers can be dangerous. It is important that young children wear life jackets and all people are conscious of those around them.
- Lewis and Clark Riverboat, ☏ , email@example.com. A 150-passenger paddle wheel riverboat based at the Port of Bismarck, River Road, Bismarck. Afternoon and evening round-trip cruises on the Missouri River from the historic Port of Bismarck to Fort Lincoln and the On-A-Slant Mandan Village. Dinner and beverage service available for regular cruises and charters. Narrations and reenactments provided during cruises. Call for regular scheduled cruises from April through October.
- The Desert is a local hangout in the summer. The Desert is on the east bank of the Missouri south of the University of Mary. It takes about 15–20 minutes to reach by car. There is a boat ramp (Kimball Bottoms) in the area, and continuing past the boat ramp while following the shoreline for about another mile will bring you to a large sandbar beach where you may park your car and camp. This area is often extremely crowded during the summer, especially on holidays and weekends. During the week, it can be much more relaxing. A large area is located adjacent to the beach that is used by off-road vehicles, including dirt bikes and 4-wheelers. While generally North Dakotans are very respectful and generous people, when large numbers of people are at The Desert, it can be a hard place for families to enjoy time together. There is often plenty of partying and alcohol consumption. If you have small children, this is an area best avoided on weekends and major holidays (mainly the 4th of July), especially when the weather is good.
- Boating is a great way to spend a long weekend or a lazy summer evening. A map showing boat ramps can be found here. There are generally many sandbars available in the Bismarck area to dock on. Much like the desert, sandbars near the bridges in the middle of Bismarck-Mandan often become crowded and rowdy on hot summer days. Head away from the middle of town, to the north or south, for some seclusion and relaxation.
Water-skiing, tubing, and wakeboarding are all popular activities, as well. Be aware that it is often dangerous to do these things within the vicinity of the four bridges spanning the river, as there is often too much boat traffic. Heading one mile up or down river will help you to have a safer (and more fun!) time. State law requires two people on the boat/jet-ski in cases of pulling someone on a tube, wakeboard, etc. One person is required to sit at the back of the boat and 'spot' for the people being pulled. There are state Game & Fish patrol boats enforcing these rules.
- Play Cro-Shoes. This is a great river tradition. The game was invented by Vern Peterson, a local, in 1987. The game combines elements of horse shoes and other games to provide a unique sandbar game. Game sets are available at Scheel's Sports, located at Kirkwood Mall, or through the Cro-Shoes website contact page.
Ski & snowboard
- 1 Huff Hills Ski Area, ☏ . Located in the buttes on the western banks of the Missouri River, is the largest downhill ski area in North Dakota, with a vertical drop of 450 feet. Huff Hills is 18 miles south of Mandan on ND State Highway 1806. The scenic drive takes around 45 minutes from Bismarck, and around 30 minutes from Mandan.
- Cross-country skiing is often possible in Bismarck. Bismarck Parks & Recreation Department grooms trails at Riverwood Golf Course if snow conditions allow. It is often possible to ski in the countryside around Bismarck, but remember that trespassing on private property is a crime!
Bismarck offers two movie theaters:
- Carmike. Has a theater in Gateway Mall in North Bismarck.
- Grand Theaters. Locally-owned. The favorite among local movie enthusiasts. It offers stadium seating in most of its theaters. The theater features curved screens, two giant screens, rocking seats, a theater with many loveseats, and lavish decor.
- Hockey. The Bismarck Bobcats are a local NAHL hockey team that plays most weekends between October and April in the VFW All-Seasons Arena (1200 North Washington Street).
- 2 Bismarck Event Center (formerly Bismarck Civic Center). Offers the occasional concert, featuring performers such as Clay Aiken.
- Superslide Amusement Park, Riverside Park Rd (Sertoma Park), ☏ . Superslide, ferris wheel, carousel, batting cages, tubs, swings, bumper cars, critter track, whisper carts, mini-golf, bankshot basketball. Open from May through mid-September, weather permitting, daily from noon to 10PM.
- Dakota OutRight. A non-profit organization that serves as a regional community resource and provides gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) diversity education and promotes unity within the LGBT community and allies in western and central North Dakota.
- Gateway to Science, located in the former Masonic Temple. Interactive exhibits for all ages for learning about science. Open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 5PM. Tel: +1 701 258-1975.
- Ft. Abraham Lincoln State Park is made historically important because within its boundaries are the ruins of On-A-Slant Mandan Indian Village and the Fort Abraham Lincoln cavalry and infantry post. It was from this fort that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry rode out on their ill-fated expedition against the Sioux at the Little Big Horn. It has 95 camping sites. There are special events year-round. Guided horse-back trail riding is available in the summer and offers a wide view of the Missouri basin in this area. Tel: +1-800-807-4723
The average annual wage in Bismarck is about $31,000.
Bismarck offers two major shopping malls, Gateway Fashion Mall in north Bismarck, and Kirkwood Mall in south Bismarck. Kirkwood Mall is the city's largest mall. It is anchored by Target, JCPenney, Herberger's, Scheel's Sports, and I. Keating Furniture World.
Besides the mall Bismarck has Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, and Menards. Bismarck had two Super Walmarts, Sams Club, Lowes, Kohls, and many other shops. The majority of the newer retail centers are in the northern part of the city.
Most national chain restaurants are off of I-94 Exit 159 (Hwy. 83/State St.), near Kirkwood Mall on the south side, and in the Pinehurst area (Exit 157, Tyler Parkway and Divide Ave.) on the west side. For a more unique dining experience, explore restaurants in the historic Downtown area. This district's Fiesta Villa, in the former train station, or Peacock Alley, in the former Patterson Hotel are local favorites.
Many North Dakotans are meat-eaters and these restaurants do not disappoint in this area. Pasta entrees and seafood are quite popular as well, rounding out most menus. Due to ND's landlocked location, seafood must be flown in regularly, so a seared ahi tuna steak is likely to be at least 'good'. However northern pike, walleye, buffalo, and pheasant are likely to be local and fresh. These items are worth a try to capture a more authentic taste of North Dakota.
- Kroll's Diner. American and German cuisine. Famous for their Knoephla soup, which you can purchase by the bucket.
I-94 & Highway 83, +1 701 223-1907
1915 East Main Avenue, +1 701 255-3850 $5-12.
- 1 Scotty's Drive-In, 210 North 21st St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–Sa 10:30AM–9PM. A locally owned, retro-style drive-in from 1965. One of the oldest restaurants in the city. Burgers, hot dogs, fries – all the things you'd expect, plus the possibility of a dill pickle milkshake at the end. $10.
- The Walrus, 1136 N. 3rd St. (Arrowhead Plaza), ☏ . Daily 10:30AM-11PM. A local favorite, The Walrus has been open since 1996. Try any one of their signature pasta dishes, unique pizzas, house-made soups, or select from 41 beers on tap, in addition to their reasonably sized wine menu. Live music on Tuesdays.
- Fiesta Villa, 411 East Main Ave. (Downtown Bismarck), ☏ . In the historic train station in the heart of downtown Bismarck enjoy the quiet and calm restaurant that is a local hit. Famous for its salsa, margaritas, wings, tacos, and other Mexican dishes that are sure to satisfy.
- Fireflour Pizza, 111 N 5th St., ☏ . Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. Hand made pizzas fire roasted in a stone oven.
- Space Aliens Grill & Bar, 1304 E Century Ave., ☏ . BBQ and pizza, in an alien themed atmosphere. Contains an arcade for the young, and young at heart.
- Peacock Alley American Grill and Bar, 422 E. Main Ave., ☏ . In the historic Patterson Hotel Building, within walking distance of the Bismarck Civic Center and Bismarck's downtown events. A healthy fresh lunch menu is available daily. Voted the best martini year after year and featuring 23 different tap beers.
- Bistro, 1100 East Front Ave., ☏ . Consistently rated best restaurant in Bismarck by readers of the Bismarck Tribune. It features a variety of dishes including regional Italian specialties. Thursday night is sushi night with live music.
- East 40 Chophouse & Tavern, 1401 Interchange Ave, ☏ . Another well-known fine-dining establishment in Bismarck. Monday night is sushi night with live music.
- Pirogue Grille, 121 N. 4th St., ☏ . The restaurant concept features Midwest regional cuisine that changes with the seasons. Featured menu items include walleye, bison, duck, and house-made venison sausage. Great selection of desserts and breads, all made in house; extensive wine list featuring many different varietals.
- Kobe's Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, 915 W. Interstate Ave. (Near TJ Max), ☏ . Come for the sushi, stay for the Teppanyaki grill show. A variety of sake, beer, wine, and spirits are also available.
- The Toasted Frog, 124 North Fourth St, ☏ . M-Th 4-11PM, F Sa 4PM-midnight. Wide variety of fine dining.
Bismarck has several local adult establishments. Popularity shifts as frequently as the weather. If you're into the nightlife, you'd be better asking the locals where most people in your age group hang out. Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse, simply called Bucks, is consistently popular with 20- and 30-somethings. The Elbow Room can be a veritable local high school reunion on some weekend nights.
If you like a variety of beers, try O'Briens, Sport's Page, or Peacock Alley.
The hangout for politicians when the state legislature is in session is the Peacock Alley Bar, in the historic Patterson Hotel building in downtown Bismarck. Government-types have been calling the "Peacock" their after-hours home for more than half a century. The regular crowd includes a variety ranging from 20-somethings to middle-aged downtown business folk, generally people that appreciate the atmosphere, good conversation, and variety of libations the location has provided since first opening in 1911.
Steep Me (Downtown Bismarck by the Kirkwood Mall.). A tea shop that is a daily stop for locals. Once a dream by a local tea-maker is now a bustling business.
See also Mandan listings.
- AmericInn, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . I-94 and Exit 159, north on Highway 83.
- Best Western Doublewood Inn, 1400 East Interchange Ave (I-94 and Exit 159), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Best Western Ramkota Hotel, 800 South 3rd St (across from Kirkwood Mall), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Formerly Radisson Ramkota. 306 rooms, 8 suites, indoor water park with 150 foot waterslide, sauna, whirlpool, fitness club
- Bismarck Motor Hotel, ☏ , fax: .
- Budget Inn Express, ☏ .
- Comfort Inn, 300 East Interstate Ave (I-94, Exit 159 north), ☏ , fax: .
- Comfort Suites, 929 Gateway Ave (I-94, Exit 159 north), ☏ , fax: .
- Days Inn, 1300 E. Capital Ave (I-94, Exit 159 north), ☏ , fax: .
- Everspring Inn and Suites, 200 E Bismarck Expy (Across from Kirkwood Mall), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Fairfield Inn North (I-94, Exit 159 north on Highway 83), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Fairfield Inn South (Near Kirkwood Mall off Bismarck Expressway), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Hillside Motel, 1601 N 12 St, ☏ .
- Kelly Inn, 1800 North 12th St (I-94, Exit 159 S on State Street), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Motel 6, 2433 State St (I-94, Exit 159 north on Highway 83), ☏ , fax: .
- Radisson Hotel Bismarck, 605 East Broadway Ave, ☏ , email@example.com.
- Ramada Limited Suites, 3808 E Divide Ave (I-94, Exit 161), ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Select Inn, 1505 Interchange Ave (I-94, Exit 159 S), ☏ , toll-free: , fax: .
- Super 8 Motel, I-94, Exit 159 N, ☏ , toll-free: .
- White Lace Bed and Breakfast, 807 N 6th St, ☏ . 1918 historic Victorian style home with 2 guest rooms, antiques.
- General Sibley Park Camping, 501 South Washington St (4 miles south on Washington Street), ☏ , fax: , email@example.com. 150 tent sites, 115 RV sites with electric.
Bismarck is a relatively safe town. Your biggest danger is the winter weather.
In the winter don't forget proper clothing for harsh weathers. For 20 days in Jan-Feb 2004, the temp did not get above 0 °F. The coldest temp was in Minot, ND, at -45 °F (-75 ° windchill) while Bismarck was at a "balmy" -43 °F.
If your car has a block heater, remember to plug it into a wall outlet. Local rental cars will have block heaters installed. If you don't know what to look for, ask the rental place; they will know. Block heaters will keep the car from freezing up during sub-zero temps.
From April–October, most of the state will conduct its road construction projects. During this season, plan for occasional delays in Bismark and on the roads connecting the city to neighbouring areas.
|Routes through Bismarck|
|Dickinson ← Mandan ←||W E||→ Steele → Fargo|
|Minot ← Washburn ←||N S||→ Linton → Pierre|