Lively, jammed-with-attractions Fargo is a role model for small cities everywhere, and makes for an ideal weekend getaway.
Architecturally, downtown boasts an energetic mix of vintage and brand new. The Plains Art Museum occupies a three-story brick-and-timber warehouse from 1904, with a collection that emphasizes regional and Indigenous artists as well as works by Helen Frankenthaler, Sol LeWitt, Ellsworth Kelly and other modernists.
The Fargo Theatre — an art deco beauty, complete with a jazzy marquee — dates to 1926 and programs an appealing mix of movies and concerts.
Then there's just-opened Block 9, a sleek and sophisticated mixed-use complex that's home to offices and residences as well as the stylish Jasper Hotel — run by the group behind the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood — and its equally snazzy ground-floor restaurant, the Nordic-inspired Rosewild. The adjacent Broadway Square is a gathering place for concerts, movies and yoga classes.
Eating well is easy. At funky, casual BernBaum's, one of the Midwest's top restaurants, spouses Brett Bernath and Andrea Baumgardner explore the delicious commonality between Jewish deli and Icelandic culinary traditions. The bagels? Fantastic.
Mezzaluna pays tribute to the classic supper club format. Meticulously composed pizzas are coaxed from a wood-burning oven at Blackbird Woodfire. Beer & Fish Co. sports an oyster bar. There's even a first-rate ice cream shop, Silver Lining Creamery.
Find food trucks parked outside Great Northern Bicycle Co., which is housed in a historic, handsomely restored train depot. Bicyclists will appreciate the shop's group ride schedule, while walkers should explore the extensive network of trails that run along the banks of the meandering Red River.
There's a lively taproom scene, thanks to Fargo Brewing Co., DCR Brewing Co. and Wild Terra Cider, and the third wave coffee movement is represented by several appealing outposts, including chic Youngblood Coffee Roasters and a Twin Cities import, Black Coffee and Waffle Bar.
One-of-a-kind shops abound. Browsers can lose themselves among the books, stationary, toys and gifts at Zandbroz Variety. At Mint + Basil, co-owners Hope and Donny Goldammer have a flair for showcasing distinctive women's apparel and accessories, kitchenware and candles. Well-stocked Vinyl Giant Records is an LP-lover's dream, and its companion, Game Giant, boasts an impressive array of board games, puzzles and toys.
Another draw? Downtown's compact, highly walkable layout — anchored by tree-lined and flower-filled Broadway, the neighborhood's main thoroughfare — means that no car is required. Well, at least after completing the drive from your hometown.
— Rick Nelson