Found on the east bank of the great Missouri River, Bismarck is the capital city of North Dakota and is a beautiful ND destination that’s great for tourists looking for arts, culture, and natural beauty.
It may not be as large as Fargo, North Dakota’s most expansive city, but from trails in Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park to steamboat cruises on the river, there are plenty of great activities to explore in and around Bismarck.
UPDATE: 2023/05/06 18:04 EST BY NOAH STAATS
Hold On: There Are More Things To Experience Is Bismarck!
This article has been updated with new locations to explore in Bismarck, North Dakota, as well as tips, tricks, and information regarding when to visit the locations listed below. Whether someone wants to sit back and relax at a recreational park, go for a hike, or visit the state capital, Bismarck has plenty going on!
Things To Do
Whether Bismarck is on someone’s bucket list or not (yet), there is so much to see, do, and experience here. Luckily, this guide has all the information on the best time to visit Bismarck, where to stay, what to do, and how to get there.
1 North Dakota State Capitol
Capital of North Dakota Building, Bismarck
For anyone interested in government or politics visiting North Dakota, the State Capital is a must-visit. Here lies the House of Government of the U.S. state of North Dakota, which is where the states’ lawmakers meet regularly to decide on pressing legislation.
- People can tour sections of the Capital on Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM.
2 Visit The Animals At The Dakota Zoo
Nature scene North Dakota
There are many great zoos in the US, and Dakota Zoo, open since 1961, attracts 150,000 a year and has 600 birds, reptiles, mammals, and fish to visit.
- Admission: Adults $14.00, Seniors (age 60+) $12.00, Military (with photo ID) $12.00, Children (ages 2-12) $10.00, children under 2, free
- Address: 602 Riverside Park Rd, Bismarck, ND 58504
3 North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum
Downtown Bismarck ND
This museum takes its visitors on a journey through the history of the state of North Dakota from its earliest geological period 600 million years ago to the present day, with four museum galleries to browse.
- Admission: Free
- Address: 612 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
4 Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln is the oldest state park in North Dakota and has a unique history, all of its own, that visitors can learn about at the park visitor center. The park is great for hiking, horseback riding, and camping. It’s among some of the unforgettable places in North Dakota.
- Admission: Entrance to the park is free, camping – is $17 per night, day pass for horse – is $6
- Address: Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, 4480 Ft. Lincoln Road, Mandan, ND 58554
5 Lewis And Clark Riverboat Cruise
A Lewis and Clark Riverboat
While visiting May through September, visitors to Bismarck can take a popular cruise along the majestic Missouri River on a steamboat.
- Admission: Public boat tours start at $14 per person
- Address: Port of Bismarck/The Landing, 1700 N River RD, Bismarck, ND 58503
6 McDowell Dam Recreation Area
Recreation Area North Dakota
One cool spot to check out while in Bismarck is MsDowell Dam Recreation Area. Here, people can explore a 271-acre park located five miles east of Bismarck on Old Highway 10 and one mile north.
This recreation area hosts many events, offers equipment rentals, and features swimming, boating, fishing, and paddle boating. If the sun is shining, that means it’s time to head to McDowell Dam Recreation Area!
- Address: 1951 93rd Street NE, Bismarck, ND 58501
7 Bill Mills Nature Trail
North Dakota nature scene
Another perfect location for Bismarck visitors wanting a day outside is Bill Mills Nature Trail. This trail is a 4118-foot trail through Riverside Park. It can be accessed by foot and bicycle. People can spend a few hours walking through the shaded pathways, taking in the natural scenery.
- Address: 300 Riverside Park Road. Bismarck, ND
8 Atkinson Nature Park
Bird in North Dakota on fence
The next place to see in Bismarck is the Atkinson Nature Park. This park is located just south of the Walt Neuens Horse Arena, 1921 Riverwood Drive, and is a great spot for people to enjoy a day out in the elements. Notably, there is a 1.65-mile hiking and horse trail, along with parking on site.
- Address: 1921 Riverwood Dr., Bismarck, ND
9 Hay Creek Trail
Mule deer North Dakota nature
To keep the outdoor theme going, the Hay Creek Trail is a loop trail system in Bismarck, North Dakota. Here, visitors can hike the five-mile trail, with a couple of internal spurs for a shorter jaunt, in the northeast section of Bismarck. According to TrailLink, this trail is paved, making it perfect for people not wanting to get dirty.
- 2525 N. 19th St. Bismarck, ND
10 General Sibley Park & Campground Interpretive Trail
Horse in North Dakota
Located just four miles outside of Bismarck lies the General Sibley Park & Campground Interpretive Trail. This area stands on a piece of land closely associated with North Dakota’s history and is named after General Henry Sibley.
This park is 138 acres and is one of the go-to weekend and holiday destinations in the area.
- Address: 5001 S. Washington St.
11 Best Time To See Bismarck
Bismarck pinned on North Dakota map
To get in all Bismarck has to offer, the best time of year to visit is during the summer. With plenty of parks and trails to enjoy and cruises available on the Missouri River, this will be the optimum time to fit in as much of Bismarck’s fun outdoor activities.
From May to September, temperatures range from the 50s to the 70s. July can be very hot, with temperatures up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall is a great season to visit too, with temperatures ranging from the 40s to the 60s. It’s also less crowded with tourists.
Bismarck also has some very fun festivals and events that visitors should consider when deciding the best time for them to visit.
Capital A’Fair, a large arts festival, is a four-day event in early August in Bismarck, and the Annual Ice Cream Social held at the former Governor’s Historic Mansion starts in mid-August which is as good as it sounds with music and live performances.
12 Best Ways To Get Around Bismarck
Missouri River Railroad High bridge
Bismarck has a number of ways for visitors to get around the city. It has a public transportation service offered by Bis-Man Transit. It has six routes that serve both Bismarck and its sister city. The operation hours are 6:30 am to 7 pm.
Fares for the bus cost $1.50 each way, and there is a one-day pass for $6.00 available too. Commuters can purchase tickets on the bus, and they’re also available to buy online through the CAT website or by downloading the Token Transit App. Uber and Lyft are also available in Bismarck, but taxi service is handy too.
2 MAN CAB, designated drivers
It’s also possible to explore the city by renting a car with some rental companies operating out of the Bismarck Municipal Airport.
One of the most popular activities in Bismarck for tourists is to rent a bike and explore the surrounding parks, and it’s a great option for exploring the city too.
13 Where To Eat In Bismarck
Northern Pacific Railway Depot in downtown Bismarck ND
Bismarck has some great dining options available for visitors, from coffee shops, taverns, grills, steakhouses, and plenty of restaurants serving international cuisine, there are plenty of choices.
Great breakfasts in Bismarck
- The Paddle Trap, Kroll’s Diner, Little Cottage Café
Fabulous lunches in Bismarck
- Walrus Restaurant, Luckys 13 Pub, HuHot Mongolian Grill
Delicious dinners in Bismarck
- Jack’s Steakhouse & Seafood, Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, The Toasted Frog
Great coffee shops in Bismarck
- Mighty Missouri Coffee Company, Boneshaker Coffee Co. The Gifted Bean Coffee House
Fun bars in Bismarck
- Blarney Stone Pub, LÜFT Rooftop Bar, the Elbow Room
14 Where To Stay In Bismarck
Gas Station at Buckstop Junction, Bismarck, North Dakota, USA
Bismarck has a wide selection of accommodations available across the city. Popular neighborhoods for visitors to stay in include the downtown area, along the Missouri River, and in the northern part of the city, which is home to museums and the Capitol building.
Highly Rated Hotels In Bismarck
Staybridge Suites Bismarck, an IHG Hotel
- Room rates at Staybridge Suites Bismarck, an IHG Hotel, start at $185.24 per night
- Amenities: Free breakfast, indoor pool, fitness center
2801 Gateway Ave, Bismarck, ND 58503
Courtyard by Marriott Bismarck North
Candlewood Suites Bismarck, an IHG Hotel
Budget Hotels In Bismarck
Americas Best Value Inn & Suites Bismarck
Baymont by Wyndham Mandan Bismarck Area
- Room rates at Baymont by Wyndham Mandan Bismarck Area start at $76.50 per night
- Amenities: Indoor pool, fitness center, free breakfast
2611 Old Red Trail, Mandan, ND 58554
15 Tips For Visiting Bismarck
Bismarck State Capitol Building, Bismarck, North Dakota
Bismarck is the seat of Burleigh County as well as the capital city and government center of North Dakota. It’s also a well-known site along the Lewis and Clark Historical Trail.
The city, alongside its sister city Mandon, began to grow in the early 1870s when the Northern Pacific Railway developed towards the east bank of the Missouri River and became a major transportation hub in the state. The city was named after the German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, to bring in German investment to the railroad.
Today, it is a vibrant and safe city with plenty of activities to offer its tourists.
Just two miles away from the city is Bismarck Municipal Airport, which has direct flights from Minneapolis, Chicago, Fort Worth/Dallas, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa & Orlando.
The airlines operating direct flights to Bismarck are Allegiant, American, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines.
Bismarck is easily accessed by car; it’s served by the I-94 and US-83. Bismarck is also on the Jefferson Line bus route, and visitors can access the city from the east and west of the state.
16 How To Spend The Perfect Day In Bismarck
North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum on July 18, 2017 in Bismarck, North Dakota
For a great day filled with activities in North Dakota’s state capital, head to the Paddle Trap for a good breakfast before visiting Dakota Zoo—it’s one of the unmissable activities visitors have to do here.
For lunch, hit up the Walrus restaurant and then check out the National History State Museum to learn more about North Dakota. In the late afternoon, head out for a sunset cruise on the Missouri River with Lewis and Clark Riverboat. In the evening, enjoy a great dinner at the popular and highly-rated Toasted Frog before a nightcap at Blarney Stone Pub.
Q: What is Bismarck known for?
Bismarck is the state capital of North Dakota and is also the city of Burleigh County. It’s known as an important site along the Lewis and Clark Historical Trail. It’s found along the east bank of the Missouri River, and it’s a city with plenty of arts, culture, history, and outdoor recreation.
Q: Does Bismarck have an airport?
Just two miles away from the city, is Bismarck Municipal Airport, which has direct flights from Minneapolis, Chicago, Fort Worth/Dallas, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa & Orlando.The airlines operating direct flights to Bismarck are Allegiant, American, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines.
Q: Is Bismarck worth visiting?
Bismarck is definitely a city worth visiting for its historical significance as well as its outdoor adventures and other activities unique to North Dakota.