Being one of the largest cities in northwest Minnesota, you will find tons of great things to do in Moorhead. Located in the northwest corner of the state on the banks of the Red River, this unique city is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Fargo, North Dakota. The two towns share a one-of-a-kind culture and camaraderie, one that you won’t want to miss. We’ve put together a list of our top things to do in Moorhead, whether you’re staying in the city or across the state line.
1. See a Viking Ship
First on our list of best things to do in Moorhead is to see the Hjemkomst. Many people in Minnesota have Scandinavian heritage, so it should come as no surprise that Moorhead is a great place to see that on display. The Hjemkomst, named after the Norwegian word for “homecoming”, isn’t an authentic ship from Viking times, but it is modeled after one.
The inspiration for the Hjemkomst is a ship that was unearthed in the 1970s and estimated to be from about 800 CE. What then followed was a labor of time and love that draws thousands of visitors each year to see Moorhead’s only Viking ship. The ship is fully functional and sailed to New York City in 1980.
2. Escape to the Bluestem Prairie and Scientific Natural Area
The Bluestem Prairie and Scientific Natural Area is 1,310 acres of protected prairie land in Moorhead. This beautiful spot is wildly popular among outdoor sports enthusiasts, animal lovers, and birdwatchers, as it provides unique opportunities for all these activities. There are also some unusual activities here — in the spring, you will find visitors renting blinders to watch prairie chickens perform their unique mating ritual. The area is also home to hundreds of other fascinating animal and insect species, including the regal fritillary butterfly and plains pocket mouse. If nothing else, you need to put this place on your list to experience the explosion of wildflowers that last from March to September.
3. Swing in a Hammock at Nature of the North
Nature of the North is all about helping people get out in nature and reconnect with the earth in a way they never have before. With facilities that teach outdoor skills, recreational activities, and classes about different disciplines, Nature of the North is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Of course, when you are tired from all the rock climbing, swimming, hiking, yoga, and kayaking, you might just want to kick back in a hammock and immerse yourself in nature. You can do it all with the Nature of the North crew, whether you are an experienced outdoorsman or a total beginner.
4. See an Outdoor Show at Bluestem Amphitheater
Bluestem Amphitheater advertises itself as “more than just a music venue”, and that simple line says it all. This impressive outdoor theater lies on the banks of the Red River and provides a unique Moorhead experience like no other. There is always something going on at the Bluestem Amphitheater, from summer concert series to rock shows, ventriloquist acts, comedy shows, and musicals. Sitting in the 3,000-seat outdoor amphitheater is an experience that can’t quite be put into words, but anyone who is from Moorhead will tell you that it is an unmissable experience. Recent performances at Bluestem include Steve Martin, the Avett Brothers, and the Kidz Bop world tour.
5. Grab a Drink at the Junkyard Brewing Company
Junkyard Brewing Company is a one-of-a-kind craft brewery where you will find unique brews. The drinks here are fun, experimental, and a bit outside the box. The menu rotates weekly or even more often, so you will always find something new and delicious to try. You will even find fascinating drinks like chocolate chip cookie stout, mango sour ale, and barrel-aged vanilla stout. There are always events going on at the Junkyard Brewing Company, from history trivia nights to the annual freeze out, where participants grab food and drinks and enjoy a party in the Minnesota winter. No matter how often you visit, there is always something new.
6. Visit the Crazy Tree
The Crazy Tree might not seem like anything special, but it has become a Moorhead institution. It was even recently featured on the town’s water tower thanks to its beloved status among residents. So what is so special about this tree? Nothing much except for its age and the unique way that it has grown along the ground, its trunk and roots almost looking like tentacles. The Crazy Tree is a popular spot for family photos, engagement photos, graduation photos, and more. If you don’t quite get it, just chalk it up to small-town eccentricities — or visit it yourself and see what all the fuss is about.
7. Check Out the Sticks Garden
Next on our list of best things to do in Moorhead is a visit to Sticks Garden, a one-of-a-kind public art display. Funded by the Lake Region Arts Council, the garden was built on an existing space full of community planters. Ten artists contributed their work, each one making a stick into a fascinating and unique piece of art. Each one has its own distinct style and message, from depictions of Moorhead icons to engraved poetry, pieces of local history, and tributes to the nearby Red River. The garden itself features breathtaking perennials, planted to provide a haven for bees and butterflies in the center of the town. Only one stick still remains untouched.
8. Have a Unique Meal at Speak Easy Restaurant
The Speak Easy Restaurant in Moorhead is the best place to get authentic Italian American food. But there is a bit of a twist. The entire restaurant is based on 20th-century mob culture, featuring a vintage Auburn four-door sedan in the center of the dining room. The car, which has bullet holes visible in the chassis, is said to have belonged to Bugs Moran, a notorious gangster of the 1930s. According to legend, he stashed the car in Minnesota, and the rest is history. The menu at Speak Easy is top-notch, featuring some of the best and most famous Italian dishes, from appetizers to dessert.
9. Learn About Farm Life at Doubting Thomas Farms
If you have ever wanted to learn more about life on a farm, Doubting Thomas Farms in Moorhead is the place to do it. The owners have backgrounds in agricultural sciences and lead the state in developing new technology for food production in Minnesota and beyond.
The real star of the show at Doubting Thomas is the guest tours. Unlike most tours, these are not an opportunity just to sit back and listen. Instead, the farmers invite guests to join them in their daily activities, including planting, harvesting, and taking care of the animals. There are also regular classes offered here, from farm cooking to historical food prep and more.
10. Visit the Rourke Art Gallery
The Rourke Art Gallery and Museum is an institution in Moorhead that has existed for nearly 60 years. In that time, the gallery has been dedicated to exhibiting the works of local and regional artists. In this way, the Rourke is a uniquely Moorhead experience in every sense, from the people involved to the art itself. Thousands of people visit the gallery and museum every year, many of them to purchase art. You might even say that the building itself is a work of art, maintaining its original architecture that earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
11. Step Back in Time at Comstock House
Comstock House is a local historical site in Moorhead that now serves as a museum and place of education. The Victorian family home dates from 1883. The Comstock family was dedicated to improving the lives of their Moorhead community.
Through their efforts, Moorhead was changed from a tiny town to one that was rich with education and commerce. Tours here are free to the public. You will have the chance to see the house almost exactly as it was nearly 150 years ago, including the breathtaking Victorian architecture. Most of the rooms still contain the furniture and furnishings they did in 1883!
12. Go Hiking at M.B. Johnson Park
Minnesota is a wonderful place for outdoor sports, and Moorhead is no exception. One of the top places for hiking in Minnesota is M.B. Johnson Park, which draws countless visitors every year. Here, you can find walking and cross country skiing trails, a playground, picnic tables, and other amenities. Most interesting is the new community food forest, which was planted in May 2021. This features more than 100 fruit trees and bushes that are available to anyone. You’ll have a beautiful view of these as well as the surrounding forest as you hike the trails.
13. Join a Bowling League at Sunset Lanes
Whether you are a pro bowler or you still need to use the bumpers, bowling is a fun pastime when you are out with friends. Moorhead is home to a hugely popular bowling alley, Sunset Lanes. Here, on any given night you’ll find people gathering for a game, including the local bowling league. But if you aren’t into team sports, you can feel free to just enjoy a single game with friends. There are also plenty of events going on at Sunset Lanes, including tournaments and the famous Rock and Bowl event, which features all-evening food and drinks.
14. Buy Local at the Moorhead Farmers Market
There is nothing like visiting a local farmers’ market. This fantastic market is hosted every Tuesday from June through September. During this time, visitors get the chance to sample all the best local goods from Moorhead and the surrounding region.
You will find everything here from farm-fresh produce to local meat, honey, baked goods, jams, jellies, sauces, salsas, and even pet treats and products. There are also regularly art pieces or other crafted items from local artisans, making the Moorhead Farmers Market the best place to spend an afternoon browsing. You will never know what you find when you visit!
15. Visit an Escape Room
Escape rooms are popular in many places around the country. If you’ve never tried one before, make sure you escape to visit Travel Escape Room in Moorhead. Or rather let them come to you because Travel Escape Room does things a little differently. The company is Minnesota’s first traveling escape room and serves customers anywhere in Minnesota or North Dakota. All you need to do is book the room and let them know where to go, and you and your friends can enjoy a night of solving puzzles and mysteries. There are always new events going on at Travel Escape Room, including regular mystery challenges.
16. Rent a Kayak
Last, but not least on our list of best things to do in Moorhead is a kayaking trip on the Red River. Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, so it should come as no surprise that this is the perfect place to rent a kayak and hit the water. The city of Moorhead lies directly alongside the Red River, ensuring there are plenty of opportunities for sailing, kayaking, canoeing, and more. If you are looking to rent a kayak, you can find multiple opportunities throughout the city. You can even join in group tours and other outings, where you will join a guide to teach you about topics such as local birdlife, history, animals, and native trees.
Wrapping up 16 of the great things to do in Moorhead, Minnesota
Moorhead might not be known far and wide, but the people who live there love its unique culture and style. The next time you’re looking for fun things to do in Moorhead, make sure to hit up one of these wonderful locations. Then, let us know which you enjoyed the most.