Today’s Fargo, ND City Guide comes to us from graphic designer Jeff Knight. Jeff is a native of Fargo’s twin city, Moorhead, MN, but has now settled in Fargo proper where he works at Sundog, a marketing and technology company, in addition to designing for a local t-shirt company TAG and teaching graphic design courses at North Dakota Sate University and Concordia College. Today he takes us on a tour of this northern metropolis. Thanks, Jeff, for such a wonderful guide! — Stephanie
Read the full guide after the jump . . .
One thing about Fargo that the people here would like everyone to know is that we have so much more going on than the movie that put us on the map lets on. Let me show you what’s happening in the “real” Fargo.
With a booming economy, rumors of a TV show based on the movie (yes, that movie) and multiple lists of accolades, a lot of attention has been given to Fargo recently. Most everything in downtown Fargo is walkable, unless of course you’re around in the winter, when the average temperature can get well below zero on the Fahrenheit scale. Despite the cold weather, residents still make the most of it and continue trudging through the months of snow and cold. On the flip side, summers are very nice and can actually get very hot. Despite the giant range of temperatures in this part of the country, it still remains a fun and unique place to visit.
The High Plains Reader is a weekly publication that delivers a listing of events and things to do in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Fargo Monthly is a monthly publication that also features events and interviews with local happenings. Usually these are the places one would go to find what is happening in town. For other info, be sure to check out Downtown Fargo, a site dedicated to the places and happenings around the city.
For people visiting who are fans of the infamous movie of the same name, be sure to check in with the Fargo Visitor Center where you can get a photo taken with the infamous wood chipper from the movie.
Downtown: SoMa (South of Main Avenue)
You can find a good cup of coffee or tea at this local coffee shop owned and operated by its workers. They also have a small selection of snacks and sandwiches. It has a very laid-back atmosphere during the day. At night, one can catch a local comedy show or concert near the venue’s small, intimate stage. The walls to the studio act as a nice selection of rotating art from local artists. In fact, located below the coffee shop is an artist studio, Seagrave Studio, where local artists and artisans perfect their craft in a bohemian-like studio atmosphere. The real treat is having a nice morning coffee in the parlor’s outside back-alley seating where you can enjoy a nice, relaxing brew with friends.
Boasting 34 gourmet pizzas made hot on site, this is THE place to get a pizza in Fargo. They make some excellent pizzas from scratch, like The Backpacker (spinach, roasted garlic, artichoke, kalamata olive, etc.) and The Rockefeller (garlic white sauce, bacon, shrimp, etc.). Rhombus also lists gluten-free options along with other wraps and paninis. They also feature a hearty selection of brews including the local favorite from Fargo Brewing Company. And in the summer they have a great rooftop patio to sit and have a drink while films or TV programs are projected on the apartment building next door.
Nichole’s is a local bakery with mouth-watering treats for everyone’s tastes. Pull up a seat, try the dessert wine flight and enjoy homemade European-style baked goods. They have a changing daily selection of soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts, cakes, chocolates, gelato, etc. In addition to the artistic pastry items, Nichole’s usually has rotating works on the walls by local artists. It’s a nice, intimate place to grab an espresso and a dessert for a long chat.
A coffee shop that is modeled after the Seattle standard for how coffee should be made and enjoyed. With a great selection of coffee (shipped to Fargo every week from Seattle), sandwiches and desserts, stop into Babb’s after a long day of shopping downtown. It will provide a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere where you can unwind.
One of Fargo’s newest quaint little shops sells vintage items that one wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. With a constantly revolving inventory, you never know what kind of fun things you’ll find at Redoux. If you want to expand your collection of unique, rustic/vintage-chic furniture and accessories, Redoux is the place to go. Some items are recrafted or repurposed while others are kept intact.
Three Chicks Boutique — (Coming Soon Downtown)
Located right off Main Street, this high-end antique store has been a Fargo staple for years. They provide a great selection of antique furniture, jewelry and other old, never-to-find items. Each piece seems to tell a detailed story, so be sure to check out this place for some items that you’re sure to never encounter again.
Despite being open only once a month, it is an occasion many wait for. Every month, The Studio opens with a new inventory of repurposed goods. They range from the antique to the retro-modern. Think of it as a mini indoor flea market. The owners scoop up some great finds over the course of a month and open the doors to anxious shoppers waiting to see what they’ve been up to. If you happen to be in town when the doors are open, you’re in for a treat!
Up the road from the rest of the downtown stores is still well worth the few blocks of walking. From vinyl records to historic relics, you’re sure to see lots of items here that are more than noteworthy. There is plenty of memorabilia to look at for the better part of an afternoon. Sometimes leaning toward the mysterious and macabre, there is still a fine selection of classic antiques to make your way through. You never know what you’ll find here.
Need to stock up on yarn? Bouclé is your place! Color and texture overload will feed your creating urge. If you’re new to knitting or other fabric arts, the experts here will help you figure out what you need. If you’re seasoned with the area of everything woven, you’ll find even more inspiration and various yarns for your next project.
A quaint venue that usually has something fun going on. From theatrical performances to concerts and other events, there is usually a fun time to be had here. Be sure to check out the calendar to see what is happening during your stay in the area. The location is also right off Island Park, which is always nice for a summer/early fall picnic.
This downtown SoMa staple provides a very intimate stage that practically puts you on stage with the actors. While you might not always recognize the names of the performances, you’ll never be let down by the artistic thought behind each show. If you have an evening to experience some local artistic culture, this would be a great place to start.
In the winter, the Fargo Dike West becomes a great place to sled down the big hill separating the East and West parks. Bring your family, or just bring yourselves. It’s open to all ages and one of the best ways to enjoy the cold. Bring your own sled-like object or rent an inner-tube from the lodge. In the spring/summer, on the other side of the hill, the Dike East is open to a well-stocked farmer’s market open three days a week. Local farmers will come from the region to share their produce in an all-day open-market setting.
The Hotel Donaldson, or HoDo as the locals call it, is a lively restaurant that marries art and dining under one roof. Part hotel, part restaurant, this is the place to eat if you want food that celebrates the surrounding prairie land of North Dakota. It’s also a good place to have a drink and enjoy a show. Usually there is a musical act of some kind playing at the HoDo. In the summer months, the rooftop is open to lounge and enjoy a meal above the city streets.
Upscale dining space with a nice selection of drinks and dishes. If visiting in the warmer months, be sure to sit in the outdoor patio area. Fresh air and a good meal work together to provide a relaxed experience that is fun to visit with a group of good friends.
Atomic is a coffeehouse in the middle of downtown Fargo serving organic and fair-trade drinks. They also make food items like sandwiches and desserts. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a cup of something hot or cold. Atomic has an ever-changing display of local art on the walls so be sure to stop in for something before continuing through your tour of downtown Fargo.
These two dining locations make up a casual sushi bar in the back and a late-night noodle restaurant in the front. Wasabi, the sushi bar, can meet all signature-roll needs in a low-key, relaxed atmosphere. The Drunken Noodle provides those looking for something delicious to fill their stomachs before calling it a day. Both are delicious and highly recommended if you’re in the mood for something on the Asian side of things.
Fine dining at its best. If you want a night to remember, be sure to head to Mezzaluna. It’s already got the vibe of something special by not appearing special. You can approach it from the street or the back alley; either way is not very telling of the treasure inside. A luxurious restaurant and artistically prepared meals make this one of the highlights of Fargo. This is a local favorite and off the path from Broadway — just enough to keep you guessing.
Thirty-two beers on tap and arguably the best burgers in town, JL Beers is a favorite of many Fargoans. Be sure to order the chips — they’re cut fresh to order. If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat with reasonable prices, JL Beers is your spot. There’s only seating for 24, so get there early, as it fills up fast!
Zambroz is the ultimate variety store. There is a little bit of everything at this store — from books and music to home goods and jewelry to cooking supplies. With a well-curated selection of goods, the joy of shopping comes alive inside Zambroz as the experience becomes just as important as the goods for sale. With a nice rotation of goods, one will always find something fun here. You can’t miss this place — just look for the amazingly detailed window displays downtown.
What started out as Fargo’s first pop-up shop is now a permanent location for local arts and crafts. Regional artists contribute to Unglued’s impressive inventory of local, handmade goods. With a pension for the handmade, Unglued provides the venue for local crafters to unite under one location. From glassware and print goods to soap and jewelry, you’ll find something here to bring home.
At O’Day, you’ll find one-of-a-kind items that the owner gathers from trips taken to China. The store’s interior is colorful and filled to the top with fun gift items you won’t encounter anywhere else. Jewelry takes up the front of the store, while the back holds many older pieces sometimes dating back hundreds of years. Stop in and see what makes this store a memorable experience no matter where you’re from.
Mid Mod Madhaus — Coming Soon
Downtown Fargo’s trendiest women’s boutique store, filled with edgy yet feminine clothing, shoes and accessories. The store’s interior is rustic chic, styled with vintage and refurbished pieces. Proper & Prim has grown quickly in popularity, with its affordable prices and unique clothing. A must-stop shop for women in Fargo.
While not easy to define, Outermost Layer is your downtown outfitter for your next urban outdoor adventure. If you’re in the market for unique clothing and footwear, Outermost Layer provides fun options and accessories from brands like The North Face, Marmot, Simple, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, etc.
Ecce provides high-end artistic home goods while existing as both a yoga studio and an art gallery. Here you can find something for both the design-minded and artistically inclined. There are one-of-a-kind items made by local artists and designers. The gallery also provides a nice overview of local talent contributing to local arts, showcased in a very pleasant way. Expect to find treasures from top designers curated in a manner unlike anything found in Fargo.
Provides downtown with vintage finds. Whether you’re shopping for clothing or fun mid-century/retro decor to give your downtown loft a makeover, you’ll no doubt find something here to your taste. Revolver carries carefully selected accessories, vintage clothes for men and women, home goods and furniture pieces.
A small, intimate venue in the heart of downtown Fargo provides music and events that you’re sure to enjoy. The space is transformed into a back alley-like atmosphere that makes for a fun night. Check the calendar to catch a jazz performance or other musicians traveling through.
Probably the most iconic building in Fargo, the theatre houses many independent and limited releases. The marquee outside will let you know not to leave this opportunity out of your Fargo stay. The theatre has been well preserved to keep its ’20s-style charm with some technological upgrades. Occasionally, the Fargo Theatre will dust off a still-operable Wurlitzer organ to perform before a film or event, which is a real treat, a nod to the bygone era of classic film and performance.
A local downtown art gallery that hosts local art shows throughout the year. Housing an art gallery, a yoga studio and many artist studios, there are lots of classes and events happening at The Spirit Room. Make it up the initial staircase and be treated to multiple creative spaces.
Be sure to check out their calendar online to find out what is happening at the Plains. With a newly expanded Center for Arts, there is now even more to see and do at the Plains Art Museum. Artists of all kinds exhibit work here, from both a regional and national level. Spend an afternoon checking out the gallery’s three floors and have lunch at the museum’s own Café Muse.
Because the weather is a big factor in Fargo, many events are planned for the summer but are well worth the wait through the cold season.
Chelsea Thorson — Designer, Raine Design
Will be selling work on Fab.com in the next week or so.
Colby Nelson — Illustrator, Ghost Pyramid
Recently published work in Color Ink Book
Ashley Morken — Owner, Unglued
Founder of first pop-up craft shop in Fargo, Unglued. Unglued is now a permanent store, hosting Craft Fests that bring in vendors from all over the Midwest.
Greg Tehven — Social Entrepreneur
A community organizer of many local events including TEDxFargo, Midnight Brunch and Startup Weekend.
Teresa O’Day — Owner, Proper & Prim
Young downtowner with connections to many people. She’s a small business owner bringing a new sense of fashion to Fargo.
Michael Strand — Professor/Ceramist
Socially engaged artist who is always looking for ways to connect with people through art. He is also the chair of the Art Department at NDSU.
Eric Ista, Jeff Knight, Matt Charpentier — Creators/Organizers, DSGNX
Coming together to form a design-centered organization in Fargo that focuses on graphic design-related events, like Cropped, a head-to-head, real-time design competition.
Chuck Klosterman (Author)
Ed Shultz (TV Talk-Show Host)
Ari Shapiro (NPR Reporter)
Charlie Korsmo (Actor)
Jonny Lang (Musician)
Kevin Sorbo (Actor, went to school at MSUM)
Bobby Vee (Musician)
Jan Maxwell (Actress)