Our top 3 favorites in Fargo, North Dakota have to include food. If you’ve read any of our posts, then you know food is where it’s at for us. And then we visited a Viking ship, yep an actual ship built in the 80s. It’s a story of dreams, huge dreams. Finally we stopped by the Visitors Center to check out their Walk of Fame. Of course, there is plenty more to see and do around Fargo, but these are our top 3 favs!
Sons of Norway
We visited the Kringen Klub of the Sons of Norway at 722 2nd Ave N in downtown Fargo, where we had the most delicious lunch and then got a tour of the lodge. What a treat! I can’t even begin to tell you what a fun experience this stop is. It’s number 1 in my top 3 favorites in Fargo. I’m not even kidding, you gotta check it out. Maybe there’s a lodge near you, look them up…here, I’ll even give you the link!
We didn’t actually even know what the Sons of Norway is. According to their website:
The mission of Sons of Norway is to promote and preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate our relationship with other Nordic countries, and to provide quality insurance and financial products to its members.Sons of Norway
I detected a kind of Moose Lodge vibe from visiting the Kringen Klub, so maybe that means we need to be hitting up Moose Lodges for lunch now! We paid about $14 for both of us. I had the liverwurst smorgasbord, while Steve had the egg salad. We both got a huge cup of soup, macaroni salad and a dessert too. Oh my goodness, what a fun and out of the ordinary treat. Just imagine a bunch of grandmas getting together to make you the best lunch ever. That’s what we ate!
A quick look at their websites shows this week’s specials including: Kringenberry melt with fries, Hamburger macaroni hotdish with cranberry jello, Swedish meatball dinner, and finally, Country Sausage, Norwegian Cabbage and boiled, buttered potatoes. Then they list the homemade pies: Rhubarb, Apple Crumble , Peach, Butterscotch, Chocolate, Coconut Cream, Rommegrot. What??? Like I said, a whole bunch of grandmas make all your favorites, then serves it to you with the biggest smiles. I don’t even know what all that food is, but I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
The lodge is richly decorated in Norwegian style with detailed rosemaling and ornate furnishings. Each Monday, painters gather in the ballroom for a time of art design and friendship as they create the beautiful rosemaling images. I loved it!
The library is complete with a large assortment of Norwegian books and literature. The Troll Lounge opens daily (except Sunday) at 3pm and features live music, comedy and karaoke. It’s a great place to meet and mingle, whether you belong to the Sons of Norway or you just wandered in off the street like us.
I really can’t say enough about this treasure of a find. Simply every room our volunteer “grandma” showed us filled us with awe and surprise. Maybe I don’t get out enough…or maybe the Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge is just one of those places that invite you in and welcome you to stay awhile.
Number 2 of my top 3 favorites in Fargo
Hjemkomst Center – Viking Ship
I don’t know how to pronounce the name of this place. That’s okay. Just say you want to go to the place with the Viking Ship and the Stave Church. Google Maps will even be able to get you there, I literally typed in “Viking Ship Fargo” and it pulls up the Hjemkomst Center! Hjemkomst does mean “homecoming” in Norwegian, so it’s a great name for this ship and Center.
Also, technically this museum is in Morehead, Minnesota, which is Fargo’s sister city. But honestly, we didn’t even realize that we crossed over the state line. It’s basically just one big downtown area with half in one state and half in the other. So I’m counting this as a Fargo favorite!
This Center is all about dreams. Honestly. Big, huge, pie in the sky dreams, which two different families brought to life. Robert Asp began building this ship in an old potato warehouse, back in 1974. A local high school guidance counselor, Asp had a dream to build a Viking ship in honor of his Norwegian heritage and then to sail it to Norway. He did get to go on the finished ship’s maiden voyage into Lake Superior, but unfortunately he died of leukemia before the final sail. Two years later, two of his children took their places among cast and crew to actually take the month-long voyage from New York to Norway.
Hjemkomst Center plays a feature video about the construction and the trip, bringing to life Mr. Asp’s dreams. I admit to getting a little teary eyed upon seeing the ship’s arrival in Norway. Huge crowds gathered to see it come ashore. What an amazing display of human desire and the feats when can accomplish once we set our minds to something.
The ship resides in the Center, so you can get right up close to it to examine the craftmanship. You can also walk upstairs to a balcony overlooking the insides of the ship in order to better understand where the crew spent their time during the journey.
Hjemkomst Center – Hopperstad Stave Church
The Center features the fulfilled dream of another Fargo resident, Guy Paulson. “Stavkirke” is Norwegian for “Stave Church,” a church built using long log columns as central supports. This beautiful display of craftmanship is an exact replica of a church outside of Vik, Norway, the Stavkirke.
On the hour, a museum docent offers a tour of the church and gives a lot of information about how it was designed. I liked the portion about having a small window at the rear where ill parishioners could walk up to give confession or take communion. No benches or seats are in the small church, as church-goers stand through out the service. I don’t know about you, but for me that better be a short service!
The church tour and seeing the ship made for a great stop at one of our top 3 favorites in Fargo. But, wait, there’s more… The Center also has art exhibits downstairs. One exhibit showed face masks created by military Veterans. This artistic endeavor allows them to express the turmoil and sorrow they may feel from armed combat and from time served. It’s a poignant and eye opening view into the sacrifices of our Veterans.
Another museum room housed textile exhibits from all over the world. These art installations are created using fabrics and items interwoven to produce a piece explaining the artist’s loss. Some depicted scenes from fires, while another was created using pieces of life vests of immigrants escaping war torn areas. Both of the rooms downstairs offered a view into the larger world around us, where dreams are sometimes squashed. The juxtaposition of the Viking ship’s joy and the misery that co-exists in life made for an impactful and thought-provoking afternoon.
Definitely stop at the Hjemkomst Center if you’re in Fargo. You’ll be glad for the experience.
Related: Check out our post about visiting South Dakota’s Monuments. Another example of fulfilling dreams!
#3 of our top 3 favorites in Fargo
Okay, now this stop might sound silly and maybe a little too “easy”, but we really enjoyed our stop at the Visitor Center. First off, the lady at the desk was amazing and really welcomed us to town. I loved chatting with her and getting to learn about her favorite places to visit. She told us about the Viking ship and about how it felt to live in town when it was all going on. A true witness to history in the making! Of course, the welcome center offers tons of brochures about places to go, but honestly, the lady there made it all come alive.
For me, I knew nothing about the city beyond what I watched in the movie, Fargo. Call me ignorant, but the city equals the movie in my mind. Well, I was not disappointed, as the Visitor Center has a good collection of movie memorabilia…including the infamous Woodchipper! So awesome!
Have I ever told you about the time when I knew I loved Steve? Over a weekend, we had individually watched a true crime show where a husband killed, froze and then ran his wife through a woodchipper. He got caught when the police found a fingernail fragment, whose polish color matched a bottle in the family’s medicine cabinet. Anyway, I was telling Steve about it during a work break on Monday, when he exclaimed that he’d seen the same show. We laughed so hard about our joint love of the macabre. And that’s when I knew, I really really liked him!
Back to Fargo…outside the Visitor Center lies a good sized Celebrity Walk of Fame. We saw the handprints and signatures of Bill Gates to Bert and Ernie. Marie Osmond to KISS. It was freezing outside, so it was a quick walk around, but we circled a couple times till we found George W. Bush’s square. What a fun tour of famous visitors to the city. Definitely worth a viewing.
Honorable Mentions in Fargo
Other things I love about Fargo are the accents, the Bison statues and the murals around town. I could listen to the locals talk for hours, just loving those accents. Everything seemed better with those lilting voices! We also enjoyed driving around to see the Bison statues and the murals around town. Similar to the groundhog statues we saw in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the bison are a fun way to get tourists around town, seeing all the sites.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of my top 3 favorites in Fargo, North Dakota. It’s a great place to visit! I’d enjoy going back to spend more time in the state, as I think I’d probably love the whole place. If you’ve been, then drop me a note in the comments to let us know what other sites to visit next time.