A favorite spot for weekend shopping getaways, Fargo shines bright these days with a bustling downtown, creative shops and inspired restaurants, all while maintaining its downright polite prairie hospitality. It’s the perfect blend of fun and whimsy for Friday-Sunday getaways.
In 1996, the Coen brothers launched a noir thriller at the Cannes Film Festival. Their little project was called Fargo, a film that went on to garner a handful of awards and inspired a television series of the same name. It solidified, in the minds of moviegoers, what Fargo, the city was – quirky speech patterns, a fashionable trend toward wearing fur hats, and perhaps most importantly, new uses for a wood chipper. But he did more than that. It put the city on the radar, inviting visitors to see for themselves if the film nailed the mood. Today’s visitors might be surprised because Fargo has grown and is showing a rather upscale side.
Check into the Jasper Hotel, the city’s newest boutique hostel, nestled in a skyscraper in the heart of downtown. Rooms are modern but not fussy, with plenty of thoughtful touches such as a snack bar with local treats, beds that sink into slumberland, and soaps and lotions that’ll have you putting leftovers in your bag . And like many newer boutique hotels, the Jasper is pet-friendly. Fidos are showered with affection and attention, offered non-stop treats, and elevated to near-celebrity status.
The ground floor is home to several chic lounging areas where guests gather for cocktails and chats. The bar comes alive with classic cocktails as well as a selection of soft drinks from the dry bar, including the Smashless in flavors of blood oranges and lemon. Dining at Rosewild includes offerings from sunrise to sunset, including the jaw-dropping stuffed French toast at brunch.
Adjacent to the Jasper is Broadway Square, an outdoor space that has become the gathering place for locals and visitors. There’s always something going on in the square: yoga, Zumba, markets, music and movies. An interactive water feature puts a smile on everyone’s face, and the rotating red round chairs are rarely without takers.
A stroll down Broadway reminds shoppers of shopping therapy. Charming shops line the street, including Zandbroz Variety – part curio shop, part bookstore and always a delight for one, two or more hours. There are carefully curated antiques – perhaps a hand-woven beehive is the finishing touch to your decor – shelves of framed posters with mushrooms and moths, handcrafted jewellery, soaps and intoxicating lotions, cards and notebooks and pretty handbags.
Just a hop over the bridge from Moorhead, Minnesota is where the bell tower of the replica Hopperstad Stave Church soars skyward in Harry Potter design style at the Hjemkomst Center. Inside is a Viking ship that was built locally, then made its maiden voyage from Duluth to Norway before finding a permanent home at the museum.
Beer and pretzel lovers won’t be disappointed at the Wurst Bier Hall, where dogs are welcome on the patio, complete with a bowl of water and an ice cream treat. There are plenty of local draft beers, as well as these warm, salty Bavarian pretzels served with a warm beer cheese dip. Drekker Brewing Company, Junkyard Brewing Company, Swing Barrel Brewery, and DCR Brewing Company are also great choices among the many craft houses that brew sparkling beverages.
Room for dessert? The Moorhead Dairy Queen is a bit of a wild card in the franchise family. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Dilly Bar, thank this place. They invented it and are happy to go off the menu and create a custom Blizzard, just the way you like it.
Catch a movie at the Fargo Theater, the Art Deco gem that serves as the backdrop for many Instagram selfies. Built in 1926, the venue now houses art cinema and live shows, all bathed in the slender curves and bright neon lights of the era. There’s even a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ in play, just to add some more drama to those live theater moments.
For late-night bites, head to The Boiler Room, located, as its name suggests, in the basement of a restored building. Find the entrance in Roberts Alley, behind Broadway, where some of the gems of Fargo’s dining scene reside. The signature Scotch eggs are a must, served with a spicy maple aioli. And if you’re really hungry, the BBQ Glazed Meatloaf with Bourbon Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Cream of Corn will remind you of Sunday dinners at Grandma’s.
Before you leave town, head to the Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center, put on those fur hats, and snap a quick Instagram clip in front of the ACTUAL wood chipper from the movie Fargo. Say that now famous line: “And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper?” You bet.