Bismarck-Mandan, or BisMan, is one of North Dakota’s largest metro areas and it features plenty of fun, educational historic sites and museums. Our state capital Bismarck is steadily growing and remains a hub of culture and history. The area has a rich plains history with lots of interesting artifacts and unique sites to visit. It’s amazing what we can find right in our own backyards!
When you live in a city, it can become easy to get busy with life and forget to visit these important — and interesting — historical sites. We have collected some of the best places in Bismarck-Mandan for Starion customers and their families to visit. We hope it helps remind you of the majesty of this amazing community we’re all so lucky to get to call home.
Fort Mandan is a full-size replica of the fort where Lewis and Clark spent the 1804-1805 winter during their expedition. The reconstruction is located about ten miles downriver from the original historic site.
This is where Lewis and Clark spent time among the Mandan and Hidatsa peoples. Fort Mandan is also where they met important figures like Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau, who both joined them in their expedition.
Today’s Fort Mandan offers guided tours of the replica site and additional exhibits at the visitor center. There is also a children's play area, walking trails, picnic areas, and a museum store. This historic site is great for history buffs and families alike. We think everyone should visit at least once!
Learn more: nps.gov/places/fort-mandan
North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum
North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum is the official state history museum and also the largest museum in the state!
It features four galleries telling the story of North Dakota’s history from its earliest geologic formation all the way up to the modern day. The three permanent galleries are arranged chronologically, while the fourth features temporary and traveling exhibits.
The museum has thousands of artifacts and specimens, high-tech displays, and interactive exhibits. Admission is always free and they are open seven days a week. So there is no excuse not to check out this local gem!
Learn more: statemuseum.nd.gov
Former Governors' Mansion State Historic Site
This large, green, restored Victorian home was the residence of 20 North Dakota governors, from 1893 to 1960.
Originally built in 1884 as a private residence, the home was sold to the state in 1893. After housing state governors for 67 years, the mansion was then converted into the North Dakota Psychiatric Clinic in 1960. It was the first outpatient mental health clinic in the state and one of the first in the nation to utilize talk therapy.
In 1975, the State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the site. They completed extensive research and restoration before opening it to the public in 1984.
The house was not restored to reflect a particular time period. Instead, it showcases how the house changed and evolved from 1893-1960. Restoration features are highlighted, including more than 75 samples of historic wallpaper.
Just like the Heritage Center, admission is always free.
Learn more: history.nd.gov/historicsites/fgm/index
Buckstop Junction is a re-creation of a historic prairie town depicting early North Dakota life.
Features include homes, a schoolhouse, an old train depot, stores, an aviation chamber, a church, and more. Many of these are actual buildings from 1875-1935 that were moved to the site for preservation.
Buckstop Junction also hosts several events throughout the year, such as Applefest, vendor markets, and other seasonal festivals.
Whether you are going for a fun event or an educational walkthrough, we highly recommend planning a trip to Buckstop Junction.
Learn more: ndtourism.com/bismarck/history/historic-sites/buckstop-junction
The Belle Mehus Auditorium is an historic theatre that is nearly 110 years old.
Designed by local architect Arthur Van Horn, the beautiful brick and stone building opened its door as an opera house in 1914.
Over the years, the stage at Belle Mehus has played host to many famous musicians, actors, dancers, and other entertainers.
Today, Belle Mehus hosts the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra as well as other concerts, Broadway shows, local productions, comedians, and dance performances. It's a can't-miss for any lover of culture and the arts.
Learn more: bismarckeventcenter.com/p/buildings/belle-mehus
What are you waiting for?
Bismarck-Mandan offers a wealth of historic cultural treasures that are easy to overlook in our busy daily lives, but are well worth the trip.
Our metro area has a rich history that you can explore at these various sites. Whether you’re seeking an educational or entertaining experience, we recommend taking the time to connect with our community, both past and present.