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An iridescent glimmer of culture, art, and craft on the seemingly endless expanse of American high plane, Fargo holds special place in the heart of the American Midwest—and for that matter, America as a whole. While probably best known in modern times as (part of) the place where the Cohen Brothers film Fargo was set (but not actually filmed), Fargo—and its twin across the Red River, Moorhead, Minnesota—got its start in 1871 as steamboat hub, and quickly earned its reputation as “The Gateway to the West.” While it makes up about 15% of the population of North Dakota, Fargo’s certainly no fast-paced, ultra-modern metropolis, but that’s part of what makes it so special. It’s got that small town vibe in spades, which, when you mix it with its status as a regional powerhouse, its uniquely rich history, and quintessential Midwest character really mark Fargo a city unique among its contemporaries.

Fargo’s always been a city that works. From its days as a paddlewheel pitstop to its modern role as an agricultural, medical, educational, burgeoning tech hub, Fargo’s never really been a place where people are afraid to get their hands dirty. This hardworking spirit is part of why Fargo’s been on the rise ever since it got started, and it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

That said, it’s definitely not all about work in Fargo; there’s a surprising amount of ways to fill your day when you’re here. Museum hounds can spend their days buried in everything from a recreation Viking longship to some works by Andy Warhol; there are also some architectural feats (like the Fargo Theatre) that are well worth checking out. Or, maybe you’re more looking to come back reinvented. No problem. Fargo’s a great place to shop at chic boutiques and big-name stores alike. And if you find the endless, shimmering sea of High Plains tall grass is calling your name, there are plenty of ways to savor these uniquely great outdoors. Whether you’re a birder, a paddler, a runner, or a biker, Fargo’s endless plains are yours to be explored.

Fargo’s role as an agricultural center—and the surrounding area’s rich soil—mean that Fargo’s dining scene punches well above its weight. Superb steaks, a surprising amount of modern cuisine, a bounty of burgers, a plethora of pizza (like, the good kind of pizza), a smattering of small plates, and a myriad of international all help make up the spectrum of Fargo’s cuisine. When it comes to nightcaps, you’ll have quite a few local dives to choose from, but you can also head to a crafty-centric beer bar, a cocktail spot, or even hole up on a roof and soak in the glorious expanse. While you’re here be sure to sample their other wares, too: you’ll find a surprising array of craft beer and coffee to keep you fueled—day or night.

Fargo somehow grays the line of not what you’d expect and just what you’d expect. While it doesn’t offer the shimmering array of modernity that you’d find in a big city, it offers you something more unique: its own way of doing things. It’s a hard working town with some excellent ways to get out and explore everything from contemporary art to mountain bike trails. Whether you’re passing through or planning on settling in for a while, Fargo’s charm, character, and culture should leave their mark on your trip.

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