Don’t discount North Dakota for meetings—it’s home to captivating attractions. The capital city, Bismarck, is centrally located in the U.S. and steeped in western history you can weave into the theme of your next event.

From Native American heritage sites to following the journeys of Lewis & Clark, planners organizing a meeting in Bismarck can infuse noteworthy historic attractions into engaging group experiences and offsite events.

We selected our eight favorite historic stops in Bismarck to consider for your next North Dakota meeting or event.

1. North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum

The best way to acquaint yourself with North Dakota’s history is to check out the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum, according to Bismarck-Mandan CVB CEO Sheri Grossman.

It’s the state’s largest museum and recently finished a $52 million renovation. Now, you’ll find high-tech displays and interactive exhibits within, detailing North Dakota’s story through its people, beginning with its first hunter and gatherer residents some 13,000 years ago.

North Dakota Heritage Center Interior Event Setup
North Dakota Heritage Center Interior Event Setup

Your attendees can also enjoy extremely rare Native American artifacts, a 1950s soda shop and even a full-scale replica of a T-Rex.

“Your group will want to start their experience here to get a well-rounded, eagle-eye view of what really makes our state tick,” Grossman said.

Admission to the museum is free. After touring the galleries, groups can have a light lunch at the onsite James River Café, which serves T-Rex cookies.

Event Spaces for Groups

The museum also offers a variety of event spaces for groups, including:

  • Northern Lights Atrium, which seats 90 for receptions and dinners.
  • A 265-seat auditorium for meetings and presentations.
  • The 200-seat Missouri River Event Center.
  • The Badlands Plaza, an outdoor space.

2. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is North Dakota’s oldest state park and it offers a wealth of history for groups to explore.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

General George Custer lived at Fort Abraham Lincoln before he met his end at Little Big Horn. Groups can take a tour transporting them back to 1875, the year before the historic battle.

Notable sites include the Custer family home, barracks, stable and other reconstructed buildings. Groups can also watch the Seventh Calvary perform military drills.

Custer House at Fort Abraham Lincoln
Custer House at Fort Abraham Lincoln

Afterward, your group can enjoy a buffalo barbecue dinner or nearby Medora’s famed Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner, where cooks sear up to 15 steaks at once on a pitchfork over an open fire.

Event Spaces for Groups

The Commissary is available year-round for indoor meetings and events. It offers seating for up to 150 and is equipped with Wi-Fi and a coffeemaker, microwave, TV, sink and refrigerator.

3. On-a-Slant Village

Long before there was a Fort Abraham Lincoln, on the same land, 1,500 Native Americans lived in a village down the slope near the river.

Known as “On-a-Slant Village,” this collection of 85 earthlodges was home to the Mandan people before a smallpox outbreak decimated the population in 1781. It’s also on the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail—a 4,900-long trail extending from Pennsylvania to Oregon.

On-a-Slant Village
On-a-Slant Village

Five earthlodges have been reconstructed on the historic site, and groups can tour the village to learn more about the Mandan and their village’s unique position as a merchant hub for traveling tribes throughout the West. According to the National Park Service, the site contains archaeological evidence of the original village.

Event Spaces for Groups

The On-a-Slant village is managed by Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. The old Mandan site is within the park, a short distance away from the Commissary that’s available for year-round use.

4. North Dakota State Capitol Building

This state does everything a little differently, and the state capitol is no exception.

The 19-story North Dakota State Capitol Building is known as the “Skyscraper on the Prairie,” eschewing the traditional facade for a more contemporary look.

North Dakota State Capitol Building
North Dakota State Capitol Building

“If you haven’t seen our State Capitol, it is worth a tour,” said Bismarck-Mandan CVB’s Grossman. She said groups can also tour the legislative chambers, visit the Roughrider Hall of Fame or take in the view on the 18th floor observation deck.

Event Spaces for Groups

Grossman added that the Memorial Hall is ideal for gala receptions.

With the backdrop of a Belgium black marble wall and bronze pillars, the spacious, light-filled hall is a marvel-worthy setting. Groups can also tour the legislative chambers, visit the Roughrider Hall of Fame or take in the view on the 18th floor observation deck.

5. Knife River Indian Villages & National Historic Site

For hundreds of years, the Knife River Indian Villages site was an important trade hub for Native American tribes, home to up to 5,000 people.

Today, groups can arrange for a park history interpreter to highlight the history of the Hidatsa people, and can experience a reconstructed earthlodge first-hand.

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The site includes what remains of three Hidatsa villages, a museum and visitor center, plus 14 miles of self-guided history and trails. Here, Lewis & Clark met Sacagawea, the Lemhi Shoshone woman who guided them on their expedition.

Attendees will have a chance to learn more about her life and legend at this historic site. This location makes for an informative downtime option, combining history and the outdoors.

Event Spaces for Groups

Though there are no official rentable spaces at this site, there is a covered pavilion where groups can enjoy an informal picnic lunch.

6. North Dakota Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Lewis & Clark spent the winter of 1804-1805 at Fort Mandan, an outpost their crew built near the many Native American villages of the area.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

The Interpretive Center features an impressive collection of artifacts from the period as well as interactive kiosks. Groups can also visit the reconstructed fort.

Onsite interpreters can fully immerse groups into the culture of the time with food, experiences and Native American games like hoop and dart.

Event Spaces for Groups

Planners can arrange for historic presentations, along with a catered lunch on the grounds.

  • The Interpretive Center is equipped with a covered deck and catering kitchen and can accommodate up to 180 people.
  • The library board room can accommodate small groups of up to 12 people.
  • The classroom in Fort Mandan can accommodate up to 75.

7. Lewis & Clark Riverboat

Pair tasty food and drink with a dash of history by hosting an event on the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, docked at the Port of Bismarck. Planners can charter a private cruise that includes options like a cash bar or a make-your-own taco bar on board.

Lewis & Clark Riverboat
Lewis & Clark Riverboat

The riverboat cruises along the Missouri River, and attendees can immerse themselves in a 30-minute presentation on the Lewis & Clark expedition while enjoying scenic views.

Event Spaces for Groups

There are public tours, but the boat can be rented for private meetings and events, accommodating up to 100 people. Cruises are available from May to September.

8. Buckstop Junction

More than a dozen historic homes and buildings make up Buckstop Junction, a recreated village displaying life from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Each structure was carefully moved to the village by the Missouri Valley Historical Society for preservation. The collection includes a church, school, railroad depot, post office, hotel and even a mining camp.

The village is available for tours, or planners can rent nearby Bethel Church or the Lewis Hotel for receptions and events.

Event Spaces for Groups

For those with large groups who want to host a truly unique event, the entire village can be rented out for a day-long event.

Planners can contact the Bismarck-Mandan CVB for speaker and programming suggestions.

Bismarck CVB Contact Information

Bismarck Mandan CVB