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Happy New Year! What are your vacation resolutions?

This is the time of year that’s full of vows for self improvement. I admit that I’m doing it. And if you’re making resolutions too here’s one to add to the list: Resolve to use your vacation time this year on actual vacations. In 2011, about 57% of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of the year and most of them left an average of 11 days unused. (CNN Money) But research is showing that if you want to stay healthy – take a vacation!

www.LuvND.comLast November, the North Dakota Ambassador program launched a lighthearted “bucket list” of fun things to see and do in North Dakota – it’s called “123 Ways to Luv ND“. This list was inspired by people, places, activities and accolades that North Dakotans love about the state. I personally think it’s also a fun way to inspire visiting North Dakota! Here you can get a taste of a few submitted favorites with the opportunity to learn more.

The “123 Ways to Luv ND” promotion also has me personally thinking about my North Dakota bucket list for 2013. While I have some personal favorites that I try to make it to each year (UND hockey being one of them and the Medora Musical), my family does try to make to different parts of the state and experience new things. Here are a few that I’m hoping to have on the calendar:

  1. Camp on Lake Sakakawea … but I’d “settle” for fishing the lake and staying at Riverdale High Lodge too. :)
  2. Run events at the Fargo Marathon and Bismarck Marathon. And maybe the Uff Da Mud Run in Grand Forks!
  3. Visit the Coteau des Prairie Lodge south of Rutland in the summer and see how far I can see from the “perch.”
  4. In high school, I was a tour guide at the Bagg Bonanza Farm near Mooreton and I really want to bring the family for the first time and see how much the more this National Historic Site has been preserved.

My husband says that he would add to the list:

  1. Stay at Woodland’s Resort and fish Devils Lake.
  2. Do some ice fishing.
  3. Coyote hunting.

(I think he may have a one-track mind.)

So … what’s on your vacation-resolution list for 2013?!?

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Just for Fun

 

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Horse racing is back!

I haven’t yet had the chance to experience live horse racing in North Dakota and it’s one thing that I really want to do. I’ve driven past the North Dakota Horse Park – north of Fargo – and it looks so cool with impeccible buildings and those pretty white fences. I do kind of picture myself with an amazing hat and dress picking all the right horses to bet on. But that’s a post for after I’ve gotten there AND picked all the right horses while wearing an amazing hat and dress.

THIS post is to inform you that racing is BACK in North Dakota!  After a two-year hiatus, live racing returns July 14-15 and July 21-22.  Admission is just $3.00 with kids 12 and under admitted free.  Nine races take place each day and they do have cool names like “Josies Little Outlaw” and “Rulers Tribute.”

Want two more reasons to head to Fargo? Thru July 15 the Red River Valley Fair is taking place in West Fargo – with midway, live entertainment, kids fun and so much more! And the downtown Fargo Street Fair with crafts, vendors and delish food takes place July 19-21.

Have racing fever? North Dakota has auto tracks too. From Bottineau to Wishek to can enjoy rip-roarin’ fun!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Attractions, Events

 

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Guest Blog : Undiscovered Travels in North Dakota – A Memeorable RV Experience

This guest blog comes from our friends at El Monte RV Rentals who invite others to explore North Dakota as they did.

Here’s a great way to produce an eyebrow-arching reaction from your friends: tell them that you’re going to take a trip to North Dakota this year. That’s right, North Dakota – home state of bubbly bandleader Lawrence Welk, zen coaching great Phil Jackson and peppery actress Angie Dickinson, to name just a few famous North Dakotans. Those who think the only thing to do in North Dakota is shovel snow 10 months out of the year would be very surprised to find out just how much fun you can have in our 39th state. And because so many still think this way, you’re not going to find the usual suffocating crowds and long lines that plague so many of the country’s top destinations. So pack your bags, rent an RV and get ready for a memorable and truly relaxing vacation.

Begin your trip in the eastern part of the state with a stop at the Prairie Rose Carousel in Wahpeton, open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even people without kids will marvel at seeing this fully restored 1926 Spillman model featuring 20 intricately painted wooden horses, two chariots and a calliope – it’s one of only 150 working carousels left in the country. And should you fancy a ride, it’s just $1.50.

From there, it’s a short drive to Bonanzaville in West Fargo. Learn about prairie life in the 1800’s as you stroll through more than 40 restored vintage buildings, including homes, schools, stores, depots and banks. On-site museum collections feature tractors, buggies, medical equipment and aircraft, including a C-47 that was used during the D-Day invasion.

To see an amazing collection of vintage aircraft that still fly, check out the nearby Fargo Air Museum, which features the F4-U Corsair, L 39 Jet, TBM Avenger, P 51 Mustang, Fairchild PT-19A, L 19 Bird dog, Bell Helicopter and “Duggy – the Smile in the Sky” DC 3.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineNext, drive north to Dunseith to visit the International Peace Garden located on the US-Canadian border. Constructed in 1932 as a symbol of friendship between the two countries, the 2339-acre Peace Garden offers vibrant displays of over 150,000 flowers including an 18-foot floral clock. It’s open year-round but the best views are when the park is at full bloom mid-July through August. Take time to park at one of the campgrounds to hike the surrounding Turtle Mountain forests and do some serious bird watching.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineAlso worth a stop is nearby Lake Metigoshe State Park, where you can enjoy acres of pristine wilderness, a crisp mountain lake and hike the 3-mile Old Oak Trail, the state’s first Recreation Trail. Here you can experience the rugged beauty of nature while you unplug from life’s day-to-day distractions.

After a day or two of true R&R, you’ll be ready to head back south to Bismarck, the state capital and home to a number of can’t miss historical attractions. The North Dakota Heritage Center museum is open year-round, and documents the entire history of the land from its formation and pre-historic dinosaurs to the western expansion era, Indian encounters and industrial age growth. You can also learn about the U.S.S. North Dakota and other nautical interests in the Hall of Honors section of the Museum.

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the InteriorFamed explorers Lewis and Clark travelled the Missouri River (which is actually longer than the Mississippi) through this part of North Dakota with Indian guide Sakakawea, and their adventures are highlighted at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center next to Fort Mandan, just a short drive from Bismarck. You can try on a buffalo robe, learn about the fur trade and view breathtaking watercolors by Karl Bodmer, regarded as one of the best eyewitness illustrators of Upper Midwest Indian Cultures.

In addition to Fort Mandan, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park located on the west side of the Missouri boasts an impressive array of historical attractions, including reconstructed Indian earth lodges and General George Custer’s last Calvary post and reconstructed home. It was from this fort that he rode out to meet his fate at the hands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

by Mary Brazell, courtesy of National Park Service

The western part of North Dakota is where you’ll find Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a panoramic tribute to our 26th President’s fervent belief in conservation, located near the town of Medora. You can read about the former president’s adventures in his own words and explore his Maltese Cross and Elkhorn ranches, surrounded by the austere beauty of the western badlands. Gain a unique perspective of the area from a saddle –guided horseback tours are available at Peaceful Valley Ranch within the Park.

Wrap up your tour by taking in a performance of the Medora Musical – a rollicking family-friendly entertainment adventure with singing, dancing and even live horses in a show that reflects upon the time Roosevelt spent in the area. The show is performed nightly during the summer months, and includes a mix of modern country, gospel and patriotic songs.

Amusing, restful, historic and panoramic – all very suitable words you can use to describe your journey through the quietly remarkable state of North Dakota.

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.  You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their Camping Pictures

 

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Fishing – no ice, no waiting – in North Dakota

I’ve posted before about my husband – a Minnesotan who has become one of North Dakota’s biggest promoters because of the accessible (and pretty fabulous) hunting and fishing here.  Well this guy LOVES his Missouri River.  It’s no secret that this has been the warmest winter on record in North Dakota.  Most of the state had little to no snow all season and now the daytime highs have consistently been in the 50s, 60s and even 70s from border-to-border.  So what does that have to do with my dear hubby and fishing?  As I was being informed of the boat ramps that have opened in Bismarck and Mandan he also reminded me that in some states, there’s a season opener that’s still weeks away. Here in North Dakota, our walleye/pike season never “closes” or “opens.”  And as many anglers know – that spring bite can be awesome.  HOW awesome?  Just last week a new state record lake trout was caught.

Royce Johnston of New Town reeled in the 16-pound, 6-ounce lake trout from the Garrison Dam Tailrace (on the Missouri River). The 33.5-inch fish broke the old record by more than two pounds. The previous record of 14 pounds, 4 ounces was taken from the Tailrace in 1982.

Fishing North Dakota is easy! Just visit the Game and Fish Department for licensing, waterways and boat ramps. You can also get the latest with the North Dakota Outdoors on Facebook.  Follow @OutdoorsND on Twitter for great information around the state because, not only is the fishing open, golf courses are opening too! The first we’ve heard of are Heart River in Dickinson, Pebble Creek in Bismarck and the Edgewood and Rose Creek courses in Fargo. Several others have told us that they could be opening in the coming weeks!

And if you happen to be going out tomorrow on the Missouri River – it’s expected to be 80-degrees and you can look for my hubby in a green Fisher.

 
 

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North Dakota responds to ad criticism

Frank Cooper, Chief Consumer Engagement Officer of PepsiCo once said, “You as a brand have to be completely confident about your position, because you will get criticism. You will have a negative reaction. If you didn’t get a negative reaction, that means you’re standing neutral and you have no point of view. Who wants to participate in that?”

For North Dakota Tourism, that criticism came yesterday, January 12, 2012.

On Monday the 9th, North Dakota Tourism unveiled their advertising campaign for the new year, including six new :15-second television ads and 10 new print ads.  The unveil received a great deal of attention including an AP story picked up by more than 50 online and print publications to include the Boston Globe, Bloomberg Businessweek and the Huffington Post.  The television ads are shared on YouTube and NDtourism.com and the print ads were also shared on our website and Facebook fan page.

Yesterday afternoon, one print ad started being widely shared on Facebook generating a great deal of comments – a majority of them negative.  Our first reaction was, “Wow!  Some people are just crude and watch too much reality TV.”  But as comments became, in some cases, downright offensive, we decided to remove the image from Facebook and our website.  We also became aware of blogs criticizing not just the ad but the entire state.

The media and public reaction that has followed in the past 24-hours has been a mixture of supportive, cautionary and critical.  This isn’t a canned statement – but just the honest way we feel:  This ad was intended to highlight nightlife, youthfulness and a girls-night-out in one of our city’s downtowns.  While we did not personally see the negative connotations that have since been implied, we take that feedback very seriously and are responding to it.  The ad will not run in publications as originally presented.  We are committed to promoting our vibrant city experiences and will create an ad that more accurately conveys the message we intended.

What’s most bothersome to those of us who have been involved in the creative campaign is not the fact that the ad has been attacked, but the fact that the models – who had such a fun experience at the photo shoot – have been personally bashed.  These are beautiful, REAL people who we are proud to have represent North Dakota and the fun, downtown Fargo nightlife that they truly do enjoy.  We apologize to them for the senseless and inappropriate things that people posted about them.

Here at North Dakota Tourism we aren’t “standing neutral with no point of view.”  We care passionately about North Dakota.  Criticism against the overall campaign and the state is unjustified.  We have research on our visitation, about our ad campaigns and our branding.  And the creative strategy and media buy are based on this research. According to the U.S. Travel Association, North Dakota has been outpacing the nation with increased visitor spending in seven of the past eight years.  Since the introduction of the Legendary brand 10 years ago, we’ve made great strides in showing more people the great history, culture, scenery, adventure and fun in North Dakota.  We have measured the results of our ad campaign since 2003 and the 2010 advertising  generated more than $277 million in visitor spending. This ad series works to showcase many of the experiences found here and that our visitors tell us they love.

Like Cheryl Dunning from Winnipeg, Manitoba who recently wrote us: I plan on coming back into North Dakota fairly regularly … Grand Forks is a favorite as is Fargo. I’d like to see Bismarck, Jamestown and well a lot of other places. I always find ways to have fun in North Dakota – from finding new places to eat to finding new things to take photos of. I look forward to returning time and time again to North Dakota.”

Thank you Cheryl.  We’re good enough and gosh darn it, people like us!  As travel expert and blogger Ted Sullivan wrote in his blog about Fargo – it’s quirky, unexpected and great place to visit.

Thank you to all of you sending us your tweets, posts and emails of support, like St. Paul Pioneer Press freelance writer Julie Forster who tweeted, “Yay, North Dakota! Love your ad. Can’t believe you pulled it” and Arla Jean Wood who told us on Facebook: “Fargo is a friendly college town! I really don’t see the intention of harm or insult in that ad. Downtown bars are an easy place to meet new people. That has ALWAYS been the case for me; when I was young and lived there and 10 yrs late when I go back to see friends. It’s always a fun party and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I love going home.”

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in ND in the News

 

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Let’s go Bison!!!

From North Dakota to Texas and with Bison fans throughout the nation – tomorrow we’ll be cheering “Go North Dakota!” The Bison football team of North Dakota State University headed to Texas this week and will face Sam Houston State in the NCAA Division I FCS Championship game tomorrow.  Kick-off is at 12:00 p.m. (CST) in host city, Frisco, Texas.  The game will be carried nationally on ESPN2.

The road to the championship game has been paved by a 13-1 season for North Dakota.  No. 1 ranked Sam Houston has a 14-0 record.  Included in their fan support are the Governors and Senators of the two states.  North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have placed a friendly wager on the game as have Senators Conrad and Hoeven!

Head Bison football coach Craig Bohl with the North Dakota State University team. Photo by Dave Wallis

North Dakota State University is a research university with an enrollment of more than 14,000.  It’s main campus is in Fargo, which has a metro population of 190,000 and in addition to Division I athletics is also home to USHL hockey and American Association independent baseball.

If you’re at the game or cheering from home, be sure to share your fan photos with us on our Travel North Dakota page on Facebook.  And tweet your thoughts to @NorthDakota and @NDSUAthletics.  Go Bison!

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Events, Family Fun, Sports

 

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Lights, Snow, Action!

The sparkle of the season will soon surround us as the first of winter’s snowfalls cover the ground and reflect the twinkling of holiday lights. There are great options to enjoy light tours in North Dakota. Pack up the family and a thermos of hot chocolate!  And for a truly memorable experience, consider a horse-drawn sleigh ride – available from the Dakota Carriage Company in Fargo.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Events, Winter Fun

 

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