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Itinerary mapSignature Tour - City Nights and Northern Lights

Travel to one of those most diverse and unspoiled destinations on the North American continent. This is indeed a region of contrast.

The northern lights still appear in the night skies in remote areas, while the cities offer a wealth of entertainment and shopping temptations. This region celebrates its ethnic diversity with festivals and activities year-round featuring everything from American Indian to European traditions. The scenery ranges from rugged mountains in the Black Hills and Badlands, to peaceful lake and forest covered retreats, to the arctic tundra, to majestic plains. When enjoying our scenic wonders, take advantage of our many recreational opportunities or join in one of our many celebrations. You'll find a warm welcome here.

(Click Map to Enlarge)

Day 1 - Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN

MINNESOTA

The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are not identical twins. Minneapolis’ contemporary, sleek skyscrapers contrast with St. Paul’s European-style architecture. Enjoy a city tour including Minneapolis’ Nicollet Mall, the Walker Art Center, Guthrie Theater and Sculpture Garden. In St. Paul, Summit Avenue leads to the St. Paul Cathedral overlooking the State Capitol, the Minnesota Science Museum, James J. Hill House and Minnesota History Center (2.5 hours). Mall of America, the USA’s largest shopping/entertainment center, beckons shoppers with 500 stores, restaurants, nightclubs, The Park at MOA and Underwater Adventures (4.0+ hours). Enjoy an entertaining evening at a play in the Hennepin Avenue Theater District, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Chanhassen Dinner Theater or Mystic Lake Casino.
 
Overnight: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Day 2 - Minneapolis/St. Paul to Bemidji, MN (230 mi/370km)

Follow the Great River Road along the Mississippi to Little Falls. Relive Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic with a visit to the Lindbergh Home and Interpretive Center (1.0 hour). In Bemidji, a giant statue of Paul Bunyan, mythical giant lumberjack, with his pet blue ox, Babe, stands by Lake Bemidji. Legend says Paul’s footsteps formed Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes when he and Babe took a walk after a rainstorm (.25 hour). Nearby in Itasca State Park, 1,475-feet (450 meters) above sea level, the Mississippi River trickles out of a spring-fed lake. Visitors can walk across the headwater stones where the Mississippi River begins its 2,552-mile (4,084-km) journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Naturalist-guided excursions aboard the “Chester Charles” show park explorers wildlife and spectacular views seen only by boat (1.5 hours).

Overnight: Bemidji, MN

Day 3 - Bemidji, MN to Winnipeg, MB (229mi/369 km)

MANITOBA

From Bemidji, travel north to Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital (pop. 670,000), a cosmopolitan city with an exciting and diverse range of attractions, activities, dining, shopping and people. Discover pieces of Manitoba history with theatrical walking tours at The Forks, a river walk of shops, restaurants and special events. Then admire the architecture and atmosphere of The Exchange District, and the old world charm of St. Boniface (2.0 hours). Board the Nonsuch, a life-size replica of a ship that sailed from England to Hudson Bay at The Manitoba Museum (2.0 hours). Discover the flying machines of the north at the Western Canada Aviation Museum (1.0 hour) or take in the Winnipeg Art Gallery and Legislative Building (2.0 hours). Visit Fort Whyte Nature Center, paddle canoes at Oak Hammock Marsh (2.0 hours) or stroll through the Sculpture and English Gardens at Assiniboine Park and learn how Winnie the Pooh was named after the city of Winnipeg (1.0 hour). Evening activities include dinner theater, Broadway musicals, gaming or dining in wonderful ethnic neighborhood restaurants.

Overnight: Winnipeg, MB

Day 4 - Winnipeg to Riding Mountain National Park, MB (155 mi/258 km)

Follow the Trans-Canada/Yellowhead Highway to Riding Mountain National Park, a wildlife mecca, lush forest and lake oasis in the middle of the prairies. Stop at Fort la Reine Museum, a fur trading post originally built in 1738 in Portage la Prairie (1.0 hour). Take time to smell the lilies at Neepawa’s Lily Nook and visit the Margaret Laurence Museum, a living memorial to its author (1.5 hours). Or stop at the Minnedosa Heritage Village and nearby bison compound and suspension bridge (1.5 hours). Riding Mountain National Park is wild and wonderful with its cool lakes, rushing rivers and dense green forests. It is home to elk, deer, black bear and other magnificent wildlife. Bison still roam the range at Lake Audy and there are miles of hiking trails and walking paths. Wasagaming or Clear Lake, the resort town site, offers shops, restaurants, a movie theater, a museum, visitor center, marina, accommodations and a championship golf course.

Overnight: Wasagaming, MB

Day 5 - Riding Mountain National Park to Boissevain, MB (115 mi/186 km)

After an early morning wildlife tour along Highway 19 travel south to Brandon, Manitoba’s second largest city with a population of 47,000. Its rich agricultural heritage is showcased at the Daly House Museum (1.0 hour) and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum where RCAF pilots trained for World War II (1.0 hour). A warm prairie welcome awaits in Boissevain, voted as one of Canada’s most beautiful towns. It features outdoor art murals, the Moncur Gallery, the Wildlife Museum, Walkinshaw Place’s map of Canada fields and Dueck’s Cedar Chalet for a homemade meal (4.0 hours). Boissevain is located just north of the International Peace Garden and is an ideal stopping place.
 
Overnight: Boissevain, MB

Day 6 - Dunseith to Minot, ND (90 miles/144 km)

NORTH DAKOTA

The International Peace Garden (2.0 hours), just 12 miles (19 km) north of Dunseith, is a symbol of peace between Canada and the United States. The 2,300-acre botanical monument spans the international boundary and honors the longest unfortified border in the world. The International Peace Garden is one of the most spectacular floral gardens on the continent with more than 140,000 annuals planted each year. The Turtle Mountain Scenic Byway (30 minutes) follows 24 miles (39 km) through the tree-covered Turtle Mountains. Here the visitor can enjoy beautiful lakes, lush foliage, wildflowers, and an abundance of wildlife. In Minot, visit the Scandinavian Heritage Park (30 minutes). This heritage park features a typical Norwegian house, stabbur, and statues of famous skiers. The Roosevelt Zoo (1.0 hour) offers educational displays, zoo tours and more than 200 mammals, birds and reptiles. Home to the Fifth Bomb Wing, the Minot Air Force Base (1.0 hour) offers drive-around tours of the facilities and the flight line of aircraft.

Overnight: Minot, ND

Day 7 - Minot to Bismarck, ND (110miles/177 km)

Today’s drive will bring the history of the U.S. alive as you travel across the plains of North Dakota. First, visit the ruins of an ancient Indian village last occupied in 1845 by the Hidatsa and Mandan Indians at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site (1.5 hours) in Stanton. This site includes ruins of an ancient Indian village, Plains Indian artifacts and a reconstructed earth lodge. In Washburn, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center (1.5 hours) is a world-class interpretive site along the route Lewis and Clark traveled on their “voyage of discovery” more than 200 years ago. Nearby is the reconstructed site of Fort Mandan (1.0 hour), winter home of Lewis and Clark, 1804-1805. In Bismarck, you can choose from a variety of activities. The North Dakota Heritage Center (1.5 hours) has one of the world’s largest collections of Plains Indian artifacts, second only to the Smithsonian. There are also displays of North Dakota’s varied military and agricultural history. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, located on the banks of the Missouri River, includes the On-A-Slant Indian Village (1.0 hour). Near the village is the Fort Abraham Lincoln Visitor’s Museum (30 minutes), displaying exhibits relating to the life of the Mandan Indians and the military history of the Fort. Before you leave the park, tour the Custer House (1.0 hour), the last home and command of General George and Libby Custer. Conclude the day with a relaxing ride on the Lewis and Clark Riverboat (1-2 hours).

Overnight: Bismarck, ND

Day 8 - Bismarck to Medora, ND (128 miles/206 km)

Make a stop in Richardton at the Assumption Abbey (1.0 hour), a historic Bavarian Romanesque Catholic Church that was built in 1904. The Abbey library, gift shop, wine cellar and shop are open by request. The Dakota Dinosaur Museum (30 minutes) in Dickinson features a life-size Triceratops and Pachycephalosaurus outside the entrance and 10 full-scale dinosaurs in a central display. Medora is the gateway to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This authentic Old West cow town was founded in 1883 by the Marquis de Mores and named for his wife. A musical extravaganza, trail rides, mountain biking, hiking, museums, many gift shops and restaurants are bustling during the summer season. In Medora, tour the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site (1.0 hour). The Museum of the Badlands (30 minutes) offers displays of Indian regalia and artifacts, wildlife relics and wax figures of frontier days. Sit back and enjoy Bully the Play (1.0 hour), a one-man performance from the Broadway play presenting the life of Theodore Roosevelt as president, father, husband and hunter in the North Dakota Badlands. For dinner, experience the Pitchfork Fondue, early June through early September (1.0 hour), a unique western steak meal served at the Tjaden Center on the bluffs, offering a spectacular view of the scenic Badlands and the town of Medora. After the Fondue, sit back and enjoy the Medora Musical (2.0 hours) which is a Broadway-style musical show staged outdoors in the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, carved into a Badlands canyon. Western entertainment and a patriotic salute are part of each show.

Overnight: Medora, ND

Day 9 - Medora, ND to Deadwood, SD (220 miles, 354 km)

Take a morning loop drive through Theodore Roosevelt National Park (1.5 hours). The colorful North Dakota Badlands provide the scenic backdrop to this park. Named for the 26th U.S. President, the park memorializes his contribution to conservation. At the entrance to the South Unit of the park, tour the Visitors Center (30 minutes) and Theodore Roosevelt’s Cabin from the Maltese Cross Ranch (30 minutes). Try horseback riding, mountain biking or hiking along the marked trails in the Badlands on the Maah Daah Hey Trail, or canoe through the Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the Little Missouri River.


SOUTH DAKOTA

Depart Medora, ND, for historic Deadwood, SD, site of the 1876 gold rush. Enjoy a historic tour, learning about the gold rush, the miners and the colorful characters who lived there. Try your luck at the slots or gaming tables. Historic attractions include the Adams Museum, Saloon #10 and the '76 Museum. In summer months, see re-enactments of the "Murder of Wild Bill Hickok and the "Trial of Jack McCall."

Overnight: Deadwood, SD

Day 10 - Deadwood to Black Hills to Rapid City, SD (112 miles, 180 km)

Travel on the Black Hills Parkway, U.S. Highway 385, to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, America’s Shrine of Democracy. This drive offers views of Pactola Lake, pine-covered mountains, and lush meadows. Mount Rushmore offers walking trails, a hands-on museum depicting the carving of the presidents, a gift shop and restaurant (1.5 hours). Crazy Horse Memorial, just north of Custer, is a work in progress of a mountain-sized man and his spirited horse. The memorial is a tribute to the Native American people (1.5 hours). Hill City offers many area artists’ shops on Main Street. Board a historic 1880 train to Keystone (45 minutes). Keystone’s choices of activities include shopping, visiting presidential attractions including a historical center or a wax museum, exploring one of several Black Hills caves, touring a gold mine, or panning for gold (1.0 hr per attraction). For evening entertainment, Mount Rushmore National Memorial offers a lighting ceremony each evening.

Overnight: Rapid City or Keystone, SD

Day 11 - Rapid City to Black Hills to Rapid City, SD (147 miles, 237 km)

Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop (2.0 hours) offers opportunities to watch for 1,500 bison as well as pronghorn, deer, prairie dogs, elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep in this 71,000-acre (28,400 hectares) wildlife preserve. Camera safaris in jeeps are also offered at the State Game Lodge in Custer State Park (1.5 hours). Travel south to Wind Cave National Park and enjoy a tour (1.5 hours) of unique box-work formations in the fourth-longest cave in the world, or enjoy the above ground wildlife preserve. Hot Springs offers choices of The Mammoth Site (1.0 hour), a museum featuring an insitu display of Colombian Mammoths, Hot Springs, a warm spring-fed pool and water play land, or a tour of a horse sanctuary (1.0 hour). The Journey Museum (1.0 hour) in Rapid City gives a wonderful overview of the Black Hills from the Lakota and white man’s perspectives. Downtown Rapid City is a mecca for shoppers looking for Native American art and Black Hills’ artists’ work. Black Hills Gold jewelry tours are available to see how this unique jewelry is made. Join the cowboys for a chuckwagon dinner tonight, complete with singing and entertainment.

Overnight: Rapid City, SD

Day 12 - Rapid City to Mitchell, SD (288 miles/463 km)

Travel east on Interstate 90 to the town of Wall, where a little country drug store became famous for offering free ice water. This little drug store now features one of the largest collections of original western art in the country. Travel the S.D. Highway 240 Loop through Badlands National Park (2.0 hours) and enjoy the spires and pinnacles of this 244,000-acre (97,600 hectares) wilderness area. There are many scenic pull-offs for photos and short hikes. A restaurant and gift shop are available in the park. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center is also located near Interior on the Badlands loop drive. Continuing east on Interstate 90, you'll find the Akta Lakota Museum (45 minutes) in Chamberlain. It offers artifacts as well as modern day Native American art and is located on the St. Joseph Indian School campus. Further across Interstate 90, attraction choices in Mitchell include the World’s Only Corn Palace, the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village and Dakota Discovery Museum (45 minutes per attraction).
 
Overnight: Mitchell, SD

Day 13 - Mitchell, SD to Austin, MN (261 mi/419 km)

Tour Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s largest city, where options include a tour of Falls Park, the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science, the Outdoor Campus, the Great Plains Zoo, and great shopping opportunities (45 minutes per attraction). Crossing the border into Minnesota, stop at Pipestone. Since 900 A.D., Native Americans have gathered catlinite (soft stone) from the quarry at Pipestone National Monument for peace pipes. Visitors can learn the history of Native American culture at an interpretive center, watch Native American craftspeople carve the pipestone, and walk through the quarry (2.0 hours). Then the drive continues across the rolling farmland of southern Minnesota.
 
Overnight: Austin, MN

Day 14 - Austin to Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (112 mi/181 km)

George A. Hormel began life in an 1861 log cabin, then went on to build a meat-processing empire in Austin. The most famous Hormel product, SPAM, became linked forever with World War II as a staple for Allied troops. The SPAM Museum features displays and activities for visitors of all ages – test your skills on the SPAM production line. Check out the Hormel Web site, sit at the Cyber Diner, view a film at the SPAM theater, collect recipes and shop at the SPAM gift store (2.5 hours). Enroute to Minneapolis, visit Cabela’s (it’s not just for sportsmen) in Owatonna. A 35-foot mountain replica is inhabited with 100 trophies of wildlife species. See native and predator fish in a walk-through aquarium, snack on an ostrich or buffalo burger, and visit the art gallery. Depart for Minneapolis to conclude your City Nights and Northern Lights adventure.