Grand Forks Travel Guide

Grand Forks, originally called ‘Les Grandes Fourches’ by French fur traders, is located on a flat stretch of land called the Red River Valley in North Dakota and is perched on the western bank of the river of the same name. The traditionally agricultural city is a town of just over 50,000 residents and now earns its bread and butter by more modern methods like healthcare, scientific research, food processing and defense.

The first settlers of the land were Native Americans before the French voyageurs began to open routes to the area and begin trade. The so-called ‘Father of Grand Forks’ was Alexander Griggs, a steamboat captain who solidified the US hold on the city by opening a post office after the river froze and he and his crew were forced to set up camp.

The town grew slowly. In the 1920s the North Dakota Mill and Elevator was built, giving many locals jobs. Another new player in local employment rolled into town in the fifties; Grand Forks Air Force base, which has subsequently employed many citizens in the defense industry. Cultural spaces and events are largely available thanks to the presence of the University of North Dakota, whose campus houses the North Dakota Museum of Art. The Chester Fritz Auditorium where the North Dakota Ballet Company performs is also on the UND campus.


North Dakota Museum of Art: the museum collection highlights many regional artists as well as hosting a wide variety of nationally touring exhibitions.

Chester Fritz Auditorium: if it’s classical music, ballet or theatre you’re after, you’ll find it here, with a busy schedule of performances year round.

Grand Forks Park District: the huge green space is home to baseball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, swimming pools, soccer fields and much more.