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Driving along a rural road on a small- town road trip.
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    North Dakota

Midwest Meanderings

Enormous swathes of the United States go ignored by guidebooks. They’re places where there’s nothing special, or so the conventional wisdom says. But a long, leisurely drive through these areas—and they’re everywhere, from one coast to the other—often ends up being the highlight of a trip. If you’re looking for the ‘real America’, there’s no better place to start.

Begin in Fargo

You might fly into Fargo, North Dakota, and drive southwest. Once you’re past the Sheyenne National Grassland, the map shows nothing but tiny towns (LaMoure, Linton, Berlin, Napoleon...) spread out like buckshot and connected by long, straight roads. You’ll be the only car for miles and miles, and when you see another one driving towards you, get ready to wave. Look out for real-life cowboys and farmers working the broad, flat, wide-open land. At some point—any point, actually—pull over to the side of the road. Listen to the silence. Marvel at the mammoth sky above you.

Downtown Fargo, North Dakota

Downtown Fargo, North Dakota
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Enjoying Small-Town USA

Stop in any and every town, where your arrival will likely be an event. These places don’t get many visitors, and locals will be as interested in you as you are in them. Strike up a conversation; ask questions. One always worth asking: where’s the best pie around here?

What else you’ll find depends on where you go. Two pieces of advice: 1. wandering without a particular destination can lead to the best adventures, and 2. stop more than you think you should. Whether it’s for a yard sale or a church bingo game, a corn maze or a county fair, a bowling alley or a high school football game, the best way to interact with Americans is to get out of the car.

Bison in the Badlands, North Dakota