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From the hockey insiders, a 'what to do, see, eat and experience' guide to Fargo-Moorhead

When you travel for the college hockey playoffs, you're wise to ask the locals what to do, see, eat and experience. The Rink Live polled hockey friends and got some tips on visiting the Red River Valley.

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Located in the heart of downtown Fargo, the iconic Fargo Theater sign is one of the most photographed sites in the state of North Dakota.
Contributed / Visit Fargo-Moorhead

FARGO – For first-time visitors to the largest metropolitan area in one of the nation’s smaller states (at least from a population standpoint) we will start with an important point of Fargo-Moorhead clarification:

Unlike what you may have seen in the extremely popular North Dakota travel commercials , you rarely see Hollywood star Josh Duhamel (who was born and raised a few hours northwest in Minot) dancing on Broadway, in front of the iconic Fargo Theater sign, with cheerleaders from North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota. That was staged for the cameras.

Although somewhat related, it is actually not uncommon to see the folks from ESPN’s "College GameDay" on a temporary set there, talking football before a big Bison game in the fall. They have done it twice.

What you will find every day in downtown Fargo is a fantastic bar and restaurant scene with outstanding food from breakfast at Sandy’s Donuts to lunch at the funky cool Vinyl Taco to drinks and dinner at The Old Broadway ("The O.B." as they say here) — a classic sports bar and nightclub popular with students and fans of Fargo-Moorhead’s three colleges.

It is unknown how many Canisius fans will make the trek from their campus in Buffalo, New York, all the way across the country to root for the underdogs in their tournament opener versus the Gophers. Although there are three Minnesotans on the Griffins roster, so they will certainly have a fan base.


For the regional’s other three teams, there are no questions about fans of the Gophers, Huskies and Mavericks making the relatively easy trek up I-94 to see which team earns an all-expenses-paid trip to Florida.

In addition to the estimated 250,000 folks who call the greater Fargo-Moorhead region their home, there are thousands of others who have gotten their mail there for a time, either as a student at NDSU, Minnesota State University Moorhead or Concordia, or playing hockey in town for the popular and powerful Fargo Force of the USHL. To offer readers of The Rink Live some “insider” tips on what to do, what to see, what to eat and what to experience in the thriving heart of the Red River Valley, we talked to some current and former residents of the region that we know from the hockey world. Here were their responses:

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After starring for the Moorhead Spuds and the Minnesota Gophers, Ryan Kraft played a handful of NHL games for the San Jose Sharks.
Contributed / Gopher Sports

Ryan Kraft – The former Moorhead Spuds prep standout was a four-year letterwinner for the Gophers under head coach Doug Woog, and played pro hockey for a decade before making his way home, where he coached the Spuds girls hockey team to the state tournament this season.

“We like Bar Down, Brewtus Brickhouse , Frank’s Lounge and really anywhere in downtown Fargo to eat and have a fun time out with adults. For families, Kingpinz is great fun, and you have to take a trip to Scheels for a ride on the ferris wheel.”

Started in 1902 as a hardware and general store in tiny Sabin, Minn., Scheels has grown into a renowned chain of sports and outdoors stores, with a unique shopping experience where visitors can find entertainment as well as everything one would need for outdoor and indoor sports.

A former player for Warroad and St. Thomas, Maureen Greiner (center) spent five seasons as the head women's hockey coach at Concordia College in Moorhead.
Contributed / Greiner family photo

Maureen Greiner – Although she stepped down at the end of this season, “Mo” had been the face behind the bench for the Concordia women’s hockey team since 2018. Before coaching the Cobbers, she was an assistant coach and player for St. Thomas in their Division III days.

“See: how fast the lines move at Hector International Airport . Do: play the back nine at Moorhead Country Club right before sunset. Eat: crispy chicken and mango tacos plus a margarita at Vinyl Taco. (The guac is good too). Drink: a super slush from Junkyard Brewing (any flavor). Experience: a 40 mph wind to the face on a snowy 20-below day.”

While it's still winter in Fargo and no courses are open, there is suddenly an abundance of indoor golf facilities, ranging from Suite Shots (an indoor-outdoor hybrid range) in south Fargo to numerous indoor facilities in the metro area. There are five public courses in Fargo and a number of private options in case you have a connection and can return in the warmer months.


Phoenix Coyotes v Minnesota Wild
Fargo native and former Minnesota Gophers forward Danny Irmen made his NHL debut for the Minnesota Wild against the Phoenix Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Nov. 18, 2009.
Bruce Kluckhohn / Minnesota Wild

Danny Irmen – One of the bigger hockey stars to come out of Fargo (as opposed to that noted hockey community on the east side of the Red River), he was a three-year standout for the Gophers and spent parts of five seasons in the Minnesota Wild system.

Mick Hatten and Jess Myers talk to today's newsmakers about the State of Hockey

“The number one thing would be the Roger Maris Museum at West Acres, showing the life and career of the legendary Yankees home run hitter, who was from Fargo. Drekker Brewing company is a really fun place that’s new, and it’s one of Fargo’s oldest buildings, a restored railroad shop built in 1883 before North Dakota was even a state. The Fargo Air Museum in North Fargo is highlighting a Vietnam War display right now with aircraft armor and equipment from the war. And of course, you have to take your picture outside the Fargo Theater sign.”

There is an abundance of art and history in both Fargo and Moorhead to be seen when you are away from the rink. In addition to Danny’s two favorite museums, we’re partial to the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, where a modern viking ship is displayed. Hand-built by a Moorhead teacher, the ship made a 6,000-mile homecoming trek from Duluth to Norway in the summer of 1982.

Ohio State vs Minnesota
Fargo native Alex Woken was a four-year letterwinner for the Minnesota Gophers after playing prep hockey at Fargo South/Davies and for Shattuck-St. Mary's.
Contributed / Gopher Sports

Alex Woken – Now in graduate school in Colorado, on her way to becoming a veterinarian, Woken was a prep standout with Fargo South/Davies and at Shattuck-St. Mary’s prior to four seasons as a Gopher, and pro hockey stints in Europe and with the Minnesota Whitecaps.

“I come to visit my parents now and then and like to visit Sol Ave. Kitchen in Moorhead and any of the bars and restaurants in downtown Fargo – I’m partial to Havoc House , but anything in and around Broadway Square is fun – as well as a few cool wineries just outside of town. Bar Down pub in West Fargo even has a lighted rink where you can skate, and if you like Mexican, go to Plaza Azteca. And if you want a fun distraction with a hint of danger, there are several great ax-throwing places in the community.”

In a place that is flat and often frozen, like Fargo-Moorhead, outdoor skating is a big part of winter fun, with hockey and skating rinks throughout the community. Moorhead hosted Hockey Day Minnesota in 2011 when they had a problem that is rare for Red River Valley winters – it was too warm to have good quality ice.

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Originally from Moorhead, Bryant Christian was a four-year letterwinner at AIC and the Yellowjackets' captain as a senior in 2017-18.
Contributed / RJB Sports

Bryant Christian – Descended from American hockey royalty (his grandfather Bill and uncle Dave are Olympic gold medal winners in 1960 and 1980, respectively), Christian played four years at AIC after a starring career for the Spuds and a stint in the BCHL.

“I like Plaza Azteca for Mexican food, and the fact that it is located near the rink is a bonus. And when you’re in town you need to hit the Moorhead Trifecta, which includes a happy hour beer at Junkyard Brewing, dinner at Rustica and dessert at Moorhead’s famous Dairy Queen .”


You just knew there was something special brewing at Moorhead’s downtown Dairy Queen a few weeks ago, when it opened for the season on a bitterly cold day, and dozens of students from Concordia trekked more than a mile on foot to stand in line, outdoors in the elements, to get a Dilly Bar – which was invented in Moorhead. You can even get your picture taken by the Dilly Bar statue to show your DQ cred.

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Jason Wachter / The Rink Live

Spencer Meier – The St. Cloud State captain is from Sartell, Minn., but spent a memorable season with the Fargo Force , winning the Clark Cup there in 2018. He has worn the ‘C’ for the Huskies the past three seasons and will be in a familiar place, skating at Scheels Arena.

“If you’re eating out, Luckys 13 Pub has incredible onion rings and for breakfast, I really like Kroll’s Diner , which also has the best milkshakes in the valley. And if you want to get some golf practice in, Suite Shots is similar to TopGolf and a fun place to work on your game.”

As the two biggest cities in eastern North Dakota, and the state’s most renowned college towns, Fargo and Grand Forks (70ish miles to the north) have a fun civic rivalry. But two of the more renowned foods from Grand Forks can also be found in Fargo, with late night Mexican eats from the Red Pepper , and the world famous chippers (Red River Valley potato chips covered in milk chocolate) from Widman’s Candy Co.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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