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Friday Afternoon, Unwind at Medora Uncork’d
We kicked off the weekend at Medora Uncork’d with a glass of Aronia Berry wine from Wolf Creek Winery in Cole Harbor, North Dakota, pairing that with a BBQ Blueberry Meatball flatbread appetizer. It was just enough to get us through nine holes of golf. This was a relaxing thing to do in Medora, North Dakota to begin the weekend.
Play a Round of Golf at Bully Pulpit Golf Course
At Bully Pulpit Golf Course, ranked one of America’s Top 100 Golf Courses, we found ourselves immersed in the Badland’s landscape. The Little Missouri River meanders through the course, with greens tucked between the colorful bluffs. Their signature holes, “The Badlands Holes,” numbers 14, 15, and 16, allowed us to play through a rough fairway canyon. If you love golf, you’ll want to give this challenging course a try. After nine holes, we went back to our hotel and prepared for our gourmet dinner at Theodore’s inside the Rough Rider’s Hotel.
Theodore’s – A Fine-Dining Option
In Theodore’s, setting in front of the beautiful brick fireplace, we enjoyed a meal worthy of any gourmet. The bison Osso Bucco was fork-tender and served with braised au jus and a creamy horseradish sauce. The chef offered seasonal vegetables and accompanied the dish with blue cheese, mashed potatoes, and caramelized onions.
If you’re here for breakfast, try the French toast. It’ll be the perfect way to start your day.
After dinner, we explored the historic hotel and browsed through its lobby library, containing one of the largest collections of books by and about Teddy Roosevelt.
Saturday Morning – Grab Breakfast at Farmhouse Café
The Farmhouse Café was a bright, open room with shiplap and polished concrete floors. They offer traditional breakfasts like the hearty farmhouse breakfast with two eggs, hash browns, breakfast meat, and starch choice. Another favorite is the Badlands nachos, a creative twist on traditional breakfast ingredients. They started with a base of sweet potato waffle fries that were topped with scrambled eggs, onions, sausage, and cheese. The chef drizzles maple syrup to finish the dish.
After breakfast, we headed back downtown to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Explore the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame
The horse theme tied together the various exhibits at The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. You’ll find exhibits on North Dakota’s deep-rooted rodeo history, North Dakota ranchers, and indigenous Native Americans.
After a morning exploring the lives of cowboys, we walked across the street for lunch and prepared for our visit to the southern section of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Grab Some Lunch at Maltese Burger
Maltese Burger was a walk-up burger stand with window service that offered various juicy burgers, from beef to chicken. Get an order of fries and forego the ketchup. Ask for a side of aioli for dipping instead. The aioli added a flavorful garlic flair to the fries. We ate at outdoor tables; the other option was to take it to-go. It was the perfect place to grab a quick lunch and eat in the sun before heading off to explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Another great place for a casual lunch is Badlands Pizza.
Visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park (South)
Bison, elk, wild horses, and a prairie dog town call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home. Photographers will have great fun watching and waiting for that perfect wildlife shot. Several hiking trails and scenic overlooks branched off the 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive.
The park’s South Unit has the Maltese Cross Cabin, where President Roosevelt once lived, and the multi-colored Painted Canyon, both opportunities for hikers and photographers. Note the Painted Canyon Visitor’s Center is off Interstate 94, east of Medora.
In addition to the National Park, you’ll find state parks in the area. You’ll find Sully Creek State Park in Medora, and about 50 miles away, there’s the Little Missouri State Park. Another spot to explore is the Maah Daah Hey Trail. The trailhead to the 120-mile-long biking, hiking, and horseback riding trail is at the campground in Sully Creek State Park. Check out the Medora Riding Stables if you’d like to go horseback riding. The Wind Canyon Trail, for hiking, is a nice hike where you’ll experience the reward when you reach the top for a stunning view. Medora is full of outdoor adventures.
Have Dinner at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue
On a bluff high above the town, Tjaden Terrace boasted a panoramic view of the Badlands, including historic Medora, the Little Missouri River, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. At the Pitchfork Steak Fondue, chefs dressed in cowboy hats and red bandanas skewered steaks five-deep on a pitchfork and then fondued them in huge vats of boiling oil while we watched.
We selected our buffet-style dinner with coleslaw, fresh vegetables, fruit, baked beans, baked potatoes with all the trimmings, garlic toast, and dessert cinnamon-sugar donuts and brownies.
Then, we chose our fondued steak before sitting down at long picnic tables on the open terrace. While we visited with new acquaintances, our table sang along to live country music songs played by the Coal Diggers. We even saw a Teddy Roosevelt look-alike wandering around. Although dinner may serve as many as 400 people, the line moved quickly, and dinner was over within about an hour and a half, just in time to find our seats at the Medora Musical. This is one of the best things to do in Medora, North Dakota. Make it an entire evening by pairing it with the Medora Musical.
Enjoy Some Live Music at the Medora Musical
Adjoining Tjaden Terrace, the Burning Hills Amphitheater is home to the two-hour Medora Musical based on President Theodore Roosevelt’s life. Although the show is different every year, it’s always part history lesson and part variety show, definitely a must-see attraction.
The musical features live on-stage are the Coal Diggers band and the Burning Hills Singers. We took an informative 35-minute backstage tour before the musical. The guide told stories of how they managed to deliver the show in an open-air amphitheater and some of the show’s 50-year history. The show is seasonal during the summer months.
The show begins with the National Anthem and a salute to veterans and continues with musical numbers. Family-friendly comedy comes interspersed throughout the show. I particularly enjoyed it when the stage setting parted, opening the entire stage to the picturesque scenery. Actors charged San Juan Hill and rode onto the stage on live horses. Bighorn sheep may even make an appearance. Fireworks were an exciting ending to the evening.
Enjoy Sunday Brunch at the Medora Gospel Brunch
We started Sunday morning off with the Medora Gospel Brunch in Medora’s Town Square. We found egg bakes, a choice of breakfast meats, and other typical brunch fares on the all-you-can-eat buffet brunch. After the meal, Emily Walter and the Gospel Quartet performed uplifting gospel music accompanied by a full band. After brunch, we tried to pack in just a couple of more quick activities before heading home.
Visit Chateau de Mores
For a bit of history and architecture, we explored the Chateau de Mores State Historic Site. It takes about an hour to explore the 26-room, two-story summer residence of the Marquis de Mores family. The Chateau is currently a historic house museum, originally built in 1883. Many personal effects of the de Mores family and the original furnishings were there. History buffs will enjoy a tour of this site.
Get in Some Last-Minute Shopping
Purchase some western wear as a reminder of your visit to the old west at Medora Boot and Western Wear if you’d like to get that image of wild horses that escaped your lens look in Chasing Horses. They also provide tours of Theodore National Park.
The weekend always flies by quickly, and by Sunday night, we’re already planning next weekend. Are you ready for a Medora weekend getaway?
When You Go To Medora
If you need some tips on planning your Medora vacation, check out 7 Ways to Pack More Relaxing Travel into Your Over-Scheduled Life.
Getting to Medora
Two airports serve Medora, and the closest is Dickinson. Bismarck is farther away; however, it’s a scenic drive with opportunities for things to do outside of Medora North Dakota. One example is the Painted Canyon Visitor’s Center east of Medora.
Both hotels listed below are central locations for the Medora weekend getaway itinerary. The Rough Riders Hotel is in downtown Medora, while the Elkhorn Quarters is on its outskirts.
Rough Riders Hotel
The Rough Riders Hotel boasts luxury in western elegance. History buffs should request one of the historic rooms where some say the President made a speech from the balcony.
Elkhorn Quarters, named for Teddy Roosevelt’s ranch, has tiny house-style efficiency if you need a place to lay your head at night between activities. The hotel is an economical and family-friendly option.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Located on the Little Missouri River banks, camping in three different campgrounds is available in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. All of the National Park campgrounds are rustic, with no hook-ups or showers. Be sure to make a reservation as the park campgrounds are often full.
The Medora Campground is also available with spaces for tent and RV camping that includes full hook-ups.
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While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.