FARGO — Wow, we're into August already. Time is flying by this summer. Soon the school bells will ring and families will begin settling down into the school year routine.
However, there are still a few weekends left before the school year kicks off, leaving just enough time for a quick getaway. Vacations are a great time to really get to know each other and grow together as a family.
Don't have the time (or money) to make it to Disneyland this year? Well, you're in luck.
Pack up the kiddos and take a day to explore the world just beyond your backyard. Here are just a few of the amazing family destinations our area has to offer — outside the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo city limits, but just an hour or so out of town.
For rustic families
Located in southeastern North Dakota, the Sheyenne National Grassland is made up of over 70,000 acres of public land and close to 65,000 acres of privately-owned land. The only national grassland in the tall grass prairie region of the U.S., the area is home to plentiful wildlife — like prairie chickens and Dakota skipper butterflies — and is maintained through programs designed to create an environment for the public to enjoy while continuing to maintain the natural beauty the land has provided.
Despite its flat plains and choppy sand hills, the grassland gives visitors plenty of opportunities for a wide variety of recreational activities. Several trails of various distances are marked and maintained for biking, hiking or simply enjoying the spectacular views.
Distance from The Forum: 1 hour, 7 minutes (60.3 miles).
Activities and amenities: Biking, camping, fishing, hunting, horse riding, nature views and winter activities.
For water lovers
To the east of Fargo-Moorhead is the heart of Minnesota's lakes country, and there's always an opportunity to jump in and celebrate that wonderful H2O.
The Detroit Lakes, Minn., area offers more than 400 lakes within 25 miles of the town and when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors, there's no shortage of adventures.
Little Detroit Lake, with its famous mile-long beach, gives ample opportunity for folks to launch their boats, walk along the sandy beach or swim in designated swimming areas. Just east of DL, grab a tube and float along the Otter Tail River or rent scuba gear to see what lurks beneath the water's surface.
Not much of a water family? Just 4 miles east of Detroit Lakes, mountain biking enthusiasts can enjoy professionally designed trails and lift-accessed downhill adventures featuring rollers, jumps, drops and more. For a more relaxed outdoor adventure, explore some trails and picnic around some of the parks and wildlife preserves — just make sure to visit the farmers market on Saturdays to stock up on necessities first to make your picnic perfect.
Distance from The Forum: 52 minutes (46 miles).
Activities and amenities: Biking, camping, fishing, boating, swimming, water activities, restaurants, lodging and more.
For animal lovers
Been to Fargo's Red River Zoo about a million times this summer? Maybe it's time to point your vehicle southward and enjoy another beautiful zoo just down the interstate.
The Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, N.D., offers families a quality experience in a child-friendly environment. From educational programs and information to animal habitats and care of animals, the zoo is dedicated to its animals and the community. Animals that call the zoo home include zebras, an orangutan, river otters, peafowl, an American alligator and many, many more.
Events allow visitors to get up close and personal with many animals, and there is even space for families to set up their own RV or tent or rent one of two cabins available for overnight adventures.
Admission to the Chahinkapa Zoo is $11.25 for adults, $10.25 for military members and seniors, $8.25 for children ages 3-12 and free for children 2 and younger. For more information, visit www.chahinkapazoo.org.
Distance from The Forum: 52 minutes (46 miles).
Activities and amenities: Bathrooms, concessions, camping, class opportunities and more.
For outdoors families
From hiking to wildlife and more, finding something to keep those energetic kids happy and busy is not difficult to do — especially at Clay County's Buffalo River State Park.
Hike the 12 miles of trails and enjoy a picnic among colorful wildflowers and tall grasses or bring your fishing pole and cast a line into the Buffalo River for the catch of the day. There are plenty of options for family fun in this Minnesota state park.
There are even camping options for those who wish to extend their trip a bit longer. Showers are available for use as well. For current camping rates, give the park office a call at 218-498-2124.
Park passes are required for admission. The cost is $35 for an annual pass, $26 for a second vehicle, $12 for an accessible vehicle or $7 for a daily pass. Camping fees are separate.
Distance from The Forum: 22 minutes (15 miles).
Activities and amenities: Bathrooms, showers, hiking, camping and more.