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Why Bismarck, ND, is a Great Place to Live

A thriving economy, amenities help make this Great Plains city one of the country's best places to live

By Emily Handy on December 21, 2022

Bismarck, ND, is one of the best places to live.
Ryan Donnell

North Dakota’s capital city is something to be proud of. Nestled along the Missouri River, the city is packed with big city amenities while effortlessly retaining a relaxed hometown feel. A healthy economy, plenty of fresh air and outdoor activities, and a downtown with incredible cultural opportunities and a diverse food scene make this Great Plains city one of the country’s best. 

The growing city of Bismarck has greatly benefitted from the area’s recent oil and energy boom and is home to the giant energy and distribution conglomerate MDU Resources. Other thriving industries include agriculture and construction. In fact, the state’s overall economic outlook is currently trending upward and predicted to continue to grow, despite the rest of the country seemingly headed toward a recession. In addition, unemployment rates in the Bismarck-Mandan metropolitan area are some of the lowest in the country and are currently 1.8 percent. 

Woman poses for a photo at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in North Dakota.
Courtesy of North Dakota Department of Commerce

All of this growth and opportunity has been drawing in recent grads and those looking to launch small businesses. It’s considered a hotspot for entrepreneurs and has been recognized as one of the country’s top small cities to start a business.

Bismarck isn’t only attracting young professionals; the city is also idyllic for families. Highly-rated schools, extremely low crime rates, diverse cultures and friendly neighbors make for an excellent place to settle down. Bismarck residents love the more low-key suburban feel of the city without losing out on the quality amenities that downtown offers.

One of the city’s biggest assets is its wealth of year-round outdoor activities, including biking, kayaking, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and more. 

Men ride their bicycles along the trail at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in North Dakota.
Anthony John Coletti

Bismarck resident and Bismarck-Mandan Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Executive Director Sheri Grossman agrees. “We are a community with bountiful activities, historic places and genuine hospitality,” she said.

“From the captivating North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum to the fresh outdoors at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, we have indoor and outdoor options covering all four of our beautiful seasons, offering views of some of the most gorgeous sunsets.”

Veteran's Memorial Bridge over the Missouri River between Bismarck and Mandan at Sunset
Poppy Mills

Residents enjoy more than 100 miles of trails and pristine parks, with many set along the mighty Missouri River. Dubbed a Bicycle Friendly Community, paved biking trails are laid along both sides of the river and weave through the cities of Bismarck and Mandan. Mountain bikers relish in the challenge of the Harmon Lake Trail, touted as the state’s best and most beautiful mountain biking trail. 

The rich history of Bismarck as a stop in the Lewis and Clark Expedition and a frontier military hub can be explored at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. The blockhouses on the hilltop at Fort Lincoln are one of the state’s best areas for soaking in a famous North Dakota sunset. Of course, all that fresh air must have something to do with the fact that Bismarck has been dubbed one of the country’s least stressful cities. 

People visit Laughing Sun at Bismarck, ND.

As the state’s second-most populated city, Bismarck not only offers its residents access to the great outdoors, but it also boasts a vibrant downtown with shopping, local restaurants and cultural activities all in one place. Bismarck’s Kirkwood Mall is a shopping destination for the region and is the state’s second-largest. Plenty of unique local shops also line the city’s clean downtown streets.

New shops and restaurants are constantly opening for residents to enjoy, and the city’s recent growth has led to an impressively diverse food scene. The city is especially known as a meat lover’s paradise with local beef, bison and fresh fish (walleye, anyone?) served at well-loved establishments like 40 Steak and Seafood, Jack’s Steakhouse, and the historic Peacock Alley. But for those who don’t eat meat, Bismarck is extremely accommodating and features everything from authentic Vietnamese cuisine to incredible Mexican food and killer wood-fired pizzas. 

People visiting a museum in Bismarck, ND.
Ryan Donnell

Art galleries, museums, historic sites, a world-class zoo and the beloved Lewis and Clark Riverboat all await you in Bismarck. Residents appreciate the city’s countless community events, including the Downtowners Art and Wine Walk and Beer and Boutiques every summer and the fall tradition of Street Fair. Whether it’s a rodeo or a farmer’s market, there is always something going on in Bismarck

Take a deep breath, settle down and let your stress go in this fun and peaceful city.

This article was sponsored by the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

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