©2005 Mohammad Smadi. This Art Deco skyscraper replaced the original state capitol, which burned down in 1930.

Family Vacations in North Dakota: North Dakota State Capitol

The North Dakota State Capitol, a 19-story building known as "The Skyscraper on the Prairie," towers over Bismark. In this city of 50,000, the skyscraper is startling, especially in spring when the front lawn of the building is decorated with some 5,000 petunias that spell out "North Dakota." While the capitol stands only 241 feet, 8 inches tall, in winter, its upper stories often disappear in low-hanging clouds.

Like the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, North Dakota's capitol is an Art Deco gem with an interesting story. And like the two Manhattan skyscrapers, it was completed in 1934 during the Great Depression. But to save money, the builders simplified the building's exterior, canceling plans to etch stylized decorations on the steel panels and cornice stones. The result was exemplary of the Art Deco International Style -- a stripped-down offshoot of the Bauhaus School.

The capitol's grounds have become the site for many memorials and museums in the years since it was built. Enjoy the North Dakota State Heritage Center Museum and Fountain Garden, the capitol's Judicial Wing, the Pioneer Family Statue, the Statue of Sakajawea, and the North Dakota Hall of Fame. Guided tours of the building, including a visit to the 18th-floor observation deck, are also available. Or if the weather is lovely, take a stroll along the capitol complex's lovely 132 acres.

North Dakota State Capitol Information

Address: 600 E. Boulevard Ave

Bismarck, ND

Telephone: 701/328-2471

Hours of Operation: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Mon. - Fri., 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sat. and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m., Sun.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • North Dakota State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in North Dakota, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.