By Julianne G. Crane
As states gradually “reopen” businesses and public campgrounds, now might be a good time to start planning a family outing to smaller communities along the less-traveled blue line highways.
Keeping social-distancing in mind, consider off-the-beaten-path attractions as places to relax, learn something new, and avoid the big crowds.
Stanley, North Dakota’s Whirl-A-Whip Ice Cream
If you find yourself driving between Montana and Wisconsin, head for the small oil town of Stanley just north of U.S. Hwy 2 in northwest North Dakota. The county seat of Mountrail County, Stanley is widely known for being home to Dakota Drug Co., the only place in the USA to still serve up world-famous Whirl-A-Whip ice cream.
Part of the community since 1911, this “must-stop” still has its “original soda fountain and the only surviving Whirl-A-Whip machine still being used,” according to StanleyND.com. “A Whirl-A-Whip is an ice cream treat that has candies or other ingredients mixed in. Just a few items you can mix into the ice cream are peanut butter, dill pickles, watermelon candies, and Oreo cookies.”
Flickertail Village Museum, an outdoor museum featuring preserved and restored buildings from the pioneer days, is just off of Highway 2. It is open during the summer between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend. Stop by on Sundays, 2-4 p.m. or during their Work Volunteer Days on Thursdays from 9-11 a.m. and 7-9 p.m.
“A walk-through experience of what life was like in a frontier village of the by-gone days.” This pioneer village museum includes a depot, jail, country school, church, homestead shack, country store, saloon, millinery shop, cook car, and prairie homes. There are thousands of artifacts on display in the museum’s 20 buildings and on its grounds. Look for antique trucks and cars, vintage dolls and toys, old-fashioned clothing and home furnishings, says North Dakota Tourism.
It is a great place to share the early history of NW North Dakota with your children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Find the village at 405 12th Ave. SE, Stanley ND 58784. Call 701-628-2326 for additional information.
Stanley City Campground
Two blocks north of the Dakota Drug soda fountain, is a convenient city-operated no-host campground at 102 N Main St. As with most small grass campgrounds, it is most suitable for trailers, and Class C motorhomes and vans.
There are a dozen RV electrical hook-up sites and a bathhouse. Cost is $15 a night for back-in, electric-only (50-amp) campsites. Maximum stay is seven (7) days. According to a clerk at Stanley City Hall, the park should be open soon for summer camping. Campers must register at City Hall, 208 S. Main St., or call 701-628-2225.
Always call first
During these unusual times, always double-check to be certain your favorite outdoor destination is open. Remember that the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus has not disappeared. It is still present. Each of us, individually, are responsible for our own decisions about where to camp safely, and where to visit.