With just a few short weeks left as a university student before graduating next month, I decided that I needed a break! I knew there was one place I had to runaway to and my friends at the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau made it happen! They played lovely hosts to an amazing stay and made sure that I experienced comfort and fun!
We arrived in the afternoon last Monday and checked in to the amazing SpringHill Suites by Marriott, located on S42nd Street. From the first night, to the very last, our stay was cozy, comfortable and quite enjoyable. The hotel was booked from the get-go with families on Spring Break (a few from Manitoba), and a convention/meeting; you didn’t have to go far to get a hello or good day from a fellow guest. The front desk staff and housekeeping made sure that we were comfortable throughout the stay and I cannot say enough about the wonderful housekeeping staff… they work extremely hard and sometimes, housekeeping goes unnoticed without recognition; if we needed extra towels or toiletries… they were happy to help us out.
Breakfast was delicious and there was something different each day with the hot items – scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, biscuits and gravy; along with the pastries, bagels, cold and hot cereals, juice and fruit, there was something for everyone. Freshly brewed coffee (along with hot water for tea) was available all day; a quaint Marketplace was available in the lobby with snacks and microwave dinners if you were feeling peckish for a late night snack, all at a reasonable price. The hotel also features a business center, 24-hour gym room and a pool (set hours). One lovely feature is an outdoor patio with fireplace. While the fireplace does not get turned on until May, the manager was able to turn it on during our stay as Grand Forks experienced lovely weather. Even the day it snowed briefly, was windy and chilly, it was nice to sit by the fire and warm up.
The room was large and well laid out. For those who are always fighting over who gets to use the bathroom, here’s a surprise – the toilet and shower area are separate! This is a great feature for when one requires the other; the shower room has a large mirror where the center is fog free! The view from our suite was amazing – North Dakota sunsets are absolutely gorgeous! I enjoyed looking out the window each night and watching the sun set. The room we stayed in included a mini “bar” area with a microwave and mini fridge, including a “living room” area with a sofa and desk (with wired internet capabilities). I cannot forget to mention how comfy and cozy the beds are! Marriott lives by their “coziest beds” slogan and it’s true! You will definitely have the most restful sleep.
When we used to stay in Grand Forks, we rarely ate out as our cousin would always make sure we were fed. While we did have lunch out here and there, we always ate at her house when we stayed with her. Now that they’ve moved and we stay in hotels, we like to find different places to dine at (or take out). There was the stop at Paradiso; this night we decided on take out. I ordered the usual Combo Magnifico and my sister ordered barbecue takeout from Wild Hog Smokehouse Bar & Grill (the large order of ribs gave us leftovers for another evening dining in our hotel room). A lunch stop at Jimmy John’s allowed me to try this establishment for the first time and just like the commercial states, they are pretty darn fast! I ordered a #4 (Turkey Tom sans cheese) with a side of kettle cooked potato chips. Our first night we dined at The Blue Moose Bar & Grill in East Grand Forks (always a must for us), and our last night we dined at Ground Round for a delicious steak and potato dinner. When we chose to eat in our hotel room, Hugo’s Supermarket provided sides to accompany the main dish. During our day visit to Fargo, we ate lunch at Applebees and picked up a Limeade from Sonic. Of course, no trip is successful until we made a stop at IHOP (I have issues making pancakes – i.e. I can’t.). Their blueberry pancakes are always deliciously fluffy.
We shopped until we dropped, both in Grand Forks and Fargo. In Grand Forks we had to make a stop at Target (on several occasions) now that Target is closing up shop in Canada. Clothing was purchased there, Walmart, Dakota Boys & Girls Ranch, Gordmans and Scheels. In Fargo I purchased runners from Shoe Carnival, one of the top items for me to purchase. The mall provides shoppers with great retail establishments – Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, JC Penny; Hot Topic, Claire’s, dressbarn, and Yankee Candle just to name a few. If you’re looking for unique shopping experiences, downtown is a huge suggestion!
Downtown Grand Forks
If there is one place in Grand Forks I must visit, it is definitely downtown. I absolutely love it downtown – from the old brick buildings, unique stores and the town square (stop in at the Farmer’s Market when in season), downtown is the place to be even if you enjoy just taking walks like I do. Downtown Grand Forks is home to many dining establishments such as The Toasted Frog, Rhombus Guys Pizza, Brick & Barley; shops that include True Colors, Kittsona (Lifestyle on Kittson & S 3rd; Clothing on DeMers & S 4th), Badman Designs and Waterfront Kitchen & Bath, downtown has something for every body outside your typical mall filled with chain establishments.
I do have favourites downtown – Widman’s Candy Shop and Dakota Harvest Bakers. When you enter Widman’s and Dakota Harvest, you’re hit by the most delicious scents that your olfactories can handle. Chocolate and sweets immediately take you back to your childhood; Widman’s is an old-fashioned candy shop with many delectable sweet treats. From their famous Chippers (chocolate covered potato chips), salt water taffy (another favourite of mine and it’s ALWAYS from here), and various jellied candies or chocolate anything you can think of dipped, Widman’s is a DEFINITELY stop when you’re downtown. Ask for sample from the counter – suggestion… chocolate covered dill pickle (YES, you will be surprised) or chocolate covered s’more.
Dakota Harvest Bakers reminds me of the bakery in my grandma’s hometown of Neepawa, Manitoba but on a much larger scale. You can smell the cookies, bread and pastries as soon as you enter and it is always busy… always. Their breakfast and lunch items rotate weekly, so be sure to check their website before going. The week I was there I was able to enjoy a very delicious California Express vegetarian sandwich with a side of their kettle cooked potato chips. I also picked up a Monster Peanut Butter cookie to share with my sister. Just a note – their peak time is over the noon hour when those who work downtown (or the kids from Central High School) get out for lunch. Plan accordingly or patiently wait during this time.
A lovely week spent in Grand Forks was well deserved and needed after the last couple of months. It was a great mental break so I could prepare for finals in the next few weeks, before life becomes consumed by studying. Anytime that you can get away from life is always a good thing. I am appreciative and thankful for the time spent in Grand Forks, and like always, I will be back shortly.
Grand Forks is located 2.5 hours south of Winnipeg, right off of Interstate-29.
The Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted my stay during March 30-April 3, 2015. The opinions expressed in this post are mine.