Explore with Kids: NDSU Display Gardens

NDSU display gardens

Are you looking for a new FREE place to entertain your kids this summer?

Wait, what kind of question is that? More often than not, the answer is, ‘yes!’

NDSU Display Gardens

If you are a ‘yes,’ give the NDSU Horticulture Research & Display Gardens a try. Initially it might sound a bit more academic than family-friendly fun time. But it’s definitely free, definitely fun, and definitely available as an activity to do with kids this summer!

Located just west of the NDSU campus on the corner of 12th Avenue and 18th Street North, the NDSU Display Gardens aren’t too far from the Interstate, making it easy to get to.

It’s an outdoor classroom that keeps kids (and adults) curious and learning.

The gardens are for research and education. But the site is open to the public.

There are lots of flowers situated along walkways and paths for optimal viewing. And there are sections for perennials, annuals, and space for sun and shade-loving plants.

It’s a great spot to learn about plants, if you’re into that. Or, just a new place to keep your kids engaged for a while. We’ve stopped there to burn 10 minutes, but we’ve also spent more than an hour at the gardens. NDSU display gardens

Picnicking is an option, too!

My family usually picnics there. I think it’s better than a park for an outdoor meal. Bugs are generally more interested in plants than our food. And there aren’t all those garbage cans roasting in the sun, attracting the more aggressive insects.

On that note, be sure to take anything you bring into the park out of it. This helps keep it clean for all to enjoy.

Hidden Gems:

  • A significant daylily display is located on the west end of the gardens, and a grape nursery is beyond that.
  • It’s a great spot for evening views at sunset.
  • Take a tour or volunteer! The NDSU Plant Sciences Department offers tours and volunteer opportunities, which you can find on their website.

Good to Know:

Accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers

There are some concrete paths making those areas of the gardens convenient for kids with wheels under them. It’s good to note that there are not paths throughout the entire display garden, so you might best enjoy the area on foot.


There is usually a port-a-potty available from June through October. Although you might want to plan a bathroom break before you visit, it’s always comforting to know you have an option in case of an emergency.

  • As a research garden, people should not walk through the flower beds. The flowers are not available for picking — just for viewing.
  • If you bring your dog(s), keep them leashed and clean up after them.
  • Kids should not climb up on the raised beds. This helps keep the plants healthy and the space safe.
  • Don’t forget your sun hats and sunscreen! Much of the area is in the sun, although there are some shady spots.

The Specifics:

  • Address: 1142 18th St N, Fargo, ND 58102
  • Parking: There are four parking spots on the northeast end of the gardens, just off 18th street, with more available farther down the gravel road. Each parking area has an adjoining handicap-accessible path.
  • Best Time to Visit: Daytime in the summer — but especially beautiful in July through October. Our family generally avoids the hottest time of the day because much of the area is in full sun.
Looking for more hidden gems in Fargo? Check out our Explore with Kids series!
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After meeting here during college, Caitlin and her husband, Tanner, settled in North Fargo and live a pretty upper-midwestern life full of trying to appreciate the small adventures. As a mom to a son born in 2017 and a daughter born in 2021, Caitlin tries to balance all of the mommy things with taking time for what makes her a human outside of being a wife and mother. Along with spending her days working as a program manager, she enjoys finding unique family experiences in the Fargo-Moorhead area, volunteering, reading, and simply being honest about the realities of motherhood in all its vehement glory.


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