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Alicia Loves Fargo. Read Her Guidebook and You Will Too.

News | October 16th, 2023

By Maddie Robinson 

maddierobi.mr@gmail.com

Photos by Alicia Underlee Nelson

Fargo-Moorhead is growing. Rapidly. Its reputation hasn’t quite kept up.

A report by The Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Council of Governments (Metro COG) stated that the Fargo-Moorhead metro is projected to grow from a population of over 250,000 to about 357,000 people by 2050. This follows the continued growth the area has been experiencing for over a decade, with a reported 18% increase in the population since 2010.

Despite this population boom, Alicia Underlee Nelson, an author, freelance writer and photographer, thinks Fargo flies “under the radar” and is worthy of more attention.

Nelson is an experienced journalist and travel writer who has covered areas in Europe, the Caribbean and across North America. Now she is covering her own community in her newest book, “100 Things to Do in Fargo Before You Die.” With this guide, she hopes she will be able to shift the narrative surrounding the city.

“The state deserves more attention,” said Nelson, “and I think Fargo, being the largest city in the state and one of the most interesting – and that’s why I choose to live here – I think it deserves its own book. It deserves to be really explored in depth and that’s what I hope [the book] does.”

The aptly-named book highlights 100 things to do, see and attend in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. The only guidebook you’ll ever need highlights the classic marquee events, like Fargo’s thriving brewery scene, the Moorhead Dairy Queen and the Fargo Air Museum, as well as lesser-known, “locals-only” spots, like unique biking trails and a flourishing vintage and antique store scene.

Where to go and what to do, that's what it’s about, and around many corners are unnoticed attractions and activities you’ve never heard of – and kind orientators to get you started. Geocaching, for example, an outdoor treasure-hunting activity that uses GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the treasure at that location.

“We’ve got great stuff here,” Nelson said. “People just have to get a little bit out of their comfort zone and look for it.”

“100 Things to Do in Fargo Before You Die” is Nelson’s second solo-written book and her fourth overall. Reedy Press, the publisher of the novel, has been on her radar for a while because of the “100 Things” series they do in various cities and states around the country.

According to Nelson, books and media about North Dakota often get grouped with South Dakota or focus on more nature-oriented themes, so she decided to write a book that was solely about the Fargo–Moorhead, ND-MNMetropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

Nelson thinks this book is needed for Fargo because the city is often dismissed and underestimated. She said the Metro area has a lot of opportunities available, especially for young people, as well as being a “melting pot and cultural crossroads.” With Fargo’s skyrocketing growth, Nelson predicts the area will continue to grow and become an even more interesting place in the coming decades.

Not only does the book serve as a guide for people who don’t live in the area, it can also be useful, Nelson said, for Fargo’s own residents. “It challenges people, especially people who think they know the city, to realize how many things they haven’t tried and just to dig a little bit deeper and try something different.”

Check it out, use your search engine. Look for Fargo guidebooks: history books and history walks spread across the page, nearly a dozen of them. There has never been a guidebook of attractions and things to do, with the exception of Visit Fargo-Moorhead’s basic free visitor guide, a good start but insufficient. Now, after more than one hundred and fifty years of getting lost and giving up, help is on the way!

While writing the book, Nelson said the hardest part wasn’t finding 100 things to include, but rather keeping the list narrowed down. She wanted to pick things that represented the Fargo-Moorhead area well and would stand the test of time a few years down the road.

But one of Nelson’s biggest goals with the book was to inspire people to venture outside of what they are normally comfortable with — resident of Fargo or not.

“If this book makes somebody look around and try something that they haven’t tried, it’s succeeded,” Nelson said. “It’s well worth the purchase price, just having an adventure and trying something new with somebody that you love.”

Nelson’s book is available on the Reedy Press website, and if you’re looking for a more personal touch, autographed copies are available on her website https://www.prairiestylefile.com/ for no additional charge.

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