the insider blog

Three new shops in Greater Grand Forks

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Today’s blog comes from Shel Zolkewich, a travel writer, blogger and friend to Greater Grand Forks.   The name is perfect. Curious—a newish shop on 32nd Avenue South, near Menard’s—is in fact, a sweet spot that makes you smile as soon as you walk through the doors. The soaring walls are perfect for displaying the work of featured artists. They provide inspiration for the eclectic collection of gifts, housewares and art pieces that fill the space.   The store includes little spaces for bath and body, travel, kids and kitchens—among others. It makes it easy to find the right gift whether there’s a coffee drinker or a spa lover on your list. Foodies will love, love, love the section dedicated to gourmet treats, gadgets and dishware. After an hour in the store, I still wasn’t done exploring. These items are truly unique and you’ll rarely find them elsewhere. From the outside, Kittsona looks posh. The cream-coloured downtown building features big windows with stylish pieces tempting shoppers to come inside. And you should go inside. Because it is in fact a posh shop, but one with prices that will come as a pleasant surprise.   On a Saturday afternoon, Kittsona is …

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Posted in: Shopping, Travel & Tourism
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Vintage Grand Forks

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Today’s blog comes from Shel Zolkewich, a travel writer, blogger and friend to Greater Grand Forks.   If you’ve been visiting Grand Forks for a couple of decades or more, these destinations will be familiar. They’re tried and true places that have stood the test of time and garnered a loyal customer base. They’re all about quality, variety and deliciousness.   If you want to hang with locals, head to Speedway Grill & Bar. Tucked away on N 42nd Street, the spacious room is almost always packed with folks enjoying the blooming onion appetizer, prime rib special or two-for-one burger night.   The walleye dinner is a steal at $15. It comes with two sides (like all dinners), so be sure to include the baked beans which are a standout here. Dinners also come with a small loaf of warm bread—a nice touch. Get there before 6 pm and order a 25-ounce beer for $2.95. For me, a bowl of their outstanding chicken tortilla soup, a loaf of that warm bread and a big beer do the trick. But I seldom stop there because the ribs are just too good to pass up.   Occupying a corner of the Grand …

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Meet a year-round Grinch during the Empire Theatre Company’s production of The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical

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Everyone has a Scrooge in their life, but count your blessings you don’t have a Darlene. Darlene is basically the year-round Grinch for Armadillo Acres, North Florida’s premier mobile living community. Armadillo Acres during Christmas time would put Disney to shame as being the “happiest place on earth” if it wasn’t for Darlene. Day after day, she puts a damper on her neighbor’s happy-go-lucky-and-belly-full-of-beer life.   Until she acquires a case of amnesia, that is. The Scrooge is no longer so Scrooge-like. Darlene’s neighbors: Lin, Betty, and Pickles are faced with dilemma after dilemma that will keep you laughing and questioning how your mama raised you even after the musical ends.   The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical is more than a mouth full, it’s a good time. So leave the kids at home, for this one is a bit out of their league. The stereotypcial trailer park characters are not so politically correct with some mouths that should be washed out with soap. Join us at the Empire Arts Center for some belly aching laughs this Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

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Posted in: Entertainment, Events, shows and concerts, Travel & Tourism
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We have spirit…yes we do!

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Feeling a little blue?  I know what will put the jingle in your bells and jolly in your holly!  If you’re looking for activities to create a festive frame of mind, Greater Grand Forks is definitely the place.  We have seasonal celebrations, concerts and everything in between.  In addition to offering great holiday bargains, our malls and specialty shops will be sparkling with beautiful decorations.    Following is a list of holiday happenings that are sure to get you feeling very merry.  More information on these and other events may be found at www.visitgrandforks.com.   Thru Dec. 7: 21st Annual Festival of Trees @ Columbia Mall Sears Wing Thru Dec. 31: Christmas in the Park Holiday Lights Tour @ Lincoln Drive Park Dec. 4-6: “Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical” @ Empire Arts Center Dec. 6: Winter wUNDerland Concert @ Chester Fritz Auditorium Dec. 6-7: Historical Society Holiday Open House @ Myra Museum Dec. 7:  91st Annual Christmas Musicale @ United Lutheran Church Dec. 7: Annual Family Christmas Party @ Heritage Village Dec. 11-14: “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” @ Red River HS Auditorium Dec. 11-15 & 18-21: Santa Village 2014 @ Lincoln Park Club House Dec. 13: A Family Christmas …

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Posted in: Entertainment, Events, shows and concerts, Travel & Tourism, Uncategorized
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Flipping the bird

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Looking to get your gobble on in Greater Grand Forks this Thanksgiving?  If you don’t feel like going through all the hassle of making it yourself, we have several restaurants serving up a feast.  Luckily, they’ve got a spot reserved just for you…and it’s not even at the kids’ table!    Aaltos: 1000 S 42nd St (Canad Inn), Grand Forks, 701-792-1957; 9 AM to 12 PM (brunch) and 12 to 8 PM (buffet) B&B’s Restaurant:  1205 N 43rd St (Ramada), Grand Forks, 701-775-3951; 7 to 11 AM (brunch) and 11 AM to 2 PM (dinner) Big Sioux Café:   4401 32nd Ave S Grand Forks, 701-738-0441; open 24/7 (turkey dinner and regular menu) Blue Moose Bar & Grill: 507 2nd Ave S East Grand Forks, 218-773-6516; 11 AM to 8 PM (all-you-can-eat turkey dinner served to your table and regular menu) Buffalo Wild Wings:  2717 S Columbia Rd, Grand Forks, 701-775-9464; 11 AM to close (regular menu) Denny’s:  3770 32nd Ave S, Grand Forks, 701-757-1148; 24/7 (turkey dinner and regular menu) Eagles Crest Grill:  5301 S Columbia Rd (King’s Walk Golf Course), Grand Forks, 701-787-3491; 11 AM to 4 PM (buffet) *call for reservations IHOP:  3951 32nd Ave, Grand Forks, 701-775-7001; 24/7 (turkey dinner and …

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Early bird shopping

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Looking to gobble up some bargains after you’ve gobbled up your turkey dinner?  As you probably already know, many stores are choosing to forgo Black Friday and open on Thanksgiving Thursday instead.   No worries…inquiring staff at the Greater Grand Forks Convention & Visitors Bureau have checked around and done the leg/drumstick work for you!  Below is a list of stores and their post-bird hours:   Kmart: Open at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Best Buy: Open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving JCPenney: Open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Sears: Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Shopko: Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Target: Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Walmart: Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Kohl’s: Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Macy’s: Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Gordmans: Open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday Lowes: Open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday Cabela’s: Open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday Menard’s: Open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday Sam’s Club: Open at 7 a.m. on Black Friday    

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Applause and curtain calls

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If you’re a fan of all things musical like me, listen up!  Since 1972, the Chester Fritz Auditorium stage has hosted numerous legendary performances and with upcoming events ranging from Broadway to Beethoven and Christmas bells to steel drums, The Fritz’s 2014-15 schedule is sure to please a wide variety of tastes.      At just over 2,300 seats, Chester Fritz is the perfect size to host musical theater and intimate concerts.  Its top notch sound system, renowned acoustics and auditorium layout are such that it makes you feel at one with the production.     Experience a little of the auditorium’s great history by strolling down the halls lined with autographed pictures of past performers, just some of whom include Kenny Rogers, Wayne Newton, Cliff Richard, Jewel, Bette Midler and Manhattan Transfer.  When you’re in the lobby, make sure to look up and enjoy the iconic beauty of the Starcher Chandelier.  Custom made in Italy, it is lighted by approximately 30 lamps and blends 5,550 lead crystal beads, prisms and tear drops.     Whether it’s a family outing or date night out, Chester Fritz Auditorium has been the place to go for over 40 years.  And no matter what show (or …

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Posted in: Entertainment, Events, shows and concerts, Travel & Tourism, Uncategorized
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Putting the excitement on ice

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I must admit, I’ve grown up a big basketball fan.  Even though that is still my first love, when I finally experienced Division I college hockey live, I was hooked!  If you’ve never been, Grand Forks offers plenty of chances to see all the action up close.   Under head coach Brian Idalski, watch the University of North Dakota Women’s Hockey team this season as they skate, pass and shoot their way to victory.  With several standouts like Andrea Dalen and Josefine Jakobsen returning, UND is sure to see playoff action again this season.   The University of North Dakota Men’s Hockey team, with veteran coach and former UND hockey handout Dave Hakstol at the helm, is looking to end the season atop the newly formed NCHC.  The whole crowd will jump to its feet after every goal and with future NHL stars like Nick Schmaltz and Luke Johnson on the roster, you’ll be cheering nonstop.      Home ice advantage also means fans get to enjoy all the luxuries of the magnificent Ralph Engelstad Arena, including its granite floor concourses, plush leather seats, amazing sound system and state-of-the-art jumbo screens that highlight every second of the action.  If a variety …

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Fun for a kid…and a kid at heart

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“There’s nothing to do.”  Have you recently heard those four words that every parent and babysitter dreads?  If so, there’s no need to worry.  Greater Grand Forks has you covered, with lots of options to entertain kids.  Oh, and adults will like ‘em too!                                                         For outdoor fun, journey to Sherlock Forest Playground in East Grand Forks for a little monkey(bar)ing around.  Maybe shooting a few hoops or trying your hand Frisbee golfing at Lincoln or Riverside Parks is more your thing.  When you’re talking fall, of course you need to know Jack, O’ Lantern that is!  Located a short 20 minute drive west of Grand Forks, in Emerado, ND, is Nelson’s Pumpkin Patch.  It features both a straw and corn maze, haunted house, hayrides, farm animal petting zoo, games, concessions and more.      It’s a cold day outside?  No problem; just head inside!  The Canad Inns Destination Center features a tropical themed water park and mega arcade for both guests and non-guests.  Likewise, the new Choice Health & Fitness facility offers an amazing water park and pool area, in addition to topnotch workout equipment and classes.  Pay a visit to the rock climbing wall located in the Grand Cities …

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Stroll, Sip and Savor the Flavor of Downtown

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Much like a good Beaujolais, the Greater Grand Forks Art & Wine Walk keeps getting better with age.  The first glass of wine was poured back in 2006, when the Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) and North Valley Arts Council (NoVAC) partnered up to host one of the most popular annual events our cities have ever known.  This past year, the CVB handed over its duties to the newly formed Downtown Development Association but the Walk remains virtually unchanged.       Held every June through October, on the third Saturday of each month, Art & Wine Walk offers regional artists a chance to display their talents and wares at several downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks venues.  A sample of wine will be available, at specified sites, for those 21 years of age and older.  Some locations may also choose to serve nonalcoholic beverages and snacks, along with featuring live music.    On the day of the event, a map listing participating businesses can be purchased for $15 at either the Red Roof TownHouse Inn or Blue Moose Grill & Bar.  A partial list of participants includes: Kittson Boutique; Brick & Barley; RH Standard; River City Jewelers; Hey Ocean and …

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