Roughly following the 100th meridian, considered the boundary between the eastern U.S. and the western plains, U.S. Highway 83, which spans the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, has gained the grim moniker, “The Road to Nowhere.”
But don’t dismiss this prairie-rich path. From iconic landmarks that ooze with American roadway history, to culture-packed state capitals, stunning nature experiences, wild (and weird) wonders, diverse dining, and more, these worthy stops along Highway 83 make for a one-of-a-kind road trip. If you’re ready to visit small towns on your road trip Highway 83, be ready to check off this item on bucket list of road trip USA.
The capital of North Dakota, where U.S. 83 intersects with I-94, Bismarck is full of culture and history. Check out the four galleries at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum to learn the state’s story through artifacts, displays, and interactive exhibits. The Dakota Zoo and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park are other options.
Dining takes many forms here, too. Opt for a relaxing dinner cruise on the Lewis & Clark Riverboat (May through September) or dine riverside at Huckleberry House, featuring creative spins on Nordic dishes. For a casual brew and bite, go to Laughing Sun Brewery, which, in addition to its 16 beers on tap (plus a non-alcoholic root beer), serves up loaded mac bowls, BBQ, and sides from its taproom. Fireflour Pizza is a great option for a pie, but it’s also a go-to for after-dinner coffee or gelato.
Book your stay at Best Western Roosevelt Place Hotel.
In Murdo, South Dakota, about 250 miles south of Bismarck, check out the Pioneer Auto Museum, family-run since the 1950s. The museum features classic cars and tractors, plus countless other collectibles, from vintage gas pumps to antique toys and music boxes.
Experience what life might have been like on the prairie at nearby 1880 Town, a sprawling homestead on a vast, rolling landscape. The site is also home to a wide array of memorabilia from champion rodeo bronc rider Casey Tibbs and props used during the making of “Dances with Wolves.” Murdo is also roughly an hour’s drive from Badlands National Park.
Book your stay at Best Western Graham’s.
Nature lovers won’t want to skip North Platte, Nebraska. Book a springtime tour to witness the incredible migration of more than 400,000 Sandhill Cranes; the water birds spend roughly six weeks before heading north for breeding. Or experience tanking on the Platte River.
Make a pit stop to tune into railroad history at the Golden Spike Tower, which delivers a bird’s-eye view of the world’s largest rail yard, Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard. Here, roughly 10,000 railcars are sorted and dispatched to their destinations daily.
Book your stay at Best Western Plus North Platte Inn & Suites.
Wild wonders await in Garden City, Kansas, where the Finney County Historical Museum shares the story of Charles “Buffalo” Jones, a co-founder of the town, who helped establish new buffalo herds for fear of extinction, and became a game warden at Yellowstone National Park.
The museum also showcases historic buildings, dress-up rooms, and even the world’s largest cow hairball. Golf courses and the Lee Richardson Zoo, are other options in Garden City.
Book your stay at Best Western Plus Emerald Inn & Suites.
Located where Highway 83 links up with iconic Route 66, the historic Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and date back to the Great Depression. Next door, stop in Spinning Jenny’s, a vintage vinyl shop with popular live music events.
Housed in a historic hotel, the Pioneer West Museum comprises roughly 25 rooms packed with pioneer settler artifacts, Native American arrowheads, antique doctors’ equipment, plus military and space artifacts.
Book your stay at Best Western Plus Shamrock Inn & Suites.