Bismarck, the small capital of North Dakota, has only 75,000 inhabitants and can be easily explored in half a day. The chunky State Capitol dominates the city; from the observation deck on the 18th floor, visitors have a great view of the city on the Missouri River. Art Alley 5.5 in downtown has some great murals; the North Dakota Heritage Center is most interesting and also an architectural masterpiece.
One year after its founding in 1872, the city was named after German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck with the intention to attract German immigrants to the city. The plan didn’t work; immigration did not start until two years later, when gold was found in the nearby Black Hills.