By Paula Redmann
Photos submitted by Bismarck Parks & Recreation District
It’s glorious July. That lovely seventh month of the calendar year when we celebrate America’s independence, baseball, fireworks, parades, and water — whether it’s a river, a sprinkler in your yard, or a pool. We are free of winter’s darkness, so store up some sunshine and fresh air while you can, and go outside.
July is National Parks and Recreation Month!
Here’s a simple A-Z list of what you can enjoy, courtesy of the Bismarck and Mandan Parks and Recreation Districts.
A – Go find the Arboretum. It’s inside (yes, inside) Tom O’Leary Golf Course in Bismarck. If you’d like to feel like you’re in the middle of the woods in the middle of Bismarck, then this is the spot for you.
B – Take me out to the ballgame. Make up your own team and head to a park. Yes, a picnic basket can be home plate, a water bottle first base. This is not hard. No? Then go to any kid’s baseball game, from the little ones up to a Babe Ruth or American Legion game, or cheer on the Bismarck Larks at the Bismarck Municipal Ballpark.
C – Camps galore! How about an art camp? A science camp? A theater camp? A sports camp? How about camping? Get your camp on and your tent up at Eagles Park or General Sibley Park and Campground in Bismarck or Dacotah Centennial Park in Mandan.
D – Dacotah Speedway Racing has a full schedule of car racing for the summer. When there aren’t cars on the track, there are both family and professional rodeos on the schedule.
E – Eagles Park in Mandan has a Universal Playground with a variety of play features and experiences for kids with varying abilities. Who wants to go on the zipline?
F – FootGolf. Yes, it’s a thing. The Mandan Municipal Golf Course has a certified FootGolf Course. Think of soccer, but on a golf course. You know you want to try it.
G – Golfing, anyone? Hit that ball with a stick. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but you can start slowly by hitting balls at a driving range or a putting green. Learn some game basics before you take on a full nine- or 18-hole course. And guess what? The staff at the courses would love to teach you about the game. Kids 17 and under golf free at Bismarck and Mandan public courses on certain days and times.
H – Historical panels that tell stories of the folks who lived here before us (Chief Lookings’ Village), the river system (Bill Mills Nature Trail), or the story of baseball in Bismarck (Municipal Ballpark) provide outdoor opportunities for learning.
I – I go. You go. We all go to Igoe Park in Bismarck. Kids call this the “firetruck park” for obvious reasons that you’ll discover once you get there.
J – Johnny Gisi Memorial Park in Bismarck is worth the find. Grab a book from the Little Free Library while you’re there.
K – Kids on Stage takes place every Wednesday at noon at Custer Park. Play some music and give a kid a microphone and watch the magic happen.
L – Lunchtime! And who doesn’t love a picnic lunch in a park? If you need a picnic shelter for a certain time on a certain day, you can reserve one in lots of parks. You can also plop down on some grass in any park and breathe in some calm in your chaotic world.
M – McDowell Dam Recreation Area, located five miles east of Bismarck, is a gem. Swim, fish, paddle around, or hike on the nature trail. Plan to spend the day and make memories. You’ll need some buckets and little shovels for the kiddos. The sand beach is calling.
N – New Generations Park is the home of Bismarck’s new, free, fabulous splash pad. Fair warning: you will get wet, and you will like it.
O – Oh, my! Please go to Sonali’s Garden at Chief Looking’s Village in Bismarck to get the postcard picture view of the Missouri River.
P – Playgrounds surround you. You have your favorite parks and playgrounds, but why not jump on a bike or hop into a car and head to a park or playground that you’ve never been to before? Bismarck Parks and Recreation has a playground checklist so that you can find (and play) at 52 different playgrounds. That sounds like a good July activity. Go!
Q – Quit saying that there is nothing to do. Take your dog or a friend’s dog to a dog park. It’s an instant pick-me-up.
R – Recreational trails are (wait for it….) adorable. You can see new mamas and papas pushing strollers, wee ones on bikes with training wheels, future Olympians (OK, they look super fast) running hard, and elderly couples walking and holding hands on Mandan’s 30+ miles of trail and Bismarck’s 80+ miles of recreational and non-paved trails. Where do you want to explore?
S – Swimming lessons. Yes, please! It’s so important for both kids and adults to be comfortable in the water and to be able to save themselves. Options abound at many facilities in Bismarck-Mandan or wherever you live.
T – Tennis, anyone? Lessons start as early as age 5, but anyone can learn how to swing that racquet, love. Find a friend or make a new one on the outdoor tennis courts.
U – Unravel the mystery and beauty of poetry by finding the Poetry Boxes in Bismarck’s parks. You can leave your favorite poem, or one that you’ve written, for others to enjoy.
V – Volley that ball. Bismarck and Mandan have sand volleyball courts that are busy nearly every evening throughout the summer with league play. If you have some open time during the day, help yourself to a court and some fun, but if you think you can move fast on sand, well, no, you really can’t. Good luck.
W – Water slides! Some are indoor for those stormy days; some are outdoor for the sunshiny days. When you’re not sliding, sit back and listen. That’s the sound of fun.
X – Xeriscape gardening is used throughout park landscaping where there is little or no irrigation. Fun fact: Bismarck plants more than 4,000 annual flowers each year to beautify parks.
Y – Yay for fishing piers and ramps and access to the Missouri River. What will you use for bait?
Z – Zonta Park in Bismarck is home to a prairie restoration project and pollinator gardens. Watch the transformation. Yay, butterflies.
Paula Redmann is the community relations manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons, Alex and Max.