I will be traveling with my children (ages 10 and 12) to Fargo, ND via a train that arrives at 4:30am, for an event at 1:30pm. We will have some luggage to deal with. Our plan right now is to simply hang out in the train station until the city begins to open up, but I thought I'd see what other options exist, either for some adventure or for more comfort than a train station can offer.

I don't mind paying a reasonable fee, but we aren't staying overnight, so I'm hesitant to get a hotel room just for the day. I've been trying to find resources that describe things to do that are available early in the morning. Unfortunately, resources I've been able to find online (such as https://www.fargomoorhead.org/ and tripadvisor) don't tend to cater to early mornings or aren't organized by time of day.

Are there any resources that might catalog this kind of information, either generally, or specifically to Fargo ND/Moorhead MN? What other kinds of things might be good to consider? (24 hour cafes/diners might be an option, but I don't know if sitting there drinking coffee and orange juice for 3+ hours would be better than the train station.)

  • Not sure whether that applies to Fargo but public swimming pools frequently open fairly early in the morning, say 7 am maybe even 6 am.
    – quarague
    Jun 15, 2023 at 12:46
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    I wouldn't rule out a hotel room. I doubt anyone is going to have a good nights sleep if the train arrives at 4:30AM. And just hanging around for 9 hours for an event can be tiring it itself. If the reason you are in Fargo is for this event, I'd prioritize being rested and fresh so you would be at your best when 1:30 comes around.
    – Peter M
    Jun 15, 2023 at 13:02
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    What time of year will you be there? 9 hours in the middle of the night in Fargo in midwinter sounds like a bad idea, even if you don't end up in a wood chipper. Jun 15, 2023 at 13:55
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    @lambshaanxy summertime, and the living is easy.
    – kojiro
    Jun 15, 2023 at 14:09
  • @PeterM A hotel room will want you to check out mid-morning or not let you check in til the afternoon. Unless you book two night. Or find the sort of hotel room that rents by the hour, which I don't recommend. Jun 17, 2023 at 2:46

1 Answer 1


First, I wouldn't count on the train arriving on time. It's a long, long way from Chicago, and on those transcontinental trains, minor delays tend to stack. My rule of thumb is 1 hour delay per 10 hours running time from the origin, so brace yourselves for 1-2 hours late.

This is normal. If you took a German ICE train or Japanese Shinkansen schedule and and made it circumnavigate its country a few times so it racked up 30 hours of travel without any recovery time, it would also fall down 3 hours. Stuff happens.

This uncertainty annoys many travelers, but seasoned Amtrak travelers take it in stride because it's a small price to pay for such a nice mode of travel... if you plan for it, which it sounds like you did.

While it looks like Fargo has a fine old station, it only gets 2 trains a day ( the other being the eastbound Empire Builder arriving nominally 2 hours before your westbound, but by the 10% rule of thumb, 3-5 hours late is likely). In these scenarios, Amtrak typically only staffs the station when trains are due, so after the later of the two trains arrives, they will want you to leave the station so they can lock up and go home. Of course if the eastbound is late and expected, they won't mind you being there.

Like many old stations it is right downtown, but that doesn't mean downtown is open.

As far as a 24 hour restaurant, this may help. Denny's doesn't look like walking distance, but Fryn' Pan restaurant is about 3000’ (0.6 mi.; 1000m) away.

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    What I ended up doing was contacting several AirBNB hosts and negotiating for a last minute day rate for properties they wouldn't have been able to let that day anyway. It worked out well enough, because the area isn't busy.
    – kojiro
    Jun 20, 2023 at 14:19

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