Kelly Inn, Bismarck, ND: Road trip respite near Custer’s last digs

kelly inn outsideFt. Abraham Lincoln State Park near Bismarck, North Dakota is one of our favorite stops between Ohio and Montana. For this year’s venture (our third), we discovered Kelly Inn as our  perfect road trip stay.

After our several hours’ drive from Duluth (the starting point for this leg of our western adventure that included Glacier National Park), we were looking for cleanliness, comfort, room to spread out, an indoor pool, and a place we could unwind.  Kelly Inn delivered.

king roomLuckily, we booked our room several days in advance or we may have found ourselves with nowhere to stay. Our late arrival (after 10 pm) prompted a call from the hotel to make sure we were still coming. We were the last to arrive and the hotel was booked solid. We were told by the personnel at the front desk that this is common.

Upon arrival, check-in was fast and easy, and we were able to park closely to the hotel’s entrance nearest to our room. Within minutes, I was plopped in the room’s easy chair surfing cable on the flat screen TV and sipping on a glass of wine. My husband was busy checking email thanks to the free WiFi.

Along with a table with four chairs, the room had a desk for anyone needing a more formal workspace. Rooms are also appointed with a refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

The pool end of the room with game area in background.

The pool end of the room with game area in background.

In the morning, before we headed to Ft. Abraham Lincoln, my son and I headed to the dual purpose indoor pool and game room.

The pool is larger than most indoor hotel pools and the games are a fun addition to hotel activities. Before my son jumped in for a swim, we played a game of pool. The pool table is the version where four quarters releases the balls. There are a few arcade games as well.

I appreciated the size of the room. Unlike many hotel pools, the smell of chlorine was not oppressive.  Keeping with a game room theme of sorts, pool toys like Nerf balls and noodles are available to use.

Kellly Inn Lobby with Minerva's Restaurant

Kellly Inn Lobby with Minerva’s Restaurant

The one downside to our stay is that breakfast coincided with Sunday brunch.  Although the on-site Minerva’s Restaurant & Bar connected to Kelly Inn’s lobby serves an order-from-the-menu version of breakfast other mornings, on Sundays, it’s brunch only.  By the time we checked out, brunch was hopping with Bismarck locals.

Because we weren’t hungry enough for a buffet, we went to Kroll’s Diner nearby which dishes up German specialties. It was also buzzing with a Sunday crowd.

By noon we were on our way to Ft. Abraham Lincoln. The state park is the site where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Calvary lived prior to the Battle of Little Big Horn. Custer and his wife Lucy’s house has been reconstructed to look like it did when they lived there. There are replicas of the soldiers’ quarters and foundations of some of the original buildings as well. Also worth the visit in the state park is Mandan Indian village. On-A-Slant Indian village has earthenware lodges similar to those inhabited from 1575-1781. Guided tours of Custer’s house and the Mandan village are available May through September.

Custer's and his wife Lucy's house at Ft. Abraham Lincoln

Custer’s and his wife Lucy’s house at Ft. Abraham Lincoln

Kelly Inn Bismarck North Dakota Hotel
1800 North 12th Street
Bismarck, North Dakota 58501
Phone: 701/223-8001
Toll Free: 800/635-3559

Room rates- $99.99- $185.99

Book online at the hotel website or on Priceline.

Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association


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