Part of a compact metro area comprising two towns, Grand Forks, ND, and East Grand Forks, MN (which are divided by the Red River), Grand Forks hugs North Dakota's boundary with Minnesota, about 80 miles south of the Canadian border. A college town at heart, Grand Forks is home to the oldest university in the state, the University of North Dakota, which was started in 1883. The university is regarded as a national leader in rural and family health issues and aerospace studies, and Grand Forks event venues play host to these industries and more.
The Grand Forks International Airport is located five miles west of Grand Forks and is served by Delta Airlines and Allegiant Airlines.
Chief among meeting venues in Grand Forks, the Alerus Center Convention Center wrapped up a renovation of its 145,000 square feet of meeting and event space in 2011, including new carpeting throughout and an expansion to the pre-function hallway for the smooth accommodation of different exhibition, registration and social set ups. The Alerus Center Convention Center meeting space consists of a 100,000-square-foot arena, a 25,000-square-foot ballroom that is divisible by five, and 20,000 square feet of additional meeting space in 12 rooms.
Hotel venues in Grand Forks include the 201-room Canad Inns Destination Center, which is connected to the Alerus Center; it has its own meeting room to accommodate 80 classroom-style, as well as two boardrooms. Other hotels that cater to meetings are the 100-room Ramada Inn, which has 6,200 square feet of meeting space; the 148-room Howard Johnson, with 3,800 square feet of meeting space; the 100-room Garden Inn, with 2,900 square feet of function space; and the 104-room GuestHouse International, which provides 3,200 square feet of function space and has a 45,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. In addition, two new hotels are slated to open in 2013 in the area near the convention center, and both will have around 90 rooms and some small meeting space.
Several special events venues Grand Forks are available; among these, the Empire Arts Center is an historic theater that can seat 410 people and host a banquet for 100 people in the gallery/lobby. The Masonic Lodge, another historic building, has an auditorium with capacity for 500 and a banquet area that can host 350 people. The Ina Mae Rude Entrepreneur Center, on campus at the University of North Dakota, offers a high-tech-equipped meeting room that has webcasting capabilities, and a lobby with a gallery of local artists that can host a reception.
Grand Forks is home to many locally owned restaurants that serve up interesting fare. The Toasted Frog has a private room for 20 people and an eclectic menu that includes a wood-fired, open-faced pheasant sandwich, sweet potato fries, cheesy fried pickles and lobster mac and cheese. Al's Grill & Catering is famous for its tips and toast - sirloin tips in gravy served with crispy toast bits. Sander's 1907 is known for its tables and bar showcasing the bronze and metal work inlays of local artist David Badman. Several other locally owned gems are part of the Boardwalk of Restaurants, which line the banks of the river in downtown East Grand Forks.