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Fargo has a lot of hustle for its size, thanks in part to three universities and a thriving business environment. Sure, its popular image is tied to a bleakly funny Coen Brothers film (which wasn’t actually filmed in Fargo), but the real-life version holds its own just fine.

Fargo started as a scrappy frontier town on the Red River, fed by the railroad. You can still see evidence of its past in the historic downtown core – notably, the restored Fargo Theater, a rare vaudeville and movie palace from 1926. For another vivid picture of the past, visit “Bonanzaville” in West Fargo, a pioneer village incorporating 43 historic buildings and a museum.

At the heart of downtown is the impressive Plains Art Museum, a renovated warehouse housing contemporary art exhibits. Connected by three bridges, Fargo’s sister city Moorhead, MN, has its share of attractions, including the well-regarded Rourke Art Museum. Finally, though Fargo appears in “Fargo” in name only, cinephiles should make a pilgrimage to “The Woodchipper” for a gallows-humor photo op.