Top Things to Do in South Dakota
Whether you are a nature lover, history buff, or enjoy learning about different cultures, South Dakota provides a variety of landscapes and attractions. Experience lush woodlands and deep underground caves to awe-inspiring badlands and national monuments. South Dakota is a great option for a family summer vacation destination and offers plenty of learning opportunities. Here is a list of the top things to do in South Dakota.
1.Keystone, SD- Mount Rushmore
Sporting the likeness of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, Mount Rushmore is undoubtedly the most well known attraction in South Dakota. More than 3 million people travel to Mount Rushmore to visit this national memorial each year.You can find cheap hotels in Keystone for around $130 per night during the summer season.
Located in the northern Black Hills, the historic town of Deadwood was named a National Historic Landmark in 1961. Deadwood is where Wild West legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock once lived. Experience the history of the Wild West at family-friendly museums and attractions.
3.Hot Springs, SD
More than 60 mammoths, including three woolly mammoths have been discovered at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. Visitors can view partially uncovered mammoth bones just as they were discovered.
Just north of Hot Springs is Wind Cave National Park .Wind Cave National Park is among one of the longest caves in the world with over 149 explored miles. The cave contains delicate honeycomb like rock formations known as boxwork that is found in only a few other places in the world. Take part in one of the many park ranger guided tours of Wind Cave. If caves aren’t your thing or you get a little claustrophobic, the above ground prairie area of the park is stunning, with rolling hills and roaming bison.
4.Spearfish Canyon- Spearfish, SD
Located in the Northern Black Hills, Spearfish Canyon is the number one natural attraction of the area. It is known for its abundance of ponderosa and spruce pine trees and its stunning waterfalls and dramatic cliff walls. Popular roadside attractions and hikes in Spearfish Canyon include Bridal Veil and the Rough Lock Falls. Visit in the fall to experience a kaleidoscope of colors among the changing foliage.
Fun Fact: Just north of Spearfish is the geographical center of the United States.
5.Crazy Horse Memorial- Crazy Horse, SD
Just a short distance from Mount Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial. This project began in 1948 and is still a work in progress. Once completed it will stand 563 feet tall and will be the world’s largest mountain carving. The memorial is a tribute to the Lakota warrior, Crazy Horse. Be sure to visit the on-site Indian Museum of North America to learn about the culture of over 300 Native Nations.
6.Custer State Park
A large herd of bison roam the seventy-one thousand acres of peaceful landscape in Custer State Park located in the Black Hills. Visitors can enjoy a number of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and horseback riding. Scenic drives along Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road provide scenic views and easy access to the park. We’ve heard the Sylvan Lake Shore Trail is a must-see route for enjoying some amazing views.
Badlands National Park
Visitors come from around the world to camp, hike, and view wildlife like bighorn sheep, bison, and black-footed ferrets that roam throughout Badlands National Park. The park spans across 244,000 acres of prairie grasslands and “badlands” of unique and rugged rock formations.
8.Sioux Falls, SD
Rounding out our list of top things to do in South Dakota is Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is South Dakota’s largest city and offers a number of fun things to do with kids. You can easily find cheap hotel rooms under $120 per night in peak season making it an affordable summer family vacation destination.
The Old CourthouseMuseum is a restored 1800’s quartzite building that showcases a number of murals showing life in an earlier time period in South Dakota. The museum displays history related to the history of the state and town. Admission is free.
Adults and kids alike enjoy visiting the Sertoma Butterfly House and Aquarium which is home to a 3,600-square-foot indoor tropical garden that hosts hundreds of free- flying butterflies from all over the world. Visitors are encouraged to take part in classes such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi offered in the garden. Marine Cove inside the Butterfly House is home to a variety of marine life inside tanks and petting pools.
Good Earth State Park is part of the Blood Run National Historic Landmark and is located on the outskirts of Sioux Falls. Good Earth occupies an area that once served as a trading center and gathering place for the Oneota peoples. This site is regarded as one of the oldest areas of human history in the country. Visitors can learn about the culture and history of the area through the visitor center and see the environment that has hosted these Native American people for thousands of years.
Falls Park is a public park located in north central Sioux Falls, South Dakota, surrounding the city’s falls. Through it runs the Big Sioux River, and it includes a café, observation tower, and the remains of an old mill.