There’s a lot of things to do in the beautiful and historic state of South Dakota. It’s a great place for a family vacation. There’s literally something for everyone: outdoor adventurists, bikers, hikers, hunters, bird watchers, educators, golfers, beach lovers, and historical enthusiasts. The following list is just a few things to do on a South Dakota vacation.
Museums & Visitors Centers
The Smith-Zimmermann Heritage Museum focuses on the ethnic history of the early settlements in Lake Country and surrounding areas curating a wonderful collection of artifacts from South Dakota settlers from the past to present. The Adams House Museum in Deadwood is the oldest history museum in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Pioneer businessman W.E. Adams built the museum in 1930 as a memorial to his family and to honor the early pioneers that settled the Black Hills. The Adams House, built in 1892, is an elegant Victorian mansion which recently became the Adams House Museum. The Indian Museum of North America is located at the Crazy Horse Memorial complex, dedicated to keeping the heritage and culture of Native Americans alive, as is the monumental mountain memorial itself. The museum grows each year as contributions of artifacts and art are continuously made by people from around North America. The Bear Butte Visitor Center located at Bear Mountain, the Lakota name given to the unique formation at Bear Butte State Park. This mountain is sacred to many Native Americans who see the area as a place where the creator has chosen to communicate with them through visions and prayer. They leave prayer cloths and tobacco ties on the trees as offerings to the creator. There are many more museums located in the great state of South Dakota, make sure you leave time in your vacation to visit a few, you won’t regret it.
Unique Family Fun
Mitchell Corn Palace is one of South Dakota’s most recognized symbols and probably one of the most unique places to visit with your family in the entire world. It’s a massive convention & visitors bureau that looks like the Taj Mahal but artistically covered in corn and native grasses. South Dakota is home to many fun family adventures such as national parks, monuments, museums and indoor/outdoor activities for every age and every season. A South Dakota western vacation will provide you and your family with an exciting, unique, educational and memorable experience that will last a lifetime.
South Dakota is one of the most beautiful states in America, so it only makes sense that many of the coolest things to do would be an outdoor adventure. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, rock climbing, golfing, sailing, kayaking, hunting, snow mobiling or even jet skiing, the list of outdoor adventures you can participate in is lengthy. Motorcyclists and Bicyclists alike rave about South Dakota's awesome and breath-taking rides. South Dakota also has a massive hiking trail system providing some of the best scenery to experience on foot.
Badlands National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
The Badlands National Park contains the world’s richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds dating back over 30 million years. The evolutionary history of mammals such as the horse and rhinoceros arise from 244,000 acres of sharply eroded, colorful buttes, pinnacles and spires. Bison, bighorn sheep, black-footed ferrets and the endangered swift fox roam freely through this large, government protected mixed-grass prairie. The unique, lunar-like landscape, fossil beds and stunning scenery offers visitors a fantastic, outdoor adventure.
National Caves & Caverns
South Dakota is home to one of the largest National Caves and Cavern systems in the entire world. Located just beneath the surface of the Black Hills, visitors can discover a vast underground wilderness at such incredible places as Jewel Cave National Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Beautiful Rushmore Cave and Sitting Bull Crystal Cave. Most of the caves were discovered by gold seekers in the 1800’s. Lakota Indians found strength in the power of the calcite crystals centuries before. Come discover a glittering underground world.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)
The Cold War lives on in South Dakota at the Minuteman Missile Natural Historic Site. This once top secret nuclear weapons facility, buried just beneath the prairie grasses kept world peace for almost three decades. Today, these deactivated sites preserve the original missiles, mechanical equipment and furnishings to help tell the story of this very tense time in history and learn how nuclear war came to haunt the world.
South Dakota State Parks (Division of Parks & Recreation)
South Dakota offers more state-run parks then anywhere else in the country and showcases the best in scenery, wildlife, outdoor recreation and history. South Dakota is home to so many State Parks that they’re broken up into regional areas. Northern & Southern Hills, Oahe/Sharpe, Glacial Lakes, Heartland and the smallest, most exciting and historical region of Lewis & Clark located on the lower Missouri River.
National Scenic Byways & Loops Program of South Dakota
There are so many roads to travel on in South Dakota, but there are many that hold special, beautiful and historical significance. These Scenic Byways and Loops will thrill your senses and rejuvenate even the weariest traveler. Travel on a Byway that offers delightful adventure as winds spiral “pig-tail” shaped bridges, through six rock tunnels, among towering granite pinnacles and over pristine, pine-clad mountains. The Byway crosses the reservations of four Native American tribes, memorial markets, monuments, museums and sacred sites. Highlights include Mount Rushmore, Sylvan Lake, Needle’s Eye and Cathedral Spires Rock Formations. Travel the Byways & Loops to commemorate the heritage of South Dakota’s Sioux Nation.