South Dakota Attractions

Many of the most frequently visited South Dakota attractions are located in the Black Hills in the western corner of the state. Likely the best known of all the attractions in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is an inspirational place to explore in the Black Hills area. The four presidents carved in stone are just the beginning of the experience. Visitors also can take audio tours, participate in interpretive programs, visit a museum, learn more about the sculptor, and even stop for ice cream. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the national monument is illuminated during an evening program. This experience begins with an informative talk provided by a park ranger before dark. As night falls, the massive monument is slowly lit up, providing a dramatic end to the day.

Attractions in South Dakota
Attractions in South Dakota

Also one of the biggest of the South Dakota tourist attractions, the Crazy Horse Memorial honors the Lakota warrior, and this carving-in-progress is an amazing place to see as well. History is visible in the buttes and jagged cliffs of another Black Hills marvel, Badlands National Park. Two more Black Hills national parks reveal underground wonders—Wind Cave National Park and the Jewel Cave National Monument. One of America's largest state parks also is located near these nature preserves. Custer State Park is filled with South Dakota attractions, including a large herd of buffalo, scenic byways, a theater company, and a full slate of recreational activities.

When considering South Dakota tourist attractions in the Black Hills, it's important to remember Rapid City and Deadwood. The first is the largest city in the region. Its attractions, such as Reptile Gardens, Bear Country USA, the Journey Museum, bronze statues of the American presidents, and the Watiki Indoor Waterpark offer travelers an array of options for entertainment. Deadwood is known for its historical flair and Wild West heritage. Its list of attractions in South Dakota include a real gold mine, casinos and gaming halls, and historical tours.

Glacier-carved lakes, the Missouri River, reservoirs, and tall-grass prairies all are home to a variety of South Dakota attractions. In De Smet, visitors can connect with one of the most beloved children's authors as they visit the Ingalls Homestead, the real-life inspiration for Little Town on the Prairie, one of the books in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series. Another famous author called Aberdeen home: L. Frank Baum, who created Dorothy, Toto, and the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. Two charming attractions, Storybook Land and the Land of Oz, celebrate the power of imagination.

Other South Dakota tourist attractions are found along the Missouri River, which divides the prairies in the eastern part of the state from the hills in the western region. Several lakes, reservoirs, state parks, and state recreation areas offer a variety of things to do, including fishing, boating, swimming, and camping. These attractions in South Dakota are primed for fun in every season.

The river was instrumental in the journey of Lewis and Clark. Several South Dakota attractions are located along Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which follows the route the explorers took as they trekked west and back. Along the trail in South Dakota, travelers can visit the West Whitlock Recreation Area to see the full-size replica of an Arikara lodge where the explorers sought shelter.

Other options for things to do include the Lewis and Clark Information Center along Interstate 90 in Chamberlain, and Spirit Mound just outside Vermilion. Sites off the trail, vacationers will can find fun at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area in Yankton, and see the views in Pierre that inspired the Corps of Discovery. Narrated cruises on the Capital City Queen will reveal the story of this amazing trek west. The lengthy list of possible South Dakota attractions also includes theaters, arts galleries, and museums in cities large and small, along with shopping, living history villages, and more.

Top image: magbell (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0
Pierre South Dakota


As the capital of South Dakota, Pierre has come a long way from its roots as ...

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