With more miles of shoreline than the state of Florida, and the highest point in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, South Dakota is a land of infinite variety. Starting from its American Indian, rural, western and European roots, the state’s ethnic and historic heritage spans the gamut. A diverse array of recreation, including hunting, fishing, cycling and hiking, are popular in South Dakota. Whether looking to discover a bit of the past or to explore the great outdoors, South Dakota is a quality destination.
Visit the world’s one and only Corn Palace, where stage shows and sports events take place in a structure decorated each summer with thousands of bushels of corn, grasses and grains. Learn more about Joe Montana, Joe DiMaggio and Casey Tibbs at the Rodeo Center, a rodeo museum in Fort Pierre. Explore the historic buildings at the Ingalls Homestead, and see where author Laura Ingalls Wilder found inspiration for her Little House on the Prairie books. Check out the National Music Museum, home to nearly 15,000 instruments. Discover the state’s rich Native American, frontier and political history at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.
It’s as magical as it gets in Aberdeen, where Storybook Land, a theme park featuring castles, a yellow brick road and rides, transports visitors to a world of creativity. Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, is a great city to learn more about the state’s history. Watertown is known for its 100-year-old Bramble Park Zoo, the residence of kangaroos, tigers, monkeys and more. Sioux Falls is full of interesting things to do, and the high-quality coffee spots around the city will keep visitors going. Rapid City has a lot of restaurants, stores and other amenities, but its greatest attraction is nearby Mount Rushmore, a granite rock formation that features the heads of four U.S. presidents.
Custer, located in the heart of the Black Hills National Forest, is the area’s oldest town, brimming with unique businesses and points of interest. Deadwood is a beautiful town and designated National Historic Landmark that is seeped in history from its beginnings as a gold camp. De Smet, a friendly prairie town, may sound familiar to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. The town is featured in her stories, and played a large role in the author’s life. Hill City, also called “The Heart of the Black Hills,” is a picturesque town ideal for lovers of history and historic finds—both children and adults will love Museum at Black Hills Institute and The South Dakota State Railroad Museum nearby.
The backdrop of rocks to stunning Lake Sylvan only adds to the beauty of a scenic destination where visitors can rock climb, hike, fish, paddle board and cliff jump. For jaw-dropping views of the Northern Lights right in South Dakota, head for Pickerel Lake, located in the northeast corner of the state. Surrounded by 19 recreations areas, Lake Francis Case has no shortage of activities to enjoy. One unique pastime for visitors is to scout the skies for wintering bald eagles that nest in the area. Lake Poinsett, one of the largest lakes in the state, is open for year-round camping and picnicking, with plenty of fish in the water and various types of recreation around.
The carving of four U.S. presidents etched on the face of Mount Rushmore draws about three million people to Keystone each year. In addition to the memorial, visitors can check out the Sculptor’s Studio, Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and the evening light show. Badlands National Park, South Dakota’s largest national park, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for recreation including hiking, stargazing and scenic drives. Wind Cave National Park preserves one of the longest caves in the world, and is also noted for grazing bison, nearby hot springs and lantern tours of the caves. Jewel Cave National Monument, located near Custer, also offers lantern tours of its bedazzling depths.
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