Located in the northern portion of the Midwest, the state of South Dakota is home to picturesque towns and cities ideal for a spring break getaway. Its spectacular scenery includes the awe-inspiring Black Hills, the majestic Missouri River, the elegant Great Plains, and many pristine lakes. When you stay at one of numerous South Dakota vacation rentals, you can enjoy being in proximity to exciting landmarks, outdoor recreation, and cultural attractions. Here are the best spring break vacation destinations in South Dakota.

1. Sioux Falls

water rushing over the falls
Source: Flickr/Jerry

The beautiful, dynamic city of Sioux Falls is at the extreme edge of eastern South Dakota near the Missouri border. Among the many parks and greenways is Falls Park, which features the lovely waterfalls that give the city its name. Rent a bike at Spoke-N-Sport, and explore the city’s extensive network of recreational trails. Visit the Kirby Science Discovery Center at the Washington Pavilion, which has a multitude of fascinating interactive exhibits, and the Museum of Visual Materials, which allows children to construct artwork from a variety of materials. Experience the flamboyant Butterfly House and Aquarium that features hundreds of free-flying multicolored butterflies, displays of coral reefs and marine sea life, and touch pools with sharks and stingrays. For fresh Angus steak and fine wines, head for Minerva’s Restaurant and Bar.

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2. Rapid City

the faces of Mt Rushmore

Located in western South Dakota, Rapid City is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking and iconic parks and monuments in the United States. Don’t miss a visit to the amazing Mount Rushmore, which features the heads of four U.S. presidents carved out of the side of a granite mountain. Hike the trails in Badlands National Park, and marvel at its intricately beautiful buttes, spires, and crevasses. Drive the Wildlife Loop Road around Custer State Park and view buffalo, elk, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. View amazing panoramic scenery on a sightseeing tour aboard the Black Hills Central Railroad. Take the kids to Rush Mountain Adventure Park, which features a roller coaster, zip lines, a cave tour, and an interactive gunslinger ride. For an unusual and entertaining dinner experience, take a wagon into Custer State Park for a barbecue and live entertainment with Blue Bell Hayride and Chuckwagon Cookout.

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3. Aberdeen

Storybook Land Castle
Source: Flickr/Jody Halstead

The college town of Aberdeen lies in the James River Valley in the northeastern glacial lakes and prairie region of South Dakota. Visit the Dacotah Prairie Museum for an absorbing look at the natural history and artwork of the area. At the Richmond Lake Recreation Area, enjoy hiking, cycling, and fishing for bass, catfish, perch, and walleye. Take the kids to the marvelous Storybook Land theme park, which includes a large castle, Humpty Dumpty’s Great Fall roller coaster, the Land of Oz, and a passenger train that circles the park. Have some great water fun playing on the water slides, in the lazy river, and in the pools at the Aberdeen Aquatic Center. End the day with a great steak dinner at Maverick’s Steak and Cocktails.

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4. Brookings

river winding through the trees
Source: Flickr/Ross Nelson

Brookings is a culturally rich and attractive city in eastern South Dakota. Visit the spacious galleries at the South Dakota Art Museum for a look at impressive artwork by local and international artists, or take the kids to the fascinating interactive Children’s Museum of South Dakota. Test your skill at the archery and shooting galleries at the Brookings County Outdoor Adventure Center. If you’re looking for a fun way to remember your trip, shop for antiques at 3rd and Main Antiques, Antique Gallery Mall, and Threads of Memories. Have some traditional barbecue baby back ribs at Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill, and for dessert, head for Choco Latte Coffee and Handmade Candy.

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5. Watertown

kayaking on the water
Source: Flickr/Jenni Konrad

The lovely city of Watertown lies alongside the Big Sioux River, Lake Pelican, and Lake Kampeska in northeast South Dakota. Head for Angie’s Paddle and Pedal Rental Shop to rent a kayak or canoe to explore the waterways or a bicycle to explore the many cycling paths. For the help of an expert guide in finding the best places to fish, contact Joe Guides You fishing guide services. Learn about the interesting history of the region at Codington County Heritage Museum, or take the kids to view over 800 species of exotic animals at the Bramble Park Zoo. Browse through the art galleries, collectible shops, and boutiques in the historic downtown area, and then have some gourmet chocolates at the Watertown Confectionery or some gourmet cupcakes at Cake Crazy.

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6. Mitchell

Mitchell Corn Palace

Mitchell, a charming town in southeast South Dakota, has numerous cultural, historic, and recreational attractions. Don’t miss the famous Corn Palace, an immense multi-purpose entertainment center, decorated with designs and murals fashioned out of corn and other grains. Visit the Dakota Discovery Museum for unique displays and artifacts commemorating the area’s Native American and pioneer history. For further insight into the area’s past, check out the fascinating Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, an archeological site with an adjoining museum and a reproduction of a Native American earth lodge. Rent canoes, pedal boats, and mountain bikes for recreational fun on and around the lake at Lake Mitchell Bike and Boat Rentals.

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7. Yankton

brige over the Missouri River
Source: Flickr/J Stephen Conn

The town of Yankton lies on the beautiful Missouri River in the extreme southeastern edge of South Dakota near the border with Nebraska. Rent a canoe or kayak at Lewis and Clark Marina, and take advantage of the pristine waters and majestic scenery at Lake Yankton, Lewis and Clark Lake, and the Missouri National Recreational River. Go on a unique tour of elk and buffalo herds in a covered wagon at the Kreycik Riverview Elk and Buffalo Ranch, and enjoy hiking, fishing, and water sports at the Lewis and Clark Recreational Area. Take the kids for bumper cars, bumper boats, go-karts, and miniature golf at Karttrax Family Fun Park. When you’re hungry, dig into a succulent steak at Historic Argo Steakhouse and Lounge.

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8. Pierre

South Dakota state capitol building
Source: Flickr/J Stephen Conn

Located on the bank of the Missouri River in central South Dakota, the town of Pierre is the capital of the state. Take a guided tour of the impressive state capitol building. For insight into local history, visit the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center and the Lewis and Clark Family Center, which features kid-friendly interactive exhibits. Rent bikes at Pedal and Paddle, and head for the endless scenic trails at Fort Pierre National Grassland, Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Trails, and the Riverwalk Bike Path.

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