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Things to do in South Dakota

69 contributors

The top 33 attractions in South Dakota

Historical Monuments in Keystone
Mount Rushmore Memorial
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One of the icons of the United States of America, the heads of the American Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln all carved into the rock. In the Black Hills, in 1927 Mr. Borglum began carving these faces that are almost 20 metres high. The park has a set of paths from which you can see the monument, as well as both the nature and wildlife of the area.
Of Cultural Interest in Deadwood
Tomb of Wild Bill
The famous Wild Bill is buried at Mount Moriah. His real name was actually James Butler Hickock. He was killed in the same town of Deadwood, on August 2, 1876, while playing a game of poker. He died instantly when he fell to the ground, but he held firmly to his his great hand of cards. Two aces and two eights. His fifth card is not known. This hand in poker has since been known as the dead man's hand. He was also buried on Mount Moriah, along with Calamity Jane and Potato Creek. If you want more info about this story do not miss Deadwood and the hand of the dead in my trunk blogs.
Villages in Deadwood
Deadwood
Deadwood was born at the height of the gold rush. Although it was Indian territory, and the Black Hills were sacred to them, it mattered little, and the prospectors rushed to the territory, mad for the metal. So in 1875 Deadwood Gulch was born. Sitting Bull's and the Indian resistance did not stop seeing the sacred area invaded by over 10,000 people. The sheds and cabins quickly became houses, and the mining industry attracted gamblers, criminals, prostitutes, and fairs. It was a town with at least a murder a day on average, and where 90% of women were engaged in the oldest profession in the world. The city was proclaimed a "National Historic Site" in 1964. Tourist Attractions: Visiting the old gold mines is a must, and go to the grave of Wild Bill.
Nature Reserves in Custer
Custer State Park
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I was really surprised to find this amazing park of plains and prairies and even more surprised that it's not as famous as other parks like Yellowstone. At Custer State Park you can imagine what the American Midwest was like when Buffalo Bill walked the earth, shooting bison, or General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry with Crazy Horse and the Sioux Indians. It was very cool to see.
Statues in Rapid City
President Monroe Sculpture
The nation's fifth president, James Monroe, was a tall man measuring 1.83 meters. He was the only president reelected without another candidate. He was known for being a very friendly man; his statue has him holding his hat up and wishing onlookers a happy day. He is believed to have been the first politician to use the custom of kissing children to soften voters. The bronze statue was sculpted by Lee Leuning. It was a family donation by Walt Hall. It's opposite the information centre on the path of the Presidents.
Statues in Rapid City
Statue of John Quincy Adams
The sixth president of the United States. has a statue in front of James Monroe and opposite the information center on the president's trail in the city. Represented here with a hat and a cane, he was quite a well dressed man, in fact the sculpture is like a painting. The bronze statue was created by sculptor John Lopez and a gift from The First Western Bank.
Nature Reserves in Interior
Badlands National Park
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I never could have imagined such a place.
Airports in Rapid City
Rapid City Regional Airport
We arrived at Rapid City Regional Airport from Chicago on a small plane with only three rows of seats. The airport is small too, but has essential services such as rental cars (Avis, Black hills Car Rentals, Budget, Casey's Car Rental Service, Enterprise Rent-a-Car and Hertz). This airport is the hub of commercial flights to the Blacks Hills. American Airlines, Delta, Allegiant Air and United all operate flights here. The destinations are pretty limited, though; there are only flights to Chicago (United or AA), Atlanta (Delta), Dallas (AA), Denver (United), Phoenix (Allegiant), Salt Lake City (Delta) and Las Vegas (Allegiant). If you don't want to rent a car, there's also a shuttle bus to and from the downtown area.
Of Touristic Interest in Rapid City
City of Presidents - Information Center
The City of Presidents Walking Tour is a route along all the bronze statues of Presidents in Rapid City. In 2002, Mr. Perdue bought a historic building and set about creating an information center. The interior is designed after the Oval Office and has antique curtains and tapestries. It's full of books, seals and models with references to the presidents and miniatures of the statues of presidents found on the streets of Rapid City. And, most importantly, it's where you can find a map of the route.
Of Touristic Interest in Rapid City
Clower Building
Located right next to the fire station, the Clower Buidling was built in 1886 by L. Morris Dry goods company, a textile factory, and by Franklin & Baer's, a liquor warehouse. For many years, the Jack Clower Saloon was in the corner of the building, hence the name. In 1950, the first floor was remodeled and a a fresh coat of paint was put on in 1993. It's a great example of historic preservation.
Of Touristic Interest in Rapid City
Historic Buildings in Rapid City
Along the main street of Rapid City and the surrounding area, you'll find the famous sculptures of presidents, but also many historical buildings with plaques explaining the building, its former use and the date of construction. They are all pretty well taken care of despite being more than a hundred years old.
Statues in Rapid City
Sculpture of President Martin Van Buren
Located at the corner of Main Street and 8th Street, this sculpture by Edward Hlavka and donated by Dr. Edwards and Peg Seljeskog depicts the eighth U.S. president reading the newspaper on a bench in his hometown of Kinderhook. Van Buren had Dutch ancestry and English was his second language. This, however, did not prevent him from reaching the highest office in the country.
Historical Monuments in Rapid City
Firehouse Brewing Company
Firehouse Brewing Company is in a former fire station was used from 1915-1975, first by the volunteer fire brigade and later by professionals. You can see the antique fire engines and firefighting tools on the first floor behind the big doors. Today, the space is used by a restaurant.
Statues in Rapid City
Mitakuye Oyasin Statue
In a land where white settler and Indians fought for so many years, it worth it to stop by and see this statue in remembrance of reconciliation between races.
Of Touristic Interest in Rapid City
Behrens Mortuary
This is another one of the old buildings along the main street, which is next to the old fire station. It is a mortuary, which in 1919 occupied a part of the old building that dates to 1879.
Lakes in Long Lake
Waterfalls in Sioux Falls
The Falls of the Big Sioux River
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Sioux Falls in South Dakota was not on the top of our priority list to visit, that being said after camping in the area we decided to pay a visit. We headed straight for the Falls of the Big Sioux River, where the Big Sioux can be seen dramatically cascading it's way down the rocky outcrops. It was much more impressive than first expected. It provides great photo opportunities, we played around with some slow shutter speeds and had a great time just admiring the falls.
Waterfalls in Sioux Falls
Falls Park
Falls Park is a gorgeous park set in the middle of Sioux Falls and provides a perfect little retreat or picnic spot. We spent a few hours walking around the park, along the river trails and by the waterfall at dusk - It was so incredibly peaceful. At night the entire park and falls are illuminated and in my opinion is the best time to go. The visitor centre is a great place for information and provides a great little observation tower you can go up for free. This site was once home to the large, 7 story Queen Bee Mill which was built in 1881. Today not much more than the foundations remain but the information provided gives a great glimpse into the history of the place and the importance of Sioux Falls in terms of Industry.