Most Popular Attractions
South Dakota is loaded with fun and exciting attractions. The most popular attractions are the notable Mount Rushmore, Black Hills and the Badlands but there are plenty of attractions that may not have the notoriety of those attractions but still offer some great fun and excitement. We have compiled a list of the most popular attractions located throughout the state. A lot of these choices are no-brainer choices for the state, but there are some others that you may not have heard of. We encourage you to check them out!
South Dakota’s top tourist attraction, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, draws more than three million people each year. Located near the city of Keystone, the sculpture commemorates the first 150 years of American history. The majestic granite sculpture of Mount Rushmore commemorates four powerful presidents who helped shape our nation: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Visitors of Mount Rushmore are awed by this majestic memorial and are touched by this symbol of our nation’s freedom.
Badlands National Park
The breathtaking natural formations that make up the Badlands National Park offer 244,000 acres of dramatic gorges, towering peaks, and rolling prairies. They may look foreboding at first glance, but many herald the unique beauty, ancient fossils, and otherworldly atmosphere found in the Badlands. Visitors to The Badlands National Park are also in close proximity to other popular parks and monuments. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument are all within brief driving distance of The Badlands National Park.
Black Hills National Forest
The Black Hills National Forest comprises a vast area of 1.2 million South Dakotan acres, affording nature enthusiasts a virtually limitless outdoor playground. The rugged terrain, challenging inclines, old logging trails, and quick switch-backs make it a haven for the adventure-seeking mountain biker. It is also home to Mount Rushmore and many of the other states top attractions.
Sturgis Motorcyle Rally
Lying close to the Black Hills, Sturgis is a usually sleepy, quiet town that is transformed each August by the biggest annual motorcycle rally in the nation. Although it’s more of an event than an attraction, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is arguably the most recognized and celebrated motorcycle gathering in the world. For two weeks every August, the population of Sturgis swells from about 6,000 to upwards of 400,000 as bikers of all stripes arrive and proceed to party.
Crazy Horse Memorial
The world’s largest mountain sculpture, Crazy Horse Memorial, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota near the town of Custer. The magnitude of this memorial rivals the significant accomplishments of Crazy Horse, a legendary Lakota leader. Crazy Horse is only 17 miles from Mount Rushmore so it’s a quick drive between the two.
The abundance of State and National Parks, memorials, rich history, and magnificent, unspoiled scenery make South Dakota an excellent choice for travelers wishing to build lifetime memories. South Dakota’s Scenic Byways transform windshields into theatres as miles of pavement provide spectacular views of the surrounding scenery. Traveling the Scenic Byways of South Dakota will make getting to your destination half the fun. Ignore your GPS, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Bear Butte, near Sturgis, combines nature’s majesty and mystery in a way that has captivated visitors since before white people ever laid eyes on it.Bear Butte has a unique story and appearance that make it one of South Dakota’s cultural and geologic treasures, and for those reasons the mountain has been partially protected in modern times with a state park designation. It’s also a National Natural Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.
Mitchell Corn Palace
Ever wonder what a building covered in corn looks like? Probably not, but that’s what you’ll get when you visit the “World’s Only” Corn Palace in Mitchell. The venue has been around since 1882, and has become one of South Dakota’s most popular - and most intriguing - tourist destinations. Best part about it is it’s free to check out.
The Wall Drug Store got its start during the Depression years by offering Free Ice Water to thirsty travelers. It has 76,000 square feet of fun and shopping. Even after all these years Wall Drug still offers free ice water and still advertises with roadside signs that you will undoubtedly see when traveling in the midwest area. In fact, the signs themselves have become something of an attraction and a symbol of the unabashed over-the-topness that has made Wall Drug what it is today.
Custer State Park
With more than 71,000 acres of prairies, mountains, and forests, Custer State Park is a prime destination for outdoor recreational activities, picnicking, camping, and wildlife sightings.