For the best travel experience in South Dakota, check out our curated list of things to do in South Dakota and the best places to visit in South Dakota below. We at Wondrous Drifter, a Web 3.0 travel startup, have big plans to shake things up in the travel business.
The ultimate South Dakota vacation doesn’t have to break the bank, if you’re looking for world-famous landmarks and two of the world’s longest caverns, or if you want to learn about history first-hand or have lasting family experiences.
South Dakota has a lot to offer if you have the time, including the breathtaking Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
The Missouri River divides the region, which is located in the Midwest.
To the west, the rocky peaks and varied landscapes provide a striking contrast to the boundless prairies and plains to the east.
While the Black Hills and Badlands are home to some of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, the quaint communities of Deadwood and Wall and Sioux Falls and Rapid City are all worth exploring.
Native American history, heritage, and culture can be explored as the state is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux.
South Dakota is a great destination to visit, with many attractions, from museums and monuments to canyons and caverns.
Even if you’ve never been to South Dakota before, these lists of attractions will open up a whole new world of exploration for you and help you plan an exciting trip.
Table of Contents
- Anne Hathaway Cottage (Wessington Springs)
- Badlands National Park
- Crazy Horse Memorial
- Dinosaur Park (Rapid City)
- Evans Plunge (Hot Spring)
- Falls Park (Sioux Falls)
- Good Earth State Park (Sioux Falls)
- Historic Deadwood
- Ingalls Homestead (De Smet)
- Jewel Cave National Monument (Custer)
- LaFramboise Island Nature Area (Pierre)
- Mount Rushmore National Monument (Keystone)
- Mammoth Site (Hot Springs)
- National Music Museum (Vermillion)
- Okaton Ghost Town (Murdo)
- Petrified Wood Park & Museum (Lemmon)
- Reptile Gardens (Rapid City)
- South Dakota Air and Space Museum (Box Elder)
- Terry Peak Ski Area (Lead)
Anne Hathaway Cottage (Wessington Springs)
Visit William Shakespeare’s wife’s beautiful cottage and gardens before they married.
Go to William Shakespeare’s wife’s gorgeous villa and gardens with the family.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens, a thatched farmhouse, is surrounded by lush gardens filled with aromatic blooms and traditional shrubs. You may experience the magnificent grounds as Shakespeare could have.
There are many hidden treasures in the beautiful grounds for you to discover. Make your way to the cottage gardens to find fresh willow sculptures and be captivated by the Greenwood-Singing tree in spring.
Enjoy Shakespeare-inspired music on the Music Trail and stroll through a newly formed conservation border to see what kinds of butterflies live there on the Butterfly path.
The property houses Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Cafe, where you may enjoy a cream tea in a beautiful garden setting. There is also a small gift shop near the main entrance and a seasonal cafe called the Pea Shed.
Be sure to pay a visit, and you’ll surely be relaxed.
Address: 501 Alene Ave N, Wessington Springs, SD 57382, United States
Badlands National Park
Natural wonders abound in South Dakota, as are outdoor activities.
Badlands National Park is yet another of South Dakota’s stunning natural wonders.
The United States’ Badlands National Park is one of the best-kept secrets in the country. One of the most picturesque landscapes in the country is created by the colorful buttes, spires, and pinnacles.
It is the largest mixed-grass prairie in the United States, and bison and bighorn sheep can be found roaming freely.
The views of the sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking, the hiking paths are manageable, and for those seeking more privacy, the backcountry offers a variety of options. What to do in Badlands National Park is listed here.
Another reason to go in the spring or fall is to see the migratory birds.
These creatures can be seen with their young in the spring, and the autumn colors of turning leaves can be seen strewn across canyons and ravines during this time of year.
Wind sweeps over the mostly treeless plain in the winter months. So there’s no reason for you to visit Badlands National Park!
Address: South Dakota, United States
As you look for travel ideas in South Dakota for your vacation, check out other cool travel destinations in the rest of the USA. Check out the top places to go in the USA in each state.
Crazy Horse Memorial
Though it might seem flashy and well-known, the world’s largest statue isn’t really that. As it turns out, Crazy Horse, a legendary and beloved Native American, has yet to have his sculpture seen by the world.
In addition to a bus tour to the base of the sculpture and an up-close view of the statue’s face from the top of the mountain, the Crazy Horse Memorial offers various other options for visitors.
If you’re going to see the sculpture from the visitor center, plan on spending a couple of hours there to examine the museum’s displays and wonder at the artwork.
An orientation film about Native American history and culture is shown to guests visiting the museums.
The memorial features a fantastic laser light show and engaging cultural programming in the evenings.
Crazy Horse Memorial is a must-see in South Dakota and is one of the state’s most unusual attractions.
Address: Crazy Horse, SD 57730, United States
Planning for a road trip to South Dakota? Do not miss out on Rapid City and Pierre. Get cool travel ideas from these 2 places at the best things to do in Rapid City and the best things to do in Pierre.
Dinosaur Park (Rapid City)
There are many free things to do in San Diego, and one of the best is Dinosaur Park. Since 1936, one of the first Black Hills tourist attractions has offered free family entertainment.
Black Hills Dino Park is situated on sandstone that encircles the park.
Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park is one of the most popular attractions for children visiting the city with their families.
These life-like dinosaurs are scattered throughout the park and never fail to enthrall both children and adults.
An excellent way to start your holiday in Rapid City. The park is perfectly suited for some great family fun.
The excellent lights illuminate everything splendidly at the night.
Plan your vacation and discover the fun activities at Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park!
Address: 940 Skyline Dr, Rapid City, SD 57701, United States
Evans Plunge (Hot Spring)
Winters in South Dakota can be harsh, so you’ll need to have some inventive ways of keeping warm.
Staying in is always an option, but sometimes you just want to get out of the house, and that’s when the Evans Plunge Hot Springs in South Dakota come in handy.
As a result of its intriguing on-site features, the Evan Plunge hot spring in the aptly called town of Hot Springs is one of the most distinctive in the United States.
But! Despite the fact that Evans Plunge is a popular tourist site, South Dakota’s original occupants relied on the spring, which they referred to as “wiwila kata,” for their water supply to sustain their communities (warm waters).
At Evans Plunge, you’ll find both restful and thrilling surprises, starting with pools that reach a pleasant 87 degrees.
Are there thrill-seekers among your group? Fortunately for you, Evans Plunge has more to offer than just swimming pools, as the facility has four distinct slides of differing lengths and speeds.
Address: 1145 N River St, Hot Springs, SD 57747, United States
When you travel to South Dakota for your vacation, remember to check out the top tourist destinations in Aberdeen and Watertown. Hop over to the best things to do in Aberdeen and the best things to do in Watertown.
Falls Park (Sioux Falls)
If you have only a few hours in Sioux Falls, Falls Park, the city’s namesake, should be your sole stop.
The five-story observation tower is just one of the many viewing platforms available at Niagara Falls.
Some of Sioux Falls’ oldest structures can be found in Falls Park.
Falls Park is known for its steady flow of water and the ruins of the ancient Queen Bee Mill, and a visitor center with a five-story observation tower adjacent.
The Overlook Cafe in Falls Park offers brunch, dinner, and live music on Friday nights for those who need refueling.
In addition, the 19-mile Big Sioux River and Recreation Greenway extend in both directions from Falls Park, allowing this namesake site to be a pit stop on a full day of adventure in Sioux Falls.
In addition to the conventional park features like playgrounds, seats, and water fountains, the park has many sculptures and historical exhibitions.
Visitors to Falls Park may also look forward to a busy farmers market every Saturday from May through October.
One of the finest reasons to go to Falls Park is just walking about and taking in the changing scenery.
Address: 131 E Falls Park Dr, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, United States
Good Earth State Park (Sioux Falls)
With sites like Good Earth State Park, you’ll never be short of things to do in South Dakota.
Good Earth at Blood Run, South Dakota’s newest state park, has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
Blood Run sits on the Iowa/South Dakota border, a few miles south of Sioux Falls along the Big Sioux River, as a natural island in the midst of a sea of residential and commercial development.
Good Earth State Park is home to a network of well-maintained hiking trails with numerous picturesque vistas.
Nature at its best can only be experienced by being outside and observing wildlife, a river, and gorgeous scenery.
No wonder so many people enjoy visiting this fantastic park in South Dakota; there is so much to see all in one convenient spot.
Address: 26924 480th Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57108, United States
When in South Dakota, you have to visit Sioux Falls. Check out fun travel ideas and places to go at the best things to do in Sioux Falls.
Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock are just a few of the Old West legends you can follow in their footsteps as you explore the towns of Deadwood.
National Historic Landmark status was bestowed upon this 1870s gold rush community in 1961.
Concerts, casinos, museums, historic sites, spas, and parades are just a few of the many Black Hills attractions that can be found today.
Explore this gold rush town, which is now a National Historic Landmark, and you’ll have a blast.
Deadwood isn’t like any other historic town you’ve ever visited.
Our museums and re-enactments are fun for the whole family, and we also conduct free re-enactments for those who can’t make it in person.
Adults can also enjoy a wide range of activities. So if you’re looking for many interesting things to do, Deadwood is the place to go.
Address: 480-484 Lower Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732, United States
Ingalls Homestead (De Smet)
Ingalls Homestead in South Dakota is an excellent choice for a day trip with the kids because it’s historically exciting and educational.
There is a variety of things to do in addition to all the sights.
There’s plenty to keep you entertained, from building a jump rope and a corn cob doll to pumping water or riding a pony.
Covered wagon rides to the schoolhouse are also available for visitors.
Fans of the Little House books should not miss this opportunity to walk on the same soil as the Ingalls family.
However, even if you haven’t read the books, the Ingalls Homestead is a fascinating journey back in time to discover how pioneers lived during the time of westward expansion.
Activities for children as young as two are plentiful, as are outdoor areas for running and playing.
This is a fun activity for all ages because older children and adults will be fascinated by the site’s history.
An excellent field trip for road schooling!
Come to Ingalls Homestead with the whole family and have a memorable time together!
Address: 20812 Homestead Rd, De Smet, SD 57231, United States
Jewel Cave National Monument (Custer)
Want to come face to face with some of the most pristine crystal formations?
Jewel Cave, a fascinating subterranean environment, lies beneath the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The world’s longest cave, Jewel Cave, with more than 202 miles of excavated corridors.
Brothers passing through Hell Canyon discovered the cave at the turn of the century.
Even the most inquisitive of humans will find something to their liking in this underground habitat.
Spectacular color and delicate rocks show a unique environment that can’t be found anywhere.
Visitors to the third-longest cave in the world will find much to their liking in its natural splendor.
The park is also home to a wide diversity of plants and animals and a rich history of wildfires.
The National Park Service has a treasure trove with this resource.
This exquisite cave system may be explored on a guided tour.
Jewel Cave is a magnificent cave filled with glittering calcite crystals and delicate strands of gypsum. There are vast chambers scattered with stones, tense crawlspaces, and mysterious fractures to be found here.
Address: 11149 US-16 B-12, Custer, SD 57730, United States
LaFramboise Island Nature Area (Pierre)
Want to avoid the summer crowds and see something different?
If this is the case, you’re in luck! South Dakota is never short of new locations to explore and unique activities, for example, the unjustly underappreciated and underrated LaFramboise Island Nature Area.
You won’t want to miss out on this stunning natural wonderland just southwest of Pierre.
You’ll find a natural outdoor paradise on this South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks-managed island, including fishing, boating, and birdwatching.
Do you enjoy going for a walk in the woods?
The picturesque La Framboise Island Loop, a 4-mile loop track suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities, can be found in LaFramboise Island Nature Area.
Are you one of the paranormals? While LaFramboise Island Nature Area is undeniably beautiful, it is also rumored to be a hotspot for ghosts, making it a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts.
It’s time to learn more about this underappreciated location and its attractions.
Address, : LaFramboise Island Trail, Pierre, SD 57501, USA
Mount Rushmore National Monument (Keystone)
Many people visit Mount Rushmore to see the massive carved portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
However, the Black Hills of South Dakota and the history and natural beauty of the region can be explored in many different ways.
A few highlights include breathtaking scenic roads, two distinct national parks, and a handful of notable hiking routes.
Visitors can explore the Mount Rushmore Audio Tour, Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center & Museum, the Presidential Trail and the Youth Exploration Area, as well as the Sculptor’s Studio.
Make plans to visit Mount Rushmore today so that you don’t miss out on these fantastic attractions and activities.
Address: 13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751, United States
Mammoth Site (Hot Springs)
Some museums show their fossil specimens in life-like positions, but not all of them do.
At The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota, visitors are able to see fossils “in situ,” or where they were found, as well as an ongoing excavation site.
An indoor working excavation site and museum, this National Natural Landmark is a world-renowned tourist attraction.
The Mammoth Site sinkhole’s magnificent fossils, including hundreds of bones, attract more than 100,000 tourists each year.
You’ll also pass the gift store on your way out, where the kids may check out the Kids’ Cave and dig for bone replicas in dirt using brushes.
Explore the Nature and Geology walks at the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs to learn about the Ice Age.
Address: 1800 US-18 BYP, Hot Springs, SD 57747, United States
National Music Museum (Vermillion)
Longing for a day filled with perfect harmony that will excite your ears and mind?
The National Music Museum is one of the world’s most well-known institutions of its sort.
The National Music Museum’s collections are among the best globally, with approximately 15,000 musical instruments in total.
The world’s oldest cello, for example, is housed in this wonderful old building, the oldest harpsichord that can be played.
One of only two remaining mandolins manufactured by Antonio Stradivari and one of only five guitars made by him. Violins and violas by Stradivarius and Amati are available.
Adolphe Sax, the instrument’s inventor, created more than a dozen saxophones on display in the museum.
There are trombones with many twisting tubes, and harmonicas are so tiny that they could fit on a postage stamp, like something out of Dr. Seuss’s books.
So make plans to see the National Music Museum’s OFF-SITE performances and movies and pop-up exhibits and rented exhibits.
Address: 414 E Clark St, Vermillion, SD 57069, United States
Okaton Ghost Town (Murdo)
There are many old and abandoned villages to visit in South Dakota, but ghost towns that improve with age?
It’s not an exaggeration, guys, but rather a South Dakota ghost town that only improves with time:
Jones County and the ghost town of Okaton are located in south-central South Dakota.
What distinguishes Okaton from the plethora of other abandoned towns? It could be the buildings and local landmarks that are still standing and well-preserved.
What’s better? Okaton is surrounded by some of the state’s most tranquil and scenic scenery!
Visit the ghost town of Okaton to get some great photos of an ancient railroad town that is now much more of a ghost town than it was before.
Address: Hwy. 16, Murdo, South Dakota, United State
Petrified Wood Park & Museum (Lemmon)
Although South Dakota isn’t known for being a “strange” state like Colorado or Oregon, it does have its share of oddities.
No, we’re not talking about massive faces carved into the rock (though let’s face it, that’s quite unique! ), but rather stores and museums, such as the Petrified Wood Park & Museum in South Dakota.
Lemmon, a community in South Dakota’s high reaches, is rightfully proud of its Petrified Wood Park.
The Petrified Wood Park and Museum span an entire block.
It is advertised as the world’s largest petrified wood park. It features everything from pile sculptures to a wishing well to fountains.
In addition to the park, this Lemmon destination has an on-site museum with local antiques and relics open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Plan your visit today to discover more about the Petrified Wood Park and Museum and the surrounding community!
Address: 500 Main Ave, Lemmon, SD 57638, United States
Reptile Gardens (Rapid City)
Many visitors miss the opportunity to interact with animals, see stunning flowers, and learn about the natural world at this nearby destination, which is conveniently located near Mount Rushmore.
If you haven’t already, you need to make a trip to this world-famous animal park as soon as possible.
Reptile Gardens has had a long and eventful history to get to where it is now. Only at this zoo will you be able to go as near as possible to the animals.
Animal Park of South Dakota has flourished despite many challenges.
It’s possible to learn more about these species through various shows, such as snake displays, gator shows, and bird shows.
Reptile Gardens is a great place for the whole family, from thrill-seeking interactions to peaceful walks through the gardens.
Definitely a must-visit place!
Address: 8955 US-16, Rapid City, SD 57702, United States
South Dakota Air and Space Museum (Box Elder)
South Dakota is known for its many museums, monuments, and other historical attractions. But did you know that it also has several lesser-known attractions that are both interesting and free?
Look no further than the South Dakota Air and Space Museum for a really out-of-this-world adventure!
They have a wide variety of hands-on displays, on-site air and spacecraft, and a variety of special events at Ellsworth.
To honor individuals who put their lives and limbs on the line for aviation and space exploration, the museum features various exhibitions, one-of-a-kind objects, and engaging activities.
Visit the South Dakota Air and Space Museum today if you’re ready for a change of space – oops, pace!
Address: 2890 Davis Dr, Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706, United States
Terry Peak Ski Area (Lead)
Skiing down a steep and snowy hill is the best way to enjoy a wintertime experience.
Mount Rushmore State isn’t exactly known for its vast slopes. Still, you can have a terrific day of skiing or snowboarding in the state due to attractions like the Terry Peak Ski Area.
As the top snowsports destination in South Dakota, the Terry Peak Ski Area is located in Lead.
Terry Peak is marketed as the highest lift service between the Rockies and the Alps, making it a great spot to ski and snowboard and a unique one!
Additionally, Terry Peak has a Terrain Park with a Half Pipe, jumps, rails, and a ski and snowboarding school…
Come to Terry Peak Ski Area to enjoy some of the area’s most fabulous Black Hills skiing and snowboarding!
Address: 21120 Stewart Slope Rd, Lead, SD 57754, United States
South Dakota is known for its charming tiny communities. With so much to see and do, some are better than others. Visit this little town soon on a day trip!
In the state’s southeast corner, Little Vermillion is a hive of activity.
You’ll never run out of things to do in this city because there are many options.
A significant portion of the population is drawn to it due to the presence of the University of South Dakota.
This small town has a distinct vibe because of the presence of students.
The state’s most incredible Asian restaurant is a pleasant surprise.
So don’t forget to add it to your South Dakota itinerary!
You haven’t made up your mind to go to South Dakota yet, have you? Hop over to reasons to visit South Dakota at least once in your lifetime here
Address: Vermillion South Dakota 57069, USA