Home to some of the best national parks in the country, South Dakota offers visitors the chance to explore all types of attractions including natural, wildlife, caves, museums and art galleries. If you are currently planning your next vacation in this beautiful state, check out these top 10 must-see attractions in South Dakota.
Mount Rushmore is a sculpture of the heads of four former United States presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved into granite on the southeast side of Mount Rushmore. Nearly three million people visit Mount Rushmore each year. Learn the story about the nation's first inhabitants and learn to appreciate the diverse and rich heritage of America. Check out the Borglum Visitor Center to a view a 14-minute film describing how the monument was built. Walk the Presidential Trail to get up close and personal to the monument. Take lots of pictures and make tons of memories right here where American history began.
Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Crazy Horse Memorial is the world's largest mountain carving. The dedication of the face started in 1998 and since then it has become one of the most visited tourist attractions in South Dakota. While you are here visit the Native American Educational and Cultural Museum to learn more about the country's beginnings.
Address: Black Hills National Forest, 12151 Ave of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730
The Corn Palace is the pride and joy of Mitchell South Dakota. Dubbed “The World’s Only Corn Palace” – this unique tourist attraction has become the headquarters of everyone’s favorite grain plant. The Corn Palace originally opened back in 1892 to showcase South Dakota’s healthy agricultural climate. Today, it attracts roughly 500,000 tourists per year for its corn murals. The murals are redecorated every year to match a chosen theme. Each mural is made with colored corn, grains, and other natural elements. Just don’t forget to bring the butter and salt.
Covering a massive area of 125 miles long and 65 miles wide, Black Hills National Forest is where you will enjoy a breathtaking view of rugged rock formations, canyons, grassland parks, streams and clear, blue lakes. The forest has specialized campgrounds, which provides tourists with recreational opportunities. Go camping, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and indulge the nature lover in you.
If fossils have always fascinated you, you will enjoy exploring the striking geologic deposits that contain one of the world's richest fossil beds. While you are here you can stay at the Cedar Pass Lodge or put up your tent and have a fantastic camping adventure at their two campsites namely Cedar Pass Campground and Sage Creek Primitive Ground.
Known as the world's largest mammoth research facility, the Mammoth Site lets you take a step back into the Ice Age when mammoths, camels and giant bears roamed the plains of North America. Explore the museum and have the most unique experience as you view Ice Age fossils as they were unearthed.
Explore the world's longest cave and one of the country's remaining intact prairies. Here you will find gorgeous swaying prairie grasses and a wide array of exotic wildlife such as prairie dogs, bison and elk. Book a cave tour for the entire family, enjoy some guided walking tours, hike through 30 miles of safe and beautiful hiking trails and camp at the Elk Mountain Campground.
Naming something the “National Music Museum” is sure to bring lofty expectations. Fortunately, this musical instrument museum lives up to the hype. The National Music Museum was founded in 1973 on the campus of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. It houses a collection of over 15,000 musical instruments from various time periods and cultures from all over the world. The extensive collection spans over 500 years and includes American, European, and Eastern instruments of historical significance. This is a must-see destination for any music lover. There aren’t many places where you can find Elvis’s guitar, ancient Italian violins, and didgeridoos under the same roof. But that’s what you’ll find at this landmark museum.
The Big Sioux River has been the center of life in the region through many years. Since the founding of South Dakota in 1856, it has been the center of recreation and industry. While you are here you can explore the Queen Bee Mill, which is a seven-story mill that lies to the east of the river. The Light and Power Company, which was built in 1908 is now the Falls Overlook Cafe where you can enjoy some delicious refreshments while taking a break from touring the park. The Big Sioux River and Recreational Greenway is a 19.3-mile trail where you can jog, bike or rollerblade along the river.
Address: 131 E Falls Park Dr, Sioux Falls, SD 57103
According to scientists, Spearfish Canyon was formed 30 to 60 million years ago. Today it is one of the most loved tourist spots in South Dakota where you will enjoy viewing Ponderosa and Spruce Pine Trees. Have an adventure-filled tour of the Canyon and explore Pahasapa Limestone and Englewood Limestone. While you are here you will also get to encounter exotic wildlife like Whitetail, Mule Deer, Mountain Goats and if you are lucky, you just might chance upon a Bobcat or two.