Things to do & places to visit in South Dakota, United States

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South Dakota has good golf courses, skiing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, hiking, and biking among rolling prairies, pine forests, and granite mountain peaks like Mount Rushmore. Glacial lakes and Missouri River reservoir lakes provide great fishing, boating, canoeing, water skiing, and windsurfing. The whole family will enjoy this prairie land where grain growing begat roadside attractions like the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Everything made from corn, even the popcorn, tastes better here. Where buffalo roam, roadside diners serve up buffalo and luscious homemade fruit pies. Shop for good deals on cowboy boots on the same Black Hills and Badland Main Streets where cowboys and cowgirls outfit themselves. Be near the eroded buttes, spires, and prairie grasslands of Badlands National Park in Lead, Deadwood, Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Hill City, Custer, and other nearby towns. The whole family will enjoy watching for big game like bison, bighorn sheep, antelope, eagles, and hawks. Drive the one-hour Hwy 240 loop road, with a side-trip to Robert's Prairie Dog Town. Learn about the Oglala Sioux Tribe at the White River Visitor Center, which is near Wounded Knee. Tour the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site's Cold War nuclear silos, just outside the Park's boundaries. About 90 minutes west of Badlands National Park is Mount Rushmore. Lead, Deadwood, Rapid City, Spearfish, Sturgis, Hill City, Whitetail Springs, and Custer are also very near Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, and Jewel Cave National Monument. View Mount Rushmore from the aerial tramway in Keystone, which also houses the Borglum Historical Center celebrating the artist behind the sculpting of Rushmore. Take the kids to the Dinosaur Park in Rapid City. Attend Custer State Park’s Annual Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival. Bedazzle the whole family with sparkling calcite crystals in 151-mile long Jewel Cave. Bison, pronghorn, and elk graze the grasslands of Wind Cave National Park. Central South Dakota has the state capitol, Pierre, in addition to numerous lakes along the Missouri River. Go fishing and boating in the rivers and lakes. Take the kids to the South Dakota Discovery Center and Aquarium in Pierre to see the state’s native fish. Drop by the Dacotah Prairie Museum along the James River in Aberdeen in the northeast to learn prairie history and natural history. Swing by Sioux Falls to see the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial and special exhibits at the Old Courthouse Museum. Choose from among 10 golf courses in Sioux Falls.

South Dakota #35 destination in United States 2023. The average rating score is 4.48 based on 114.5k traveler reviews, of 799 attractions. Timezone: America/Chicago, current date and time: Saturday, December 09, 2023, 9:37.

Top things to do (42)

Top destinations in South Dakota 100

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Top places to visit (30 attractions) view more »

  1. 5.0 Custer State Park (6.139 reviews)
    - Beautiful state park with lots of wildlife
    Spent < 1 hour State Parks
    Custer State Park image
    One of South Dakota’s most iconic landmarks, this park stands out for its granite peaks, rolling grasslands, and clear mountain waters. Stretching over 71,000 acres, Custer is home to abundant wildlife like bison, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep, and more. Drive down Wildlife Loop Road to spot the begging burros (they approach vehicles for food), hike the Little Devils Tower Trail for a bird’s eye view of the area, and go swimming or boating in one of its five lakes. With warm days and cool nights, summer is an ideal time to visit Custer. Don't miss out on exploring the rest of the Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore. – Tripadvisor See more..
  2. 5.0 Sylvan Lake (1.985 reviews)
    - beautiful lake
    Spent 1-2 hours Bodies of Water
    Sylvan Lake image
    This lake, situated within the rolling green hills of Custer State Park, is a great spot for a fun day out. The cool waters of the lake are perfect for kayaking, paddle boating, and swimming, and if you're looking for an adventure, you can go on a hike or climb the rocks surrounding the lake. The best time to visit is from late spring to early fall when the weather is warm, and the park is in full swing. The lake is typically a stop on a tour of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer State Park. – Tripadvisor See more..
  3. 5.0 Loop Road (1.978 reviews)
    - So beautiful I drove through on my way back, too
    Scenic Drives
    Loop Road image
    Main route through Badlands National Park. See more..
  4. 5.0 Needles Eye (1.731 reviews)
    - Omg A Must See Scenic Drive on the way to Sylvan Lake!
    Geologic Formations
    Needles Eye image
    A geological formation located in Custer State Park. See more..
  5. 5.0 Iron Mountain Road (1.716 reviews)
    - Fun Drive with Great Views of Rushmore
    Scenic Drives
    Iron Mountain Road image
    Whether you are driving or simply riding, this is a fun drive with awesome views and fun, unique road features like corkscrew pigtails and one lane tunnels. Our group really enjoyed this as we made our way from Lake Sylvan to Mount Rushmore. It starts with a Meadow as you drive towards Keystone where you get your first glimpse of Rushmore. You then wind up to the top of Iron Mountain where there is a parking lot and observation area. You then start to descend passing a series of tunnels in the granite outcroppings with line up perfectly with the carvings on Rushmore. The final descent is accomplished by a couple of corkscrew bridges that allow you to drop elevation in a small space. It is a beautiful drive through the Black Hills that has some of the best views of Rushmore. You have to somehow reach Rushmore so be sure to take this route. See more..
  6. 5.0 Badlands Wall (1.316 reviews)
    - Wow!!!
    Geologic Formations
    Badlands Wall image
    A ridge that goes through the park, and is the site of incredible rock formations, which are being eroded, and therefore slowly change over time. See more..
  7. 5.0 Badlands National Park (1.045 reviews)
    - Incredible views!
    Spent More than 3 hours National Parks
    Badlands National Park image
    I was a little surprised to find that it was $25 to drive a motorcycle through the loop road, but it was worth every dollar. The views are incredible. The Badlands is such a unique place and worth the time. If driving I-90 take the extra time to go through. See more..
  8. 5.0 Black Hills Helicopters (954 reviews)
    - Friendly staff, beautiful waiting area, impressive tour!
    Saturday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM Helicopter Tours • Sightseeing Tours • Private Tours • Nature & Wildlife Tours • Air Tours
    Black Hills Helicopters image
    This place was amazing! First of all, we had to be re-booked due to a thunderstorm during our initial booking time and the woman on the phone was very accommodating and kind about it. When we arrived the following morning for our tour we were impressed with the inside of the building. It was all very chic-western and had a small cafe where you could order coffee or snacks. All the staff we interacted with were beyond kind and friendly. One of the pilots even gave our two small children each their own little helicopter toy which they loved. While we waited our turn for a helicopter we could go outside to the balcony to see the other helicopters land and take off. The pilot during our flight was also very friendly and explained everything we were seeing out the window. We would highly recommend this is place to anyone looking to take a helicopter tour of the Black Hills! See more..
  9. 5.0 Black Hills National Forest (909 reviews)
    - Black Elk Peak
    National Parks • Nature & Wildlife Areas • Forests
    Black Hills National Forest image
    This empty expanse where Native Americans once roamed is now a national forest. See more..
  10. 5.0 Badlands National Park (908 reviews)
    - The Badlands
    Spent 1-2 hours National Parks
    Badlands National Park image
    We drove from Rapid City on hwy 90 and started from the west from a town named Wall. We stopped at the Ranger entrance and the cost was $30 or you can buy a one year pass for senior citizens for all parks for $20. The loop 240 road trip was wonderful. We stopped on all view sites. We enjoyed going there. See more..
  11. 5.0 Spearfish Canyon (818 reviews)
    - Truly Breathtakingly Beautiful Scenery
    Spearfish Canyon image
    This scenic 19-mile drive in the Black Hills that passes cliffs, waterfalls and the Spearfish Creek gives one the feeling they are in the rainforest. See more..
  12. 5.0 Akta Lakota Museum (445 reviews)
    - Great Museum For Those Interested In Native American Culure/History
    Saturday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM Spent < 1 hour History Museums
    Akta Lakota Museum image
    Visit the Akta Lakota Museum to experience a living lesson on the Native American way of life, past and present. Each year we receive thousands of visitors from all over the globe that want to deepen their appreciation of Lakota culture. As an outreach program of St. Joseph's Indian School we pride ourselves on not just providing that experience but creating an atmosphere conducive to learning and healing into the hearts of our students as well as our visitors. What makes our museum such a wonderful experience is our focus. We have an outstanding collection of cultural, historical and artistic works that relate specifically to the Northern Plains Indian Tribes, the ancestry of the students served at St. Joseph's. Our historical collection honors the past while our contemporary collection represents the creative spirit of today's world. We work closely with Indian artist and artisans to present contemporary artwork that builds on cultural traditions while expressing itself in new ways. What you take away from your visit is the understanding that Lakota culture is not just a thing of the past. It's alive and thriving today. See more..
  13. 4.5 Mount Rushmore National Memorial (11.8k reviews)
    - Amazing evening show and monument in person is very memorable
    Saturday: 5:00 AM - 11:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours National Parks • Monuments & Statues
    Mount Rushmore National Memorial image
    Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created this famous mountainside carving of the visages of four great American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. See more..
  14. 4.5 Bear Country USA (4.180 reviews)
    - seeing the active and cute little bears is the highlight
    Temporarily closed - Closed until Apr 28, 2023 Spent 2-3 hours Nature & Wildlife Areas
    Bear Country USA image
    Enjoy a leisurely 2-mile drive through this unique North American Wildlife park in the the Black Hills of South Dakota. From the comfort of your vehicle view black bears, wolves, elk, buffalo and other wildlife! After your drive-through tour, walk around wildlife loop where young and smaller animals frolic in the outdoors. Don't miss the Baby Bears! Dine at the Cub Grub Snack Shack or shop in the Bear's Den Gift Shop. Open May through November, weather permitting. Our daily closing time is only when the front gate closes, the rest of the park remains open until your visit is complete. See more..
  15. 4.5 Falls Park (3.379 reviews)
    - Gem of the City
    Saturday: 5:00 AM - 12:00 AM Parks
    Falls Park image
    Park with waterfalls where the river flows over many tiers of Sioux quartzite. See more..
  16. 4.5 Wildlife Loop Road (2.745 reviews)
    - Buffalo round up
    Scenic Drives
    Wildlife Loop Road image
    An 18-mile scenic drive in Custer State Park. See more..
  17. 4.5 Downtown Rapid City (2.329 reviews)
    - Great Walkable Downtown Area
    Downtown Rapid City image
    Escape for the weekend to Downtown Rapid City and experience numerous art galleries, fashionable boutiques, a variety of fine cuisine, the City of President statues and great entertainment from music to theatre and various events. Explore the fountains at Main Street Square, a place to make fun-filled memories for the whole family. With plenty of hotel rooms, over 70 shops and 33 restaurants, head Downtown, year round. See more..
  18. 4.5 Reptile Gardens (2.305 reviews)
    - Great attraction
    Nature & Wildlife Areas • Zoos
    Reptile Gardens image
    World-renowned adventure park, Reptile Gardens is a must-see family attraction no matter what your age. We maintain the finest collection of tropical plants, colorful flowers, and exotic reptiles anywhere - we have more species and subspecies of venomous reptiles than any other zoo or park in the world! See more..
  19. 4.5 Mount Moriah Cemetery (1.844 reviews)
    - Wild Bill and Calamity
    Mount Moriah Cemetery image
    Small cemetery dating back to the time of cowboys, deputies and the old West. See more..
  20. 4.5 The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs (1.758 reviews)
    - Wonderful exhibit and museum
    Saturday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Spent 2-3 hours Natural History Museums • Science Museums
    The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs image
    America's International Treasure. This National Natural Landmark is an internationally renowned indoor working paleontological site/museum. More than 60 mammoths have been unearthed, as well as over 85 other species of associated Ice Age fauna. Hands-on activities for children and an educational experience for the entire family. One of the top fossil interpretive sites in North America. Open year-round. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. See more..
  21. 4.5 Rushmore Tramway Adventures (1.577 reviews)
    - Amazing zip line adventure
    Saturday: 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM Spent More than 3 hours Amusement & Theme Parks
    Rushmore Tramway Adventures image
    Rushmore Tramway Adventures offers a little bit of something for everyone. From action-packed adventurers to enjoying the beautiful Black Hills with breath-taking views of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, people of all ages and abilities can find their inspiration. You just can't seem to go wrong with this family getaway during your summer vacation! See more..
  22. 4.5 Presidential Trail (1.465 reviews)
    Hiking Trails
    Presidential Trail image
    Hiking trail at Mount Rushmore. See more..
  23. 4.5 Jewel Cave National Monument (1.415 reviews)
    - A Must for Cave Lovers!
    Saturday: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM Spent More than 3 hours National Parks • Caverns & Caves
    Jewel Cave National Monument image
    Jewel Cave National Monument is home to one of the longest caves in the world. Offering an assortment of cave formations and recreational opportunities, many visitors are truly amazed by this underground wilderness. Most impressive is the fact that exploration and discovery continue to take place at this significant natural resource. Please be advised that during the off-season (2020-2021), the visitor center, Park Store, surface trails, and picnic areas are open Thursdays through Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MDT. However, cave tours are suspended, due to an elevator construction project. For those visiting the monument, a one-way flow path is set up inside the visitor center, with directional signage for visitor awareness. Park rangers are on-site to answer questions and to assist with the ever-popular Junior Ranger and Pee Wee Ranger Programs. For specific questions and/or assistance, do not hesitate to contact the monument by phone or email in advance. See more..
  24. 4.5 Big Thunder Gold Mine (1.251 reviews)
    - Family Fun!
    Saturday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Mines
    Big Thunder Gold Mine image
    Big Thunder Gold Mine has an original tour which lasts 45-55 minutes and was founded in 1892. You see the largest display of mining equipment in the Black Hills and learn the history of the gold rush in 1876. We have two forms of panning: one is our commercial panning right on site. Guides will demonstrate theskill of panning, no time limit and we guarentee you will find gold. We also have claim panning where you will pan directly our of the creek 4 miles down the road on Forest Service property. Those exist in 4 hour trips. See more..
  25. 4.5 Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway (956 reviews)
    - Beautiful drive after staying in Deadwood
    Scenic Drives
    Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway image
    We missed the Spearfish Scenic Byway on our last trip west, but were so glad we experienced it this time around. Take 14a out of Spearfish to Hwy. 85. We stopped often to enjoy the scenery and flip a fishing line in the water. There are several waterfalls along the way too. We wished we had left enough time to hike the Devil's Bathtub Trail. However, since Devil's Bathtub is near private property, parking for the trail is near the hydroelectric plant and there are creek crossings which would likely take extra time. We left ourselves a reason to go back. We also hoped to have an Indian taco in Cheyenne Crossings, but the wait was 2 hours at noon. We grabbed a picnic lunch out of our cooler and were on our way. I wouldn't drive far out of the way to take this scenic byway, but it's a beautiful option if you're in the area. See more..
  26. 4.5 South Dakota Air and Space Museum (941 reviews)
    - Great museum with great history
    Saturday: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours Military Museums • Speciality Museums • History Museums
    South Dakota Air and Space Museum image
    Aircraft that have been flown throughout the eras are on display at South Dakota's premiere free aviation museum! The museum has two major static display venues: First, a outdoor air park filled with WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War, and present day aircraft lets you get close to & touch history. This includes the currently flown B-1B Lancer. Secondly, four historical hangars showcase military history & technology,space tech & EROS, SD aviation, and EAFB local military history in a fresh and immersive walk-through. Mid-May through Mid-September bus tours of nearby Ellsworth AFB and the Minuteman II missile training silo are offered at a nominal fee. You will be able to go inside the silo and on base for a 50 minute guided tour of the only MMII silo open to the public. Make sure you bring your ID or Passport (Non-US) to enjoy the tour! See more..
  27. 4.5 Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (850 reviews)
    - Very Interesting
    Saturday: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent 1-2 hours Historic Sites • National Parks • History Museums
    Minuteman Missile National Historic Site image
    The Cold War was the defining historical event of the last half of the 20th century. It led to fear, panic, and distrust symbolized by a nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union. The Minuteman Missile is an iconic weapon in the American nuclear arsenal. Minuteman Missile National Historic site consists of three sites along a fifteen mile stretch of Interstate 90 in Western South Dakota. The Visitor Center is located immediately north of I-90, exit 131. The Launch Control Facility Delta-01 is located four miles west (tickets required for entry) and the Delta-09 missile silo is fifteen miles west of the visitor center. See more..
  28. 4.5 Storybook Island (818 reviews)
    - A fun little park that will bring you back!
    Saturday: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM Spent 2-3 hours Amusement & Theme Parks
    Storybook Island image
    We are a non profit childrens park. 8 1/2 acres of outdoor fun! We have a train, carousel and Bippity Boppity Bounce, the cost is $2 per person for each of these. We have concessions on site as well as a gift shop. We are free admission in the summer, a $1 per person donation is recommended. We DO NOT allow outside food, drink or pets. We open for the summer season on Memorial Weekend and Close on Labor Day. See more..
  29. 4.5 Adams Museum (717 reviews)
    - What a place!
    Saturday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM Spent < 1 hour History Museums
    Adams Museum image
    The Adams Museum is the Black Hills’ oldest history museum. In 1930 pioneer businessman W.E. Adams founded the Adams Museum in downtown Deadwood with the purpose of preserving and displaying the history of the Black Hills. The Adams Museum is home to some of the Black Hills’ greatest treasures including Potato Creek Johnny’s gold nugget, beloved American illustrator N.C. Wyeth’s pencil sketch drawing of Western legend Wild Bill Hickok, the mysterious Thoen Stone record of the Ezra Kind party’s discovery of gold in the Hills in the 1830s and a one-of-a-kind plesiosaur (marine reptile). In addition to exhibits on all three levels, the Adams General Store is located on the main floor. See more..
  30. 4.5 Wind Cave National Park (713 reviews)
    - Intricate Formations
    Spent 1-2 hours National Parks • Nature & Wildlife Areas • Caverns & Caves
    Wind Cave National Park image
    We took the Natural Entrance tour. Our tour guide Abby was excellent! This tour takes you down through the caves to view the various formations including the popcorn, frost and box cut which was very intricate and different from anything else I have seen in other caves. The gallery is interesting and worth the walk through before the tour. I would recommend buying your tickets on line ahead of time if you don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting around. We arrived at 9:20 (on a Weekday) and the first available of any tour was 11:30. After purchasing our tour tickets, we were able to drive around the rest of the park and enjoy the views-including several bison! Enjoyable and worth the ride. See more..
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  2. Churches & Cathedrals
  3. Historic Sites
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  7. Fountains
  8. Bridges
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  24. Lookouts
  25. Monuments & Statues
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  28. Theaters
  29. Geologic Formations
  30. Beaches
  31. National Parks
  32. Hiking Trails
  33. Game & Entertainment Centers
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  35. Escape Games
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  45. Islands
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  52. Sports Complexes
  53. Theatre & Performances
  54. Cemeteries
  55. Military Museums
  56. Scenic Drives
  57. Ski & Snowboard Areas
  58. Libraries
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  60. Arenas & Stadiums
  61. Canyons
  62. Farmers Markets
  63. Natural History Museums
  64. Rides & Activities
  65. Bars & Clubs
  66. Fishing Charters & Tours
  67. Distilleries
  68. Casinos
  69. Convention Centers
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  71. Self-Guided Tours & Rentals
  72. Air Tours
  73. Civic Centres
  74. State Parks
  75. Paint & Pottery Studios
  76. Military Bases & Facilities
  77. Gear Rentals
  78. Wine Bars
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