South Dakota Travel Guide
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This State Is Home to 11 Roadside Attractions Worth the Drive

As any good roadtripper knows, it’s never about the destination and always about the journey.

At a length of 413 miles, I-90 traverses South Dakota from east-west through the southern half of the state. It can be a lonely, monotonous trip, but fortunately for road trippers, there are plenty of quirky attractions along the way to make the trip enjoyable.

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PHOTO: Carol M. Highsmith (Public Domain) / Wikimedia Commons
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Porter Sculpture Park

WHERE: Montrose, South Dakota

There are more than 50 larger than life works of art at Porter Sculpture Park, a 10-acre green space just minutes off of I-90. The sculptures, all created by self-taught artist Wayne Porter, are made from old farm equipment, scrap metal, and railroad tie plates. The largest piece is a 60-foot-tall bullhead that weighs 25 tons—it’s about the size of one of the presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore—but our favorite might just be the 20-foot-tall, 20-foot-wide goldfish bowl with five resident goldfish.

INSIDER TIPYou can touch all of the sculptures and the park is pet-friendly.

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PHOTO: South Dakota Tractor Museum and More / Facebook
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South Dakota Tractor Museum

WHERE: Kimbal, South Dakota

Visitors to the Tractor Museum, off I-90, will find historic farm machinery including tractors that have all been painstakingly restored and put on display by local farmers and mechanics. There’s also a one-room country schoolhouse that was moved to the property in 2002, as well as old windmill, a working blacksmith shop, an old-fashioned outhouse (not working), and a barn filled with horse-driven farm equipment.

INSIDER TIPThe museum is closed October through May.

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PHOTO: Ammodramus (CC0) / Wikimedia Commons
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World’s Largest Pheasant

WHERE: Huron, South Dakota

Since 1959, Huron has been known as a premier pheasant hunting location. So when you’re driving north to Huron along Highway 37, keep an eye out for the world’s largest pheasant. Yes. You read that correctly. Standing 28 feet tall and 40 feet long, this is the world’s largest pheasant. Made of fiberglass and steel, this homage to the state’s official bird weighs 22 tons.

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PHOTO: Sandrafoyt | Dreamstime.com
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World’s Only Corn Palace

WHERE: Mitchell, South Dakota

Established in 1892,  and originally called “The Corn Belt Exposition,” the World’s Only Corn Palace stands as a tribute to South Dakota’s agricultural heritage. A new mural is created on the outside of the building each October using thousands of bushels of corn—13 different colors and shades of corn and 325,000 ears of corn to be exact—grains, and native grasses. The theme for each mural is chosen by the Corn Palace Events and Entertainment Board and has included everything from South Dakota Fauna to Everyday Heroes. Free guided tours are offered every 45 minutes starting at 9 a.m. June through August. Guides discuss the history of the palace, as well as some fun facts like how many nails (about 1.5 million) and staples (about 500,000), are used in each display.

The murals are taken down at the end of August, but you have more than 10 months to catch a glimpse of the “a-maize-ing” display.

 

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PHOTO: Carol M. Highsmith (Public Domain) / Wikimedia Commons
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1880 Town

WHERE: Murdo, South Dakota

To the east of Badlands National Park just off 1-90, the 1880 Town is a group of more than 30 reconstructed and accurately decorated buildings from 1880 to 1920. The buildings, some original like the 14-sided barn built in 1919 and the church built in 1915, are filled with antiques, photos, and Native American relics. There are props from the film Dances With Wolves, a one-room schoolhouse, and a homestead complete with windmill, barn, and an outhouse.

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PHOTO: JOHN LLOYD (CC BY 2.0) / Wikiemedia Commons
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Pioneer Auto Show

WHERE: Murdo, South Dakota

With more than 275 classic cars, 60 tractors, 60 motorcycles, and tons of antiques and memorabilia like vintage gas pumps and antique motor toys, the Pioneer Auto Museum is a must-see for those who love vehicles big and small. Started in 1954 as the Pioneer Auto Show by AJ “Dick” Geisler and his family, the property also includes the Covered Wagon Café, a 1950s diner that offers traditional greasy spoon food like burgers and shakes.

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PHOTO: Travis (CC BY-NC 2.0) / Flickr
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Giant Prairie Dog

WHERE: Cactus Flats, South Dakota

If you’re traveling along Rte 240 on your way to the Minuteman Missile Visitors Center, keep on eye out for a six-ton prairie dog. Located in front of the Ranch Store in Cactus Flat, the concrete animal has been standing guard since 1959. There’s a real prairie dog town (free) on the grounds and prairie dog chow (50 cent bags of peanuts) can be purchased at the Ranch Store, which also sells a range of souvenirs and t-shirts.

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PHOTO: Paul R. Jones / Shuttershock
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Prairie Homestead

WHERE: Cactus Flats, South Dakota

Less than a mile from the east entrance to the Badlands National Park, the Prairie Homestead is an original South Dakota sod home. Built in 1909 by the Brown family, the structure is one of the last remaining original sod homes. Guests can dress in pioneer attire before heading out on a self-guided walking tour of the property that includes the sod home with original furnishings, an outhouse, a chicken coop, and a barn with animals. The gift shop is a must visit for souvenirs like antiques, pioneer items, and western artwork, and there are a visitor center and cafe.

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PHOTO: Nyker1 | Dreamstime.com
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Wall Drug

WHERE: Wall, South Dakota

Begun as a tiny drug store in the 1930s, Wall Drug has evolved into one of the country’s most well-known roadside attractions—you can’t miss the billboards along 1-90. The 76,000-square foot megastore offers everything from free ice water and five-cent coffee to yummy donuts, travel essentials (need toothpaste or bandaids?), kids toys, and just about any souvenir you can imagine with your name on it. There’s a 520-seat restaurant, a playground area complete with photo-op-ready jackalope, and the largest privately owned western art collection.

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PHOTO: Eqroy8 | Dreamstime.com
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Dinosaur Park

WHERE: Rapid City, South Dakota

Perched on a ridge overlooking downtown Rapid City, and easily accessible from Route 44 and 1-90, Dinosaur Park is a place to stretch your legs while exploring seven life-size dinosaur sculptures. The park was opened in 1936 to highlight the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous dinosaur fossils that were found in the area. It’s a good spot for some fun selfies and Instagram shots, and there’s a visitor center, gift shops, and a cafe.

INSIDER TIPThe dinosaurs are lit until 10 p.m. so there’s plenty of time to squeeze in a visit, but the park is closed January through April and November and December.

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PHOTO: Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village / Facebook
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Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village

WHERE: Mitchell, South Dakota

Discovered in 1910, the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is South Dakota’s only archaeological site that’s open to the public. Excavations take place in the Thomsen Center Archeodome, where archaeologists have uncovered evidence of a major bison processing center, as well as crops like corn, beans, squashes, and tobacco. There are also about 70 to 80 earthen lodges buried on the grounds; a full-sized replica can be seen in the onsite museum. Visitors are not allowed to dig, but are encouraged to visit the lab where they can help wash and sort artifacts, and there’s a Kids Dig section just outside the archeodome.