Every year, visitors from all over the world come to South Dakota to explore the pine forests of the Black Hills and experience the geological wonders of Badlands National Park. They also come here to take in the majesty of the presidents' heads on Mount Rushmore, one of America's most iconic and enormous works of art.
No matter where your travel plans take you in South Dakota, it's impossible to escape the breathtaking natural beauty of this state. But don't neglect the fascinating cities, nightlife, and quirky cultural experiences that also lie around every turn of South Dakota's winding roads.
Once a rugged outpost of the Wild West, South Dakota has retained its independent spirit while stepping into the 21st century. Come here to explore the landscape, learn more about nature and history, have adventures, and make lasting memories.
Here are just a few suggestions of places to visit while in South Dakota:
- Rapid City: Visit the Cosmos Mystery Area. In 1952, two college students went searching for a place in the Black Hills to build a cabin. They found a small area deep in the woods where a few laws of physics did not seem to apply. Since that time, the strange patch of ground has mystified visitors from all over the world.
- Deadwood: Explore the preserved historic gold mining site at Broken Boot, or visit Saloon No 10, a museum that doubles as a bar where Wild Bill Hickock met his end.
- Sioux Falls: Visit the extraordinary Sertoma Butterfly House and observe living species from multiple continents. Then see the USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial, where a life-sized outline of the battleship frames a collection of WWII artifacts.
- Badlands National Park: Go hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding along the trails of one of the most popular national parks in the United States.
- Hot Springs: Visit the Mammoth Site. Over 56 Columbian mammoths and wooly mammoths have been unearthed here, designating this working paleontological site and museum as a National Natural Landmark.
- Pierre: Visit the capital city of South Dakota and explore state government buildings, the Cultural Heritage Center, and unique attractions like the Oahe Dam and the National Guard Museum.
Come here between May and July, rent a summer home, and see the mountains and pine forests in full bloom. Or visit in the wintertime, book a cozy cabin and go snowshoeing along the backcountry trails. During any season of the year you can easily find a perfect lakeside vacation rental big enough for your family, or a trendy downtown condo.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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