The best type of fun is the kind that doesn’t make you cringe when you go to check your bank account. The good news is that South Dakota is full of free adventures just waiting to be had. Next time you’re looking for an exciting adventure that doesn’t break the bank, consider this list. Here are 12 awesome things you can do in South Dakota without opening your wallet.
1. Explore the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls or Rapid City.
The mission of these outdoor campuses is to offer education on outdoor skills and wildlife. Visitors of all ages enjoy classes on fishing, kayaking, archery, rock climbing and more. Check out either of these two locations anytime of the year for a free educational experience for the whole family!
2. Experience the South Dakota Air and Space Museum in Rapid City.
This one-of-a-kind museum is full of legendary artifacts and exhibits that celebrate our country’s past and future in aircraft technology. There are over 30 vintage military aircraft on display, and visitors can literally walk through aviation history.
3. Spend a day at Sylvan Lake.
This peaceful destination is perfect for fishing, canoeing, swimming, walking or simply enjoying the natural beauty of Custer State Park.
4. Visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone.
The granite faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln is a site everyone has to see at least once in their lifetime. Explore the museum/exhibits and hike the short trail to get a better view of this iconic memorial. Although there is a parking fee, you can marvel at one of the greatest US attractions for free.
5. Visit the Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen.
Free to the public, Dakota Prairie Museum sends visitors over 100 years back in time by providing a glimpse into the lives of railroad and pioneer settlers. The museum also appeals to children with exciting and interactive exhibits that allow them to experience life on the prairie for themselves.
6. Drive along Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway.
This 68-mile drive is the perfect opportunity to peer at the wonder of the Black Hills National Forest from the comfort of your vehicle. As the most popular drive along the Black Hills, there’s no other scenic byway that can quite compare.
7. Tour the Corn Palace in Mitchell.
The world’s only corn palace was established in 1892 as a meeting and celebratory place for the locals before the crop-growing and harvest season. Though it has since been rebuilt, measures have been taken to restore the Moorish design and appearance of the original palace. Each year it is beautifully decorated with naturally colored corn according to a specific theme. Come see the amazing corn mural for yourself and take a free tour.
8. Take the Door Trail Hike.
This easy-to-navigate trail is less than a mile round trip. A boardwalk leads visitors through a narrow “door” to reveal a stunning view of the Badlands.
9. Canoe or kayak along one of the many South Dakota rivers.
A canoeing or kayaking trip is a truly great way to see the beauty around you.
10. Visit Dinosaur Park in Rapid City.
Dinosaur Park is a tourist hot spot where the bones of dinosaurs from the early Jurassic and Early Cretaceous have been found. In 1936, the city of Rapid City, in collaboration with designer Emmitt Sullivan, constructed 5 giant dinosaur sculptures to capture the attention of tourists in the area visiting Mt. Rushmore. Visitors can marvel at these gigantic creatures and imagine how they roamed the area 65 million years ago. The best part about this free park is that there are no rules against getting up close and personal with these sculptures, as children have been climbing on them for decades.
11. See the SculptureWalk in Sioux Falls.
This outdoor gallery displays over 50 unique sculptures created by local artists! A tradition in the city of Sioux Falls, the SculptureWalk is a great way to showcase one’s talent and creativity. The community votes on their favorite sculpture each year before the display is completely updated.
12. Check out the Adams Museum in Deadwood.
Founded in 1930 by pioneer businessman W.E. Adams, this museum preserves some of the greatest treasures found in the area, including a drawing of Wild Bill Hickok by American artist N.C. Wyeth. The Adams Museum features 3 levels of exciting exhibits as well as a western history bookstore.
We know that there must be other free adventures just waiting to be had. What are your recommendations?