From awe-inspiring views to breathtaking gardens, South Dakota is loaded with nature and beautiful places to get lost in, as well as many intriguing museums to explore. The following list is what we consider to be some of the most wonderful places in our state when it comes to both beauty and intrigue. If you haven’t seen all of these places, we highly recommend them!
We're aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we're continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. The view from the top of Black Elk Peak, Black Hills
As the highest natural point in South Dakota, Black Elk Peak, formerly known as Harney Peak, provides you with downright stunning views of the Black Hills National Forrest. This mildly rigorous hike requires no technical climbing skills, making it the perfect adventure for the whole family. Be sure you bring your camera!
2. McCrory Gardens, Brookings
Maintained and operated by South Dakota State University, this beautiful area consists of 25 acres of gorgeous display gardens and 35 acres of arboretum full of hundreds of different grasses, shrubs, trees, and stunning flowers. It's easily the the perfect setting for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
3. Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City
Found in the Black Hills, this little chapel is built in the traditional Nordic style and receives nearly 24k visitors each year. Open to visitors May through September, it's an ideal place to get married or re-new your vows.
4. The view of Falls Park from the observation tower, Sioux Falls
If you're in the Sioux Falls area, then you absolutely must visit the lovely Falls Park to see the spectacular waterfalls. A climb up the observation tower will give you a view to remember.
5. Sica Hallow State Park, Sisseton
With plenty of eerie folklore surrounding this beautiful state park, Sica Hallow, meaning "bad" or "evil" in Dakota, is at truly breathtaking place to explore. Hike the spectacular trails any time of the year!
6. Mount Rushmore
This may seem like a no brainer, but this massive sculpture is a must-see. You can't live in Mount Rushmore State without experiencing the beauty and awe of this national memorial.
7. Storybook Land, Aberdeen
This 210 acre park in Aberdeen is inspired by your favorite nursery rhymes. Featuring a miniature train, a fantastic castle, and many other larger-than-life exhibits, a visit here will make anyone feel like a kid again.
8. The World’s Largest Petrified Wood Park, Lemmon
You may have to go way off the beaten path to visit this massive, block long park, but it's completely worth it. Meander around 100 towers, structures and various other formations located in the block-long park and marvel at unique, quirky statues that are up to 20 feet tall.
9. South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Ellsworth
Visitors can spend all day peering at present aircraft technology and learn all about the fantastic possibilities to come to aviation. A trip to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum is certainly one you'll always remember.
10. Butterfly House & Aquarium, Sioux Falls
Visit the marine cove, and view hundreds of different species of fishes and corals. The cove is home to sea stars and sea urchins, seahorses, clownfish and anemones, stingrays, and even sharks! Visitors can then meander through the 80 degree tropical setting and see hundreds of butterflies.
11. Wind Cave National Park, Custer
Take a guided tour through Wind Cave National Park and explore the intriguing cave system that's one of the largest and most complex in the world.
12. The World’s Only Corn Palace, Mitchell
Close to the hearts of many South Dakotans, The Corn Palace hosts 500,000 tourists each year. View the incredible corn murals made out of 12 different colors of corn and framed with native straw grasses, sourdock and take a tour of the one, and only, palace!
13. The Mammoth Site, Hot Springs
You can view the remains of mammoths who died over 26,000 years ago at this fantastic exhibit. This active paleontological dig site is home to the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world!
14. The view from Pinnacles Overlook in the Badlands
Visit the Badlands National Park, and you'll essentially feel as through you're in another planet. The views are THAT incredible.
15. The Annual Buffalo Round Up in Custer State Park
Almost 1300 bison roam the gigantic Custer State Park. Held the last Friday in September, you can see the cowboys and cowgirls bring in the gigantic herd. This is a western experience you won't want to miss.
16. Laura Inaglls Homestead, De Smet
Loren Kerns / Flickr
You'll find the the Ingalls Homestead in the little town of De Smet. See the homestead the family lived on and partake in numerous activities including laundry washing the old fashioned way and corn husk doll making!
17. Spearfish Canyon, Spearfish
No matter the season, Spearfish Canyon is absolutely stunning. View the limestone palisades, gorgeous waterfalls, and beauty of the unique area that looks like a painting brought to life.
What places are we crazy for leaving out? We love hearing from you, so feel free to let us know in the comment section below!