South Dakotans aren’t much for boasting or bragging about how great we are. We just quietly go about our business, being awesome in so many ways. We have some of the tastiest food, prettiest scenery and interesting history in the country, and people who visit can’t help but notice. Over the years we’ve quietly become the unofficial capital of these 12 things.
1. Wild West Nostalgia
There's just something about the stories of the Wild West that makes us nostalgic for a time that happened well before we were born. The spirit of adventure, combined with a little bit of danger captures our imaginations. Places like Deadwood bring the Wild West back to life every day.
Jewel Cave is the third-longest cave in the world, and only about five percent of it has been explored. The unique hydromagnesite balloon formations found here are particularly unique. Wind Cave also has some rare formations. More than 95 percent of all boxwork formations in caves are found here. Basically, if you love exploring caves, South Dakota is the place to be.
Admittedly, it's pretty easy to be the capital of chislic, because most people (including some South Dakotans I've met) don't even know what it is. Once you try these tender, savory bits of deep-fried meat, you'll be hooked.
4. Laura Ingalls Wilder
Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her
Little House on the Prairie series flock from all over the country to South Dakota to visit DeSmet, where Wilder spent most of her young adulthood.
If you've lived in South Dakota for more than a few months, you can agree that we're definitely the capital of wind.
6. Ice Water
How do you get a reputation for ice water? Dorothy Hustead figured out that ice water would draw customers to the little hardware shop she owned with her husband, Ted. The Husteads put signs out along the road, advertising their free ice water and 5-cent coffee, and the rest is history. Today, Wall Drug has as many as 20,000 visitors per day.
7. Pheasant Hunting
There's no better place for pheasant hunting than South Dakota, and it's a tradition for many families.
8. Natural Beauty
Sure, there are pretty places all over the world, but if you live in and love South Dakota, you know that our state has more natural beauty than anywhere else.
9. Corn-Covered Buildings
The Corn Palace is a treasure unlike any other. Only South Dakotans would spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours decorating a building with corn cobs... and then tear it all off and start over again a year later. Why do we do it? Because it's a way to celebrate our farming culture and create art at the same time!
10. Sidewalk Art
Speaking of art... big cities in other states might think they're the artsy ones with their huge museums, but South Dakota is surrounded by incredible art everywhere you look. We have SculptureWalk in Sioux Falls, Art Alley in Rapid City (aka City of Presidents because of its amazing sculptures of past U.S. Presidents), the stunning Dignity sculpture in Chamberlain... and let's not forget Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.
11. Small Town Charm
South Dakota has a population of around 870,000 people — ranking 46th in the nation for population. Our two largest cities, Sioux Falls and Rapid City are where many live, which means that we also have a whole bunch of small towns. Our little towns offer quiet living, beautiful surroundings, and lots of good, down-to-earth people.
The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is famous all over the world — and it should be! The little town goes from fewer than 7,000 to more than half a million, and the party is epic.