Flag at Fort Sisseton Harvest Festival

Great 8 Military Museums of South Dakota

Honor bravery and sacrifice at these fascinating military museums throughout the state

South Dakota has a proud military history, which you can find on display at museums large and small across the state. Here are some of the best ways to celebrate the state's rich and fascinating military legacy.

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People at National Guard Museum

South Dakota National Guard Museum, Pierre

From tanks & aircraft to weapons and personal items from history, this museum features a fantastic collection of military memorabilia that honors and celebrates the contributions of the South Dakota National Guard. Bonus: Admission is free!

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Battleship sign and exterior

USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial, Sioux Falls

They couldn’t move the USS South Dakota — 35,000 tons is a lot to relocate — so South Dakotans did the next best thing. They made a concrete border of the boat to its exact proportions. Take a free visit to this unique park, which includes an on-site museum featuring artifacts and memorabilia.

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Airplane outside Air and Space Museum

South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Ellsworth Air Force Base

Located at Ellsworth Air Force Base just outside of Rapid City, this museum’s extensive collection includes more than 30 military aircraft and several missiles. Learn about the aviation history and heroes at this free museum.

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Fort Meade Museum sign and cannon

Old Fort Meade Museum, Sturgis

When Fort Meade was established in 1878, no one could’ve known that the decision to play the “The Star-Spangled Banner” for military ceremonies would lead to the song become our nation’s national anthem. Learn about that and experience artifacts, documents, paintings and historic military equipment at this free museum. Bonus: It’s only six miles away from the Black Hills National Cemetery.

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Armed Forces Display and Gifts display

Armed Forces Display & Gifts, Wasta

On I-90 between Wall and Rapid City, it might be easy to miss Wasta, a small town home to a privately assembled collection of 30-plus years of military memorabilia. Turn off at Exit 98 and it won’t take long before you spot aircraft and military vehicles that show you’re at the right place.

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Displays in Minuteman Missile National Historic Site

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Exit 116 on I-90

For 30 years, missiles were hidden in the open fields of South Dakota. The Cold War may be over, but the history remains at this historic site that features interpretive exhibits, tours of missile silos, and the rare chance to see a deactivated nuclear missile.

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Fort Sisseton cannons

Fort Sisseton Historic State Park, Lake City

In northwestern South Dakota, see 14 original buildings from a fort established in 1864. The visitor center features interpretive displays. Guided tours are available, and special events like the annual Fort Sisseton Historical Festival make this a must-see for military history buffs. Also, if legends are to be believed, the ghosts of soldiers might still occupy this historic fort.

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Soldier mannequin in Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche

Small-town museums

Hidden in small towns across the state are museums that almost certainly celebrate local veterans and military service. From the Brookings County Museum in Volga to the Jerauld County Pioneer Museum in Wessington Springs to the Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche, there are hidden gems to be discovered across the entire state that detail the admirable sacrifices of local veterans. For a listing of South Dakota museums, click here.

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Motorcycle display at Fort Meade
Old Fort Meade Museum, Sturgis
Military Room sign and display at Brookings County Museum
Brookings County Museum, Volga
Display at Tri-State Museum in Belle Fourche
Tri-State Museum, Belle Fourche
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