East to west, west to east, along Interstate 90 in South Dakota, you won’t be disappointed by the numerous stops, great eats and good times.
Starting in the east, you’ll find the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls. Chock full of attractions, events, fine cuisine and culture, there’s a spot for everyone. The city is situated at the intersection of Interstates 90 and 29 on the banks of the Big Sioux River.
- Falls of the Big Sioux River – This natural beauty gave the city of Sioux Falls its name and, like a lot of places in South Dakota, has a long history. Today, Falls Park covers 123 acres and visitors enjoy the sites of the waterfalls which dump 7,400 gallons of water over the 100-foot course each second. There is an information center, café, and observation tower.
- SculptureWalk – This is an interesting exhibit of sculptures displayed year-round, mostly along Phillips Avenue, from the Washington Pavilion to Falls Park. The sculptures are owned by the artists and loaned to the exhibit for one year. After the year is up, all sculptures are available for sale to the public.
- Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History – Take a look at more than 1,000 animals close up. From anteaters to zebras, penguins to porcupines, this zoo will not disappoint! The Zoo also includes the Delbridge Museum of Natural History, a local treasure that houses a rare, one-in-the-world collection of 150 mounted animals, including 36 “vanishing species.”
Where to eat:
- From ethnic to elegant and with regional specialties around every corner, you won’t go hungry in Sioux Falls. There are more than 650 restaurants in this vibrant city.
Porter Sculpture Park
You won’t be able to miss Porter Sculpture Park, trust us. First you’ll recognize the giant bull head easily viewed from the interstate, but please, let your curiosity get the best of you and pull over and check it out. You’ll find original creations from sculptor Wayne Porter, a native South Dakotan who makes these sculptures largely from junk metal. Pull off at Exit 374 (south of Montrose).
Located in the middle of rich rolling farmland and wide open prairie, Mitchell is well known for the World’s Only Corn Palace. But don’t let your exploration stop there. Visitors will also find unique shopping, museums, art galleries, history, and plenty of places to stay. Take Exit 332.
- World’s Only Corn Palace – This palace is decorated using corn, native grasses, straw, milo and sourdock each year to depict a different theme. A local farmer grows all of the corn for the palace and a local artist and a team of 20 works to change the design each year beginning in late-August. The palace is never undecorated – and don’t miss a photo op with Corny!
- Dakota Discovery Museum – Learn about pioneer and Native American life on the prairie of the Dakotas, visit the one-room school house and let the kids experience Discoveryland, a hands-on exhibit just for them.
- Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village – Experience and explore an ancient Indian Village that is more than 1,000 years old. Tour the enclosed archeodome where on-going excavations and laboratory analyses are happening.
Where to eat:
- Blarney’s Sports Bar and Grill, Elixir Roasterie, The Depot, Cattleman’s Club Steakhouse, The American Legion, Overtime Steakhouse and Sports Bar, Zesto
As you travel on Interstate 90 near the central part of the state you’ll cross the Missouri River where Chamberlain and Oacoma are situated. Find Native American history and state history at local museums and attractions. If you’re into fishing, you’ve found your destination. Use Exits 265 (Chamberlain) and 260 (Oacoma).
- Al’s Oasis – Better each time you go, you’ve got to try the buffalo burgers and pie. Don’t miss the pie! Located in Oacoma, the restaurant isn’t all there is to brag about – there is also a unique collection of gifts and South Dakota products.
- Akta Lakota Museum – This museum located on the campus of St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain provides history and learning about Native American life in a unique way. Check out the mini-theater, interactive displays, English-Lakota descriptions, and beautiful gift shop.
- Lewis & Clark Information Center – More than an interstate information center, don’t miss the stop for the best view in town. History buffs will also be delighted by the Lewis and Clark information inside.
Where to eat:
- Al’s Oasis, Bridges Restaurant at Cedar Shore, Upper Crust Pizza & Wings
Pioneer Auto Show and Prairie Town
It’s nostalgia at its finest. The Pioneer Auto Show was started in 1954 in Murdo. It’s an unrivaled celebration of America's romance with the automobile, and includes motorcycles, tractors, scooters, and bicycles portraying the history of 20th century America through incredible evolutions. Most of these wheeled antiques have automated recordings for self-guided tours. Take Exit 192 or 191.
Where to eat:
- The Diner restaurant, on-site at Pioneer Auto
- 1880 Town, west of Murdo
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Remember fallout shelters, Sputnik and the missile gap? Remember duck-and-cover drills, the Iron Curtain, the Red Scare and first-strike capability? The deadly drama underlying the Cold War is relived at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site where visitors can see how the end of the world could have begun. Delta Nine, an underground concrete silo on the edge of Badlands National Park held a Minuteman II missile that could send a nuclear weapon to the Soviet Union in 30 minutes. Tours of the silo and the Delta Launch Control Facility are offered and advanced reservations are required.
Badlands National Park
The striking landscape of Badlands National Park features a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. The Lakota gave this land its name, “mako sica,” meaning “land bad.” Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides), and white (volcanic ash). Wildlife abounds in the park’s 244,000 acres. Bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule and whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes, eagles and hawks can often been see by visitors.
- Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway – This is a 39-mile loop between the towns of Cactus Flat and Wall. You’ll see the breathtaking rock formations and native grasslands filled with numerous species of plants and animals. Plan plenty of time to stop to take photos along the way. There are 16 designated scenic overlooks that provide plenty of chances to pull over and enjoy the views.
- Ben Reifel Visitor Center – Learn more about the landscape and life at Badlands National Park at the visitor center located at the southeastern tip of the loop, near Cedar Pass Lodge. Ranger programs and hikes are offered.
Where to eat:
- Cedar Pass Restaurant at Cedar Pass Lodge (the Indian Taco is a must-try!)
Located at Exits 110 and 109 on the northwestern rim of Badlands National Park, Wall is a small town of roughly 800 residents. And yet, each year, the town is visited by thousands of visitors from all corners of the globe. They’ve come to see a number of things, one of which is Wall Drug, a family-owned drug store that is known across the world.
- Wall Drug Store – You’ve seen the signs for miles and miles. Hyped for hundreds of miles, Wall Drug Store is really all that it’s promised. American’s favorite roadside attraction has been entertaining guests since 1931. This 76,000-foot emporium has free ice water, 5¢ coffee, donuts to feed a crowd, and an outdoor playground.
- Wounded Knee Museum – The museum serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives at Wounded Knee Creek. The mission of the museum is to provide and enhance knowledge of this shared history.
Where to eat:
Centrally located in the Black Hills is Rapid City, South Dakota’s second-largest city. It’s known to be a hub for visitors interested in Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Memorial and many other world-class attractions. Within Rapid City, you’ll find a variety of lodging, shopping, dining and popular attractions for the whole family.
- Main Street Square – This fun-filled public space features special events, arts and culture, live music, seasonal ice skating and interactive fountains. Located in the heart of downtown Rapid City, don’t miss this spot!
- Dinosaur Park – Enjoy seven, life-sized concrete replicas of monstrous prehistoric reptiles which inhabit this no-entry-fee park. The park is situated along a ridge of sandstone that circles the Black Hills; not far from the park, dinosaur footprints have been found.
- The Journey Museum & Learning Center – The Journey brings together four major prehistoric and historic collections to tell the complete story of the Western Great Plains - from the perspective of the Lakota people and the pioneers who shaped its past, to the scientists who now study it. When your journey is complete, you will fully understand the legacy of the land and its people, from the violent upheaval that formed the mystical Black Hills more than 2.5 billion years ago to the continuing saga of the Western Frontier.
- The City of Presidents – Known as the City of Presidents, Rapid City’s downtown is adorned with life-size bronzes of each of our nation’s past Presidents. The City of Presidents Information Center & Gift Shop is located downtown.
Where to eat:
- The variety of dining in Rapid City has something for all appetites. Enjoy fine dining and wine, chuckwagon meals, and local flavor.
- Jewel Cave National Monument, near Custer
- Wind Cave National Park, near Hot Springs
- Reptile Gardens, Rapid City
- Bear Country USA, Rapid City
This northern Black Hills town is famous for the world’s largest motorcycle rally, held annual in the first week of August for more than 75 years. But there’s more than motorcycling to Sturgis – tour the legendary Main Street and its mining era buildings, visit historic Fort Meade, try out the bicycling and jogging trails, or even view four states from nearby Bear Butte State Park. Use Exits 32 and 30.
- Bear Butte State Park – Located six miles northeast of Sturgis off Highway 79 is the state park whose Lakota name is “mato paha,” or “bear mountain.” The park is also a Native American worship site, National Historic Landmark and a National Natural Landmark. Visitors are welcome to hike to the top of the mountain, fish, or enjoy a picnic.
- Belle Joli’ Winery Sparkling House – Taste the fruit of Jackson Winery and Vineyards with a large selection of reds, white, dessert and sparkling wines at the “Sparkling House” of Jackson Winery and Vineyards. Watch champagne-making through an observation room and drink in the beauty of the Black Hills.
- Sturgis Motorcycle Museum/Hall of Fame – Established in 2001, this museum is home to a variety of motorcycles dating back to 1905. See the collection of American and metric bikes on loan along with a variety of exhibits, photographs, memorabilia and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally history.
Where to eat:
- Belle Joli’ Winery, Easyriders Saloon and Road Iron Grille, Full Throttle Saloon, Sturgis Coffee Company
The midway point between Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Devils Tower National Monument, you’ll find this town brimming with adventure, serene beauty, and family delight. Spearfish began its life as a mining town, andich today offers museums, historic attractions, an active downtown, gorgeous parks, dining, shopping and more. Take Exit 10.
- D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery – Constructed in 1899 as the region’s first fish management center, the Hatchery was responsible not only for introducing trout to the Black Hills, but for being the first to control the fish population in Yellowstone National Park. Today the hatchery’s colorful history, pristine setting and century-old buildings are preserved as an educational center devoted to fish culture. See the underwater viewing areas and fish feeding, Victorian Booth House and museum and gift shop on site.
- Spearfish Canyon – The breathtaking limestone palisades of this creek-carved gorge are more ancient than the Grand Canyon – albeit much closer together. Accessible only by horseback until 1893, Spearfish Canyon’s narrow, 1000-foot walls are among the most spectacular scenery in the Black Hills. Enjoy the Spearfish Canyon State and National Forest Service Scenic Byway as it winds its way through the canyon and is beautified by three waterfalls.
- Termesphere Gallery – Dick Termes, an internationally-known local artist, paints on spheres. His works have been published in books all over the world. Each sphere is unique. See this amazing collection in a unique setting at his gallery located just outside of Spearfish.
Where to eat:
- Crow Peak Brewing Company, Bay Leaf Café, Cheyenne Crossing Store & Stage Stop Café, Stadium Sports Grill, Sanford’s Grub & Pub