Things to Do in South Dakota

South Dakota offers a plethora of exciting activities to explore. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or just looking for a unique adventure. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in this Midwestern state. Here are the best things to do in South Dakota:

Discover the Majesty of Mount Rushmore

  • Marvel at the grandeur of the iconic Mount Rushmore. A national memorial featuring the faces of four esteemed American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, carved into the granite cliffs of the Black Hills.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the Presidential Trail to get up close to the magnificent sculptures. And learn about their history and significance through informative exhibits.

Explore the Badlands National Park

  • Venture into the otherworldly landscapes of Badlands National Park. Where you can witness a mesmerizing array of geological formations, including rugged rock formations, deep canyons, and unique spires.
  • Embark on scenic hikes and discover the park’s diverse flora and fauna, including bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, and elusive prairie rattlesnakes.
  • Capture breathtaking photographs of the stunning sunrises and sunsets that paint the Badlands with vibrant colors.
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park

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Journey Through Custer State Park

  • Immerse yourself in the wildlife wonderland of Custer State Park, home to one of the largest publicly-owned buffalo herds in the world.
  • Enjoy scenic drives along Wildlife Loop Road, where you can encounter bison, deer, elk, and pronghorn in their natural habitats.
  • Explore the serene Sylvan Lake and hike the trails that wind through the park’s pine-covered peaks, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding Black Hills.

Immerse Yourself in Native American Culture at Wild Horse Memorial

  • Delve into Native American history and culture at the impressive Wild Horse Memorial, a massive ongoing mountain carving dedicated to the legendary Lakota leader, wild Horse.
  • Visit the Indian Museum of North America to learn about the diverse cultures and traditions of Native American communities.
  • Attend cultural events and festivals that celebrate and honor Native American heritage and artistry.
Native American Culture at Wild Horse Memorial
Native American Culture at Wild Horse Memorial

Step Back in Time at Deadwood

  • Experience the allure of the Old West in the historic town of Deadwood, famous for its Gold Rush history and association with legendary figures like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
  • Take a guided tour of the historic streets to learn about the town’s intriguing past, or try your luck at one of the many casinos in the area.
  • Enjoy live entertainment and reenactments that transport you back to the days of outlaws and pioneers.
Step Back in Time at Deadwood
Step Back in Time at Deadwood

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Visit the Historic Town of Keystone

  • Explore the charming town of Keystone, nestled at the foot of Mount Rushmore, and experience the ambiance of the Old West mixed with modern-day attractions.
  • Wander through the town’s quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants, offering a variety of locally-made crafts and delicious cuisines.
  • Take a nostalgic journey aboard the vintage 1880 train that chugs through the scenic Black Hills, providing picturesque views of the landscape.
Historic Town of Keystone
Historic Town of Keystone

Witness the Wonder of Wind Cave National Park

  • Embark on a subterranean adventure in Wind Cave National Park, known for its intricate box work formations and rare calcite formations called frostwork.
  • Join a guided cave tour to explore the unique underground world and learn about the cave’s significance in Lakota mythology.
  • Above ground, hike the park’s trails and spot a diverse array of wildlife, including bison, pronghorn, and prairie dogs.
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park

Experience the Spirit of the Black Hills at Spearfish Canyon

  • Take a scenic drive through Spearfish Canyon, a breathtaking gorge adorned with limestone cliffs, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls.
  • Hike along the canyon’s trails, such as the iconic Roughlock Falls Trail, offering views of serene streams and picturesque waterfalls.
  • During the autumn months, witness the vibrant colors of fall foliage, creating a stunning tapestry of nature’s beauty.

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Admire the Artistic Expression at the Dahl Arts Center

  • Immerse yourself in the world of art at the Dahl Arts Center in Rapid City, where you can admire a diverse collection of regional and national artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and photography.
  • Attend art exhibitions, workshops, and events that foster creativity and promote the local art community.

Educate and Entertain at the Journey Museum and Learning Center

  • Satiate your curiosity about the Black Hills’ natural history and the region’s Native American heritage at the Journey Museum.
  • Engage with interactive exhibits that bring the past to life and offer valuable insights into the area’s geology, paleontology, and cultural diversity.
  • Participate in educational programs and workshops suitable for visitors of all ages.
the Journey Museum and Learning Center
the Journey Museum and Learning Center

Enjoy Family Fun at Storybook Island

  • Treat your family to a magical adventure at Storybook Island, a delightful children’s park in Rapid City.
  • Let your kids’ imaginations soar as they explore play areas inspired by classic fairytales and nursery rhymes.
  • Experience the joy of family bonding while picnicking and enjoying the park’s enchanting atmosphere.

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Experience the Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

  • Rev up your engines and join the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota.
  • Celebrate the passion for biking with fellow enthusiasts, enjoy live music, thrilling motorcycle rides through the Black Hills, and a variety of vendors offering biker gear and memorabilia.
Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally South Dakota
Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally South Dakota

Discover Wildlife at Bear Country USA

  • Take a wildlife safari at Bear Country USA, where you can observe a variety of animals, including black bears, wolves, elk, and mountain lions, in a natural and safe environment.
  • Drive through the park and witness these magnificent creatures up close in their spacious habitats.
Wildlife at Bear Country USA south Dakota
Wildlife at Bear Country USA South Dakota

Learn at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum

  • Satiate your love for aviation and space exploration at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, located near Ellsworth Air Force Base.
  • Explore an impressive collection of aircraft and artifacts, including historic planes, missiles, and space-related exhibits.

Embrace Serenity at Sylvan Lake

  • Escape to the tranquil beauty of Sylvan Lake, located in Custer State Park, and enjoy a serene retreat surrounded by majestic rock formations.
  • Engage in various recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, kayaking, and picnicking, all while taking in the breathtaking natural scenery.


South Dakota offers an array of captivating experiences for travelers seeking adventure, history, and natural beauty. From the iconic Mount Rushmore to the unique landscapes of Badlands National Park and the rich Native American culture, there’s something to captivate every visitor. So, pack your bags and embark on a memorable journey through the heartland of America.

FAQs Things to Do in South Dakota

Is Mount Rushmore open to the public all year round?

Yes, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is open year-round, although certain facilities may have limited hours during the winter months.

Are pets allowed in Custer State Park?

Yes, pets are allowed in Custer State Park, but they must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in park buildings.

How long does a typical cave tour at Wind Cave National Park last?

The cave tours at Wind Cave National Park generally last between…

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