Its location on the Great Plains ensures the American state of South Dakota has amazing scenery, rich history, and some fascinating sights to see. Come here for a road trip and take a scenic drive through the Old West on a family vacation. Home to Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park and the city of Sioux Falls, there’s so much to see and do on South Dakota vacations.
From hiking, biking, fishing and camping in state parks to selfies in front of Mount Rushmore, shopping in Rapid City and sightseeing in Sioux Falls, there’s so much for you to see and do in South Dakota. Whatever you’re into, from outdoor pursuits to art and history, this is a great spot for a family vacation or a romantic vacation at any time of year.
Mount Rushmore – A must-see on any South Dakota vacation, the 60-foot-high faces of US Presidents George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln are carved into the side of Mount Rushmore. Completed in 1941, this is one of the state’s top attractions.
Deadwood City – The ‘Old West’ city of Deadwood is a national historic landmark district with beautiful architecture from the Gold Rush era. It was also the setting of the 1953 musical ‘Calamity Jane’ (and more recently HBO’s TV series ‘Deadwood’.
Crazy Horse Memorial – Known as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World In Progress’ this as-yet unfinished mountain carving in the Black Hills, commissioned by Henry Standing Bear, will be the tallest sculpture in the world (563 feet high) when it’s finished.
1. Sioux Falls – The largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls is home to historic buildings like the ‘Queen Bee Mill’. Head for Downtown Sioux Falls for art, culture, and shopping, or check out the Great Plains Zoo and Delbridge Museum of Natural History with the family.
2. Rapid City – Known as the gateway to Mount Rushmore, this is a great base for visiting Badlands National Park. Don’t miss the City of Presidents, a downtown collection of life-sized sculptures of US presidents, or the chance to see ‘Gus’, a 14-foot long American Alligator at the Reptile Gardens (not too ‘up close and personal’, though!).
3. Black Hills – This mountain range in the west of the state is home to Black Hills National Forest. Don’t miss Wind Cave National Park, home to one of the world’s longest cave systems, take a tour of Homestake Mine or head off on the wine trail.
4. Badlands National Park – With 242,000 acres to explore, you can go camping, hiking, biking, fishing or spot wildlife here – and don’t miss the chance to visit Custer State Park while you’re in the state too.
5. Hot Springs – The best-kept secret in Hot Springs is that it’s home to the largest Columbian mammoth site in the world, where you can see the unearthed skeletons of 61 woolly mammoths. It’s also worth visiting the Pioneer Museum, Wild Horse Sanctuary, and Evans Plunge Mineral Springs.
6. Hill City – This historic city is packed with beautiful architecture, antiques, art galleries, gift shops, and wineries. While you’re here, take a ride on a vintage steam train at Black Hills Central Railroad.
With temperatures in summer reaching over 100°F, summers in South Dakota may be the most popular time of year but they’re also scorchingly hot! If you prefer cooler temperatures, come in spring or fall to avoid the crowds, when things are a bit quieter.
Hiring a car is the best way to see all the state has to offer, including the state parks. There are two main interstates in South Dakota: I-90 runs from east to west from Seattle to Boston while I-29 crosses the state from North to South.