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Traveling through most of South Dakota is one trek that most people dread. Most drivers put the gas pedal down and go. It helps that the speed limit is 80mph. Driving through, we had one goal in mind, to get to the Black Hills. It’s why most people drive through South Dakota.
Driving on the I-90, I found most of the stereotypes of the Midwest were shattered. And if you go too fast, you’ll miss all the interstate 90 attractions.
Some of the best attractions in South Dakota are right off I-90. Make sure you have your phone mounted in the car. It’s going to be a splendid adventure!
The businesses in South Dakota have taken marketing to a whole new level. They know that most people are just passing through, so they use every marking technique in the book to lure you off the highway.
In what could seem like an annoyance of billboards, they become something that you look forward to on your drive with their quirks and charm, and humor. Here are a few South Dakota points of interest you don’t want to miss.
Things to do in South Dakota – Interstate 90 Attractions
Everyone knows attractions like Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood, Sturgis, and the Black Hills. I’m talking about the places on your way to the final destination. The roadside attraction that you can’t miss on a South Dakota Road Trip.
Devils Gulch – Garrison SD
While a fun story, it probably didn’t happen. But the area is a fun place to hike and explore. (FREE)
Palisades State Park
A great stop in South Dakota along the I-90 is Palisades State Park. This is a great place to stop and stretch your legs. As a state park, it is the smallest in South Dakota.
But it has some of the most stunning cliffs I’ve come across. It’s a popular place to swim, camp, and kayak down the river. It’s a brief detour and well worth it.
Sioux Falls is the first town you cross from the east. The city is worth a full weekend, but if you are just passing through, see Falls Park. The park has rolling waterfalls that seem to go on forever.
Falls Park features an observation tower, scenic overlooks, grassy picnic spots, a restaurant, and walkways across the falls. (FREE)
Tip: Consider staying in Sioux Falls. There are some great things to do around town. Find more ideas at 10 of the Best Things To Do in Sioux Falls South Dakota
Book a Say by clicking here!
The Corn Palace – Mitchell SD
Mitchell South Dakota’s biggest attraction is the corn palace. The palace is a concert venue, but on the outside, is adorned entirely with corn.
They use the stalks, husks, and kernels themselves to create artistic displays over the entire building. Each year they get a makeover.
During the summer months, you’ll see the work in progress. But if you wait until later in the season, you’ll see the completed work.
The town seems to be built around the palace, and they have a few shops across the street that are worth checking out. (FREE)
The dignity of Earth and Sky
If one thing is for sure, I’m not sure how anyone ever survived the crossing of the Missouri River in a covered wagon.
One look at the river valley makes me wonder why people did just settle east of the river. Before crossing, you must make a stop at the rest stop.
According to the artist, “Dignity represents the courage, preservation, and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota.” The exit is between 263 and 265 on I90 near Chamberlain. (FREE)
Enter the old west at 1880 Town. OK, not exactly, but they got all the props to make you feel you did. The town got started when Hollywood rolled into town and began building sets for a movie.
The weather changed and Hollywood, being what Hollywood is, abandoned the film and its props. It birthed the 1880 Town.
They have accumulated more artifacts and props from that era, including pieces from Dances with Wolves and Love for the Lands.
The collection continued to grow into a unique experience perfect for a traveler passing through. You can visit a salon, have a shootout in the middle of town, and experience a little of life in the 1880s. (FEE)
Love DIY Adventures? You gotta get the GyPSy Guide audio tour. This is the only way to travel through South Dakota. With over 20 stops, guiding you with stories and tips on some of the best things to do in the Black Hills and Badlands. Get it by clicking here.
Minuteman Missile Historic Site
Did you know South Dakota played a significant role in protecting us during the Cold War? Until the early 1990s, men would stand guard 24-7 to ensure our safety, ready at a moment’s notice to deploy the US Nuclear Arsenal.
Today it is decommissioned and become a historic site, to remind us of what could have been.
Just a few miles off I-90 and not well marked, this site is a marvel. It’s actually two sites, the museum, and the missile silos.
Both offer tours, but you must be 6 years old or older and able to climb 2 fifteen-foot ladders unassisted. This is well worth spending the $6 admission fee. (FEE)
Badlands National Park
Driving along I-90, you’ll get a glimpse of the badlands. It really is a tease to anyone passing through. But it’s a reminder of just how hard this landscape is.
To really see it in all its glory, enter the park. The drive will take you a couple of hours to see it all. Maybe an hour if you don’t plan on stopping, but that’s a challenge.
Within the park, you’ll run into all kinds of wildlife, including bison, prairie dog, and bighorn sheep, along with countless breathtaking views. (FEE)
Take the stress out of driving through the Badlands. Black Hills Open-Top-Tours runs some amazing trips taking you to Wall Drug, The Badlands and the Minuteman Mille Site. Get your ticket before they sell out!
The original roadside stop on I-90 in South Dakota is Wall Drug. They set the billboard trend on the highway that we have grown to love.
Their failing business was saved by their ingenuity and the bribe of free ice water to motorists.
This simple marketing technique created a whole town built around one company. We even saw a sign in Minnesota off of Hwy 212.
Inside Wall Drug, you’ll find plenty of toys, western gear, candy shops, ice cream, and a full restaurant.
But within the halls, is where you’ll see the best action. Including animatronic dinosaurs, and sitting sculptures of every type on benches waiting to get cozy.
Enjoy the arcade and shooting range, a Mini Mt Rushmore, a Jumping Jets Water show, pan for gold, or see the Giant Jackalope.
You can spend hours just wandering around and exploring without spending a penny. Of course, you’ll probably find something you need before you leave. Grab a free map of the Badlands, it will come in handy. (FREE)
It shouldn’t be because there is so much more to do. They have a Dinosaur Park and Story Book Island for the kids. Both attractions are free.
The city is an amazing downtown to explore. It lacks the tourist feel that Keystone has.
One of the most enjoyable things about Rapid City is its Presidential Statutes throughout the downtown. Walk through and see how many you can identify. (FREE)
Looking to see Mount Rushmore. Here are some great tips! 6 Best reasons to visit Mount Rushmore National Monument
Hire a private tour of the area so everyone can enjoy the views. My XO Adventures offers combination tours of the big three, Rushmore, Needles Eye, and Custer State Park. These tours will sell out.
With vast fields, Spearfish canyon there is tons of hiking for visitors. If you just have a short amount of time, stop at Bridal Veil Falls. The 60ft high falls are the most accessible waterfall in the canyon.
Keep Driving for more Interstate 90 Attractions in South Dakota
Keep going on I-90 you’ll meet up with Devils Tower. Still attached to I-90 but crosses the border into Wyoming. Instead of going as fast as you can through South Dakota, slow down and make the journey part of the destination.
Stop and enjoy the smaller towns and see the best things to do in South Dakota. If you need any more inspiration on what made South Dakota, pick up a copy of Where the West Begins by Phil Schermesiter. You will be ready to set off on your adventure immediately.