Always looking for best vacation deals...on a recent trip thru South Dakota, our family found many places that would qualify for inexpensive family vacations.
We traveled all over the state. From the east to the west, and from the north to the south!
We found the people to be very friendly, and the state had many things to see.
Many attractions were free or very inexpensive (great when you are looking for cheap vacations!)
Here are our some of our favorite South Dakota travel attractions and best vacation deals...
Welcome to South Dakota!
If you are in Sioux Falls, you'll want to see the namesake for the town. I am always awestruck by how beautiful nature can be in it's many forms.
For great photos of the falls, visit http://gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/sioux.shtml which is a website devoted to waterfalls!
A tradition for well over 100 years, the Corn Palace in Mitchell is a large building, built with moorish architecture, that is covered in murals and designs made from corn and other grains. The murals on the outside of the building are replaced each year and designed by local artists. The building is useful for many functions including basketball games, concerts, and other community events. It takes over 275,000 ears of corn to redecorate each year!
Inside you'll find pictures and a video about the history of the Corn Palace. A great cheap travel destination, visiting the Corn Palace is free. More attraction info is at cornpalace.org.
Several of Laura Ingall's Wilder's books are set in De Smet, South Dakota. This is where she spent the long winter, and met and married her husband Almanzo Wilder.
A must for any fan of the books.
Places to visit are the Ingalls Homestead, which is at the location of the actual Ingalls homestead. You'll also find a real claim shanty here, as well as an old schoolhouse, barn, etc. Lots to explore and learn about life on the prairie, even if you haven't read the books, making this one for our best vacation deals list. There is even camping available on the Ingalls homestead. Be on the lookout for cute little gophers scampering about! Well worth a visit, we spent a lot of time here. Know that there aren't food facilities here though, so you'll want to plan accordingly! They do have a great gift shop. More info about the Ingalls Homestead family vacation destination is at ingallshomestead.com
In town, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society (www.liwms.com) gives tours of the Surveyor's House. The real, actual, surveyor's house mentioned in By the Shores of Silver Lake. There is also the school where Laura "rocked the desk", and a recreation of the Brewster school. The tour includes a visit to Pa and Ma's last house in town. This is a tour that any Laura fan must do.
Downtown De Smet is not much like it was when Laura lived there. The town is still there, but many of the building have been replaced. The memorial society can give you a map though, that shows the locations of many of the buildings. So if you have recently read the books you'll be interested in seeing the spot where Cap Garland's house was, the depot, Pa's store in town, etc. Loftus's store is still there, and sells many tourist items.
Not many places to eat or stay in town, but there is a Dairy Queen, which is always a treat.
Fun in De Smet, South Dakota
Riding in a Covered Wagon
This is one of those hidden gems that we discovered just by accident. Saw a billboard, and said, "Hmmmm...that sounds interesting..."
Storybook Land is so much fun. And it is free! Best vacation deals don't get much better than this fun family attraction.
They have recreated just about every nursery rhyme and fairy tale that you can think of. You can roll down the hill with Jack and Jill, help the Big Bad Wolf blow down the houses of the three little pigs, and pet the (real) animals in Old MacDonald's farm.
There is also a recreation of the Wizard of Oz. Follow the yellow brick road from Dorothy's house thru Munchkinland, to meet the scarecrow, tin man and lion, then battle the witch and take a hot air balloon ride. Fans of the Wizard of Oz movie will LOVE it!
They have nice bathrooms, concessions, even a gift shop. A few inexpensive rides (merry go round, etc.) too.
Storybook land is part of Wylie Park, which also has a zoo, go-karts, bumper boats, miniature golf, bicycle rentals, walking trails, etc. They even have a small lake with a beach for swimming and fishing. Wylie Park even has camping facilities. Find them on the web at http://www.visitaberdeensd.com/index.aspx?nid=107
So wish our town had a place like this!
Best Vacation Deals: Storybook Land, Aberdeen, SD
Visit the Three Little Pigs AND the Wizard of Oz!
All across South Dakota you'll see signs advertising Wall Drug.
We had fun creating a road trip game out of spotting and counting the signs.
Wall Drug started out as a regular drug store. To attract customers to get off the road and stop in Wall, they started advertising free ice water. Decades later, it is a mega-destination.
You'll find shopping of all sorts, a cafeteria, fun photo ops (including taking your photo with a giant jackalope) and other activities like panning for gems.
Admission to Wall Drug is free and you can spend quite a while here looking at everything (best vacation deals!)
There are lots of budget motels in town, a perfect spot to relax and unwind after visiting the Bad Lands.
Best Vacation Deals: Wall Drug
South Dakota is home to the World's Largest Pheasant in Huron, SD. If you are passing thru, stop for a fun, free photo opportunity.
You can also find the World's Largest Prairie Dog at the entrance to the Badlands. This is a must stop, because there are lots and lots of prairie dogs running around. You can buy food at the gift shop by the World's Largest Prairie Dog and feed the little critters. Lots of fun, memories and best vacation deals rolled into one.
Best Vacation Deals: Prairie Dog Town
There is so much to do in the Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills area of the state.
One of the things that we found breathtaking was the Badlands. Drive thru this area, but also plan to get out of your car and see the views by walking to the lookout points. Amazing scenery that you won't forget!
A visit to South Dakota wouldn't be complete without a trip to Mount Rushmore.
But, did you know that the Mount Rushmore area is full of attractions for a great family vacation?
It makes the list for one of our best family vacation spots.
If you enter or leave the state on Hwy 71, you'll pass thru Ardmore, SD. We approached it eagerly, hoping to make a pit stop. Instead, we drove on thru...
It was really spooky.
Houses, buildings and cars are there. But NO people. Cars are literally rusting out in yards. It is like all the people in the town vanished, leaving their posessions behind. Who moves away and doesn't take their car?
After we got home from our family vacation and did a little research it turns out that Ardmore, South Dakota is a ghost town...Definetly erie!
Our South Dakota family vacation netted us several best vacation deals: inexpensive, memory making, one-of-a-kind attractions.
We can't wait to go back!
Do you have a great vacation spot or tip? Share it!
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