If you're looking for an unforgettable vacation, with tons of iconic places to see, South Dakota is the perfect destination. There's something for everyone in this beautiful state, from world-famous tourist destinations to hidden gems far off the beaten path.
In this post, I'll show you my top 10 favorite places in South Dakota you should visit.
Number 1. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
The iconic Mount Rushmore, depicting the faces of four United States presidents, is a must-see for visitors to South Dakota. The monument is located in the Black Hills of Keystone, South Dakota, approximately 20 miles from Rapid City. It's by far the most popular with tourists who visit South Dakota from around the world, you can join a tour guide, or walk the presidential trail, it's an easy day trip from any place in the state.
Number 2. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Sturgis, South Dakota provides the perfect backdrop for the largest motorcycle rally in the world. The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally runs for eight days every August, attracting more than half a million riders - it's billed as "the world's greatest motorcycle rally." If you're a biker, you can't miss this event. It's held at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, a premier outdoor venue featuring camping, entertainment, and multiple attractions.
Number 3. Custer State Park
Custer State Park is one of the most beloved state parks in South Dakota, attracting over a million visitors each year. It's a great place to visit if you want to see wildlife, especially during the annual Buffalo Roundup in September. Custer State Park is one of the largest boasting more than 71,000 acres of camping, biking, and fishing, with modernized cabins and hotels room available, as part of Custer State Park Resort.
Number 4. Wall Drug Store
Wall Drug Store is located in Wall, South Dakota - also known as "South Dakota's other city." This tourist destination was built making use of old cowboy movies, with architecture resembling a Western town from the 1800s. Millions of people visit every year, for free ice water and gifts for the family. You can't miss this stop, on your next trip to South Dakota!
Number 5. Black Hills Central Railroad
If you're looking for an authentic steam locomotive experience, then check out the Black Hills Central Railroad. In 1889, this was the first standard gauge railroad line, to cross south of Rapid City; today it offers special events such as poker runs and murder mysteries, from May through October. The depot serves as a museum with old photographs and vintage trains on display.
Number 6. Iron Mountain Road
Iron Mountain Road is a 5 mi stretch of gravel road located near Keystone, South Dakota. It's known as "the most crooked road in America" for its astonishing number of switchbacks - it has 137 sharp curves and is considered the #1 motorcycle ride in America. This part of the trip is so spectacular that America by Car recommends it for experienced drivers only.
Number 7. Glenwood Hot Springs Spa
The Glenwood Hot Springs Resort & Spa is set in the beautiful Black Hills, offering three natural hot springs pools at one luxurious location; but it's an adult-only resort for 18 and over. Aside from soaking pools, you can also enjoy outdoor activities like golfing and hiking. The spa has been operating since 1882 and even hosted celebrities like Mae West and Clark Gable.
Number 8. Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood is a historic gold mining town that was established in 1876, during the Black Hills Gold Rush. At its peak, over 30000 people called Deadwood home, but today it's a sleepy little town with less than 800 residents. The city has been voted as one of the best historic small towns in America; gambling was legalized in 1989 and the city now caters to tourists trying their luck.
Number 9. Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park - one of America's newest national parks - was established in 1978. to preserve the area's unique landscape and wildlife. Located near Interior, South Dakota, The rugged beauty of the Badlands, covers about 240 square miles and has three districts, where Bison, bighorn sheep live today, the park is one of the most popular places to see for, photographers, and astronomers taking full advantage of this beautiful location.
Number 10. Sylvan Lake
Sylvan Lake is one of South Dakota's most popular lakes, because it provides awesome views and excellent fishing; in fact, this was Theodore Roosevelt's favorite summer getaway during his presidency. Take a relaxing boat ride or spend some quiet time strolling along the shoreline, The Lake Area offers picnic places, rock climbing, and small boat rentals.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful in your search for the perfect place to visit. If you're interested in seeing more of Montana, check out my video on YouTube up above that will show all 10 places!