Thursday, September 28, 2006

Top 5 South Dakota Attractions

This is a fun feature I plan to run every Thursday. I'll take a category and try to rate the Top 5. I'll mostly do South Dakota categories, but it won't be limited to just SD stuff.

Today's Top 5 is South Dakota Attractions.

Honorable Mention - Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

I had originally wanted to put this on the list, but it's only a week-long event as opposed to the others which are year-long attractions. But still, I wanted to acknowledge Sturgis as an important SD attraction.

5.) Wind Cave National Park

Out of all the places in the world, you'd never think of South Dakota as having a big, underground cave.

This place is cool. It's one of the only places in the world where you can find boxwork calcite formations.

4.) Wall Drug

My family went on many trips to the Black Hills while I was growing up. The goal of the trips was to see Mt. Rushmore, but I almost looked forward to some of the stops along the way even more. I still have fond memories of the animatronic Cowboy Orchestra.

3.) Badlands National Park

Growing up in the relatively flat southeastern part of the state, I've always had a fondness for places that aren't flat. So it comes as no surprise that one of my other favorite parts of trips to Mt. Rushmore were going through the Badlands. I swear, I could stare at that terrain forever.

2.) The Corn Palace

I have to admit that, when I was a kid, I thought the Corn Palace was silly. I don't know why, I just didn't like it. But it certainly is a unique attraction. So much so, that it averages 500,000 visitors a year. And I love that they use it concerts and other community events. Now that I'm grown up (kind of), I appreciate this landmark as one of South Dakota's treasures.

1.) Mount Rushmore

Was there ever a doubt about which attraction would be #1? Millions of people from all of the country and world come to Rushmore every year to pay homage to America's greatest presidents.

Is it weird that most of our major attractions are on the western end of the state?

Anyway, these are my picks for Top 5. Do you agree? Disagree? Care to suggest new categories for future columns? Don't be afraid to let me know!


jason folkerts said...

I gotta go with them all except Wall Drug - I know it's a huge oasis stop betweem Chamberlain and Rapid, but man, it's cheesy and redundant. How many rooms can you sell the same old tourist crap at exorbant prices? And let's be honest - their side attractions were kinda cool in 1974, but not updating them in over 30 years takes its toll, especially if you moved here from LA and your kids are used to Disney twice a month, Wall Drug then takes on a whole new low in animatronics from Hell.

Enjoy your blog! Tho' I be a bit more conservative than thou - you have a healthy perspective on the Dakotas. Keep it up...

Anonymous said...

I agree with folkerts - Wall Drug is giant block of cheese. (Not in a good, melty, delicious kind of way) It is just the same old crap at exorbitant prices... Even if your kids are from SD, they won't be impressed.

Anonymous said...

These are too easy, and too much of an I-90 tour (four of the six), with Mt. Rushmore & Wind Cave not being too far off. It makes sense if you want the most popular attractions, but let's try to get off the beaten track. So, strike Mt. Rushmore (especially because of the $8 charge to go there now) and keep going down 385 until you get to Boyd (don't think its on the map but you can't miss it). Or, if you hate Wall Drug, take 44 around the Badlands and stop at the Wooden Knife Cafe in Interior. Go to Big Stone Lake, and the lowest point in SD, and Summit, which (I believe) is the highest point in East River. Go to Evan's Plunge in the winter (can't guarantee it still opens then, but it feels like you and a couple of friends are the only ones in the pool, what with the steam obscuring everything). take a long boat ride n Lake Francis Case late in the day, when the sun is setting.

Well, you get the idea . . .

Haggs said...

Thanks for the responces! This is exactly what I wanted. These Top 5 posts are mostly from my point of view, so I'm happy that commenters are disagreeing with me.

And I want to thank Anon 5:58 for his alternate suggestions. He's right that it's mostly an I-90 tourist trap list, but that's what I remember enjoying as a kid. Now that I'm an adult, I doubt I would enjoy those things anymore. I haven't travelled around the state much, so those suggestions are very much appreciated.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I hope you guy will check out the new Top 5 this Thursday.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

do they have twinkies i like twinkies

Anonymous said...


hihihihihihhihihihi said...

Go ahead and die Anonymous