South Dakota may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of top travel destinations, but it’s time to give this hidden gem a chance. The state has a reputation for being a flyover state, but it’s anything but boring.
Despite the cold winters and rural landscape, South Dakota has so much to offer travelers looking for a unique experience. Let’s take a look at some of the underrated things to do in South Dakota that make it a must-visit destination.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial
One of the most iconic landmarks in the United States is Mount Rushmore National Memorial, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This impressive sculpture is a definite must-see, featuring the faces of four presidents carved into the granite. It may seem like an obvious choice, but Mount Rushmore is often overlooked by travelers who dismiss it as a tourist trap. However, visitors are always amazed by the sheer size of the monument and the rich history behind it. Many also don’t realize that there is a lot more to do in the area, like hiking trails and exploring the beautiful Black Hills. The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a true highlight of South Dakota and should not be missed.
Badlands National Park
Another incredible natural landmark in South Dakota is the Badlands National Park. This unique park is home to stunning jagged rock formations that rise up from the flat prairie floor. It gets its name from the harsh climate and rugged terrain, which makes it a challenging yet must-visit destination for travelers. The park also boasts an otherworldly landscape, complete with uniquely shaped spires, canyons, and breathtaking views of the stark wilderness. It’s a fantastic spot for hiking, wildlife watching, and stargazing.
Native American History
South Dakota is home to numerous Native American tribes, and the state is rich in Native American history and culture. Visitors to South Dakota can explore the heritage of these tribes through museums, art galleries, and cultural centers. Learning about the history and traditions of these communities is a vital part of understanding South Dakota’s past, present and future.
The Dakota name itself is linked with the Sioux tribes, and visitors can pay tribute to their history at places like the Crazy Horse Memorial or the Journey Museum. The lands in South Dakota hold a deep cultural significance for Native Americans, and it’s an excellent opportunity to connect with their culture and history.
Explore South Dakota’s Unique Cuisine
Another aspect of South Dakota that should not be overlooked is its unique cuisine. While it may not be as famous as some other regional cuisines, South Dakota has its own food traditions that are well worth trying. From the renowned Wall Drug’s homemade donuts and legendary buffalo burgers to local delicacies like chislic (spicy cubes of meat) or kuchen (a German pastry), there is something for everyone’s taste buds. Many are surprised to find out just how tasty the cuisine of South Dakota can be. The buffalo burgers are particularly popular and offer a new twist on an American classic.
For those interested in paleontology, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs is an awe-inspiring destination. This archaeological site is home to the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world, making it an important research center for these incredible prehistoric animals. Not only can visitors learn about mammoths and their history, but they can also observe professional excavations at the site. This is a unique opportunity to witness history being uncovered and gain an appreciation for the importance of preserving prehistoric remains.
South Dakota is a state full of surprises and offers an incredible variety of attractions for visitors. From the stunning Badlands National Park to the rich Native American history and unique cuisine, there is so much to explore. Anyone can find something that interests them in this beautiful state, and a visit to South Dakota is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
If you are planning a trip and want to immerse yourself in natural beauty and history, South Dakota should definitely be on your list. Consider adding attractions like Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, and Wind Cave National Park to your itinerary for breathtaking views and outdoor adventures. Remember also to explore the unique cuisine of South Dakota, including buffalo burgers and chislic.