Just as you cross from Minnesota into South Dakota, there is a sign that states "355 MILES TO WALL DRUG". And every 5-10 miles after that is another sign tempting travelers to come and explore this magical place. But between Minnesota and Wall Drug, South Dakota is bursting at the seems with roadside attractions. Outer space exhibits, dinosaurs, reptiles, and more. We only stopped at a few of these on our way west towards the South Dakota highpoint. But here they are.
Buffalo Ridge Bison
Before we left, my parents gave us a bunch of $20 bills for our anniversary, with instructions to spend one in each state on something cool. Our first stop in South Dakota was Buffalo Ridge Ghost Town. But not to see the town, to buy some local, grassfed buffalo/bison (apparently they are the same animal). We bought bison filet steak, jerky, and burgers from this kind fellow who obliged us with a photo.
Further into SD, we came across the World's Largest Corn Palace in Mitchell. This was actually recommended by a South Dakota friend from work (who is from Mitchell and attended her prom at the Corn Palace), so we had to stop by and see it for ourselves. The Corn Palace's facade is made completely from corn husks, cobs, stalks, and silk and is redesigned every year. And this particular day they were hosting the 2011 Polka Festival! It was really fun to watch and walk around.
Finally after many hours of driving, we arrived at the world-renowned Wall Drug! The story goes that a couple bough the drug store in Wall, SD in the thirties when times were really tough and business was slow. The wife had an idea to put signs out on I-90 indicating "Free Ice Water" at Wall Drug Store. Given that there was no air conditioning and that people had just travelled through the Badlands, this really boosted business at the store. Read the whole history here. Now, 80 years later, Wall Drug is an enormous complex including a leather shop, jewelry store, chapel, cafe (which seats over 500 people), taxidermy displays, photo exhibits, and even an animatronic T-Rex! It's a wild place!