March 25, 2023
South Dakota

South Dakota: The Jewel of the Central USA

Thinking of taking a trip to South Dakota?

It is no secret that South Dakota is not on the list of the most touristic places in the United States.

You would have to go down quite a bit on that imaginary list to find this state in the heart of America, flanked by Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming.

South Dakota deserves on its own merits to be at the top of the most popular and tourist places in the USA. It is preserved as a hidden treasure, worthy of being discovered by anyone who really had the desire to touch the heart of America and exchange it with his own.

The post will explain to you the 10 best places to see in the entire state.

Top 10 places to see in South Dakota

1.- Mount Rushmore

If you go to the town of Keystone, you can reach a sculpture complex carved into a granite mountain.

These giant sculptures house the faces of US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Each face is 18 metres high and was sculpted by a famous American sculptor (initially in charge of building Stone Mountain in Georgia) of Danish origin named Gutzon Borglum together with his son, Lincoln Borglum.

This incredible monument represents the first 150 years of United States history.

The first idea that was considered was to build a tourist attraction that would have a carved mountain but instead of presidents, with figures from the American West.

Construction began in 1927 and it was inaugurated 14 years later. Little time had to pass for it to become, together with the Statue of Liberty, the most emblematic symbol of the USA.

2.- Badlands

Badlands is one of the 6 national parks in South Dakota, which stands out above all for its incredible ocher colours and perfectly defined reddish lines.

These colours mixed with the aridity of the terrain teleport you to a planet never seen before. This 10,000-hectare park was declared a national monument in 1939, before becoming a national park in November 1978.

The Oglala Lakota Nation, the second-largest American Indian reservation in the USA, manages this park together with the National Park Service.

Towards the end of the 19th century, European settlers, after discovering gold, increasingly took more and more land from the natives, forcing them to live on reservations.

Wounded Knee (December 29, 1890) was the most remembered massacre where almost 200 Lakotas were killed by the white man and all traces of natives were exterminated from the Badlands.

3.- Black Hills

If the landscapes and sensations that you can experience on your trip to the West Coast of the USA are unforgettable, the sights, sounds, and nature that you can take with you from the heart of South Dakota are irreplaceable.

This ponderosa tree-studded mountain range is the backbone of South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming.

The best of South Dakota is in the Black Hills. If you are going to visit the nine enclaves that are advised here, you will be inside the Black Hills at all times.

Black Hills is an amazing place to visit with family, there are so many activities to do like  hiking, biking, camping and visiting museums and any other fun family activity . There are many vacation apartments for rent at affordable prices Which promise you an extraordinary stay.

The Black Hills is not just a 15,540 square km mountain range. It is called everything that is delimited between the Cheyenne and Belle Fourché rivers.

The Fort Laramie Treaty, drawn up by the United States, specified that the Sioux owned this land.

4. Crazy Horse Monument

It is, neither more nor less, the sculpture carved on the largest mountain in the world.

Tashunka Witco was known to all by the nickname Crazy Horse.

He was the most respected man in the Sioux nation. Mysticism and legend surrounded the incredible life of one of the most emblematic leaders in history.

5. Deadwood

If you assure that Deadwood is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire United States, you will not be exaggerating or getting carried away by the emotion of the trip.

Deadwood has it all. Without hesitation, it is one of the cities in South Dakota that you cannot miss.

It is a perfect base camp to visit the key points of the state, especially all those located in the north of it.

It will seem to you that time has stopped hundreds of years ago. The Wild West coexists with the present. It is also protected by the imposing view of the Black Hills.

6. Custer State Park

These 28,000 hectares remind you that even if you are 8 hours away, Yellowstone National Park is close to you. The landscapes and fauna bring it to mind.

Without reaching the magnitude and excellence of its neighbour, Custer State Park has been chosen on more than one occasion among the 10 best places in the world to see wildlife.

7. Hill City

You would have verified the mention of the town of Hill City to you on several occasions.

Without a barrage of attractions of its own, Hill City offers you a Main Street straight out of a movie, licked all over by the Black Hills.

Each of the Hill City accommodations, where you can sleep, has the attraction of the city’s own tranquillity.

8. Oyate Trail

Meaning of the term Oyate

Oh-YAH-tay is a Lakota Sioux word meaning people or nation, while oh-CHANG-Koo (Trail) means road traveled by globetrotters.

Thus Oyate Ochanku, or Oyate Trail as it is more commonly known, means the nation’s busy highway.

9. Wind Cave National Park

It was the seventh national park in the United States and the first cave named as a national park anywhere in the world.

You can’t just tour its caves, like buffalo, moose, rattlesnakes, and prairie dogs colour the landscape above ground.

10. Jewel Cave National Monument

Although this national monument deserves its own right to be among the highlights of South Dakota.

Like Wind Cave, Jewel Cave is also free. You will only have to pay for their guided excursions.

It is open all year although the visitor centre is closed on weekends and Christmas, New Year, Martin Luther King Day, and President’s Day.

Other landmarks in South Dakota

Outside of this top ten, South Dakota has even more attractions for you.

These places will complete your road trip through the lands of South Dakota:

  • Sioux Falls South Dakota: Of the largest city in the entire state, two enclaves such as the views of Falls Park and the food at Phillips Avenue Diner, are remarkable.
  • Rapid City: At the level of services, it is the city from which the small populations of the state are nourished the most. The most advisable thing is to do the “City of Presidents” tour. This consists of going through monuments of American presidents through Main St and St. Joseph St.

Typical food in South Dakota

You shouldn’t leave South Dakota without trying these dishes:

  • Kuchen: Cake made with sweet dough and filled with pastry cream, fruit, and nuts.
  • Chislic: Small fried or grilled cubes of lamb meat usually served on skewers. It is the dish most associated with South Dakota.
  • Fry Bread: Native North American recipe. Flat dough fried in oil or lard. It can be eaten salty with beans, beef, or grated cheese or sweetened with honey or icing sugar.
  • Kolaches: Originally from Slovakia. Small candied cake with cream cheese. It is normally used as a dessert at weddings.
  • Wojapi: It is a sauce that mixes berries and is usually served on top of fried bread. It’s a Lakota Sioux recipe.
  • Wasna: Wasna in the Lakota language means all mixed up. And it is that this Indian recipe mixes buffalo meat (buffalo burger is typical in South Dakota), blueberries, and wheat grains.


With these detailed descriptions of breathtaking venues and delicious foods of South Dakota, you can understand the true beauty of these places in your vision. You must definitely visit these places of South Dakota because the buffaloes, carved mountains, Sioux legends, sunset walks, Far West cities, and mountain lakes will envelop you in falling in love. Forever.

Written by
Brittany Berkey
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Written by Brittany Berkey