The roadsides of the Black Hills offer a wide array of fun and funky roadside attractions ranging from the quirky like Dinosaur Park featuring several large green concrete sculptures and the Cosmos Mystery Area to the larger than life Muffler Man. Our favorites included Reptile Gardens and Wall Drug.
Located outside Rapid City, on the way to Mount Rushmore, Reptile Gardens has been owned and operated by the same family since it was started in 1937. The Gardens are home to more than 50 crocodilians including alligators, crocodiles and caimans. Four or five times a day ‘gator wrestlers put on a show. Spectators often have a chance to meet a baby ‘gator at the end of the show.
Beyond the ‘gators, the Gardens also provides opportunities to learn about snakes, lizards, colorful birds, orchids, turtles and more inside the Sky Dome’s indoor jungle experience. Outside, you can greet a giant tortoise or visit a prairie dog town. We spent a couple of hours and really enjoyed ourselves.
Wall Drug, located on the way from Rapid City to the Badlands, is a definite must see roadside attraction. Anyone who has traveled along the highways in this part of country has seen the ubiquitous Wall Drug signs. Much more than a drug store, Wall Drug covers 76,000 square feet of space and is the focal point of the small town of Wall. The store carries everything from cowboy fashions and western jewelry to knives, bobbleheads, tee shirts, pottery, statues, pretty much anything else you might need or want.
Be sure to get your picture taken with the larger-than-life jackalope out front and visit the Roaring T-Rex in back. You can get lunch at the 500-seat restaurant, pan for gold and visit the arcade before you get back on the road!
This is one of a series of posts about our Top 10 activity recommendations for families visiting South Dakota with teens and tweens. We hope you will take the time to read about the rest.