Sightseeing in South Dakota

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All manner of monsters prowl the halls of the Sioux Falls Jaycees Haunted House. Sadistic clowns smile from shadowed corners, herding visitors into a blood-spattered room where a ghoul in a straitjacket waits. Strobe lights and fog convince the senses that they've entered an otherworldly dimension or a very dusty camera, concealing the ghastly robotics and props lurking around each bend?such as a leering, demonic child named Hex. Though the attraction seeks to terrify, its ultimate goal is far more altruistic: ticket profits go to the Sioux Falls Jaycees, a community-service group whose volunteers don masks and gallons of fake blood to staff the entire house.

4000 W 12th St.
Sioux Falls,
SD
US

One of the largest, most complete T. rex skeletons ever found crouches inside the museum at Black Hills Institute. Frozen in time, he seems to bare his fossilized teeth at awe-struck crowds or to grin at his favorite museum attendants. This hulking beast, known as STAN, might be the star of the show, but he's not the only reason to visit: elsewhere in the museum, the institute's paleontologists have positioned the remains of outlandish sea creatures, long-tailed land-dwellers, and fossilized minerals.

  • From the Press: The marriage of history and pseudo-science-fiction on display at Museum at Black Hills Institute has earned the number-two spot on Midwest Living's list of Top 10 Things to Do with Your Kid in the Black Hills.
  • Fun Fact: STAN hasn't always stood within the Museum at Black Hills Institute; in 1995, he headlined The T. rex World Exposition in Tokyo and then spent a year touring major Japanese cities.
  • Don't Miss: In addition to the museum's dinosaur fossils and replicas, visitors can find prehistoric shark teeth, fish, bugs, and leaves.
  • Prehistoric Souvenirs: Visitors can stop by the museum's gift shop to buy prehistoric-themed books, toys, housewares, and jewelry for friends, family members, or coworkers who might also be cavemen.
117 Main St
Hill City,
SD
US

Science, literature, history, and art?the Children's Museum of South Dakota lets young visitors explore the world in all its forms. The museum focuses on education through play, with hands-on exhibits that foster each child's quest for knowledge, although parents are likely to learn a thing or two along the way.

  • Size: 21,000 square feet of indoor interactive exhibit space as well as 1.5 acres outdoors
  • The Building: as part of its efforts to stay green, the museum incorporates many recycled materials, such as old gym bleachers turned into railing and the same employees that worked there yesterday
  • Eye Catcher: Mama and Max T. Rex?full-size animatronic dinosaurs that live outdoors and roar during spring and summer
  • Permanent Mainstay: the Prairie Farm, where a large-scale conveyor belt lets kid simulate picking, sorting, and sending goods to market
  • Don't Miss: the chance to build a pipe and direct the flow of water at the Splash Table

  • Hidden Gem: the butterflies and flowers hiding in the Living Maze, an outdoor labyrinth made of prairie grasses
521 4th St
Brookings,
SD
US

South Dakota Discovery Center sparks exploration in minds of every age with traveling exhibits and workshops. At the hands-on science playground, visitors can learn about environmental education or space science or build robots out of Legos during classes and competitions. With more than 60 hands-on exhibits, guests can check out tree houses, wacky mirrors, and even experience the "ultimate bad hair day." Families can also hire the center to put on educational festivals with water science and fitness themes or spend the day exploring South Dakota?s history and ecology.

805 W Sioux Ave
Pierre,
SD
US

Ingalls Homestead is one of the homes of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of Little House on the Prairie. The tall grasses and homestead buildings create the setting for guests to relive their favorite memories from the Little House stories. Guests can participate in a wide array of activities such as riding in a covered wagon, attending an 1880?s school session, and meeting ponies and horses up close. Those seeking hands-on activities also can opt for making corn cob dolls or jump ropes, which they get to take home.

20812 Homestead Rd
De Smet,
SD
US

All bases of wine production, procurement, and enjoyment are covered at the Great Dakota Wine Fest. Guests can practice age-old winemaking techniques by hopping into a barrel and stomping grapes or by stabbing each one with an empty quill. Then, upon entering the wine tasting room, they can grab a wine glass emblazoned with the Great Dakota Wine Fest logo and begin testing pours from various South Dakota winemakers, all while live performances from various musicians add melodious din to the spirited sipping and schmoozing.

1500 W Main St
Vermillion,
SD
US