Summer carnivals arrive once a year to brighten up a dull parking lot and transform it into a seven-day wonderland. But when the week is over, they take away the flashing lights and excitement and leave behind nothing but vagrant scraps of litter and shattered milk jugs. To combat that feeling of emptiness, each of the four Thunder Road Family Fun Parks features family entertainment the whole year through.
At their Sioux Falls location, families and groups gathering for a work outing or birthday party eternally zip around oval go-kart tracks that are slick and polished to recreate cinematic stunt driving on a small scale. An 18-hole mini-golf course offers a glimpse of what the world would be like if the Vikings had invented golf instead of coercing the Scottish into inventing it. Euro bungee jumping, meanwhile, combines straps and trampolines to induce a weightless sensation and enable flips and jumps dripping with adrenaline. Classic family activities such as batting cages and bumper boats flank a Thunder Road original attraction: Human Foosball. Recent upgrades have included the addition of a Tilt-a-Whirl, Screaming Dragon roller coaster, and laser maze, where players are challenged to navigate their way through a field of laser beams without tripping the alarm.
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.
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.
Don't Miss: the chance to build a pipe and direct the flow of water at the Splash Table
The rolling grass greens at Clark Municipal Golf Course lead players through nine challenging holes stretched across nearly 3,000 yards. The course saves its biggest tests for the end of rounds with eighth and ninth holes that measure the longest distances, by far. The par 5 eighth is especially difficult, as it features a sharp dog leg and checks in at 490 yards. To keep spirits high before, during, and after rounds, the facility also has weekly specials, including ladies night on Tuesdays and guys night on Thursdays. The clubhouse, meanwhile, features a fully stocked bar and can be rented for private events to celebrate birthdays or when a new ball develops its first dimple.
Course at a Glance * 9-hole, par 35 course * Total distance of 2,834 yards * Two tees per hole * Course rating of 65.8 * Course slope of 100 * Click here to view the scorecard
Remember the Alamo. In their own unique way, the game designers at Splat Attack Paintball honor that charge with a scenario based around the legendary battle. The Alamo is one of Splat Attack's 13 games, which range from classics such as capture the flag to mutants, a riff on hide-and-seek where players search for their "contaminated" foes. Rounds take place across Splat Attack's more than 12 acres, which encompass landscapes both large and small—not to mention open and dense. Giant wooden spools and barrels populate the more traditional, speedball-style fields, while woodland surroundings include trenches and confined trailers, where players can take cover behind walls and napping movie stars.
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.