Free Activities in South Dakota

The home of Mt. Rushmore has much to offer to visitors even if they don’t want to spend a dime. Don’t be fooled though. The fact that the activities are free doesn’t impact their quality at all. Anyone, whether they be alone, with a group, or perhaps children, can find something they like.

National Parks

Nature lovers are surely already aware that South Dakota is a premium place to visit. The scenic areas across the state are beautiful on their own, but the national parks are on a completely different level. Even if you’re not too keen on spending time outside, we suggest visiting a park since most of them offer free entrance days. If you’re not sure where to go, here are some recommendations.

Jewel Cave is a system of winding caves over 180 miles long. That makes it come in third place for the longest cave systems in the world. Information about fees and when you can get in for free is posted on the website of the National Park Service. If the jewel-covered caves make you feel claustrophobic, you can always visit the above-ground park lined with natural trails.

Black Hills National Forest covers over 1.2 million acres. It’s an opportunity for you to discover many natural streams, rock formations, canyons, etc. The park also provides a chance to partake in some fun physical activities such as mountain biking, horseback riding, and mountain climbing.

Badlands National Park is the place to be if you want a primal experience. Fossilized remains of many rare species can be found in the 244,000-acre park. You’ll also be able to gaze at the many canyons and spires and admire what nature has created over thousands of years.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial. What good is a visit to parks without visiting one of the most recognizable places in the U.S.? We’re certain there’s no need to explain what Mt. Rushmore is, but you can enjoy various activities there, such as trail trekking or visiting museums.


A trip to a museum is a wonderful way to experience local culture no matter where you go. South Dakota is no different, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience its history as well as its quirky side.

Adams Museum is the oldest history museum located at the Black Hills. It was named after its founder, W. E. Adams, and preserves a fraction of the regions past.

South Dakota Air and Space Museum is actually a part of the Ellsworth Air Force Base. The museum provides a chance for you to witness history as well as the future of air travel. Even if you’re not too keen on aviation, you’re sure in for a blast.

Teddy Bear Town is not exactly a museum, but it might as well be one. While you can purchase the beloved plush toys at the location, you can also see how they have developed over the years. The location even secured a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records with the Largest Teddy Bear Collection, holding over 9,000 teddies.

Civilian Conservation Corps Museum is a place honoring the over 27,000 men who assisted in the task of natural resource conservation during the difficult period between 1933 and 1942.

Museum of Geology is a place to enjoy the gems nature has created. Not only that, but the museum also includes a paleontology section, where you can see fossils and skeletons. Even if the prospect might not sound that interesting, who didn’t love dinosaurs when they were a kid?

Other Activities

Besides national parks and museums, there’s a ton of other activities to try that can’t as easily be classified into a category. These include everything from art exhibits to theme parks, so we’re certain that everyone can find something they enjoy.

Theme Parks

Dinosaur Park is another place where those who love large reptiles can have a blast. It’s more geared towards kids, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t have a memorable experience. After all, our love for giant creatures isn’t limited by age.

Storybook Island lets you take a trip down memory lane to the time when you used to hear nursery rhymes before going to bed. This family-oriented 8.5-acre park lets everyone immerse themselves in their favorite fairy tales and stories.


Downtown Art is an opportunity for art lovers to treat the streets like an exhibit. Displays like the Sculpture Project, Art Alley, and the City of Presidents are an amazing showing of artistic talent that anybody will love.

Sculpture Walk is another similar event focusing on, you guessed it, sculptures. The creations rotate yearly, so even if you’ve been there before, you can find something entirely new the next time you visit.


Spearfish City Park lets Spearfish residents, as well as visitors, enjoy various outdoor activities. It has a huge 10,000-square-feet skate park, various sports fields, and a recreation path. If you’re a person that can’t remain stationary for long, we definitely recommend you visit.

Roughlock Falls Nature Area in Spearfish Canyon is another area dedicated to outdoorsy types. Photographers, additionally, can’t seem to stay away from the falls either. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of South Dakota.


D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery is run by the Booth Society and cooperates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its aim is to educate about the fish creation process as well as provide recreation to those that visit.Wall Drug Store is the premium roadside attraction to visit if you’re traveling through South Dakota. For kids, it provides plenty of opportunities for adventure, while adults can enjoy various shops and restaurants. Some places even offer coffee for the meager price of 5 cents. Additionally, you can visit the traveler chapel or go for a panning and mining experience.

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