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If you're on I-90 near Mitchell SD, that's where the Corn Palace is located. http://www.cornpalace.org/ Just down the street is the Enchanted World Doll Museum. (adults $5, kids 6-18 $3)

The big car museum is in Murdo SD, also on I-90. http://www.pioneerautoshow.com/ It is spread out in many buildings, not very fancy but there's something for most people to see. (adults $8, kids 6-13 $4, the webpage has a coupon)

If you cross the Missouri River in Chamberlain - Oacoma, stop at Al's Oasis for the apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. (or whatever your favorite is) It's something to do at least once. They have a noon buffet too.

In Rapid City there is the Journey Museum. It is about the people who traveled to South Dakota, as well as the native Indians. Lots of artifacts, photographs, and even some holographic images of people projected in places where you can sit and listen to what they have to say. http://www.journeymuseum.org/english/ Downtown Rapid City has lots of brass (?) statues of presidents and other statesmen from American history. You could take your picture with Nixon!

Now, when you're at Mount Rushmore, go into the museum part and look at the exhibits. Here's a hint: there is a plunger like they used to dynamite the rock when they built the thing. If you push it right you will get the explosion to go off on the screen and the loud boom to go with it. The trick is to pull up the plunger, then slam that sucker down as hard as you can. It should explode. Not every one can get it to work, you'll have people flocking around you wanting to know how you did that!

We saw bison, prong horns, burros, prairie dogs, and regular deer too at Custer State Park. Make sure you take food along for yourselves, as well as water. It's a big park and you can spend hours there.

There's a lot of places around the state that serve bison, check the menu!

Stop in one of the rest stops that have a travel center or kiosk. The state maps are usually free here, and there are loads of brochures to pick up.

Oh, and if you've never been in a cave think about doing that too. Bring long sleeves, they can be cool. Have a good time!!

bugstabber
 

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Reread what Hoop posted. They pretty much hit the nail on the head!

Here is my two cents:
Custer state park is way cool.
Wind cave is so cool that I did all 7 tours they offered, including the all day spelunking tour.
Jewel cave is neat, but I liked Wind much much better.
GO SEE THE BADLANDS!!!!! This national park is well worth the 3 hour drive.
Wall Drug is on the way, but is a major tourist trap. Stop and see it, but take your wallet.
Drive the Needles. Worth the drive.
The hot springs are neat, a good way to let the kids swim.
Devils Tower is really really worth the drive. I strongly reccommend it. It is alot bigger than you think.

If I had to skip any of the above, it would be Jewel cave and the hot springs.

You are getting me fired up about going again!
clove
 

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We did the trip out west in 1999 & checking my journal entries for the Rushmore area found:

Badlands National Park- The kids liked walking around the wierd eroded shapes in stripes of spectacular colors. Took the Badlands Loop Road (rt 240) parallel to I-90. Stopped at the visitor center & Fossil Exhibit Trail & went to an archeological dig with fossils & looked at overlooks at awesome scenery but didn't see buffalo that are there somewhere.

Wall Drug- excellent for kids, a living cartoon with a wonderfully tacky dinosaur display & lots of photo opportunities for kids on covered wagons, etc.
Free admission tho it's hard not to spend Something. Great wall of historic photos. "Honky Tonk for its own sake."

Mount Rushmore- Cool views of Famous Faces even as a drive-by. Entry walk has flags of all the states. Presidential Walk is long trail to right under their noses where you can see debris of carving. Sculptor Studio has bosun chairs & big drills workers used to carve the heads. Good Ranger presentation @ studio. (for the young kids just walking up the state flag avenue & seeing the faces is cool. everything else might take too long to keep their interest.)

Devil's Tower- Amazing. You have no concept of the size until you walk around it & see the columns that have fallen off that are easily 10 ft in diameter. Lots of wildlife on the trail around the base when we were there late in the evening, deer, chipmunk, squirrel, birds. There is also a prairie dog town right by the road inside the park that would probably interest the kids.

Homestake Gold Mine- at Lead, SD. Huge open pit. We didn't take the bus tour to the active mine. My kids thought the pit was cool but young kids might not be interested.

Also- to keep kids busy in the car our kids were older (16, 13, 10) but each of them had a composition book with marblized black & white hard cardboard covers to write & draw in.
Have a good time!
CW
 

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cwgrl23 said:
I live in SD so maybe I can help. For the confused person, yes the Black Hills are in South Dakota :) If you can give me a rough time frame of dates and which route you intend to take, I will find out what is going on in those areas during that time.

I personally think that Crazy Horse is also a good thing to go see. It is a very cool place and if funded totally on donations and gate admissions, gift shop, etc. Last June, my family and I went on the Volksmarch and got to hike to the top of Crazy Horse. It is an incredible view from there. :yeeha:

Enough rambling for now :) just let me know when and what route you are taking and I will try and help!
Wow I would love to walk up Crazy Horse! The first time I saw it was in 1967, just a rock with a bald spot on top. Went again in 1983,1994. Does seem it's time for another trip - in 1994 I was amazed at the progress - can't imagine what it's like now.
 

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I agree with the others, so I won't repeat them here, except:

Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska is a must see/stay on the way to SD. It's an old calvary fort, they have camping sites and rooms to rent. This was a calvary remount breeding station, a WWII dog training camp, and a WWII POW camp. Chief Crazy Horse was accidently killed here. They have a large registered buffalo herd and serve buffalo in their restaurant. At night, they have melodrama plays...the kids will love this! They can even throw popcorn at the villians!

And as someone else already mentioned, DON'T go during the Sturgis Rally!
 
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In Wichita KS, there are some great museums - Exploration Place has a great exhibit on airplanes and air travel. Cowtown is a "living history" museum and I liked it WAAAAYYY better than Dodge City. The Indian Center is OK - especially if there are dancers, but the Crazy Horse museum is much better.
 

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I have been gone for a week and really enjoyed the trip. I thought I would let you know how things went for us. We did a number of things. First we traveled over several days while visiting something along the way. We went to Hutchinson, KS first. Saw the space museum there. The kids really enjoyed it. They had a history of the space race starting with the German V1s on up to the lunar landing. The littlest kids weren't exciting the whole day. Mom and I liked it and could've spent a bit more time there. A lot of info on the space race, space travel, etc. We then travelled to Hastings, NE for the night. We went over to Pioneer Village in Minden. This place was incredible. The carousel was definitely a hit with thte kids. The 20 something buildings full of artifacts from a 1902 cadillac to a sod house. Lots of things I'd never seen before. We spent six hours there and taht was all the kids could stand or we could stand of the kids. :) We then drove all the way to Custer from there. We went through the Custer National park looking at the animals. This was kind of neat. Lots of buffalo, deer, antelope and a few donkeys/burros. We also drove on the Iron Mountain road. Was really neat and the tunnels where you could see Mt. Rushmore through was really cool. The kids really liked the animals but didn't care much for all the driving. I really liked the scenery and the neat pig-tail bridges on the road. The next day we went down to Hot springs to the Mammoth site there. It was really cool. They have a building built over a big fossil dig. They take you on a tour of the current digging and show you fossils they have uncovered. There is also a small museum like exhibit. This was really COOL! It was kind of a short guided tour then you could wonder around as long as you want looking at the dig and the exhibits. This worked really great with the kids since they loved the fossils and have such short attention spans. We then went to Bear Country and the Reptile Gardens by Rapid City. This was really good for the kids. Lots of snakes and stuff at the gardens. Kids loved it. Bear country allowed the kids to see bears, elk, goats and stuff up close. I probably wouldn't have went if Mom and Dad didn't suggest it. It was alright. We went to Wind Cave and Jewel Cave. Being hindered by the climbing abilities of the kids I'm not sure we were able to go on the coolest tours. The wind cave tour we went on was neat but was very small and didn't have lots of formations to see. We loved the history behind the wind cave. Jewel cave was a much bigger(open) cave. There were lots of different formations to be seen. They both had a candlelight or lantern tour that we would have loved to go on. Was supposed to be like the early cave explorers trips. We thought it would be fun, but couldn't take the kids. We also rode a steam engine from Hill City to Keystone. Was a fun ride, lots of wildlife and we'd never ridden a real train. Was amazed at how the rocking of the train tended to put a person to sleep. All in all, it was a fun trip. Mostly because I got to spend time with my parents, but also because we got to see lots of things we hadn't before. A warning to anyone that might be headed this way. EVERYTHING(besides the pioneer village) was pretty much a tourist trap.

This is probably incoherent but after 2400+ miles of driving I'm a bit tired.
 

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fordy said:
...................I , don't think you said from Where you were starting OUT, But.....IF I was you , with 3 very , very bright and "are we there YET ", kiddo's I would definitely head DUE west on the return leg of my trip and come back down thru Rocky Mountain National Park . It , IS a must SEE if you have the Time and Money . Also , the MILLION Dollar highway that runs from Ouray to Silverton to Durango is also a Must SEE. It is route 550 . It starts in Grand Junction>Delta>Montrose>then Ouray............to Durango......then the Narrow Gauge Railroad starts in Durango and runs all the way to Silverton and then Back to Durango . Takes a full day to make the round trip. Don't know about the Availability of tickets as this is their "Bizzyest" time of the year......fordy.... :eek: :)

OHHHH Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I'd love to go back out there. I've been there twice now.
 
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