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SOUTH DAKOTA
Please be sure to call and verify times and rates as they are subject to change
South Dakota Free Activities List

ACTIVITIES:

CUSTER-  BEDROCK CITY THEME PARK
US HIGHWAYS 16 & 385, Custer    605.673.4079
www.flintstonesbedrockcity.com

COST: $10 / 5 and under Free
HOURS:  Check website for hours
Your kids will love the walk around Bedrock.  Tour the houses and town building, ride a flintstonemobile and the Iron Horse Train.  There's even a show to see your favorite Flintstone's characters!  Don't forget to take the kids to Mt. Rockmore to get a photo.  Restaurant on site.  There is also a campground on site.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  Great for all ages;  from our youngest to oldest they thought the place was really fun.  Lots of room to walk and move around.    
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-   They only allowed one ride per child in the flintstonemobile and most of the children wanted a second ride.

DE SMET-  LAURA INGALLS WILDER MUSEUM
1st Street, De Smet    800.880.3383

COST: $10 Adult / $5 Children / Under 5 Free
HOURS:  Check website for hours
Take a guided tour of 2 of the Ingalls' family original homes, including one built by Charles Ingalls.  The tour takes approximately 1 1/2 hours.  It also includes a tour of the first school in De Smet (attended by Laura and Carrie Ingalls).  There is also a Discovery Center for children to do hands-on activities which can visit before or after your tour.  Be sure to stop in the gift shop to purchase a wide variety of Ingalls and historical souvenirs.  Also, ask about the 16 point walking/ driving tour of locations mentioned in the Little House books.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  Very interesting for any child who has enjoyed reading  the Little House books.  Even the boys (not Little House fans) were interested to see the historical buildings and artifacts. 
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-   The guided tour can take almost two hours which is long for younger children especially since most of the tour is "hands off".

HOT SPRINGS-  THE MAMMOTH SITE
1800 US 18 Bypass, Hot Springs  605.745.6017

COST: $10 Adult (ages 13+) / $9 Senior (age 60+) / $8 Children (age 4 - 12) / Under 5 Free   Annual Family Membership:  $43.40 (2 parents and their dependent children up to age 18)
HOURS:  Check website for hours 
The Mammoth Site is more than just a museum!  It is an actual archaeological dig site;  in fact, the world's largest mammoth research facility.  The building is built over the dig area, allowing you to tour no matter the weather.  The guided tour takes you through the dig area, and the information provided is both educational and interesting.  The kids (and adults too!) were amazed to see the mammoths preserved just as they fell about 25,000 years ago.  There are some hands-on opportunities, such as holding replica bones.  Gift shop on-site.  Restrooms are located in the basement level with elevator access. 
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   Interesting for a wide age range.  We appreciated the educational aspect.  A few hands-on opportunities, such as holding replica bones.    

KEYSTONE-  MOUNT RUSHMORE
Highway 244, Keystone   605.574.3198
www.nps.gov/moru

COST: $11 annual parking fee per personal vehicle
HOURS:  March 20 - Sept 30, daily 5 am - 11 pm; Oct 1 - March 19, daily 5 am - 8 pm  
Just amazing!  See Mount Rushmore from the overlook then walk through the museum.  There is also a walkway that takes you closer down near the base, which includes guided tours.  If you can attend the night lighting, you are in for a treat!  Watch from the amphitheater as Mount Rushmore is majestically lit.  Restrooms conveniently located in museum building near the overlook.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  During the summer there are some children's programs done in the Sculptor's Studio.  There are activity books for both younger and older children.     The kids also enjoyed the walkway lined with state flags;  it was fun to find the flags for all of the states we had been to. 
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-   Younger children lost interest quickly so don't expect to spend too long there. 

MURDO-  1880 TOWN
I-90 (exit 170), Murdo  605.344.2236
COST: $12 Adult / $10 Seniors / $7 Teens (age 13 - 18) / $5 Children (age 6 - 12) / 5 & under Free  /   discounted group rates / (Print Coupons here)
HOURS:  Daylight hours during summer.  Call for hours for the rest of the year.
This 1880 era town is laid out in a street style, so you walk from building to building.  Many of the over 30 original buildings can be walked in.  You can also walk through a display of movie props from the movie "Dances With Wolves".  In the summer months, you can have lunch on the 50s Train Diner.  Restrooms are located in the main building.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-  The street was well-laid out to seem like a real old-time main street.  The kids enjoyed seeing the different buildings and props inside some of them.  Some areas had hands-on aspects which kept even the younger children interested. 

WALL-   WALL DRUG STORE
510 Main Street, Wall   605.279.2175

COST: FREE
HOURS:  Summer:  6:30a - 10p;  Fall:  6:30a - 7p
With each trip across South Dakota we have enjoyed seeing the signs for Wall Drug Store.  We finally decided we just had to stop and see what it was about....and it was worth it.  Wall Drug Store is a block long old-style drug store mall with an amazing variety of little stores.  From cowboy boots to homemade fudge, you will find it at Wall Drug Store.  Besides that, there are plenty of photo opportunity props, such as the big jackelope that kids can climb up on or the old stagecoach.  Don't miss the animated, roaring T-Rex that 'erupts' about every 10 minutes.   If you have seen the signs, you know that Wall Drug advertises free drinking water (in fact, that is what put Wall Drug on the map back in the Great Depression).  They still offer the free water in special free Wall Drug water paper cups.   Restrooms are conveniently located in both the front and back buildings.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   It's FREE!  Amazing shopping variety and lots of fun props to take photos with.  The kids loved the free water in the free water cups (somehow free water at Wall is much more entertaining than free water anywhere else!). 
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-   Parking is packed.  Don't be surprised if you have to drive around if you want to be able to park close-by.

LODGING:

DE SMET-PRAIRIE HOUSE MANOR BED & BREAKFAST
209 Hwy 25 South, De Smet   605.854.9131
Lovers of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books will recognize the small town of De Smet as the setting of several of her books.  Prairie House Manor B&B is the perfect overnight spot for anyone visiting De Smet, but especially for those interested in the much-loved books.   Located on the same street as the 'house Pa built' (the final home of Pa & Ma Ingalls), this family-friendly B&B is in the turn-of-the-century home of the former Mayor of De Smet.  Yes, I said Family-Friendly;  an oddity when speaking of a B&B!  The home has a variety of room sizes, aimed to fit a variety of family sizes or couples.  Each is decorated with its own style/ theme.  Our room was clean and comfortable, with its own television and bathroom.  There were games and books for the children to entertain themselves.  Our room came with a full breakfast;  even the hungriest in our family couldn't finish the huge plate of delicious food!  The best part of this establishment is the innkeepers.  They were happy to answer questions, help us find our way around town, were very helpful and accommodating with our children's food allergies, and were generally attentive and friendly.   Definitely worth a stay-over if you will be passing through De Smet.
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   A Family-Friendly Bed & Breakfast seems to a rarity, but this one is really welcoming to families.  Rooms available for a variety of family sizes.  Comfortable, clean rooms at reasonable prices.  Situated in a quiet neighborhood;  perfect for an early evening walk.  A full breakfast included;  made to order and delicious!

HILL CITY-BEST WESTERN GOLDEN SPIKE INN & SUITES
601 E. Main St., Hill City  605.574.2577

Located convenient to Mount Rushmore, this hotel offers a variety of rooms including a family suite.  The family suite has a separate bedroom with king size bed, plus two queen size beds and a sofa sleeper in the main room area.  Refrigerator and microwave in family suite.  Room was clean, nicely decorated, and had very comfortable beds.  Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, as well as an exercise room.  There is a restaurant on-site, and a coffee & ice cream shop in the lobby.   
FAMILY FRIENDLY PROS-   Clean, comfortable and tastefully decorated.  Convenient parking.  Family suite allows an affordable option for larger families.  Pets are also allowed with certain restrictions.
FAMILY FRIENDLY CONS-  No breakfast included.

 

Family Friendly Travel Tip:
Make a story round while traveling in the car or airplane.  Mom or Dad starts a silly story then let each person have a turn adding a few lines.  You can make the story go on for as long or as short as you would like.  If possible, record the story and let the kids enjoy playing it back.

 

Read our articles for more travel tips and location information:
 
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How to Enjoy a Family Vacation Without Hearing 'Are We There Yet"

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Familyfriendlyamerica.com is dedicated to providing reviews and information aimed at families.  The reviews are primarily travel based;  such as hotels, restaurants and activities.  We have a variety of activities depending upon the state requested;  from historical to theme parks and everything in between.  Each state also includes an information page.  This  page displays fun facts about each state.   Each state also includes a listing of Kids Eat Free (or at a discount) restaurants.  Our database is continually growing and changing.