Today was another big driving day - 460 miles, but I had several opportunities to stop and see stuff! South Dakota has lots of tourist stuff!,
The first touristy thing was the 60 ft Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, MN. I didn't get off the highway, but I could see him sticking up through the trees!
I think South Daktoa has the market cornered on tourist traps with character! You start seeing signs for Wall Drug over 300 miles before you get there, and there's Al's Oasis at exit 260. Al & Wall seem to have a competition going on through billboards across the state. I was sad when I finally reached exit 260, where Al's is located, because I didn't know what I'd read! I don't think there's any other state, that I've driven through anyway, with billboards like the ones in South Daktoa! It was fun reading and took my mind off all the corn & flat. I did stop at exit 260, but it was for fuel, not Al's
The other big attraction is the Corn Palace in Mitchell. Those billboards featured "corny" jokes that cracked me up every time, or maybe I'm just a bit punchy from all the driving? The Corn Palace is a building where they create a corn mosaic every year - using ears or corn. This years mosaic is still under construction. They also have a gift shop and a snack bar featuring, you guessed it, corn. The inside of the building even smells like popcorn. I do have to hand it to the City of Mitchell, they took what they had, corn, and created a big touristy thing out of it and get folks off the highway and into their town, very few folks can resist seeing The World's Only Corn Palace!
South Daktoa also has several National Parks, we'll get to the others later this week but today I drove through the Badlands. The Badlands are rock structures, the look a little like the hodos of Bryce Canyon in Utah. What was crazy was seeing landscape, even if it kinda looked like the moon, after so many days of corn fields. There were hills and curves and all sorts of things I haven't seen in awhile!
After I drove through the Badlands I arrived in Wall, home of Wall Drug. Wall Drug is the ultimate tourist stop! The store itself is several blocks long and has a cafe, ice cream parlor, drug store, t-shirt shop, and more! Then there's the "backyard" featuring the 6ft Jackalope you can climb up on, a miniature Mt. Rushmore, a splash pad, and some benches. It's here in the backyard where you can get your free cup of ice water. Only there's no ice & the water is tepid at best! Wall Drug is famous for its free ice water, a fact you are reminded of at almost every billboard! Beyond the backyard is a museum of Wall Drug history and articles. It's quite a place!
Both the Corn Palace and Wall Drug are solid road trip stops! They are tacky enough to be fun and are basically free! The Corn Palace boasts that it's free, and at Wall Drug you don't have to spend any money to walk around and appreciate it! Of course they want you to buy their pie, doughnuts and stuff, but you can enjoy it without spending a cent!