I know what you're probably thinking - South Dakota? BORING! But, I promise there is fun to be had. I know. I grew up there. :)
So, I compiled a list for those who live in South Dakota, or those who might make their way to the great state.
1) Sturgis Bike Rally. This is the ultimate party in the state! Concerts, Playboy Bunnies, tattoos, drinks, food, races and of course - motorcycles. This party is not for the faint of heart. And definitely not for children. It's loud, sweaty, dirty and oh-so-fun! But, if you plan on going to the Rally, book a place to stay a year in advance. Hotels and camp sites are generally booked - from Sturgis to Custer and everywhere in between and farther out. This annual event takes place during the beginning of August.
2) Pheasant hunting. If you have never eaten pheasant, you are missing out! The state bird of South Dakota is oh-so-delicious! The season typically beings in October. Make sure you get your hunting license. Then, it's just a matter of finding a location to hunt. Which is not all that difficult, but the prime locations can be found East River (the state on the eastern side of the Missouri River).
3) Cosmos Mystery Area. My parents took me here when I was a kid and it blew my mind! Located in the Black Hills, the balls roll uphill and people stand at angles. I know there are other places like this elsewhere, but I have not been to them. This is the only one I have seen and I would go back again!
4) Days of 1910. This is small town partying at its best! The Days of 1910 is an annual celebration in the tiny town of Timber Lake - where I went to high school. There's rodeos, demolition derbys, livestock shows, crafts shows, Indian tacos (which is an experience in itself) and dances under a huge tent on Main Street. The dances feature good, old fashioned party songs such as "Summer of 69" and Mony Mony."
5) Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup. Imagine the ground rumbling beneath your feet and knowing it's not an earthquake, but a huge herd of buffalo. You can witness the annual gathering of a herd of more than 1,000 buffalo in Custer State Park free of charge. It is a sight to behold.
6) SDSU vs USD. For the sports fanatics out there, this is one rivalry you DO NOT want to miss - particularly during football season. I attended USD and I only went to one game during the entire time I was there, because college sports bore me. But, I went to a football game between SDSU and USD. The intensity of the crowds were astounding! This rivalry dates back more than 100 years! A game is not to be missed.
7) Terry Redlin Art Center. This is a wonderful museum in Watertown for anyone who appreciates good art. Granted, the art is all done by one man - Terry Redlin - but it is beautiful! And, it is free.
8) Mt. Rushmore. You can't be in South Dakota and not go to Mt. Rushmore - a symbol of American patriotism! Nestled in the Black Hills, if you can be there on the Fourth of July, you are in for one treat of a display! Expect to park quite a distance away. Especially if you go during the summer. While it is free, it's not exactly the most exciting thing you can do, but at least you can say you've been there.
9) Spearfish Canyon. This is where you want to go to experience the breathtaking beauty that nature provides! Go for a drive or just walk it. Stunning cliffs, beautiful trees, waterfalls. It's located near Spearfish in the Black Hills and if you venture on the right path at the right time of year, you might pick some of those wild raspberries I wrote about in a previous post. Also, keep your eyes on the sky. You might just see a bald eagle.
10) Powwow. The Dakota call South Dakota home. The Black Hills are sacred to them, as well as Bear Butte outside of Sturgis. You can see their culture and heritage at one of the many powwows that are held throughout the state. Fancy dancers, jingle dancers, traditional dancers of all ages fill an arena with brightly colored costumes. The drums pound and the stunning footwork begins.