A good road trip stop can be a must for a destination. With a blend of timeless appeal paired with good food, few road trip attractions can beat a drug store in South Dakota. Seriously, Wall Drug tops my list for ultimate road trip stops for everyone, not just the kids. It’s a rambling collection of stores and rooms selling sundries, souvenirs and snacks. It’s a place to snap pics on a jackaloupe, grab a burger, pick up some sunscreen and leave with a free souvenir bumper sticker. Here’s a line up of what to do in Wall Drug Store.
From my house in Central Texas, I drove 1,154 miles to Wall Drug and the national parks in South Dakota. It’s nearly impossible to miss Wall Drug since its billboards dot the interstates across the entire Midwest. And really, don’t. It’s an iconic roadside attraction. And it all started with free ice water.
History of Wall Drug Store
In 1931, Dorothy and Ted Hunstead opened the only drugstore in a speck of a town: Wall, South Dakota. After five years of struggling to get the business off the ground, the Hunstead family needed customers to walk through the door.
Then one hot, dusty afternoon, Dorothy decided to put up signs along the highway to Badlands National Park offering Free Ice Water. It worked, visitors started walking through their doors for a cool drink and found all the stuff they forgot to pack.
Wall Drug Store Today
The Hunstead Family still offers free ice water, 5¢ self-serve coffee and a free bumper sticker. But today, Wall Drug is one of the top attractions in South Dakota.
A rambling space that covers a city block features sundries and souvenirs. And find specialty clothing, like boots, leather goods and cowboy hats.
Eat at Wall Drug
In addition to the free water and the 5¢ coffee, find a full menu at Wall Drug. With over 500 seats, getting a table won’t be a problem either. Wall Drug is located conveniently off Interstate 90 that cuts east-west across South Dakota.
With the largest privately-owned collection of western art and illustration in U.S. hanging on the knotty-pine walls of the dining room, sit down at a marble-topped table. And I recommend the Buffalo Burger, with locally-sourced South Dakota bison.
Serving breakfast, lunch and dinners along with a kids menu, find American favorites along with house-made rolls, donuts and pie. Wall Drug also serves up ice cream favorites at its Soda Fountain Ice Cream Shop.
Family Fun at Wall Drug
Don’t miss the backyard for all the photo ops. Sitting on the giant jackalope can’t be beat for cute kid pictures and the miniature Mount Rushmore sculpture is close enough to touch.
The enormous T. Rex, similar to the one found in Badlands National Park, roars to life ever few minutes. Kids can mine or pan for treasure or try their hand at the shooting gallery.
During the summer, take off the shoes and run through the backyard splash pad.
Shopping at Wall Drug
I dare anyone to find a place with more shopping in Wall, South Dakota. Find Black Hills gold, silver and turquoise jewelry. Or browse a wall of lined with cowboy boots along with a hat and a handbag to complete the western outfit.
Camping in one of South Dakota’s five national park? There’s a stocked camping store with vintage-looking enamelware.
And Wall Drug is the place for your South Dakota souvenirs. If they don’t carry it, it wasn’t made.
More Reasons to Stop at Wall Drug
The Western art collection should not be missed. Gracing the knotty-pine walls, find over 300 pieces of original art, especially western oil landscapes. Including two pieces painted by the Mount Rushmore architect, Gutzon Borglum. In all, the art collection is worth more than $3 million.
Need a place for quiet reflection? Find in the peaceful Traveler’s Chapel. The Pharmacy Museum offers a quaint look at the apothecary storefront from years ago.
The stuffed and mounted animal heads excite the animal spotters. The kids pose for pictures with wood-carved cowboys.
Where’s Wall Drug Store
Located at 510 Main Street, off Interstate 90 exits 109 and 110, near Badlands National Park. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Café is daily 8 a.m. to 7:15 p.m.
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