I love road trips. Planes may get you there faster, but then you miss out on all that is cool, beautiful, weird and unique about this country.

Take for instance South Dakota. If you’re like most Americans, you probably don’t think about it very much except to wonder why your Citibank statements come from there. Oh, and that mountain, with the faces. That’s in South Dakota, right?

Erm, yes. And so much more. In fact, take a drive along I-90 and it’s like a treasure trove of roadside attractions. In addition to all the truck stops, restaurants, hotels, and wineries vying for your attention, you’ve got places like the Corn Palace, Reptile Gardens, 1880 Town, and Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead throwing up billboards, begging you to stop. You could literally spend weeks visiting every tourist trap on this highway.

Wall Drug Jackalope

One of the most popular and well-known stops along the way – if only because they’ve purchased more than half the billboards within a 200-mile radius – is Wall Drug.

Believe it or not, the business thrived and grew because of free ice water. The Wall story is actually kind of cool; it’s the whole American Dream, rags to riches type of saga that they like to make movies about for the Hallmark Channel. It may have started out as just a drug store, but today it has grown into a mini-mall, complete with a bookstore, fudge shop, western art gallery, café, gold panning, arcade, souvenir shops, splash park, a jackalope, and an animatronic T-rex. Seriously. You almost need to see it to believe it.

Located just seven miles from the entrance to Badlands National Park, (76 miles to that monument with the faces, otherwise known as Mount Rushmore), Wall Drug sees millions of visitors pass through its walls (sorry!) every year.

Accessibility: Completely wheelchair accessible, with nice big bathrooms, too.

And since I know you were waiting for it, here are 45+ attractions found only in South Dakota, close to I-90:

Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD
Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD
  1. 1880 Town
  2. Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center
  3. Al’s Oasis – A South Dakota Tradition
  4. America’s Founding Fathers Exhibit
  5. Armed Forces Military Display
  6. Badlands Helicopter Tours (multiple operators)
  7. Badlands Petrified Gardens
  8. Badlands Prairie Homestead
  9. Badlands Ranch Store (feed the prairie dogs and free picnic area)
  10. Bear Country Wildlife Park
  11. Black Hills Caverns
  12. Buffalo Ridge
  13. Call of the Wild Wildlife Exhibit
  14. Capitol Lake War Memorial
  15. City of Presidents
  16. Crazy Horse Memorial
  17. Dances with Wolves filming sites
  18. Deadwood, South Dakota
  19. Fatima’s Family Shrine
  20. Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  21. High Plains Western Heritage Museum
  22. Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead
  23. Minuteman Missle National Historic Site
  24. Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame
  25. Mount Rushmore
  26. National Museum of Woodcarving
  27. Old Fort Meade Cavalry Museum
  28. Old McDonald’s Petting Farm
  29. Old West Trading Post & Antique Mall
  30. Petrified Forest of the Black Hills
  31. Pioneer Auto Show
  32. Prehistoric Indian Village
  33. The Quilt Shop
  34. Reptile Gardens
  35. Rush Mountain Adventure Park
  36. Rushmore Borglum Museum
  37. Rushmore Cave
  38. Rushmore Tramway Adventures
  39. South Dakota Air and Space Museum
  40. South Dakota Hall of Fame
  41. South Dakota Tractor Museum
  42. Storybook Island
  43. The Corn Palace
  44. The Porter Sculpture Park
  45. Wall Drug
  46. Wonderland Cave