Family Fun in South Dakota on a Budget!

by Katlyn Richter on March 14, 2012 · 4 comments

This post was written by a guest blogger.

In these economic times, it’s more important than ever to plan a family vacation that is fun and relaxing, but also provides excellent value for your vacation budget. Whether you prefer all-inclusive family resorts or choosing your own hotels and restaurants to complement your sightseeing, there are plenty of options to fit your budget.
Read on to learn about some of South Dakota’s stunning destinations and how to enjoy them without breaking the bank.

Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

No visit to South Dakota is complete without a trip to world-famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The 60-foot faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln carved in granite will be a sight your family remembers forever. There are a number of ranger-guided and self-guided tours available covering the history and construction of this historic landmark, and the nightly lighting ceremony offers particularly breathtaking views.

Nearby, the Black Hills National Forest offers over 300 miles of hiking and biking trails. Entrance to both parks is free, although there is an $11 parking fee at Mount Rushmore.

About an hour from Mount Rushmore, the town of Deadwood offers some inexpensive but entertaining places to stay, including Deadwood Gulch (800-695-1876) and The Lodge at Deadwood (605-584-4800). Each hotel has an on-site restaurant, pool, and casino, and rooms start at $79 a night.

Badlands National Park Badlands National Park

The Badlands region provides some of the most spectacular vistas in the entire state. The Badlands National Park, about 75 miles south of Rapid City, offers a wide variety of activities for the entire family. The park’s entrance fee is $15 per vehicle for seven days of access. Once inside, drive the Badlands Loop Road for an excellent introduction to the park’s stunning natural wonders.
A number of free ranger programs provide information and activities relating to Badlands wildlife, geology, and plants and flowers. Kids will love Robert’s Prairie Dog Town, located near the Pinnacle Entrance. Don’t miss the extraordinary Night Sky program, held Friday through Monday evenings in summer, with the chance to view over 7,500 stars.

Budget Tips

• Take advantage of low or no entrance fees at South Dakota’s 12 state parks and 42 recreation areas! Outdoor adventure vacations are a chance for every member of the family to have fun and learn together without spending a fortune.

• On-site restaurants at the larger destinations tend to be overpriced and offer little variety. Instead, pack a cooler and have a picnic! All the major sites allow you to bring your own food, and you’re bound to find a quiet place away from the crowds.

• South Dakota is best experienced by car. If you live within one or two days’ drive, avoid the costs of plane tickets and car rental and consider making the road trip part of your vacation experience! Give maps to the kids so they can follow along and help pick out interesting stops along the way.

Posted in Travel Tips

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Club Med Vacations May 10, 2013 at 11:14 am

I have always wanted to visit Mount Rushmore.
Is there any whitewater rafting in south dakota?

Katlyn Richter May 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Hi there, no there is not white water rafting in South Dakota. Thanks for checking though! Lots of other outdoor adventure however.

Ali August 20, 2013 at 10:49 pm

We are leaving St Paul MN to spend a few days camping at Lake Sylvan with our two daughters (2 & 4 years old) soon. Our drive is pretty long for such little kiddos and I am wondering if you have any tips for places with playgrounds between Sioux Falls, SD or Mitchell, SD (our overnight 1/2 way points to and from home) for us to get out and let the girls run wild.

Any tips?
Thank you!

Katlyn Richter August 23, 2013 at 8:11 am

Hi there Ali!
Certainly there are some great stopping points along the way. I know that Mitchell has a few nice parks, perhaps try Hitchcock Park on East Hanson Street. You could also stop at the World’s Only Corn Palace and explore/run around there with the children.

There is also Porter’s Sculpture Park near Montrose, about a half hour west of Sioux Falls. This is a place for families to stop and laugh and roam. Wayne Porter has erected some of the more interesting iron sculptures you’ll ever see in a pasture along the roadside. If you don’t stop, you’ll probably find yourself thinking that you should have.

Does that help?

Leave a Comment