“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
If South Dakota’s breathtaking vistas have been undersold, then the tourist traps have been hilariously oversold! A friend had warned me of the billboard assault from pretty much the Minnesota border all the way into Keystone, SD. Wall Drug is one of the worst offenders… With claims that you absolutely must see this amazing sight.
We went, and it is basically a huge souvenir shop, with a restaurant and an ice cream shop inside (neither of which looked particularly good). Oh, and they obnoxiously advertised “free ice water” everywhere, but when we got there had barely cold, somewhat tinny tasting water!
And then there is the “world famous” Corn Palace in Mitchell.
It was a big building covered in dried corn cobs in the pattern of different murals. This was sort of interesting, though not on the level the billboards would have you believe! The funniest part was when we asked one of the staff what happened to the other two previous Corn Palaces and he said, “they burned to the ground!” And then another staff guy overheard and came over and said, “no, actually, they were torn down.” Hmmm…
Then, there was Al’s Oasis…home of the best buffalo burger.
We actually were ready for lunch so stopped to check it out. If you aren’t prepared to embrace this stuff on a roadtrip, then I think you are really missing out! And this was the dining room at Al’s.
You know you’re at a good restaurant when they decorate with wagon wheels! It was like the place that time forgot. And the kind but quirky waitress only brought more to the experience. Sadly, when the “best buffalo burger” arrived, it looked like one of those pre-formed frozen patties from the grocery store, and was sitting atop a stale bun.
Lastly, we saw dozens of signs around Keystone advertising the Borglum Museum and that “hearing this story would change your life”. For those unfamiliar, he is the man who carved Mount Rushmore. We didn’t go for this one, but I will say that after visiting Rushmore and reading the story there, while impressive, I wouldn’t actually describe it as life changing.
We did see a huge store on the way out of Minnesota that said “Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store”…now that we will definitely check out.