Located in the Midwest region of the United States, South Dakota is the 17th biggest state in terms of area but has the 46th largest population. This makes South Dakota one of the most sparsely populated states of America. The state covers a total area of 77,116 square miles and has borders with North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, and Minnesota. South Dakota has an estimated population of 869,000.

We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.


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The Missouri River runs through the center of the state, effectively dividing it into two separate sections which are known among South Dakota residents as 'East River' and 'West River'. The state is perhaps best-known for being the home of Mount Rushmore, one of the most iconic monuments of America and the state's most popular tourist landmark. The capital city of South Dakota is Pierre, while its largest city is Sioux Falls. Here are some additional facts, statistics, and overviews of the largest cities in South Dakota.

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2.Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls
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Located in Minnehaha County, of which it is the county seat, Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota. Some small parts of the city extend into Lincoln County, and Sioux Falls is located in the eastern part of the state. This city covers an area of 73.47 square miles and has an estimated population of 176,000, with over 259,000 people living in the surrounding metropolitan area.

The city is named after the Native American Sioux people and the nearby waterfalls of the Big Sioux River. As the largest city in South Dakota, Sioux Falls is a key cultural, commercial, and economic center for the state. The economy of Sioux Falls was initially based on agriculture but has grown and diversified over the years to include many new industries like finance, healthcare, food processing, and more.

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3.Rapid City

Rapid City
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Situated in Penning County, of which it is the county seat, Rapid City is the second largest city of South Dakota. It is situated in the western part of the state and covers an area of 55.49 square miles. The estimated population of Rapid City is 74,000, with over 146,000 people living in the surrounding metropolitan area. Rapid City was founded in 1876 and incorporated as a city in 1883.

It was named after the Rapid Creek which runs through the city itself and is located near the Black Hills mountains, leading to its nickname of 'Gateway to the Black Hills'. Rapid City is a popular touristic destination for South Dakota due to its proximity to some of the state's most important landmarks like Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial.

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Located in Brown County, of which it is the county seat, Aberdeen is the third largest city in South Dakota. It is located in the northeastern part of the state and covers an area of 15.6 square miles. The estimated population of Aberdeen is 28,000, with over 43,000 people living in the city's metropolitan area.

Aberdeen was settled in 1880 and named after the city of the same name in Scotland. The city is a major educational hub for South Dakota, being home to two major institutions in the form of Presentation College and Northern State University. The city also boasts a lively arts and culture scene, as well as plenty of sporting teams and areas.

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Located in Brookings County, of which it is the county seat, Brookings is the fourth largest city in South Dakota. This city is situated in the eastern central part of the state and covers an area of 13.04 square miles. The estimated population of Brookings is 23,000.

Brookings is home to South Dakota State University, which is the biggest college in the state. The city is also home to the South Dakota Art Museums and hosts several popular festivals and annual events, as well as being a key agricultural and business hub for the eastern side of South Dakota.

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Located in Codington County, of which it is the county seat, Watertown is the fifth largest city in South Dakota. It is the main city of the Watertown Micropolitan Statistical Area and can be found in the northeastern part of the state. Watertown covers an area of 25.04 square miles and has an estimated population of 22,000, with 28,000 in the surrounding metropolitan area.

The city was founded in 1879 and was named in reference to the city of the same name in New York State, which was the birthplace of the city's founders. South Dakota has some of the largest residential area in South Dakota and is considered one of the most expensive places to live in the state.

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5 of the Largest Cities in South Dakota

  • Overview, Photo: Scott/stock.adobe.com
  • Sioux Falls, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
  • Rapid City, Photo: malajscy/stock.adobe.com
  • Aberdeen, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
  • Brookings, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
  • Watertown, Photo: Jacob/stock.adobe.com
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of Chaithanya - Fotolia.com

Attraction Spotlight: Terry Peak Ski Area

Terry Peak Ski Area is located in South Dakota’s Black Hills. This ski resort offers family-friendly fun for all visitors. The Terry Peak Ski Area saw it’s beginning when the Bald Mountain Ski Club put in a rope tow on Stewart Slope in 1938. The area continued to develop over the years.


In the 1970s Terry Peak had started to make snow for the resort because the weather of the Black Hills was so unpredictable. Today, improvements in making snow have allowed sixty percent if the slope to be covered.

The Stewart Day Lodge replaced the K-2 Bar and ski school of the past in 1988. The Black Hills Chairlift Company gave its approval for a five-year plan for developments to the area in 1999. The Kussy Express was installed to replace the old Blue Chairlifts followed by the Surprise Express in 2002 that replaced he Yellow Chairlifts.

Before the 2004- 2005 season, the resort began its biggest land expansion in over twenty-five years. North Side Glades, Maringo, Ben Hur Glades, Lower Black Moon, and Missing Link were included in the new trails that were developed during the expansion that covered one hundred acres of land. This part of the resort is for intermediate and expert snowboarders and skiers.

Terry Peak Ski Are holds the title for South Dakota’s biggest ski area. The area boasts more than twenty-five trails, two high-speed lifts, a double lift, a triple lift, six hundred acres of land prime for skiing, and the snow carpet.

Thing to Do

The Terry Peak Ski Area offers fun for the whole family.

Trails- The Terry Peak Ski Area offers a variety of trails for beginners through advanced.

· Beginner Trails- Beginner trails include Steward Slope, Little Phil, Snowstorm, Gold Run, and Millsite

· Intermediate Trails- Intermediate trails include Welcome, Surprise, Black Moon, Missing Link, Kussy, Lower Kussy, Hobo Queen, Homestake, Terry Cut-across, and Empress

· Advanced Trails- Advanced trails include The Falls, Old Falls, North Slide Glades, Avalanche Glades, Ben Hur Glades, South Side Glades, Avalanche, Blizzard, Maringo, Holy Terror, Ben Hur, Inferno, and Little Hope

Terry Peak Ski Area also offers several lift options.

· Gold Express- This lift is a high-speed quad chair lift.

· Kussy Express- This lift is a high-speed quad chair lift.

· Snow Carpet- This lift is a surface chair lift.

· Stewart Lift- This lift is a triple chair lift.

· Surprise Express- This is a high-speed quad chair lift.

Skiing/Snowboarding- Terry Peaks boasts a large variety of different terrains for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels to enjoy.

Terrain Park- The Terrain Park is located on the beginner level trail Snowstorm and can be accessed by using the Surprise Express. The park is completely enclosed by a fence and features snowmaking technology which was added in 2004. Its features are changed-up and added throughout the winter season.

Stewart Lodge- The Stewart Lodge offers visitors a place to warm up from their winter escapades. It contains a café and bar along with the Lift Ticket booth and the rental shop. There is also a retail shop on the chief floor of the lodge.

Nevada Gulf Lodge- This lodge is for the visitors who prefer nostalgia to modern. The lodge contains a lift ticket booth, a retail store and the Dark Horse Saloon.

Summer Activities- The Terry Peak Ski Area offers summer activities as well that vary yearly. See their website for more information.

Educational Opportunities

The Terry Peak Ski Area offers lessons for those wishing to learn to ski.

· Kids Lessons- There are three levels of lessons for kids learning to ski and snowboard.

· Sno Puppies- Half Day and Full Day sessions are offered for children ages four and five.

· Sno Tigers- These lessons are available for children ages six to twelve and last only a couple of hours.

· Kids Klub 1-2-3- This is a program that last three weeks and was created to help kids develop their skills in progression. Children ages six to twelve may enter the program.

· Adult Lessons-

· Learn to Ski/Snowboard Group Lessons- These lessons are for ages thirteen and up and only for first time skiers/snowboarders.

· Mountain Challenge Group Lesson- These lessons are for ages thirteen and up that are experienced snowboarders and skiers.

· Ladies Only Ski Group- This a six-week program that was created, developed, and taught by women to teach women twenty-one and up to ski. Snowboarding lessons are also available by request.


The Mountain Retail Shop is located in Stewart Lodge and sells a variety of products including goggles, helmets, hats, gloves disposable cameras and other souvenirs with the lodge’s logo.


The Stewart Lodge contains the Stewart Lodge Café and The Bald Mountain Bar. The Nevada Gulch Lodge contains the famous Dark Horse Saloon.

21120 Stewart Slope Rd, Lead, SD, Phone: 605-584-2165

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Attraction Spotlight: Corn Palace

Corn Palace is located in Mitchell, South Dakota. Visitors to the Corn Palace will enjoy the uniqueness of the decorations and themes that are changed out yearly. The World’s Only Corn Palace was established in 1892 on Mitchell, South Dakota’s Main Street. Its purpose was to stand as a testament to the world of South Dakota’s impressive agriculture abilities.


The Corn Palace has been a tourist attraction for more than one hundred years and sees over five hundred thousand visitors a year. It was constructed as place where the city’s residents along with their neighbors in the rural areas could gather. The Palace was also used to host a festival that celebrated the climax of the growing season as well as harvest time. Today the Corn Palace Festival continues in late August every year.

In 1905, with the Corn Palace’s success a done deal, a new Palace was to be constructed to replace the original. It became much too small soon after it was built and the decision to build another replacement was made in 1919. The current building was finished in 1921, in time for the Corn Palace Festival. In the winter of the same year, Mitchell played host to it’s first state basketball tournament because The Corn Palace was considered to have the best basketball stadium in the upper Midwest.

Plans were carried out to evoke the original decorative features of the Palace in the 1930s. Kiosks and minarets in Moorish design were added to help restore the original appearance of the Corn Palace.

The Corn Palace of today is not only home to the Corn Palace Festival and a tourist attraction, but is a practical structure that can be adapted to various purposes. Some of these purposes include it’s use for industrial exhibits, theatrical shows, dances, banquets, meetings, proms, graduations for the high school and Dakota Wesleyan University, and state, district, and regional basketball tournaments. It is known as one of the top ten locations in the United States for high school basketball.

Every year the Corn Palace is decorated with native agricultural plants such as corn and prairie grasses to show its title as “the agricultural show-place of the world.” Themes differ every year, and the murals are created to reflect the theme.


The Corn Palace offers tours between Memorial Day and August. Tours outside those dates can be scheduled.

Corn Palace Murals- The Corn Palace uses different themes that it’s murals reflect every year. Some of these are listed below along with the years they were used.

· 1892- There was no central theme, only patterns were used.

· 1894-1906- Patterns with designs in the corners were used.

· 1910- The Corn Palace used an Indian Design theme.

· 1911- An Egyptian motif was used.

· 1913- Western Scenes were the theme.

· 1922- The theme this year was South Dakota Modern and Historical Scenes.

· 1923- Rising Sun and Griffins was used as the theme.

· 1924- Buffalo, Elk, Griffin, etc. was the theme used for the Corn Palace theme.

· 1926- The theme was South Dakota when the White Man Arrived.

· 1936- Black Hills (Real Pine Trees) was the theme.

· 1937- The Corn Palace used an Arabian Theme that included camels and minaret mosques).

· 1938- Conservation of the Wild Life of the State was the theme for this year.

· 1939- The theme used was 50 Years of Statehood.

· 1942 and 1943- Both years the theme used was Allied Victory.

· 1944 and 1945- Both years used the theme War.

· 1959- The theme for the Corn Palace was Scenes of the Old West.

· 1969- The Corn Palace used the theme Space Age.

· 1973- Salute to Agriculture was the theme.

· 1977- The theme was USA, Civil War, Indian, Races.

· 1984- The theme was South Dakota Highlights.

· 1986- The Corn Palace used the theme First Americans.

· 1994- The theme Myths, Legends, and Fables was used.

· 1999- The theme Building a Nation was used.

· 2004- Lewis and Clark was the theme.

· 2016- Rock of Ages was the theme

· 2017- The theme was South Dakota weather.

Special Events

Every year the Corn Palace hosts the Corn Palace Festival in late August. The Corn Palace also hosts sporting events.

Corn Palace Festival- The Corn Palace Festival features fair rides, specialty vendors, food, and live entertainment shows. Local vendors bring their finest produce to be judged. The Festival also gives people aged six and up the opportunity to compete in the Corn Palace Open Class Exhibits. This competition provides a chance for them to showcase their creativity.

Sporting Events- Sporting events are hosted throughout the year. Check the website for a schedule of events.


The concession stand offers the World’s Only Corn Palace Popcorn Balls as the number one item sold. The menu also contains hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob (seasonal), popcorn, soda, water, and candy.

604 North Main Street, Mitchell, SD 57301, Phone: 605-995-8430

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Attraction Spotlight: Ingalls Homestead

Also known as Laura’s Living Prairie, a visit to Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota is like stepping directly into "Little House on the Prairie". Fans of the prairie lifestyle as well as Laura Ingalls Wilder fans will enjoy this little piece of history. The Homestead is the historic home of well-known author of the Little House on the Prairie series of books, Laura Ingalls Wilder.


It was constructed in 1887 by her father, Charles, and the family lived there until 1928. Charles Ingalls also made many of the furnishing located in the home. The home was purchased by a non-profit historical society created to memorialize Laura in 1967 and it opened to the general public in 1968. It became an official historic place on the registry in 1975.

Permanent Attractions and Exhibits

Make sure to check out all the attractions and exhibits while visiting the Ingalls Homestead! They all help form a complete picture of the author’s life as well as what life was like during the late 1800s and early 1900s in South Dakota.

One Room Schoolhouse - Visitors to the one room schoolhouse can dress like the citizens of the time - pinafores, bonnets, straw hats, etc. The schoolhouse is staffed with a teacher who, through a combination of stories and history, teaches lessons similar to those that would have been taught there on a regular school day in the 1800s and 1900s.

Covered Wagon Ride - One of the favorite attractions at the homestead is to take a ride on the covered wagon. Visitors can even drive the horses or mules! The wagon trip heads out from the one room schoolhouse and across the prairie.

Hay Twisting - From the story The Long Winter, by Wilder, guests will see and learn how they made sticks out of twisted hay and used them for fuel when the trains were unable to bring the town of De Smet supplies due to the extreme weather during the winter of 1880 through early 1881. They used that fuel to help make bread.

Corn Cob Dolls - An early favorite of children on the prairie, before rag dolls, was corn cob dolls. Visitors will learn how to create them, shelling it themselves with tools available at the time before swaddling it in a handkerchief blanket and taking it home.

Pony Cart - Children can also try their hand at driving their own pony cart! This is perfect for less experienced riders, as they can ride the saddled ponies as well while they are being led by a guide.

Jump Rope - Bailing twine can actually make an awesome jump rope! With the use of a machine and experienced help, children can make their own and spend time using it!

Washing Clothes - Much to many parent's chagrin, children actually love washing clothes when visiting the homestead! Simply use the washboard to wash clothes, rinse them off, send them through a wringer, and hang it on the clothesline to dry.

Educational Opportunities

Children are often the desired audience at the Ingalls Homestead and it is strongly encouraged that they visit and get hands on with history. Structured field trips can be arranged by calling the site and asking to speak with the staff. However, as the homestead of run and managed by a small family without a large staff, it is generally recommended that classes are smaller in size to make them more manageable for the staff at the home.

All of the activities on site are designed for and accessible to children: visiting the one room schoolhouse (ask ahead of time if there are any special lessons desired as the staff may be able to work with classes), wagon and pony rides, corn cob doll and jump rope making, and just letting off some steam running around. Plan on spending two hours there or just make an afternoon of it! It is a great opportunity to introduce students to prairie living.


There is a great gift shop located on the homestead, perfect for guests wanting to take home a little piece of their visit (besides the corn cob doll, although they do sell a kit to make one at home). Pick up a t-shirt, some official prairie clothing (like bonnets and prairie dresses), craft kits (learn how to quilt or braid rugs), book, toys, and other gifts. There are even copies of some of Wilder’s most well-known books and stories!

Ingalls Homestead, 20812 Homestead Road, De Smet, SD, 57231, Phone: 800-776-3594 or 605-854-3984

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