South Dakota is often overlooked when it comes to wine producing regions of the country, but guests would be wrong to completely count the Rushmore State out of the wine game. Because of its colder average climate, grapes that grow in South Dakota feature more concentrated flavors, and when blended with various fruits, can produce uncommon wines. There are various wineries around the state who have founded vineyards and take pride in only using grapes and fruit grown within the state, which provides visitors with a chance to try something truly unique. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room
2.Firehouse Wine Cellars
4.Prairie Berry Winery
5.Schadé Vineyard & Winery
6.Stone Faces Winery
8.Tucker's Walk Vineyard and Farm Winery
10.Wilde Prairie Winery
11.With the Wind Vineyard & Winery
12.Humble Hill Winery
12 Best South Dakota Wineries
- Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room, Photo: Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room
- Firehouse Wine Cellars, Photo: Firehouse Wine Cellars
- Naked Winery, Photo: Naked Winery
- Prairie Berry Winery, Photo: Prairie Berry Winery
- Schadé Vineyard & Winery, Photo: Schadé Vineyard & Winery
- Stone Faces Winery, Photo: Ilshat/stock.adobe.com
- Strawbale Winery, Photo: Strawbale Winery
- Tucker's Walk Vineyard and Farm Winery, Photo: Tucker's Walk Vineyard and Farm Winery
- Valiant Vineyards, Photo: Valiant Vineyards
- Wilde Prairie Winery, Photo: 5ph/stock.adobe.com
- With the Wind Vineyard & Winery, Photo: With the Wind Vineyard & Winery
- Humble Hill Winery, Photo: Humble Hill Winery
- Cover Photo: Paolo Bernardotti/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Reptile Gardens
Not only known as the largest zoo in the world that focuses on reptiles but also as one of the most visited family attractions in the Black Hills area of South Dakota, guests who visit Reptile Gardens will come out not only having had tons of fun but also having learned something. Although focused on reptiles, visitors will also experience the renowned Sky Dome’s beauty, play on a playground named after a famous resident, and enjoy wholesome family time.
The inspiration behind Reptile Gardens came after local South Dakotan tour guide Earl Brockelsby, a 19-year-old snake lover, started to end the tours he held with removing his cowboy hat to surprise guests with a live rattlesnake! He opened the doors to his first reptile attraction in 1937, charging just a dime for adult visitors and a nickel for children. It moved into its current (and hopefully permanent) location, which is located less than ten miles south of the town of Rapid City, in 1965. It is still operated as a family business and has won awards for its hospitality and service.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
The areas of Reptile Gardens are divided by attraction, arranged in a giant circle around the Sky Dome.
· Sky Dome- Often considered one of the most recognizable of the attractions in South Dakota, the three level Sky Dome is a huge oasis filled with tropical plants (orchids, caladiums, etc), sculptures brought in from New Guinea and Indonesia, and freely roaming frogs and lizards. In fact, truly living up to the name Reptile Gardens, the dome holds the largest reptile collection in the world! Maniac, the giant crocodile, lives on the lower level, while both the non-venomous and venomous snakes live on the mezzanine.
· Rattlesnake Gulch: Full of children’s attractions and activities as well as live animal experiences (offering bird, gator, and snake shows), the themed old west boardwalk leads families through the many choices. Learn how to do both arrowhead and gemstone sluicing from an expert. Go on a 3-D, black light safari! Pet and take a picture with a python! Make sure to stop by Little Mount Rushmore for a great family photo opportunity.
· Prairie Dog Town: Many places offer prairie dog exhibits, but few offer the ability to get down on their level with a unique underground bubble! Considered a vulnerable species, Reptile Gardens tries to educate visitors on prairie dogs while allowing them to experience the adorable and important animals for themselves.
· Methuselah's Playground: Named after the long-time giant tortoise who died in 2011 at the ripe old age of 130. The playground is situated around a life size bronze statue of Methuselah. The brand-new playground debuted in 2012 and the mayor of Rapid City even declared the day that it was opened as a day to “Go Slow” in his honor. It is said that Methuselah is the one of the most frequently photographed tortoises in the United States.
Visitors should make sure to check out Cheyenne, the avian ambassador of Reptile Gardens. The bald eagle has lived on the grounds with permission from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service since 2001. Although she has been rendered flightless due to a wing injury, she now helps spread the importance of preservation of the country’s national bird.
Taking students on field trips to the Gardens has been a tradition for local schools since its inception. The website is chock full of different educational worksheets (as well as their corresponding answer keys) separated by age level. Teachers are encouraged to go through them and pick the one that is the most appropriate for the grade level they will be taking on the field trip. Younger students should choose the Tortoise Level, while the Tarantula Level is best for intermediate grades.
For advanced grades, the Gardens offers the Taipan Level. While no tour guides are available to guide field trips through the grounds, the worksheets help teachers plan a visit that will help the class achieve their educational goals. Group rates are available for a discounted admission fee per student. Contact the staff prior to a visit to find out any other important information, as well as open hours and where to park school buses.
The gift shop located on the grounds of Reptile Gardens offers visitors a chance to take home a reminder of their stop at the renowned attraction. With most of the trappings of a regular gift shop with a specifically reptilian twist, take home a t-shirt, book, or some art work for the home.
Reptile Gardens, 8955 US-16, Rapid City, SD 57702, Phone: 800-335-0275
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Attraction Spotlight: McCrory Gardens
Enjoy the beauty of nature by visiting McCrory Gardens in South Dakota, an arboretum and botanical garden that is operated and maintained by the University of South Dakota. With over 25 acres of display gardens and a more than 45-acre arboretum featuring a wide assortment of plants, flowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses, this is an interesting place to visit for anyone who wants to spend a day enjoying nature or for those who are interested in learning more about the large assortments of plants and flowers both domesticated and native.
Come visit McCrory Gardens to experience over 25 acres of display gardens. The gardens contain hundreds of various varieties of plants, shrubs, trees, and grasses that are sure to keep everyone thoroughly interested. Some of the gardens available to visit at McCrory Gardens include:
· Butterfly garden?
· Cottage garden?
· Daylily collection
· Floral display garden?
· Geranium garden?
· Herb garden?
· Heuchera garden?
· Hosta walk?
· Hummingbird garden?
· Iris garden?
· Lilac collection
· Lily collection
· Pharmaceutical garden
McCrory Gardens offers guided and self-guided tours to the general public as well as for schools. Those interested in either one of these tours can contact McCrory Gardens directly at (605) 688-6707 or by using the tour request forms located on their website.
McCrory Gardens is the perfect place to hold any event. Enjoy being surrounded by the beauty of nature while holding a special event. From wedding to corporate events, McCrory Gardens makes the perfect venue.
With several different rooms as well as layouts, McCrory Gardens is capable of accommodating events both large and small. Perspective guests can choose from the Great Hall, either one of the meeting rooms, or a combination of both meeting rooms for their venue. Likewise, McCrory Gardens can create several different layouts to accommodate specific event needs.
In addition to a selection of rooms and layouts, McCrory Gardens also offers a wide selection of audiovisual equipment, such as microphones, DVD players, projectors, and screens as well as other accessories such as full and half podiums.
Those interested in using McCrory Gardens for a venue can contact them directly at (605) 688-6707.
McCrory Gardens is proud to offer catering services through SDSU Catering. Catering services are available for events off-site as well as events on site at McCrory Gardens. SDSU Catering also has a specialized wedding menu that features several packages that offer wedding cake, buffet dinners, plated dinners, and china and linens.
More information about catering services provided by SDSU Catering is available by contacting the catering company directly at (605) 697-257.
Friends of McCrory Gardens
Come show your support for McCrory Gardens by becoming a member. There are several tiers of membership available, from individual to patron as well as photography memberships. More information about memberships at McCrory Gardens is available via their website.
McCrory Gardens, 631 22nd Avenue, Brookings, SD 57007, Phone: 605-688-6707
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Attraction Spotlight: Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village
The village is currently the only open to the public archaeological site located in South Dakota. Guests of all ages are welcome to visit, learn about the history, and actually watch history in the making as the site is still an active excavation area.
The site was discovered by a Dakota Wesleyan University student in 1910. However, it wasn’t until 1975 (after it was designated national historic landmark) that the site was officially taken under the wing of the newly formed preservation society. The mission of the village is to help promote understanding about the very first inhabitants of the land through helping with research, and engaging the public with both educational programs and access to the site. It is a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization that exists through donation, purchases at the village, state and city funding, and grants.
Audrey’s Garden - One of the newer exhibits at the village is considered a “living” exhibition. Inspired by Audrey Kinsella, a board member as well as the very first executive director and a long time volunteer until she passed away in 2013. One of her biggest dreams was for the village to have a garden that could be used to teach visitors about the plants native to the area that the original occupants would have been using for medicines, foods, dyes, and ceremonies. It showcases over 35 species of plants, each outfitted with plaques that have information about each plant and how it may have been used.
The main draw of the visit is the actual archaeological site. The excavations at the site take place at the “Archeodome” at Thomsen Center. Depending on what funding looks like, sometimes the excavations take year round in the temperature regulated environment. Also located at the Archeodome are the exhibits and the laboratory. There are even exhibits that are designed for and cater to children. Meant to engage them through hands-on learning experiences, kids can learn about how to sort and separate stone, ceramic, and bone artifacts. There is also an area called “Kid’s Dig,” where the kids can actually excavate the area and search out plastic arrowheads which can be taken to the gift shop and exchanged for a real arrowhead that they can take home!
The other area to make sure to check out when visiting the village is the museum. Boehnen Memorial is a museum that is home to a reproduction of a full sized earthen lodge that houses an entire buffalo skeleton, multiple exhibits, and a tech center.
There is a fee charged for admission, as the village is considered a non-for-profit organization that doesn’t not receive any federal funding. Funds that are raised through admission, as well as purchases made in the gift shop and donations, are what support the costs of the village (which include utilities and other overhead costs). Adults pay full cost, while seniors, children and students are offered a slightly discounted admission. Children under the age of five are free.
Archaeological Awareness Day: Held in July, these days are meant to bring history to life! It is by far the most popular event held at the village. Presenters of all types come from all over the nation and the world to share their knowledge, passion, and skills with the general public. Some of the more popular presenters in the past have been a flint knapper who took a regular piece of jasper or flint and shaped it into a projectile point, and a potter who taught visitors how to use techniques used over a thousand years ago to create their own piece of pottery that they were then able to take home. Play games, take lessons, and learn!
Lakota Games: Held on ice in January, the Lakota Games is easily the biggest Winter event offered! Come learn about the games enjoyed by some of the ancestors that lived at the village long ago, taught by an ancestor of one of those people. With authentic stone, wood, bone, and feather game equipment, people of all ages will enjoy! Hot chocolate is even served afterward to help guests warm back up! This event is offered free of charge.
Considered one of the more unique and excited gift shops in the state of South Dakota, the Antiquary offers a wide variety of both regional and Native American made items like jewelry, pottery, art, and children’s gifts. All purchases made at the Shoppe go back into the village to help fund their special events and programs.
Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, 3200 Indian Village Road, Mitchell, SD 57301, Phone: 605-996-5473
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