With several historically accurate interactive activities and tours, South Dakota is the place to take the resident history buff for your next vacation. Meet your favorite presidents and see the signing of the Declaration of Independence frozen in time, explore the Black Hills on a 19th century-style train, treat yourself to an “old west” dinner and show, and delve into the history of humanity itself on one fascinating South Dakota vacation.
The National President Wax Museum in Keystone features life-sized replicas of every single US President of the US. Each in period costumes and posed in scenes that they are most famous for, the presidents are extremely realistic. Visit President Nixon as the astronauts return from the very first moon voyage, or see the look on Regan’s face as the Berlin Wall crumbles to the ground. The exhibits also include actual artifacts, like Clinton’s red, white and blue saxophone and Florida’s controversial ballot boxes from the 2000 Presidential elections.
If you’re looking to explore the area the way your ancestor’s may have done, hop aboard the restored authentic steam engine on the tour 1880 Train: A 19th Century Train Ride Tour. Get a souvenir at the gift shop and grab a snack, then take a ride through the black hills, between Hill City and Keystone and back again. You can board the train at either Hill City or Keystone, making for an extremely convenient tourism experience.
After all of that sightseeing, you’re going to want a feast, and there’s no better place for it than the Flying T Chuckwagon Supper and Show. The show features family-friendly comedy and old western music that’ll make you want to don a bonnet or cowboy hat and sing along. When the dinner bell rings, tuck into a delicious cowboy dinner, with favorites like barbecue roast beef, roast buffalo and grilled chicken. Top the evening off with some country classics, bluegrass and swing.
For a walk back in time surpasses recorded history, visit the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, where a guide will show you a paleontology lab, some archeological films and, finally, the contents at Mammoth Site. There, you’ll discover the secrets of the great mammoth, a creature only known from the careful excavating of archaeologists. You’ll actually see some Ice Age fossils that were found at the site and will learn how the excavation first began.
Whether you’re fascinated by the history of this great country, the progression of locomotives and transportation, the gun-slingin’ old west or the ancient lives of an extinct species, there’s something for you in South Dakota. Though these activities are far spread, there are several hotels within a relatively short drive. Check out some of these: Best Western Four Presidents Lodge, Comfort Inn & Suites Rapid City and Comfort Inn, or see our area map and find out what’s nearby.