The 10 Best Educational Activities for Children in South Dakota!

Opening your child’s eyes to the world around them, through history, art, science and more, is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a parent. Seeing a child enjoy an activity all while gaining greater knowledge of this world is a truly rewarding experience. Experience the greatest the state has to offer with these 10 great educational activities for children in South Dakota! 

1. Reptile Gardens, Rapid City, SD

On the outskirts of Rapid City, this animal park houses the largest reptile zoo in the world. Deadly snakes like black mambas, king cobras, and diamondback rattlesnakes slither around this park, to the amazement of both young and old visitors alike. Other animals include crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and more! Reptile Gardens isn’t only about animals—it also contains a lush botanical garden with species from around the world. Children can learn about reptiles and plants in this fun, exotic wonderland!

2. Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Hot Springs, SD

See the American Wild West as it was 300 years ago with wild horses, rocky canyons, and wind swept prairies. This wildlife sanctuary gives wild horses both freedom and quality care. In addition to beautiful horses, marvel at the Ponderosa Pine forests along the Cheyenne River, a restored one-room schoolhouse, and ancient petroglyphs. With 600 wild mustangs on 11,000 acres of private land, your kiddos will never want to leave!

4. Big Thunder Gold Mine, Keystone, SD

Located only three miles from Mount Rushmore, Big Thunder Gold Mine is an authentic 1890s historic mine giving tours to inquisitive minds of all ages! For a hands-on activity, try the on-site gold panning. Visitors receive a hands-on lesson to learn the proper panning technique for Black Hills streams. Remember the trip with something from the huge gift shop. Kids will never forget this fun family activity!

4. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Philip, SD

Venture back to the tense times of the Cold War at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Remember the Red Scare while marveling at the Delta-09 underground missile silo which held a Minuteman II missile. The center includes an above-ground support building and underground control center capsule. Give your children an intense, first-hand view of this strained time in our history!

5. Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer County, SD

This impressive mountain carving is only 17 miles from Mount Rushmore, but once finished will be much larger than Mount Rushmore. See the in-progress monument of the legendary Oglala Lakota warrior. Visit the onsite Indian Museum of North American, welcome center, and Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and see more than 12,000 historic artifacts. Children will marvel at the huge monument and learn about South Dakota’s rich pre-Columbian history!

6. Journey Museum & Learning Center, Rapid City, SD

Discover art, science, culture, and history at Rapid City’s acclaimed Journey Museum. Tour South Dakota’s unique history from the formation of the Black Hills billions of years ago to the Wild West. Walk through the streets of a pioneer town. Explore an archeological dig pit. Exhibits include hands-on rock, fossils, and artifacts. Explore more recent events such as the Rapid City Flood of 1972. Children will have a greater understanding of the rich history of the Black Hills after visiting this amazing museum!

7. Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science, Sioux Falls, SD

This Sioux Falls art gallery and science museum is popular among families. The Science Discovery Center has over 100 interactive, hands-on activities for kids to have fun while learning. Exhibits include activities like building a colony on Mars, excavating dinosaur bones in the shadow of a 40-foot Tyrannosaurus Rex, learning about tornados, rock climbing, creating high-speed films, and so much more! 

8. South Dakota Discovery Center and Aquarium, Pierre, SD

View the aquarium with fish species native to the Missouri River or play with any of the over 60 interactive, educational exhibits at Pierre’s science playground! Have fun with mirrors, learn science in the Growing Up Garden Center, have a hair-raising experience with the Van de Graf generator, explore the indoor treehouse, and learn about nanotechnology.

9. High Plains Western Heritage Center, Spearfish, SD

Learn about the pioneers of the American West at the High Plains Western Heritage Center. See a furnished log cabin, rural schoolhouse, and antique saddle and blacksmith shop. Marvel at the transportation room with a stagecoach, chuckwagon, buggie, and sleighs. In the Heritage Center, live Western music and poetry are performed monthly in a large theater. Entrance is free for children under six!

10. Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs, SD

Explore one of the longest and most complex caves in the world! It is known for containing 95 percent of the world’s discovered boxwork formations. Feed your child’s adventurous spirit as you descend into the cave on a ranger-guided tour. Above-ground, the unique prairie ecosystem is home to elk, buffalo, antelope, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets!

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Main Sreet, Edgemont, SD
Museum displaying items of Edgemont's past. Free admission. Open Tuesday through Sunday starting Memorial Day weekend until October 1st. Read More
936 Medary Avenue, Brookings, SD
Mission Statement: As steward of the state's art treasures, the South Dakota Art Museum collects, preserves, and exhibits visual art to increase ac... Read More
260 West Main Street, Carthage, SD
The Campbell Original Straw Bale Built Museum is a simple museum dedicated to preserving South Dakota History. It is located in the small town of C... Read More
54 Sherman Street, Deadwood, SD
Deadwood businessman and former mayor W.E. Adams built Deadwood’s Adams Museum in 1930 as a tribute to Black Hills pioneers and in memory of ... Read More
205 West Commercial Avenue, Gettysburg, SD
The Dakota Sunset Museum features the 40-ton Sacred Sioux Medicine Rock, which was originally located 15 miles west of Gettysburg near the Missouri... Read More
114 10th Street West, Lemmon, SD
The Grand River Museum is a non-profit institution, incorporated within the State of South Dakota and as a publicly supported organization describe... Read More
323 West Main Street, Lead, SD
Our museum is dedicated to the preservation of the rich mining heritage of the Black Hills of South Dakota. We invite you to visit us and enjoy our... Read More
222 New York Street, Rapid City, SD
Our Mission The Journey Museum and Learning Center is the education venue that serves as a forum to preserve and explore the heritage of the cultu... Read More
1300 McGovern Avenue, Mitchell, SD
About Us: Dakota Discovery Museum is attracting kids and their parents with exhibits and new ways to make learning fun. At Dakota Discovery we des... Read More
880 S. Cedar St., Freeman, SD
About Us: The Heritage Hall Museum is dedicated to the preservation of rare artifacts used by our ancestors on the way to our standard of living t... Read More
27 1st Avenue South East, Watertown, SD
About Us:The Codington County Heritage Museum is located in the former Carnegie Library building in uptown Watertown, South Dakota. Watertown is in... Read More
925 11th Street, Brookings, SD
About the MuseumVisitors to the State Agricultural Heritage Museum will understand the important role of agriculture in South Dakota's past, presen... Read More
609 Highway 16A, Keystone, SD
History: Founded in 1971, the National Presidential Wax Museum, formely known as the Parade of Presidents, is one of the most prestigious attracti... Read More
200 West 6th Street, Sioux Falls, SD
About Us: Construction began on the first Minnehaha County Courthouse in 1889.   The building is a product of local architect Wallace L. Dow,... Read More
415 5th Avenue, Belle Fourche, SD
Mission: The purpose of the Tri-State Museum is to preserve the historic artifacts from the early settlement of the Tri-State area, including t... Read More
411 Mount Rushmore Road, Custer, SD
The Custer County 1881 Courthouse Museum is housed in the original Dakota Territory courthouse built in 1880-1881. This building has been placed on... Read More
221 NorthEast 8th Street, Madison, SD
503 5th Street, Murdo, SD
History The Pioneer Auto Show was started in 1954 by AJ ‘Dick’ Geisler and his family. Since then, the Pioneer Auto Museum (as it was ... Read More
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