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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1301 North Main Street, Chamberlain, SD
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501 South West Street, Kimball, SD
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205 West Commercial Avenue, Gettysburg, SD
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3200 Indian Village Rd, Mitchell, SD
Background And History The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is a six-acre site overlooking the west bank of Lake Mitchell. It holds dual status... 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
301 East Dakota, Pierre, SD
The mission of the National Guard Museum is to acquire, preserve, protect, and display military equipment, records, relics, and memorabilia represe... Read More
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SD
Mission Statement :History provides tools for defining our diverse cultural identities and understanding our past. The Office of History/South Dako... Read More
21 South Main Street, Aberdeen, SD
Our MissionTo preserve and share the stories of the Dakota Prairie and its inhabitants.Our Vision The Dacotah Prairie Museum, a non-profit, permane... Read More
210 Verendrye Drive, Fort Pierre, SD
About us :      The Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center located in Fort Pierre, South Dakota  is a historical museum dev... 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
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
1820 West Grand Crossing, Mobridge, SD
The Klein Museum was founded in 1975 to record and preserve the heritage and history of the local area around Mobridge, South Dakota.  The mus... 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
45205 SD Hwy. 34, Madison, SD
Welcome to Prairie Village, a living museum of the past. Located 2 miles west of Madison, South Dakota on the shores of Lake Herman and situated on... Read More
221 NorthEast 8th Street, Madison, SD
221 NE 8th Street, Madison, SD
The original Lake County Courthouse was built in 1884 The arrival of William Lee and Charles Walker to Dakota Territory in 1870 led to the establi... Read More
723 Main St, Britton, SD
The Marshall County Prayer Rock Museum houses thousands of historical items showcasing early life in Marshall County and an extensive wildlife exhi... Read More
421 5th Avenue NorthWest, Watertown, SD
Welcome to Mellette House, the Watertown home of South Dakota’s first governor, Arthur Calvin Mellette. Experience life first hand in an eleg... 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
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