After a lifetime of hard work, retirement is the time to travel, enjoy the outdoors, and volunteer to give back to the local community. No matter your retirement goals, there are fulfilling activities for all retirees in South Dakota. From exploring state parks to getting a museum membership, check out the best retirement activities in the state!
Custer State Park is the largest in the state with over 70,000 acres of beautiful ponderosa pine forests, rugged mountains, scenic drives, and hiking trails for people of all ages and abilities. The park is home to over one thousand bison who roam all around the park and are frequently seen by hikers. Other park wildlife include wild burros, prairie dogs, mountain goats, elk, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn. The most popular attractions in the park are the Needles Highway and the Wildlife Loop Road, splashing around in Sylvan Lake, and hiking on the many trails like the Sunday Gulch trail or the Cathedral Spires trail.
There is no better use of free time than helping others, especially those whose lives have been uprooted by disaster. Volunteers at the American Red Cross help with disaster relief, disaster preparedness, education, and community involvement like helping at blood banks or hosting a CPR class. The American Red Cross has four offices throughout the Dakotas, so even those outside of Sioux Falls can help out.
Retirement is also a good time to learn about new things and explore interesting activities. Retirees can do both at Vermillion’s acclaimed National Museum of Music. Visitors can look at unique instruments like goldfish shaped harmonicas, the oldest playable harpsichord, or a 17th century keyboard. The museum has over 1,200 historic instruments on display with information on their one-of-a-kind backgrounds, so there is always something new to learn at the National Music Museum.
The Humane Society of the Black Hills is another volunteer opportunity that allows retirees to make a huge difference for the residents of the Black Hills—well, the four-legged furry residents in this case. Volunteers must attend an orientation to learn how to help, and then can do jobs like office help, fundraising, educational events, laundry, dog walking, playing with the cats, and grooming. Volunteers provide an essential service to the Humane Society and the Black Hills region as a whole.
Built during the Cold War as part of America’s nuclear arsenal, the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site was an integral part of one of the most interesting times in American history. Visitors can tour the underground bunker and look at the old missiles and the missile silo. Visiting the site provides a one-of-a-kind hands on look at South Dakota’s part in the Cold War.
The Mitchell United Way provides much needed help to communities though support for food banks, senior citizen care, painting around town, and beautifying the community. For all these do good efforts, lots of volunteers are needed and retirees are a huge part of the United Way. If you’re interested in volunteering your time and experience to help your community, contact the Mitchell United Way through phone or their website.
Located right outside Ellsworth Air Force Base, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum is free and open seven days a week, making it a great no-hassle attraction to learn about South Dakota and military history. The museum features over 30 military aircrafts that show how the Air Force has developed from World War II to the modern era. There are also missile displays, stories about war heroes, and other fascinating exhibits. Visitors both young and old will love this museum!
The Ingalls Homestead is where legendary author Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up and the site provides an interesting look into her life as well as pioneer life as a whole. Visitors can tour a one room schoolhouse, make a corn cob doll, grind wheat and twist hay, ride in a covered wagon, and learn about life for pioneers in the Dakota Territory in the 1880s.
Western Hills Humane Society is another animal rescue that needs volunteers to help with all the essential work they do. The no-kill shelter is in Spearfish and serves the northern Black Hills region. Volunteers can perform a number of jobs like animal caretaker, dog walker, office work, and help with projects and special events. Retirees can make a huge difference for these animals by volunteering their time.
The Mount Roosevelt Monument is a rewarding one mile hike through the woods that is only minutes from downtown Deadwood. The trail ends at a beautiful tower that visitors can climb to the top of and see all around. This is a good trail for retirees as it is short but rewarding.