We recently spent a long weekend in South Dakota, which raised a lot of questions from our followers. "Why South Dakota?" "What made you choose that state?" "What did you do there?"... We're here today to tell you about how underrated South Dakota is. We figure to best explain, we should break this thing down. Here's ten reasons (and a lot of photos!) to prove why you should make this beautiful state your next travel destination:
1. IT'S BEAUTIFUL
Starry skies, stunning cliffs, majestic rock formations, crystal clear water.. We could go on and on, but we'll let our photos do the talking:
2. IT'S FULL OF CUTE CRITTERS
The animals were, hands down, Alli's FAVORITE part of South Dakota. Both of us couldn't get over the wildlife, and really, we couldn't get away from it!
We drove through Bear Country USA, a park in which you literally drive around bears living in their natural habitat - UNREAL! We couldn't believe how close we were able to get to them, and we loved seeing them freely roam without a care in the world. It's always amazing to see animals so well cared for!
Right next door is Reptile Gardens, the largest reptile zoo in the country! It's incredible how many types of reptiles there are - and all shapes and sizes too! We conveniently arrived right at feeding time, and we'll save the photos of the snakes eating their dinner for another time. ;)
Another highlight of our trip was visiting the Wild Horse Sanctuary, where we met with Karla, who's been working there for over 13 years. She took us around the expansive property (Over 11,000 acres!) and told us the stories and names of just about every wild horse we came across. We only met a handful, considering there are HUNDREDS of wild mustangs roaming free here! It was a truly spiritual moment to see these beautiful creatures running together in the wild... We could have spent all day there!
We also did this amazing tour called the "Buffalo Safari" while we were in Custer State Park. It was so cool that we are posting a separate blog on it. Stay tuned!
3. IT'S AFFORDABLE
Us California kids couldn't get over how affordable everything was! From gas prices to restaurants to souvenir shopping, South Dakota is extremely reasonable! And when you're traveling on a budget like we are, this is a very attractive selling point!
4. IT'S EASY TO NAVIGATE
Getting around South Dakota was a piece of cake! While we did use our phones sometimes, we tried to stick to the old fashioned map the South Dakota tourism board gave us. But we really didn't even need that - everything is marked clearly, and there's never any traffic!!
5. IT'S UP-AND-COMING
Mark our words - South Dakota is on its way to becoming the new place to be! With new restaurants opening up left and right, gorgeous scenery, delicious food, top-notch coffee and friendly folks... word is bound to get out! You heard it here first!
6. IT'S FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Your kids are bound to love South Dakota, trust us. From all of the amazing wildlife to the hikes, caves, national parks (Mount Rushmore!), amusement parks, and even a quirky roadside destination called Wall Drug Store... there is endless entertainment for families young and old alike!
7. THE SUNSETS
The sunsets in South Dakota were some of the most beautiful we've ever seen. There's something about the crystal clear air and magnificent mountains that makes the sky come alive at night. But again, don't take our word for it...
8. THE FRIENDLY LOCALS
We could NOT get over how nice everyone is in South Dakota! We didn't meet one person we didn't like, and everyone was so helpful! There's something so beautiful about seeing people's pride for their hometown, and such was the case here. It's almost like they're all letting you in on their little secret - that their state is better than most... And we have to agree.
9. IT'S ROMANTIC
Yep, that's right. South Dakota is extremely romantic. Watching the sunrise in the Badlands was one of the most idyllic and picturesque things we can imagine - and we were the ONLY people there! Definitely a top-ten moment in our marriage thus far.
10. ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES!
And folks, that's just the beginning. In the few short days that we were in South Dakota we saw a lot... but there is SO much more! We have yet to explore Sioux Falls, see the famous Crazy Horse Memorial, or see the waterfalls in Spearfish! Which means it's time for us to book our next trip. STAT.
Thank you to South Dakota Tourism for sponsoring this post!