South Dakota Tour Continues from Wall to Hill City

When I woke up in Wall, I was ready for a very full day two in South Dakota.

The rain had not let up all night and it was pouring as I headed into Wall Drug. From the moment I pulled my rental car up I knew this was going to be a place like no other. It seemed to go on for blocks and I soon learned that this was only the front.

I met with Rick Hustead, whose grandparents had started Wall Drug in 1931 as just a drugstore. Ted, a pharmacist, and Dorothy were having trouble getting customers until Dorothy had the idea to put up “Free Ice Water” signs along the highway.

The ice water turned into .05 coffee and both brought in enough customers for Wall Drug to now be 76,000 square feet and one of the biggest attractions in the country.

Rick and I continued to talk in the restaurant over breakfast about Wall Drug and the endless products being sold here.

Breakfast certainly satisfied my sweet tooth, though I did at least add a scrambled egg for a bit of healthy protein. The rest was cherry pie, a maple donut, and s’mores ice cream.

I had asked what their most popular breakfast items were and that’s what I got. I had to agree that they are worth stopping at Wall Drug for – especially the Cherry Pie.

He also showed me the Wall Drug wines, available in the restaurant and for sale in the stores. Then Rick took me to explore some of the complex.

We walked over to the Old Fashion Soda Fountain. It’s a favorite of customers as there isn’t anything like it around here. This is where you can get their homemade ice cream and hand-made sodas.

Next there was the souvenir shop, a window of musical puppets, jewelry store, donut shop, gift store, Rockhound shop, a travelers chapel, and, of course, a pharmacy.

After a while, I left Rick to head out and explore on my own. I knew I couldn’t see everything (that would take a full day), but I wanted to take some photos and look around.

Behind the stores there were alleyways with artwork and additional places, such as the Western Art Gallery, the Print Shop, Western Wear store, leather goods shop, and more.

That wasn’t the end of it either. If you headed outside, you’d find the Wall Drug Backyard, with additional stores and attractions, like the Mining Experience.

I paid for some souvenirs I bought and I walked around the town of Wall for a short while, but I had to get on the road for my next appointment in Hill City.

Fortunately the drive didn’t take too long and I was soon at my next stop, Prairie Berry Winery. I met with Michelle Slott for a tour and tasting of their large selection.

The Red Ass Rhubarb is the most popular wine here, but my favorite was definitely the Pink Slip Moscato and I left with a bottle to take home.

The food at Prairie Berry Winery was also quite impressive. The menu was filled with fresh items and lots of vegetarian. I really enjoyed my meal with Michelle.

It was raining very hard and I decided to skip my visit to Miner Brewing on the other end of the parking lot. It looked like the brewery was quite full.

I drove the 10 minutes to my hotel, a very welcoming Holiday Inn Express. After I got settled and the rain had let up, I headed out to explore.

I walked around downtown Hill City before I headed back to the hotel to change for dinner. The downtown offers shops, restaurants, and a selection of unique places, such as the Black Hills Institute Museum.

There was also Teddy Bear Town, a shop that holds the Guinness World Record for the largest Teddy Bear Collection. They have over 6,500.

Just outside of the entrance to downtown Hill City is the Black Hills Central Railroad. From this depot in Hill City you can take a two hour roundtrip ride on the 1880 Train to Keystone and listen to a narrated history of the area.

It was raining when I headed to High Country Guest Ranch for the Chuckwagon Dinner Show and the Native American Brulee Show. I had been warned that the latter might not take place if the weather didn’t improve. Unfortunately, it did not.

I did get to enjoy the musical cowboy show with a dinner of beef, chicken, potatoes, applesauce, and cowboy beans. I can’t say it was the best meal I had in South Dakota, but I did enjoy the signing and the fun, relaxed atmosphere.

After dinner, I was detoured by construction to downtown, so I took it as a sign and stopped at one of the bars for a nightcap before I headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Day three in South Dakota was not only full, but it was very special as I was going to see some of the nation’s most treasured sites.

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