Rapid City, South Dakota, is the perfect starting point for any Great American Road trip involving National Parks in the Midwest.
From Rapid City – you can easily see Mount Rushmore, visit the Badlands National Park, and of course, the great American Road Stop-Wall Drug.
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Where the Heck is Wall Drug?
Wall Drug Store, also known as Wall Drug, is in the small city of Wall, South Dakota – just 50 miles west of Rapid City and a few miles away from South Dakota Badlands National Park. Wall drug is known as America’s favorite roadside attraction and it is also near the Minuteman missile national historic site.
But what the heck is Wall Drug and why are there so many Wall Drug billboards advertising it in South Dakota.
Visiting Wall Drug Store
The Famous Wall Drug Store is one of America’s favorite roadside attractions and you might not have even known about this small town attraction. Wall Drug is a great place to stop and rest whether you are driving to or from Badlands National Park.
Today, you would have no idea from the size of the parking lot that Wall Drug almost closed down during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Back before the invention of water bottles, many weary travelers would have to cut their travels short due to lack of water.
Wall Drug started advertising their free ice water along the route to lure tired travelers into their tiny drug store.
By getting people into the store for free water, they were hoping that the customers would start to purchase additional items for their road trip.
How many Wall Drug signs are there anyway?
To attract additional tourists to America’s favorite roadside attractions, Wall Drug recreated those famous billboards so travelers could go out of their way to visit the tiny town of Wall and buy something from the gift shop.
In fact, while driving on highway 90 you will start seeing more and more signs telling you how many miles until the city of Wall. Over 2 million people visit the tiny remote town in the middle of nowhere and Wall Drug annually.
The signs are not only located in South Dakota, or even just in the United States. In fact, the signs can be seen all over the world, including in Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome.
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After planning a trip to Rapid City, I told my family that we just HAD to drive out to Wall Drug and have some of their 5-Cent Coffee, a delicious doughnut, and see what there was to at this quirky roadside attraction.
I mean, it did make Bill Clevlen’s 100 Things to Do in America Before You Die.
Almost Free Things to Do in Wall Drug Store
Wall Drug is famous for a couple of things: Free Ice Water, Five-cent Coffee, and free photo opportunities.
- Free Ice Water – With the advent of bottled water, this necessity has gone down, but the signs you see all on the highway sure are a great way to draw people in to get some Free Ice water!
- Five-Cent Coffee – One of the favorites among tourists is almost free coffee! But remember, you need to get a coffee mug, not the disposable coffee cup for this super cheap coffee deal.
- Photo opportunities – some of the best photo ops are found throughout Wall Drug Store, including the Giant Jackalope, life-size animatronic T-Rex, and mini-Mount Rushmore.
- Free Parking – Yes there is free parking at Wall Drugs even for RVs! It is the perfect place to rest up before hitting the road again.
- People Watching – If you are into people-watching, Wall Drugs is the place for you. With all of the different stores, and places to eat you are bound to get some great people watching in! You will be able to get a lot of people watching done during the high tourist season of the summer months.
- Where the heck is Wall Drug – Grab yourself a Where the heck is Wall Drug bumper sticker to put on your car when you go back home!
What to do at Wall Drug
Depending on your timeline for your road trip, you will want to budget 30 minutes to 2 hours to spend time at Wall Drugs.
Why do you need to spend so much time at Wall Drug? Well, this tiny store has grown over the years from 1,500 square feet to well over 76,000 Square feet.
- Are you stopping in the morning? Get there first thing in the morning when they open at 730 am and get some delicious hot homemade donuts and five-cent coffee.
- Are you stopping for lunch? Don’t worry, even in the middle of the day the restaurant can seat over 500 people, so depending on when you get there, you will not have that much of a wait! You and the whole family can chow down on buffalo burgers and ice cream cones.
- Souvenirs – a trip to a roadside attraction is not complete without a souvenir or two. From cowboy boots to chocolate fudge – make sure you are getting something to remember your time at Wall Drugs
- Buy Supplies – Wall Drugs also has camping and RV supplies that you might want to stock up on before hitting the road.
Having fun at Wall Drug
After having some of South Dakota’s finest donuts, we wandered around the various shops to see what we could purchase.
Staying on-brand with the National Parks Trip, we, of course, bought some huckleberry items since we were in the Midwest. There were also a couple of larger-than-life figurings that we could take fun family photos to remember our trip.
Tell Everyone about Wall Drugs
Do you want to help tell your friends about Wall Drug? You can get free stickers and signs if you want to spread the word about this sprawling tourist attraction.
Wall Drug to Badlands National Park
After spending at least an hour and grabbing some free ice water at Wall Drugs the next stop is the main attraction of visiting Badlands National Park.
Badlands National Park is a beautiful national park that is mainly made up of rock formations and great plains. While visiting Badlands National park you will experience the rugged terrain.
Badlands National Park fee is $30 for seven days, but you can get in free is you have one of the National Park Passes.
Your first destination will be to enter through the Northeast Entrance and make your way towards Ben Reifel Visitor Center. At Badlands National Park you can visit out the day by taking a scenic drive, seeing the prairie dogs, and soaking in the best views of the park on Big Badlands Overlook.
Is Wall Drug on the way to the Badlands?
Wall Drugs is on the way to Badlands National Park if you are leaving from Rapid City, South Dakota. Wall Drugs and Badlands National Park is a great way to spend a day trip from Rapid City.
How Far is Wall Drug from Badlands National Park?
Wall Drug is only 8 miles away from Wall Drug! That means Wall Drug is the perfect spot to grab breakfast or lunch before entering the park.
Is it worth visiting Wall Drug?
If you like visiting tourist attractions and are en route to Badlands National Park, Wall Drug is worth the drive. Many think that Wall Drug is a tourist trap but it is actually a large shopping area in a small town.
Wall Drug brings millions of visitors a year so you might as well stop by and get a photo op or two!
How far is Wall Drug from Mount Rushmore?
If you are road-tripping from Wall Drug to Mount Rushmore expect to spend a little over an hour in the car. Mount Rushmore is about 77 miles via I-90 east from Wall Drug Store.
What are other popular attractions by Wall Drug?
Wall Drug is known as the geographical center of nowhere so anything that you would want to visit will be a drive. You can take day trips to the Black Hills National Forest, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Monument. No matter what Wall Drug is close to many road trip destinations.
Rapid City Exploration
After finishing up at Badlands National Park, our family ended up going to Firehouse Brewing Company per suggestions from locals and online reviews.
Now, I knew that food in this area of the United States wouldn’t be anything like we eat in New Orleans, so recommendations were needed.
As someone who loves trying beer in every region of the world, I was happy to see that the beers on tap were great.
I ordered a jalapeno beer while my sister ordered a coffee stout. I would definitely recommend coming here for the beers!
Hotels near Badlands National Park
We rented a cabin from Yak Ridge. The cabin was perfect and quaint and exactly what we needed for our long days of Road tripping.
The cabin had three beds, one bathroom, a kitchen, and a living area. It was the perfect cabin for our three-night stay.
Why Should you Visit Wall Drug and Badlands National Park?
If you are visiting Rapid City to see Mount Rushmore, then visiting Wall Drug and Badlands National Park is a great day trip.
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Tuesday 5th of July 2022
If you are going to Mt Rushmore from Wall the direction you would take on I90 would be West. Great article. There are so many more things to see in that little corner of the world. We visit every year.
Why Get a National Parks Pass? - Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants
Monday 27th of June 2022
[…] Visiting a National Park for vacation is one of my favorite ways to explore North America. Last year the National Park Service celebrated its 100th year and National Park attendance went through the roof. My ideal way to visit National Parks is by visiting them in a clump. One trip, the family and I visited Badlands, Wind Cave, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons all on one trip. Another trip we were able to scratch off The Grand Canyon and Petrified National Forest off of our list. […]