Start with breakfast at Common Ground Coffee House in Watertown.
Paved trails weave around the gallery complex at Redlin Art Center, which shows original Terry Redlin oil paintings.
Visitors walk in the footsteps of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder in De Smet, 56 miles southwest. Nearly 10,000 visitors come to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant (an outdoor show held three weekends each July) and tour Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes.
Farther south, a display case filled with little cakes awaits at the new CH Patisserie in Sioux Falls.
Art galleries, culinary classes, vintage goods and two great restaurants fill a couple of hours at 8th and Railroad Center. The most popular attraction in town, though, is 123-acre Falls Park.
Dinner at Bracco World Cafe and Island Bar includes Tasmanian-style ahi tuna steak.
Plan to stay at the Holiday Inn City Centre; the hot breakfast helps start the day (from $109).
There’s a lot to do in South Dakota’s biggest city (for a full itinerary, go to page 186). But to continue on this I-29 journey, head to DJ’s Specialty Resort and Sports Rentals in Yankton (80 miles southwest) to rent gear and paddle the Missouri River below Gavins Point Dam.
Join the locals for lunch at JoDean’s for the all-you-can-eat buffet and dessert bar. Afterward, get a day pass for the beaches at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area. Or, if you’re a music buff, check out the gallery of celebrity guitars (Elvis, B.B. King and Johnny Cash) and 500-year-old instruments at the National Music Museum in Vermillion, 26 miles southeast.
While you’re in the area, drop by the Oscar Howe Art Gallery, which showcases works by the American Indian professor.
When it’s time for dinner, be prepared to shell out at Red Steakhouse. But it’s worth it; the salmon is flaky, the steaks are tender.
More information: (888) 353-7382; southeastsouthdakota.com
Bring the kids
Children’s Museum of South Dakota Visitors can splash through a stream, dodge a roaring T. rex and fish for trout in the outdoor prairie play area in Brookings (57 miles north of Sioux Falls). And there’s more to do at the cool indoor exhibits: Change the tires on a car, make pretend ice cream cones, or anchor a TV show. And the best part? The interactive exhibits are as much fun for adults as they are for the little ones. (605) 692-6700; prairieplay.org
By the numbers
A hundred years ago, the barn at Strawbale Winery in Renner (10 miles north of Sioux Falls) likely housed livestock. Today, it’s home to a winery featuring tastings and live music (plus a few free-roaming chickens). Seasonal events like Sangria Sundays give the place a festive feel. During regular hours, it’s $5 to taste five of the wines. Best bet on a hot summer day? Black currant wine slushies. (605) 543-5071; strawbalewinery.com
Five great places to have fun in Mitchell
1 The World’s Only Corn Palace Every year, artists use more than 275,000 ears of corn to create a mural in this I-90 town in the middle of the state. It’s fun to admire and we love the corn-y gift shop, too. (800) 289-7469; cornpalace.com
2 The Depot Pub and Grille Mitchell’s former train station is the place for great burgers and steaks. Kids can pull the train whistle and watch a model train chug around the room. (605) 996-9417; mitchelldepot.com
3 Dakota Discovery Museum Vivid murals and 3-D exhibits emphasize Old West design—cowboys, Native Americans and pioneers, from the gritty 1800s forward. (605) 996-2122; dakotadiscovery.com
4 Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop Learn about the craftsmanship and history of horse-drawn vehicles. If you’ve seen a Wells Fargo stage coach or a carriage at Disney World, chances are Doug Hansen and his team built or restored it. (605) 996-8754; hansenwheel.com
5 Crazy About Cupcakes The cheery stop along Main Street sells small-bite and full-size cupcakes with a rotating roster of flavors like s’mores and soda pop. (605) 990-9866