What To Do In South Dakota – Sioux Falls

The US state of South Dakota is renowned for being the home to Mount Rushmore National Memorial as well as not just one, but two, national parks – Badlands and Wind Cave. All of these serene beauties are located in the western portion of the state. Across the sweeping plains of South Dakota lie Sioux Falls.

The bustling city surrounds the scenic Big Sioux River in the far eastern part of South Dakota near the state border with Minnesota. Sioux Falls is the state’s largest city. As such, the city comes with compelling attractions of its own. So, if you aren’t sure where to start for what to do in South Dakota, may I suggest the state’s biggest city?

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Falls Park

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Falls Park is Sioux Falls most famous attraction. So, this should be the first place that you visit in the city. The park is located just north of downtown Sioux Falls. It is home to beautiful waterfalls. In fact, the waterfalls is a big part of how the city got the name Sioux Falls. The waterfalls average about 7,400 gallons of water per second as it drops 100 feet down the Big Sioux River.

The waterfalls had been known to exist since the last ice age around 14,000 years ago. Sioux Falls was founded around the waterfalls in 1856, hence the city’s name. There is a 50-foot viewing tower located at the Falls Park Visitor Information Center where you can get a nice overhead view of the waterfalls. There is also a gift shop inside the visitor center.

Should you get hungry, you can head to the Falls Overlook Cafe which gives you a chance to dine while soaking in the views of the waterfalls. If you are looking to go on at least a short hike, there is a trail that starts within Falls Park and then travels along the Big Sioux River as it navigates its way through Sioux Falls.

Also, there are 12 permanent sculptures throughout Falls Park for you to discover. Monarch of the Plains, American Farmer, For Which it Stands, and Coming Home are among the permanent sculptures within the park.

Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science

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You will then want to head into Sioux Falls’ vibrant downtown to the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science. It is a multi-story building of Neoclassical style that houses multiple attractions within it. There are two attractions in particular that I would like to discuss.

Kirby Science Discover Center

The first attraction is the Kirby Science Discover Center. It is a massive science museum that takes up three floors. It contains over 100 hands-on exhibits for you to check out. The science museum covers a wide range of topics from outer space to tornadoes to rock climbing to music and movies. One hands-on exhibit is called Jack’s Imagination Lab.

This is where children of all ages can learn about science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics by participating in an activity in which they try to think of something and then try to build it using a set of kid-friendly tools. A scavenger hunt activity is also featured within this hands-on exhibit in which children search for answers to images and facts shown on a large display.

Dinosaur Discovery is a hands-on exhibit in which you can learn about dinosaurs that once roamed the land that is now South Dakota, including the Dakotaraptors, Pterosaurs, and Triceratops. There is a life-sized model of a T-Rex. You can also dig for dinosaur bones and learn about the tools used to uncover fossils.

There is an interesting experience within this hands-on exhibit in which you can ride a Jurassic Jeep and meet a couple of dinosaur scientists to learn about how they study dinosaurs. There is also an activity to color dinosaurs on interactive screens. The Learn South Dakota hands-on exhibit is basically what it sounds like – a place for you to learn about the state of South Dakota.

Here are a few of the hands-on activities in which you can learn about the state. The first one involves you in selecting a type of South Dakotan as your player, ranging from a farmer to an inventor, and take an interactive quiz regarding the state. The second one will have you become the fifth US president to be on Mount Rushmore via an interactive postcard.

The third hands-on activity will give you a better feel for a tornado by actually touching one. These are among the hands-on exhibits available at the science museum. The admission prices for the Kirby Science Discover Museum are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and military members, and $7 for ages 3 to 17.

Those aged under 3 will get free admission. It is worth noting that the admission into the Visual Arts Center, which I will be talking about in a moment, is also included when buying the passes to the science museum.

Visual Art Center

The second attraction within the Washington Pavilion is the Visual Arts Center. This art museum is home to seven galleries that showcase a variety of artwork from local, national, and international artists. Each of these seven galleries has an area of focus as far as the type of artwork and artists are concerned. The Jerstad Gallery is focused on artwork from well known contemporary artists in a variety of styles and media.

The Contemporary Gallery is where you can find installations, video art, and new media. Artwork created by artists with ties with the southeastern region of South Dakota can be viewed in the Shultz Gallery. The Egger Gallery is dedicated to Northern Plains Tribal Art. Those of you wanting to see South Dakota-inspired artwork will want to check out the Bates Trimble Gallery.

The Everist Gallery is concerned with large-scale artwork. Lastly, the Young Artists Gallery is, as you can guess, is focused on displaying artwork created by young local artists.

Great Plains Zoo

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Animal lovers hungering for a place to go in Sioux Falls will want to head to the Great Plains Zoo. The mid-sized zoo is located on South Kiwanis Avenue in Sioux Falls between downtown and Interstate 29. The zoo is home to more than one thousand animals from 137 species, including 43 endangered species. The zoo’s signature animals are the snow monkeys.

Also among the animals you can check out at the zoo are tigers, giraffe, rhinos, zebras, and anteaters. The zoo is divided into eight categories, each focusing on a particular group of animals. They are North America, African Savannah, Primates, Flamingos, Asian Cats, Birds, Bugs & Amphibians, Hy-Vee Face to Face Farm, and Endangered Animals.

The zoo also contains the Delbridge Museum of Natural History which is home to a unique collection of 150 mounted animals, including 38 vanishing species. The admission prices to the Great Plains Zoo are $12.75 for adults, $11.75 for seniors, and $9.75 for children aged 2 to 12. Those aged under 2 will get free admission to the zoo.

These are some places for you to check out in Sioux Falls. Regardless of whether the city is your stopover on the way to other destinations within South Dakota or your standalone destination, there is something to do there. So, I would suggest you to give the city a look for what to do in South Dakota.

Sioux Falls Hotels

If you are in need of a hotel to stay at in Sioux Falls, I am happy to help you out with this. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book your stay at.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Sioux Falls, SD

This hotel is located on East Eighth Street in downtown Sioux Falls. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, the hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Falls Landing. There is an indoor, heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. If you are looking for a place to workout, the hotel contains a fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $92 to $199. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Sioux Falls

This hotel is located on West 41st Street west of Interstate 29 in Sioux Falls. Free breakfast is available at the hotel. For nearby dining options, a few of them include Texas Roadhouse, Shahi Palace, and PizzaRev. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available for your workouts.

All of the rooms at the hotel offer WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $100 to $149. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to check out South Dakota’s biggest city? Feel free to leave a comment here.

Washington, DC For Museums – Museums To Check Out This Year

The gorgeous city of Washington, DC is first and foremost recognized as being the capital of the United States of America. In fact, the city is home to the US Capitol, the White House, and the US Supreme Court – the iconic buildings that house the three branches of the US federal government. So, even though the city is most known for being the capital of the US, it is also renowned for being home to many museums.

Many of the museums in the city are administered by the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution currently oversees a collection of fifteen museums within the city. Nine of them are located on the iconic National Mall. Not only are these museums nice, but they can also be visited for free. So, I would suggest you to go to Washington, DC for museums. Here are a few museums to visit this year in the city.

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National Air and Space Museum

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The National Air and Space Museum is located on Jefferson Drive SW on the eastern section of the National Mall. If you are fascinated with both aviation and outer space, this is the perfect museum for you in town. An exhibit at the museum called 50 Years from Tranquility Base tells the story about Apollo 11 in which Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin became the first humans ever to walk on the Moon.

That took place on July 20th, 1969. This exhibit houses artifacts from the historic journey to the Moon. These include, but are not limited to, the US flag that was planted on the Moon, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph that Neil used during his Apollo 11 mission, and an inflight exerciser for stretching and exercising the muscles during the mission.

Those of you who are looking for airplanes, rockets, and spacecraft on display should check out the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall exhibit. One of the airplanes on display is the Spirit of St. Louis which was piloted by Charles Lindbergh who became the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo in May of 1927. One of the spacecraft on display is the Explorer-1.

The Explorer-1 was the first successful orbiting satellite to be launched by the US. It was launched into orbit in January of 1958. Another exhibit at the museum is Explore the Universe. This exhibit explores the progress that we as humanity have developed our understanding of the universe in which Earth is just a small part of.

Our understanding of the universe has improved with the help of astronomical tools including telescope, photography, spectroscopy, and digital technology. These are on display within the exhibit. These are just a few of the exhibits you can look forward to upon visiting the National Air and Space Museum.

There are currently around nine exhibits to check out at the museum. There is also a cafe and a store onsite at the museum.

National Museum of American History

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History buffs who are interested into American history will feel at home at the National Museum of American History. This museum is located on Constitution Avenue NW on the central section of the National Mall. This museum is home to over three million artifacts from throughout American history from the war for independence in the 18th century to the present day.

There are three categories of exhibits at the museum. The first category of exhibits focuses on transportation, technology, science, and innovation. This category covers the first floor of the museum. A few of the exhibits you can explore on this floor include Inventing in America, America on the Move, and Lighting a Revolution. The signature artifacts on this floor are the John Bull locomotive and the Vassar telescope.

The second category of exhibits at the museum is concerned with the American ideals. This category covers the museum’s second floor. American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith, Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage, and Many Voices, One Nation are some of the exhibits that are available to explore on this floor.

A few artifacts from the second floor to note are the original Star Spangled Banner Flag, the George Washington statue, and the Greensboro lunch counter. The third category of exhibits at the museum shines a spotlight on the military, the public and private lives of presidents, entertainment, sports, and music. This category covers the third floor of the museum.

On this floor, you can explore exhibits such as The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, and Thanks for the Memories: Music, Sports, and Entertainment History. A few notable artifacts on the third floor include The Gunboat Philadelphia, the dresses of first ladies, and a car from the Disneyland ride called Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Should you get hungry, there are two onsite restaurants at the museum. They are Eat at America’s Table Cafe and LeRoy Neiman Jazz Cafe. Shoppers may want to check out Main Museum Store, Mall Museum Store, and The Price of Freedom Store – all of which are located onsite at the National Museum of American History.

National Museum of Natural History

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If you are curious about how our planet, Earth, came to be, the National Museum of Natural History is the museum in Washington, DC to be. The museum neighbors the National Museum of American History to the east on the National Mall. The museum is home to the largest natural history collection in the world.

It contains a collection of over 145 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and human cultural artifacts. The museum is home to a total of twelve permanent exhibits for you to check out. I will go over a few of them. The first one is the Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals is home to a massive collection of gems, minerals, and rocks.

That include the Star of Asia Sapphire which is one of the largest sapphires in the world. Another notable gem to look out for in this exhibit is the Hope Diamond. Another exhibit to mention is the Hall of Fossils – Deep Time. This exhibit is notable for housing over 700 fossil specimens that showcase life as far back as 4.6 billion years ago.

These include fossils that once belonged to an Alaskan palm tree, early insects, reptiles, and mammals. Also of note are the fossils for a T-Rex dinosaur called Diplodocus and a giant woolly mammoth. The museum is notable for being home to an exhibit called Mega-toothed Shark. This is where you can see a giant shark that is suspended above you.

This model of the extinct shark measures at 52 feet long. The name of the shark is Carcharocles megalodon, but is referred to as just megalodon because of its giant teeth. There are two restaurants onsite at the museum – Ocean Terrace Cafe and Atrium Cafe. The museum’s onsite stores include Gem and Mineral Store, Gallery Store, Family Store, Dinos and More Store, and Natural History Kiosk.

So, these are a few museums that you should visit this year. The nation’s capital is a heaven for museum enthusiasts, especially those looking to visit the Smithsonian museums. So, I would suggest you to visit Washington, DC for museums.

Oh and before I move on to my hotel suggestion for you, I have something bonus to mention. There is that one beautiful building I would like for you to feast your eyes on and it is called the Smithsonian Institution Building. It is like a headquarter for the Smithsonian Institution itself. It is renowned for its red castle-like building design. That is how it received the nickname of The Castle.

It is built of red sandstone in the faux Norman architectural style. It is not exactly a museum in of itself, but it does contain a visitor’s center where you can sample the collections from the Smithsonian collection of museums as well as learn about the iconic building itself.

So, you will want to be sure to visit the building, even if just to appreciate its beauty. It is located on Jefferson Drive SW on the eastern section of the National Mall. Oh and I almost forgot, if you are planning a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of big city Washington, DC after visiting these museums, you may want to consider visiting Annapolis which is only 32 miles away in the US state of Maryland.

Annapolis is the closest state capital to the nation’s capital. It is brimming with charm on the shores of the scenic Chesapeake Bay. You can head to this post for ideas for what to do there if you are planning on visiting.

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Washington, DC Hotel

Now on to my hotel suggestion for you. If you are in need of a hotel to stay at in the nation’s capital, I am here to help you out. Here goes my hotel suggestion.

Washington Marriott – Metro Center

This stylish hotel is located on 12th Street NW in downtown Washington, DC just a short walk north of the National Mall. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Fire and Sage. There is also an onsite Starbucks Coffee available. The hotel offer two breakfast types. The first one is Continental breakfast for a fee of $16. The second type is Full American with a fee of $25.

The hotel contains an indoor heated swimming pool for you to enjoy. The hotel’s fitness center is available 24 hours per day. Many hotel rooms and suites offer a nice view of downtown Washington, DC’s bustling streets. They all come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $171 to $516. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these Smithsonian museums in the nation’s capital? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Augusta, Maine – The Small Town State Capital

The US state of Maine is notable for its scenic beauty, especially along the state’s famed coast. But, if you look a little bit inland from the coast, you will discover Maine’s state capital of Augusta. Located on the scenic Kennebec River about 55 miles north of Maine’s bustling seaside city of Portland, Augusta is the state’s capital and a quaint small town at the same time. Here are a few things to do in Augusta, Maine.

Maine State House

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The Maine State House is located on State and Capitol Streets in Augusta. It was built in 1832 which is about one year after the state capital was relocated to Augusta from nearby Portland. It was designed by renowned architect Charles Bulfinch of Boston who was responsible for designing the Massachusetts State House.

With the passage of time, the Maine State House went through successive projects of enlargement and renovation. The most recent renovation took place in 2014. The state house has a Greek Revival architectural design. It is built using locally sourced granite. The state house’s dome is made of copper and has a brownish appearance. It stands at around 185 feet high.

Located on the top of the dome is a glided gold-clad copper statue of Lady Wisdom which stands at around 13 feet high. The state house has three wings to the north, south, and west. It house the office of Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, along with two chambers of the state legislature. Inside the state house, there are art exhibits for you to explore along with collections of Maine battle flags.

There are also portraits throughout the state house of governors and other men and women who have served Maine throughout its history as both a province and a state. If you head to the state house’s visitor’s center, you can check out the state’s collection of butterflies. The state is connected to the Kennebec River via the scenic Capitol Park. Entrance to the Maine State House is free of charge to everyone.

Maine State Museum

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The Maine State Museum is located on State Street just south of the Maine State House in Augusta. This museum is dedicated to exploring the history of Maine. One of the exhibits you can check out at the museum will have you exploring the struggles that Mainers endured in their battle to establish Maine as an independent state from the state of Massachusetts in the early 19th century.

You will learn about the difficult decision that needed to be made in establishing Maine as an independent state because doing so meant that slavery would also expand westward to new states in the US west of the Mississippi River in what is called the Missouri Compromise. The exhibit I just talked about is known as Maine’s Path to Statehood.

Another one of the exhibits at the museum is Back to Nature. In this exhibit, you will explore aspects of Maine’s nature, including its seasons, environments, animals, birds, and plants. This exhibit also houses a collection of gemstones that are found in Maine. They are displayed in both their original and faceted forms. Made in Maine is another exhibit that is available at the museum.

In this exhibit, you will hear stories about Mainers at work and the variety of products that they created. You can explore a variety of historical settings within this exhibit such as a sewing room, blacksmith shop, wood carding mill, and shops for making furniture, shoes, and fishing rods. The exhibit is also home to a working water-powered woodworking that has three floors.

These are just some of the exhibits that are available for you to check out, but that should give you a better idea of what you can expect at the museum. The admission fees for the Maine State Museum are $3 for adults and $2 for children and seniors. Those who are aged under six get free admission.

Downtown Augusta

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One place you will want to check out, especially if you are looking for a place to eat, is downtown Augusta. The historic riverside downtown is brimming with Victorian architecture. Water Street is the main drag in downtown Augusta, running just west of the Kennebec River. It is home to some of the delicious restaurants that the state capital of Maine has to offer, including a few new ones that opened in recent years.

One such restaurant is called Cushnoc Brewing Co. This restaurant is known for serving wood-fired pizzas. These are called pies at this restaurant. So, take care not to confuse these for dessert-oriented pies. Also, if you are looking for something alcoholic to drink, this restaurant also offer a variety of locally crafted beer.

If you are looking for a restaurant that offer gorgeous views of the Kennebec River, you will want to check out Otto’s on the River. This restaurant specializes in seafood, pasta, and vegan cuisines. There is an outdoor patio overlooking the river at this restaurant.

Once you are done with a restaurant, I would suggest that you take a short walk on Front Street from Water Street toward the river just behind the downtown buildings. That way, you can get up and personal with the river. There is a brief riverside sidewalk that travels along Front Street.

These are the things to do in Augusta, Maine that I would suggest you to take on. With a population of 19,136 as of the 2010 census, Augusta is the third smallest state capital in the country behind Montpelier, Vermont and Pierre, South Dakota.

Augusta Hotels

If you are in search of a hotel to stay at in Augusta, I have got your back. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Augusta

This hotel is located on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. If you are looking for a nearby restaurant, a few options include Cloud 9 Restaurant, Texas Roadhouse, and Domino’s Pizza. There is an indoor heated swimming pool at the hotel. The hotel also houses a fitness center for your workout needs.

All of the hotel’s suites come with WiFi, full equipped kitchens, and dining and living areas. The average rate for a standard room range from $126 to $304. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Senator Inn & Spa

This is arguably the nicest hotel that Augusta has to offer. The hotel is located on Western Avenue in Augusta. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, Cloud 9 Restaurant is the hotel’s onsite restaurant. There is also an onsite lounge with oysters in the half shell. The outdoor and indoor areas of the hotel each have their own heated swimming pools and hot tubs.

The hotel also houses a sauna, a full service spa, and a gift shop. If you are looking for a place to exercise, you can do so at the hotel’s fitness center. There are four categories of rooms and suites, most of the categories have government themed names. They are Spa Luxury Rooms, Presidential Wing, Congressional Wing, and Legislative Rooms.

The first category is the most luxurious offering, coming with amenities including spa privileges, gas fireplaces, and jacuzzi jet tubs. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $82 to $142. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to Maine’s small state capital before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Springfield, IL – The City Of Abraham Lincoln

If there is anything that you know about Springfield in the US state of Illinois, it is the state’s capital. But, did you know that Springfield was also the home to former US president Abraham Lincoln. Anyone who is familiar with American history will recognize him as the president who united the United States following its civil war in the 1860’s.

Before he went on to become the US president, he spent much of his life and career in Springfield. So, as a result of that, there are a few things to do in Springfield, IL that has to do with Abraham Lincoln.

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Lincoln Home National Historic Site

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The Lincoln Home National Historic Site is located on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield. That was the home that Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln lived during their time in Springfield. This was the only home that they ever owned in their lives. Three out of four of Abraham and Mary’s children were born within this home.

These three children were Edward Baker Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln, and Thomas Lincoln. One of them died inside the home at the age of three from tuberculosis. Before the Lincolns bought this home in May of 1844, it once belonged to the Reverend Charles Dresser who officiated the wedding of Abraham and Mary two years earlier.

When the Lincolns bought the home for around $1,500 in 1844, it started out as a small one and a half floor home with five rooms in total. As the Lincoln family expanded over time, the home went through four renovations in order to accommodate the expanding family. The renovations were completed in 1860 when the house expanded to two full stories with twelve rooms.

Today, the Lincoln home appears just as it did in 1860 after all the four renovations were completed. It is designed in the Greek Revival architectural style with Italianate influences. The entrance to the historic, stately Lincoln Home is free for everybody.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site

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During much of Abraham Lincoln’s time in Springfield, he was a lawyer. He maintained a law office on the third floor of a historic three story brick building that is now known as the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices State Historic Site. The building is located on the corner of Sixth and Adam Streets in an area of Springfield known as the Central Springfield Historic District.

Abraham practiced law within this building from 1843 until 1852. During his time practicing law within the building, he had two partners – Stephen T. Logan and William H. Herndon. The second floor of the building was occupied by a federal courtroom which Abraham was known to appear before District Judge Nathaniel Pope regarding 40 regular cases and 72 bankruptcy proceedings as a lawyer.

During nearly 25 years of his career as a lawyer, Abraham held law offices in more than one building in Springfield. However, this is the only building that has been preserved in order to resemble what it was like during his time there. The first floor contains a visitor’s center with exhibits and a video exploring Abraham’s legal career. The second floor is a recreation of the courtroom that Abraham used to show up.

When you reach the third floor, you can view the actual offices that Abraham and his partners used to occupy. Tours of the building is free for everybody although donations of $2 for adults and $1 for children are encouraged. There is also a gift shop on the first floor of the building.

Old State Capitol State Historic Site

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The Old State Capitol State Historic Site is located on East Adams Street in downtown Springfield, just north of the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices building. Even though the old state capitol is generally known to be the former seat of Illinois government, it has a few notable connections to Abraham Lincoln.

First, it was in the old state capitol that Abraham served his final term as a state house representative in the early 1840’s. Second, the old state capitol was where Abraham argued several hundred cases as a lawyer before the state Supreme Court which was housed inside the old state capitol during that period.

Thirdly and most importantly, it was in the old state capitol where Abraham launched his successful 1860 presidential bid in June of 1858 with his iconic House Divided speech. The old state capitol is built in the Greek Revival architectural style with locally sourced yellow Sugar Creek limestone.

It is surrounded by a large neatly landscaped yard with historic 1850’s-era ornamental iron fencing. Admission to the old state capitol is free to all. Even so, donations are still encouraged at $2 for adults and $1 for children.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

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The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is located on North Sixth Street to the northeast of the old state capitol in Springfield. This museum is dedicated to the entire life of Abraham Lincoln from his childhood to his time in Springfield to his presidency. The permanent exhibits at the museum are divided into three categories.

The first category is called Journey One: The Pre-Presidential Years. The second one is called Journey Two: The Presidential Years. The third one is known as The Treasure Gallery.

In the first category, you will experience various aspects of Abraham’s life before he became president. These include a teenaged Abraham studying law books within his childhood log cabin, his home life during his Springfield years, his legal and political careers, and his 1860 presidential campaign. The second category focuses on different parts of Abraham’s presidential years.

These include his famous Gettysburg address, the way he dealt with the death of one of his children, the time that Mary Lincoln was fitted for a gown by her dressmaker in the White House’s Blue Room, and his assassination at the Ford Theater. In The Treasure Gallery, you will check out various items from throughout Abraham’s life.

The admission prices for the museum are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $10 for military members, and $6 for children aged 5 through 15. Those aged under 5 will get free admission. You can head here to buy your tickets for the museum.

These are the things to do in Springfield, IL that revolve around the iconic 16th president of the United States. This central Illinois city played a major role in Abraham Lincoln’s journey towards unifying a civil war-fractured nation.

Springfield Hotels

Should you be in search of a hotel to stay overnight at during your time in Springfield, I am here to lend you a hand. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book your stay at.

Baymont by Wyndham Springfield

This hotel is located on Sixth Street Frontage Road East in Springfield. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Lake Point Grill, Cracker Barrel, and Head West. The hotel houses a hybrid indoor/outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. There is a fitness center available for your workout needs.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $66 to $112. You can head here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Springfield, IL

This hotel is located on Adlai Stevenson Drive in Springfield. This hotel offers free breakfast to guests. For the hungry, a few dining options nearby include Bob Evans, Red Lobster, and Taste of Thai Restaurant. You can find an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. A fitness center is also available for you to use.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $75 to $122. You can go here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking to immerse yourself into Abraham Lincoln’s life in Springfield? Feel free to leave a comment below.

What To Do In South Dakota – Pierre

If you have been to the US state of South Dakota, chances are that you have visited Mount Rushmore National Memorial or Badlands National Park. Maybe you went to the state because of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally which takes place annually in early August. So, maybe you haven’t been to a place in central South Dakota called Pierre. Pierre is a city that serves as the capital of the state.

The city which is located on the banks of the scenic Missouri River, has a population of approximately 14,000 residents. That makes Pierre the second smallest state capital in the US behind Montpelier, Vermont which you can learn about here. Pierre is one of only four state capitals that aren’t directly served directly by an interstate highway. For what to do in South Dakota, you will want to consider making a detour into Pierre.

South Dakota State Capitol

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Given the fact that Pierre is the state capital of South Dakota, the first place you will want to check out is the South Dakota State Capitol. It is located on East Capitol Avenue in Pierre. It houses the office of the governor, currently Kristi Noem, along with the state House of Representatives and the state Senate chambers. The state capital is renowned for its Neoclassical architectural style.

The state capitol features a copper dome, Corinthian columns, and rusticated walls of granite and Bedford limestone. The interior of the state capitol is just as gorgeous. The floors are decorated with terrazzo tiles which were placed by Italian workers. The state capitol is also known to feature murals and paintings. That include four large round paintings under the dome that feature four Greek goddesses.

They symbolize the four South Dakota themes of agriculture, livestock, mining, and family. The state capitol’s dome is about 96 feet high. There is a marble staircase inside the state capitol. Located outside on the state capitol’s scenic grounds which include a small lake, are four memorials. The first one is the Fighting Stallions Memorial.

This memorial honors the eight South Dakota residents, including former governor George S. Mickelson, who were killed in an airplane crash in April of 1993. The second memorial is the Flaming Fountain Memorial. It contains a fountain of continually burning flame sourced from natural gas. It was created to honor South Dakota veterans.

The Law Enforcement Officer Memorial honors the police officers who were killed in the line of duty. The World War II Memorial contains of six bronze figures that represent one branch of service that South Dakota residents took part in during World War II. The entrance admission to the state capitol is free for all.

South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center

The South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center is located on Governors Drive in Pierre. This is a unique attraction because of the way it is built. It is largely built underground and is covered by gentle rolling prairies. This attraction is home to a museum that is dedicated to the history and heritage of South Dakota. There are currently five permanent exhibits available to explore at the museum.

The first one is called The Ways of the People. This is the place to learn about the history, values, and beliefs of a group of American Indian tribes known as the Sioux. The Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota tribes make up the Sioux grouping.

The Proving Up exhibit concerns the history of South Dakota from the placing of the Verendrye Plate in 1743 through to the final competition in 1904 of localities seeking to become the state capital of South Dakota. This exhibit explores the adventures of explorers, trappers, settlers, miners, and statesmen that established South Dakota. The third exhibit is known as Changing Times – South Dakota in the 20th Century.

This exhibit examines the changes and challenges that South Dakota faced throughout the 20th century ranging from the Great Depression to the arrival of rail limes and automobiles. Silent Silos: South Dakota’s Missile Field is the fourth exhibit at the museum. This exhibit traces the development of the missile field in South Dakota that was used during the Cold War.

The fifth and final exhibit to mention is The Right is Ours: Women Win the Vote. This exhibit dives into the movement in South Dakota and across the US that resulted in women gaining the right to vote in state and national elections. In addition to check out these exhibits, you can head to the museum’s Observation Gallery in order to get a breathtaking view of the state capitol and the Missouri River bluffs.

The admission to this museum are $4 for adults and $3 for seniors. Those aged under 18 will receive free admission to the museum.

Trail of Governors

(Photo courtesy of Otis1000 via Wikipedia)

Another attraction worth checking out during your time in Pierre is the Trail of Governors. This is basically an outdoors attraction where you can view life-size bronze statues of all of South Dakota’s previous governors. The statues are spread out generally starting from the state capitol and continuing onto the Missouri River in downtown Pierre.

The first statues to be erected for the Trail of Governor was in 2012 starting with former governors Arthur C. Mellette, Harlan J. Bushfield, and Walter Dale Miller. The most recent additions took place in 2019 and include former governors Samuel H. Elrod, Archie M. Gubbrud, and Dennis Daugaard. So, as of right now, there are a total of 25 life-size bronze statues of former governors with six more still to come.

Also, current governor Kristi Noem will have her own statue erected once she leaves office. If you are interested in checking out these statues during your time in Pierre, you can go here to find a map for the Trail of Governors.

These are a few things you can do during you are in Pierre. So, when you’re in search for what to do in South Dakota, I would suggest you to exit Interstate 90 and drive 34 miles north on US Route 83 to Pierre so you can check out these attractions.

If you are looking for more to do within the state, one suggestion is for you to visit the scenic Black Hills area where Mount Rushmore National Memorial is located. You can head to this post to learn more about the area. You may also want to head here to learn more specifically about the few charming towns located in the Black Hills area.

Pierre Hotels

If you are looking for a place to stay at in Pierre, I am here to help you out. Here are two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Governor’s Inn – Pierre

This hotel is located on West Sioux Avenue in Pierre. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. Located outdoors onsite are BBQ facilities for cookouts. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include RedRossa Italian Grille, La Minestra, and Mad Mary’s Steakhouse & Saloon. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available for your usage.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $72 to $91. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

ClubHouse Hotel & Suites

This hotel is located on West Sioux Avenue in Pierre. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, there is a restaurant attached to the hotel called RedRossa Italian Grille. The hotel’s outdoor courtyard houses the firepits for soaking yourself in warmth. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available for your workouts.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites have WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $132 to $168. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or view some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning to head to Pierre to check out these attractions? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Washington State – National Parks

The US state of Washington is a breathtaking place filled with spectacular natural beauty. The state, located in the Pacific Northwest area of the country, is home to diverse landscapes ranging from lush temperate rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula to snow-capped mountains and volcanoes in the Cascades Range to the high deserts in eastern Washington state.

Given all the scenic backdrops, one of the great things to do in Washington state is to visit the national parks. The state is home to three national parks in total. They are Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, and North Cascades National Park.

Olympic National Park

(Photo courtesy of Ralph Arvesen via Flickr)

Olympic National Park is located on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington state. This lush national park has a few distinct environments I would like to note. First, there is the rugged Pacific Ocean shoreline. The shoreline is noted for its tall seastacks, rocky and sandy beaches, and old growth forests. Around seventy miles of the ocean shoreline is covered as a part of Olympic National Park.

Kalaloch and Ruby Beach is a great place to go for a walk along the ocean shoreline. A variety of birds can be found wandering around on this sandy beach including western gulls and bald eagles. Another notable environment found in the national park is the snow-capped Olympic Mountains from which this national park got its name.

The mountains reach as high as 7,962 feet in elevation, making them easily visible from certain spots within the national park. Hurricane Ridge is the easiest area within the mountains to reach. You can reach it by heading on Mount Angeles Road and Hurricane Ridge Road about 17 miles south of Port Angeles. Once you reach up there. You will be treated to some breathtaking views of the national park.

Between the Olympic Mountains and the Pacific Ocean shoreline, you will find the temperate rainforests. This area is known for being the wettest area in the continental United States, averaging a whopping 150 inches of rain per year. This allow mosses and ferns to thrive on the surfaces of the temperate rainforests under lush green canopies of deciduous and coniferous trees.

The Hoh Rainforest is the most famous of the temperate rainforests in the national park and there are multiple hiking trails available throughout this rainforest. The area east of the Olympic Mountains is much drier than the temperate rainforests, averaging around a third of the annual rainfall or so. This area of the national park contain old growth forests of towering Douglas fir trees.

Lakes and rivers are also found within the national park. The entrance fee for Olympic National Park are $30 for vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, and $15 for those arriving on foot or bicycles.

Hotel Suggestion: Olympic Lodge

This hotel is located on Del Guzzi Drive in Port Angeles north of Olympic National Park. This hotel is renowned for its rustic lobby that features a wood-burning fireplace, a chandelier, and artwork. There is also beautiful landscaping on the hotel’s grounds inspired by nearby Olympic National Park. Whistling Frog Restaurant is the hotel’s onsite restaurant.

There is an outdoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. A fitness center is also available for your workouts. The hotel’s rooms and suites are beautifully designed with warm wood tones and rustic furnishings. They all come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $148 to $253. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Mount Rainier National Park

(Photo courtesy of Samuel Kerr via Wikimedia)

Mount Rainier National Park is located about 60 miles southeast of Seattle in the central section of the Cascades Range. The national park is world famous for being the location of snow-capped Mount Rainier – an active volcano. At 14,410 feet high, it is the highest point in Washington state. Mount Rainier is an iconic symbol of the state’s natural beauty.

In fact, when somebody thinks of Washington state, they will probably think of Mount Rainier. The active volcano is ringed by subalpine wildflower meadows. The lower slopes of the active volcano is covered by ancient forests. The national park contains five major rivers and twenty-five major glaciers.

Some of the most notable animals to be found in the national park include Columbian black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, Stellar’s jays, and ravens. The national park contains many hiking trails with varying lengths and challenge levels for you to choose from. They are split into five areas of the national park – Longmire, Paradise, Sunrise, Ohanapecosh, and Carbon/Mowich.

The longest hiking trail within the national park is the Wonderland Trail. It lasts for an eye-popping 93 miles and heads in a massive, continuous circle. This is also the most challenging trail to embark on.

You will be gaining and losing a lot of elevation along the way, ranging from 2,815 feet at Maple Creek to 6,245 feet at Sunrise Camp. The entrance fees for Mount Rainier National Park are $30 for vehicles, $25 for motorcycles, and $15 for those arriving by foot or bicycle.

Hotel Suggestion: La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Auburn

This hotel is located on 6th Street SE in Auburn some 50 miles northwest of Mount Rainier National Park. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few options for nearby restaurants include Sun Break Cafe, Athens Pizza & Pasta, and Oddfellas Pub & Eatery Auburn. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub available 24 hours per day.

A 24-hour fitness center is also available for you to use at the hotel. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $99 to $179. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

North Cascades National Park

(Photo courtesy of National Park Service/Deby Dixon via Wikimedia)

North Cascades National Park is located near the US and Canada international border within the Cascades Range of Washington state. Out of the three national parks in the state, this is the largest national park at 500,000 acres. The national park is known for its huge number of glaciers on jagged peaks. There are more than three hundred glaciers within the national park.

This results in the national park having the most expansive glacial system in the contiguous United States. The highest point in the national park is Goode Mountain which stand at 9,220 feet high. Many of the glacier-capped jagged peaks within the national park exceed 8,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation. There are over three hundred lakes contained within North Cascades National Park.

The Skagit River travels through the national park on its way to Puget Sound. This is the largest river to empty into Puget Sound. Hundreds of streams and creeks also flow through the forested valleys of the national park. There are nearly four hundred miles of hiking trails throughout the national park. Unlike the other two national parks in Washington state, there are no entrance fees for North Cascades National Park.

Hotel Suggestion: Best Western Plus Skagit Valley Inn and Convention Center

This hotel is located on Market Street in Mount Vernon around 57 miles west of North Cascades National Park. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby dining options include Olive Garden, Sakura Japanese SteakHouse & Sushi Bar, and Max Dale’s Steak & Chop House. The hotel is home to an outdoor heated swimming pool as well as a fitness center for you to use.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, coffee makers, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $99 to $141. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

National parks are one great option for things to do in Washington state. They help to showcase the incredible natural beauty that the state is known for. What are your thoughts? Have you been to Washington state before? Feel free to leave a comment here.

Chicago For Parks – Grant Park

About a couple weeks ago, I discussed Chicago’s scenic Lincoln Park and all of the beauties that you can feast your eyes on within this park. While Lincoln Park is well worth the visit, the park that Chicago is more famous for is Grant Park. Sandwiched between the Chicago Loop and Lake Michigan, this park has been referred to as Chicago’s front yard.

Even though Grant Park is not as large as Lincoln Park, it is dense with sub-parks and attractions, ensuring that there is plenty to do within the park. So, if you are in Chicago for parks, you will want to make sure that you don’t miss out on Grant Park.

(Photo courtesy of Diego Delso via Wikimedia)

Millennium Park

(Photo courtesy of Ken Lund via Wikimedia)

Located in the northwestern section of Grant Park lies Millennium Park. There are a few attractions found within this park. The first one is called Cloud Gate. It is basically a giant sculpture that serve as a mirror that reflects the surrounding area including a line of iconic Chicago Loop buildings. Cloud Gate is shaped like a bean. That is why Cloud Gate has been referred to as The Bean.

The second of the attractions is the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. It is a oval-shaped lawn that lies under curving plates of stainless steel. It is often used as a venue for music performances. It can also be used to sit down and have picnics while taking in the surrounding scenery. Also located in Millennium Park is the Crown Fountain. It houses a pair of transparent glass brick towers.

The two towers are each 50 feet high. They show LED videos of individual faces in which water can be spit out of their mouths and into the black granite reflecting pool below. Garden lovers will want to check out the beautiful Lurie Garden, also located in Millennium Park. It is home to a combination of perennials, bulbs, grasses, shrubs, and trees. The garden is divided into half by a boardwalk and canal.

Maggie Daley Park

(Photo courtesy of Monicaacosta34 via Wikimedia)

Maggie Daley Park is located across Columbus Drive to the east from Millennium Park. The two parks are connected by a snake-like girder footbridge called the BP Pedestrian Bridge. Maggie Daley Park is the newest park within Grant Park, having only been open since late 2014. If you have young children with you, you will want to check out the attraction called the Play Garden as it was created with young children in mind.

The Play Garden is divided into six diverse play areas for young children. They are The Wave Lawn, The Harbor, The Watering Hole, The Slide Crater, The Enchanted Forest, and The Sea. Garden lovers will want to check out the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Garden which honors those who have survived cancer.

The garden is split into three garden rooms that represent the three states of healing – acceptance, support, and celebration. The garden’s entrance is marked by two 40-foot Corinthian columns. The garden contains a perennial garden walkway lined with flowers, trees, and shrubs. In addition to the Play Garden and Cancer Survivors Garden, Maggie Daley Park has a few other attractions worth checking out.

They include a mini-golf course, an ice skating ribbon, and rock climbing walls. Picnic groves and winding walkways are also available.

Buckingham Fountain

(Photo courtesy of H. Michael Miley via Wikimedia)

Buckingham Fountain is located in the east central section of Grant Park. This is one of the largest fountains in the world. The fountain is designed to resemble a rococo wedding cake. The fountain contains a total of 193 jets for the water to spring from, including the center jet that shoots water up to 150 feet high in the air. This results in spectacular water displays.

The fountain’s water displays happen from April through October. For twenty minutes every hour, the fountain will produce a major water display with regular ones being produced during the rest of the time. During dusk, the fountain will show off its colorful lighting effect during major water displays, making them even more stunning than they already are.

During the winter months, the fountain is decorated with gorgeous festival lights. The fountain is surrounded by permeable pavers with seasonal plantings and gardens.

Art Institute of Chicago

(Photo courtesy of Kim Scarborough via Wikimedia)

The Art Institute of Chicago is located just south of Millennium Park within Grant Park. This is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. This art museum is home to a collection of nearly 300,000 works of art. Some of the most notable of these include A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, and American Gothic by Grant Wood.

The art museum’s art collection is divided into eleven categories. Some of them include African Art and Indian Art of the Americas, Ancient and Byzantine, Architecture and Design, Asian Art, European Decorative Art, and Modern and Contemporary. The art museum is divided into two buildings separated by open-air railroad tracks. The two buildings are connected by two floors of gallery space.

The art museum’s western entrance is marked by two bronze lion statues while the eastern entrance is marked by the stone arch that once marked the entrance to the old Chicago Stock Exchange. The prices of admission to the art museum are $25 for adults and $19 for seniors, students, and teens aged from 14 to 17. Free admission is granted to children under age 14. You can buy the tickets here.

Museum Campus

(Photo courtesy of Kelly Martin via Wikimedia)

The Museum Campus is located in the southeastern section of Grant Park. This is a unique park as it house not just one or two, but three museums surrounded by gorgeous park scenery. The museums are the Field Museum of Natural History, Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. Each of the three museum is distinct from each other as they focus on a different topic from each other.

The Field Museum is dedicated to exploring the natural history of Earth. This is one of the largest such museums in the world. It is home to a total of nine permanent exhibits such as Sue, the T-Rex, Underground Adventure, Geology Halls, Evolving Planet, and Inside Ancient Egypt. Shedd Aquarium is all about the water-related animals. The aquarium is home to 32,000-plus animals from 1,500 species.

These include fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects. The Adler Planetarium is the museum that explores the outer space. One place you will want to check out at the planetarium is Chicago’s Night Sky. This is where you can observe and learn about the stars that show up in the sky at night.

Each of these museums has its own admissions. But, since you will want to visit them all, I would suggest that you get the Chicago CityPASS for about $109 per person. That will get you access to all three of these three museums as well as the Art Institute of Chicago that I mentioned up above. You can order your pass by going here.

These are all of the sub-parks and attractions located within Grant Park. If you happen to be in Chicago for parks, you won’t want to miss Grant Park. Also, if you are feeling outdoorsy after visiting this park and would like more to do outdoors while in Chicago, I have got you covered here.

Chicago Hotel

If you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight at, I have got your back. Here is a hotel I would suggest you to book a stay at.

Hotel Essex

This hotel is located on South Michigan Avenue, just across the street from Grant Park. The hotel is located in a historic building that once housed the Essex Inn. The hotel houses an onsite restaurant called Grant Park Bistro. The onsite bar at the hotel is called SX Sky Bar. There is a fitness center available for you to use.

Some of the hotel’s rooms offer breathtaking views of Grant Park and Lake Michigan while others will give you the beautiful city skyline views. All of the rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and luxurious beds. The average rate for a standard room range from $109 to $364. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you visited Grant Park in Chicago? Feel free to leave a comment below.

What To Do In South Dakota – Charming Towns In The Black Hills

The Black Hills of South Dakota is a beautiful place to behold. Located in the southwestern section of this US state, the Black Hills stand out like an island that is surrounded by sweeping plains. The area is home to notable attractions like Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park, all of which I just recently mentioned.

In addition to these attractions, the Black Hills is also dotted with a few charming towns that are worth checking out. For what to do in South Dakota, you will want to head to these towns.

Keystone, South Dakota

(Photo courtesy of TravelingOtter via Wikimedia)

The town of Keystone is located to the northeast of Mount Rushmore National Memorial at the intersection of US Route 16A and South Dakota 40. This is the closest town to Mount Rushmore, only being around 3.7 miles away. So, if you have ever visited Mount Rushmore, chances are high that you have at least passed through Keystone on your scenic drive to and from there.

One attraction you can visit during your time in Keystone is the National Presidential Wax Museum. Located on US Route 16A, this museum is known for its lifelike wax figures of US presidents. All of the 45 US presidents are represented at this museum from George Washington, the nation’s first president, all the way to Donald Trump, the current president.

The museum is home to a total of 100 wax figures in scenes that depicts some of the most iconic moments in US presidential history. If you are looking for something more presidential than the iconic granite sculptures of four of the US presidents at nearby Mount Rushmore National Memorial, you will want to visit this museum. Another Keystone attraction you will want to check out is Big Thunder Gold Mine.

This attraction is located on Blair Street. Keystone had its storied origins as a gold rush-era gold mining town and Big Thunder Gold Mine is a reflection of that. This attraction has a museum where you can learn about gold mining. There are also guided tours that will take you to a gold mine so that you can get a better feel for what a gold mine looks like.

This attraction also offers you the opportunity to participate in a fun and easy activity called panning. It is basically a gold mining technique in which you scoop sand and/or gravel in the hopes that you will find pieces of gold. You can keep whatever gold and/or other gemstones you found during the panning process. Panning lessons are also offered if you are not familiar with the process.

Deadwood, South Dakota

(Photo courtesy of Wayne Hsieh via Flickr)

The town of Deadwood is located on US Route 85 just a few miles south of its interchange with Interstate 90. Deadwood is renowned for its storied history as a gold mining boomtown. During its gold mining heydays in the late 19th century, Deadwood was notorious for its lawlessness nature in which it attracted outlaws, illicit gamblers, and gunslingers.

That includes Wild Bill Hickok. He arrived in Deadwood during the late 19th century hoping to strike it rich via illicit gambling, only to be gunned down just a few short weeks later while he was playing poker. When he was shot dead, he was holding a pair of aces and eights which became known as the Dead Man’s Hand.

He was the most famous resident in Deadwood at the time because of his status as a legendary gunslinger who participated in many shootouts before his arrival in Deadwood. Today, Deadwood is renowned for its historic Old West gold mining boomtown architecture going up against the Black Hills scenery. Main Street is the town’s main drag with its concentration of casinos, bars, restaurants, and shops.

Every month of the year, Main Street is also bustling with outdoor activities. These include concerts, wine and food, rodeo action, parades, costume contests, car shows, and amateur and professional competitions. Also, during the summer months, there are live performances on Main Street that depict the shootouts that happened in Deadwood during its notorious Wild West days in the late 19th century.

You also may want to check out Mount Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood. This is where the gravesite of Wild Bill Hickok is found.

Sturgis, South Dakota

(Photo courtesy of J.T (Jason) Thorne via Wikimedia)

The town of Sturgis is located on Interstate 90 about 28 miles northwest of Rapid City, the Black Hills’ big city. Motorcycle enthusiasts will instantly recognize Sturgis. This is because the town is noted for being the host to one of the world’s largest motorcycle events known as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This motorcycle event starts on the first Friday of August every year and lasts for ten days.

During the motorcycle event, a massive parade of motorcycles are parked on Main Street throughout downtown Sturgis as motorcycle enthusiasts wander the street in a festive atmosphere. In addition to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, the town is home to a museum that is dedicated to the world of motorcycling. It is called the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.

The museum is located on Main Street in downtown Sturgis. You can learn about the history of motorcycling and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the museum. It is also home to a collection of motorcycles and motorcycle-related antiques.

These are the towns that are dotted throughout the Black Hills. If you are looking for what to do in South Dakota, you will want to visit these charming towns in the Black Hills area of the state.

Black Hills Hotels

If you are in search of a hotel to stay in on your visit to the Black Hills of South Dakota, I have got your back. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book a stay at.

Baymont Inn & Suites by Wyndham Sturgis

This hotel is located on Lazelle Street in Sturgis. There is free breakfast available at the hotel. There are also barbeque facilities available onsite for you to have a cookout. If you are looking for a place to eat nearby, a few options include The Knuckle Saloon, Jambonz Grill & Pub, and Loud American Roadhouse. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel.

A fitness center is also available for you to use at the hotel. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $60 to $194. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Mt. Rushmore/Keystone

This hotel is located on Swanzey Street in Keystone. This hotel has a unique architectural style that blends itself with the surrounding Black Hills. The hotel is renowned for its three-sided fireplace and antler chandelier located in what the hotel calls Great Room. This space of the hotel has a Western/Native American feel to it.

Free breakfast is available at the hotel at the hotel’s new Express Start Breakfast Bar. If you get hungry, a few nearby options include Janes Boardwalk Pizza, Himalayan Indian Cuisine, and Cruizzers. The hotel houses an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub. If you are looking for a workout, you can do so at the hotel’s fitness center.

All of the rooms and suites at the hotel come with WiFi, microwaves, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $76 to $293. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Have you been to any of these towns before? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Things To Do In Rapid City, SD – Museums

Rapid City is the biggest city in the western half of the US state of South Dakota. This part of the state is home to a scenic area known as the Black Hills. The Black Hills is known for iconic attractions including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park – all of which I just discussed in my previous post.

Rapid City is also close to the recently mentioned Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park. So, there is already plenty to do in the area. Even so, if you are still hungry for things to do in Rapid City, SD, you may want to check out some compelling museums that it has to offer.

(Photo courtesy of Dvorak86 via Wikimedia)

Museum of Geology

(Photo courtesy of Paul Weimer via Flickr)

The Museum of Geology is located on East St. Joseph Street on the campus of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in Rapid City. This museum is dedicated to ancient life and minerals. The museum houses mounted skeletons that once belonged to dinosaurs, mammals, marine reptiles, and fish. You can also check out rare fossils from the White River Badlands. These are arranged in time-specific dioramas.

As far as the minerals are concerned, this museum include showcases of gems, crystals, and the rocks that they form. If you have any young children with you, you may want to check out the museum’s The Kids’ Zone. There are hands-on showcases that will appeal to them in this section of the museum. There is free admission to the Museum of Geology for everyone. Also, there is an onsite gift shop if you want to buy souvenirs.

South Dakota Air and Space Museum

(Photo courtesy of User:Jaydec via Wikimedia)

If you are fascinated by US military aircrafts, I would suggest you to check out the South Dakota Air and Space Museum. This museum is located right next to Ellsworth Air Force Base on Davis Drive just a few miles east of Rapid City. The museum is renowned for its remarkable collection of US military aircrafts. Most of these aircrafts are located outdoors in what is known as an air park.

There are over thirty aircrafts showcased at the museum. They span time periods ranging from World War Two to modern day. Some of the aircraft you can check out include Boeing B-29 Superfortress s/n 44-87779, Beechcraft C-45H Expeditor s/n 52-10866, Martin EB-57B Canberra s/n 52-1548, Republic F-84F Thunderjet s/n 52-8886, and Bell UH-1F Iroquois Huey s/n 65-7951.

Each of the aircrafts showcased at the museum had previously been used in US military operations, including into the heat of war. In addition to learning about the history of the aircrafts and the crews, you can learn about the engineering, innovation, and science that contributed to the development of the military aircrafts.

There are also a few missiles displayed at the museum like Bell Labs Nike Ajax MIM-3 and Boeing LGM-30F Minuteman II. The admission to the South Dakota Air and Space Museum is free for everyone. There is also a gift shop available onsite for you to check out.

The Journey Museum and Learning Center

(Photo courtesy of Mr. Satterly via Wikimedia)

The Journey Museum and Learning Center is located on New York Street just north of downtown Rapid City. This museum digs deep into the regional history of western South Dakota that stretch as far back as a couple billions years. In order to showcase the overall history of the region, the museum is divided into five major collections. The five major collections are Paleontology, Geology, Archaeology, Native American, and Pioneer.

Within the Paleontology collection, it is all about the dinosaurs. You will be able to see how the dinosaurs used to live and roam in this region. Moving on to the Geology collection, you will get a better sense of what the unique landscape of western South Dakota used to look like over 2.5 billion years ago.

You will also be able to see how the land of this region took form over these billions of years to the one that exists today. Rocks, gems, and minerals are on display in this collection to help with telling the story of the region’s land formation.

In the Archaeology collection, you will see how humans lived in the region as far as ten thousand years ago when society was made up of ancient hunters who had to hunt for their own food. You will be able to learn about things like what the early settlers used to drink with, how they spoke, how they hunted for food, and what type of clothing they wore daily.

The Native American collection is dedicated to the Sioux group of American Indian tribes that has been settled in the region since at least the early 19th century. You can find a variety of artwork beautifully handcrafted by artists and artisans from the Sioux. These include glass beadwork, porcupine quillwork, hide painting, feather working, wood and pipestone carving, and metalworking.

In addition to showcasing artwork, this collection also house items related to the Sioux way of life including decorated garments, ceremonial regalia, personal adornment, and containers like bags and parfleches. Lastly, the Pioneer collection focus on the lives of the European settlers who first moved to western South Dakota in order to seek a better life for themselves.

This collection also dig into the battles between the Sioux and the settlers for control of the land. The stories are told through illuminated story walls. The admission prices to this museum are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and military members, and $7 for students. Those who are aged under six get free admission.

These are some museums that are worth your time. If you are itching for more things to do in Rapid City, SD, I would suggest you to take on these museums.

Rapid City Hotels

Should you be in need of a place to lay your head overnight at, I am here to help you out. Here are the two hotels in Rapid City that I would suggest you to check out.

La Quinta by Wyndham Rapid City

This hotel is located on North Elk Vale Road in Rapid City. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, Dakotah Steakhouse, and Marco’s Pizza. The hotel houses an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. There is also a fitness center available for your workouts.

All of the hotel’s rooms come with WiFi, mini refrigerators, microwaves, and coffee makers. The average rate for a standard room range from $53 to $210. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or check out some photos.

Best Western Plus Rapid City Rushmore

This hotel is located on Eglin Street in Rapid City. The hotel features complimentary breakfast. Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews, Dakotah Steakhouse, and Marco’s Pizza are just a few nearby options for dining. There is an onsite convenience store available should you want to buy something. This hotel is home to an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. A fitness center is also available at the hotel.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites have WiFi, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $58 to $188. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Does any of these Rapid City museums sound like a place you would be interested into? Feel free to drop a comment below.

What To Do In South Dakota – Black Hills

If there is anything you know about the US state of South Dakota, it is that the state is largely flat in general. But, look to the southwestern section of the state and you will find some breathtaking natural beauty that is vertical. This area is called the Black Hills. It is an isolated mountain range surrounded by the plains.

The area get its name because of its dark appearance from a distance given its tree coverage. So, for what to do in South Dakota, the Black Hills should be on your radar.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

(Photo courtesy of unknown via Wikipedia)

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the attraction that many of you will recognize. It is located on South Dakota 244 just west of Keystone, South Dakota. The most recognizable feature of Mount Rushmore is the granite sculpture of four heads. These heads are that of four US presidents from throughout the nation’s history.

The four presidents are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. George Washington was the first ever president of the US from 1789 to 1797. Thomas Jefferson became the third president from 1801 to 1809. Abraham Lincoln became president from 1861 to 1865. Teddy Roosevelt took office as president from 1901 to 1909.

These four presidents were chosen for the granite sculpture because they collectively represented the country’s birth, growth, development, and preservation. They symbolize the first 130 years of American history. The granite sculpture is about 60 feet high. There is a half-mile hiking trail that will lead you to the granite sculpture. It is called the Presidential Trail.

On your way to the granite sculpture, you can also learn about the heritage of the three local tribes at the Borglum View Terrance. These three local tribes are called Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota. There is no entrance fee for entering Mount Rushmore National Memorial, although there is a $10 fee for parking your car there. There is an onsite restaurant at the national memorial called Carver’s Cafe. A gift shop is also available onsite.

Custer State Park

(Photo courtesy of Guimir via Wikimedia)

Custer State Park is located on US Highway 16A about 15 miles east of Custer, South Dakota. This is one of the largest state parks in the United States, measuring at 71,000 acres. This gorgeous state park is known for its large population of North American bison that can be up to six feet tall and weigh more than two thousand pounds.

In fact, there are nearly 1,300 of them roaming the scenic landscapes of Custer State Park that include rolling plains, granite peaks, ponderosa pine forests, and bodies of water. In addition to the large population of North American bison, there are also other animals that roam the state park. These include deer, antelope, begging burros, elk, big horn sheep, and prairie dogs.

One of the best ways to go about observing the wildlife is to go for a scenic drive on a road that loops the state park. The loop road is about 18 miles and is called the Wildlife Loop State Scenic Byway. If you are up for a lengthy hike, you may want to consider going for a hike to Black Elk Peak. The peak stands at 7,242 feet high.

That not only makes this the tallest peak in South Dakota, but also the tallest peak in the country east of the Rockies. Black Elk Peak isn’t technically located in Custer State Park, but there are a couple hiking trails that lead from the state park all the way to the peak. The easiest and most travelled hiking trail to take on is Trail 9. This hiking trail runs for seven miles round trip.

The trail is marked by blue diamonds for about the first half and then blazes on the trees for the second half. The entrance fee for Custer State Park is $20 per vehicle and is good for up to seven days after being purchased.

Crazy Horse Memorial

(Photo courtesy of Ken Lane via Flickr)

If you are interested into American Indians, you will want to be sure to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. It is located on Avenue of the Chiefs about five miles north of Custer, South Dakota. The Crazy Horse Memorial is known for being home to a granite sculpture that is similar to the one from Mount Rushmore, but is dedicated to Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse was a famous war leader from the Lakota tribe who led a group of a few tribes in their battle against the federal government’s attempted takeover of their lands in the 19th century. Unlike the granite sculpture at Mount Rushmore which is already completed, the granite sculpture at Crazy Horse Memorial is still in progress of being constructed. This is the world’s largest mountain carving still in progress.

When the granite sculpture is completed some time in the future, it will measure at 641 feet long and 563 feet high. It will depict Crazy Horse riding on his hors. There is an outdoor model located onsite that will show what the completed granite sculpture will look like. There is also a museum located onsite at the memorial. It is called the Indian Museum of North America.

The museum is home to a large collection of art and artifacts depicting the history and culture of the various American Indian tribes. If you are hungry, you can head to the onsite restaurant called Laughing Water Restaurant. The admission for Crazy Horse Memorial is $30 for vehicles with three or more people, $24 for two person vehicles, and $12 for one person vehicles. You can book your visit here.

These are a few places you can go to in the Black Hills area for what to do in South Dakota. The Black Hills is an oasis of vertical natural beauty for the state.

The Hotels

If you are looking for a hotel to stay overnight in the Black Hills area, I am happy to help you out. Here are the two hotels I would suggest you to book with.

Comfort Suites Hotel & Convention Center Rapid City

This hotel is located on North Elk Vale Road in Rapid City, South Dakota. There is complimentary breakfast and coffee available at the hotel. If you get hungry, a few nearby restaurants include Sickies Garage Burger & Brews, Dakotah Steakhouse, and Marco’s Pizza. There is an indoor heated swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. A fitness center is also available for you to use.

All of the suites at the hotel come with WiFi, microwaves, and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $57 to $230. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Rapid City – Rushmore South

This hotel is located on Caregiver Circle in Rapid City. Complimentary breakfast is available for you to take advantage of at the hotel. Should you get hungry, a few of the nearby options include Stonewalls Kitchen, Colonial House Restaurant & Bar, and Ruby Tuesday. There is an indoor swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel for you to use. If you are looking to exercise, you can do so at the hotel’s fitness center.

All of the hotel’s rooms and suites come with WiFi and mini refrigerators. The average rate for a standard room range from $64 to $238. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.

What are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to visiting the Black Hills of South Dakota? Feel free to leave a comment here.