Jan 03 2012
Wall Drug. It’s part of the travel experience of most every family who’s approached South Dakota’s Black Hills from the east on I-90 after traveling mile after miles on the Interstate with not much for stops or scenery. After all, how could you miss it? With nearly 100 billboards along the Interstate from Sioux Falls to Wall, and others scattered around the country, Wall Drug is certainly hard to miss.
But what exactly IS Wall Drug?
Long before it was a tourist trap, Wall Drug was a struggling pharmacy in the small town of Wall on the South Dakota prairie. During the dust bowl years, its owners offered free water in the hopes of drawing people into the store. The idea was a success, and soon people were stopping in for free ice water and buying treats from the soda fountain as well. Over time, Wall Drug grew and expanded and grew and expanded some more, so that today it is a massive complex that takes up nearly one entire side of Wall’s Main Street.
The attraction itself is free to visit, though you’ll be tempted to buy souvenirs and trinkets from the various shops inside the complex, or maybe to have something to eat from the cafe area. (Hint: Skip to the end of the cafeteria line and pick up some of tasty doughnuts; they may be the best bargain in the store besides the free ice water, which is still offered at Wall Drug.)
Outside in the “backyard,” let your kids play around the water spurts, maybe let them pan for some jewels, and be sure to take their photo on the famed jackalope, which is big enough for four kids to prove that they’ve been to Wall Drug and have the same family vacation photo as most of their friends and neighbors.
Whether or not the quirky Wall Drug is your best idea of vacation fun, it’s one of those places that you really should stop at if you’re passing through South Dakota. Grab a cup of ice water, have a doughnut, snap a few photos, and be on your way to your next destination, having experienced the one-of-a-kind American icon that is Wall Drug.
Have you dug Wall Drug?