Minneapolis to South Dakota

South Dakota in the fall


I kept hearing great things about visiting S.D. in the fall because it isn’t as hot and there are less tourists. So we decided to go in October when the kids had a few days off from school. It was just long enough for a quick road trip. While it can be hit or miss on the temps and a few things were closed our week was

“perfect for hiking, exploring, bonfires +  roadside attractions”

If you are considering the drive and have never done so before here is a list of what we did! I’m sure there are a million ways to do Minneapolis → SoDak. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list but rather a journal of our trip.

Here’s how we did South Dakota:

Day 1


We left Minneapolis Wednesday around 12:00pm and drove to Chamberlain S.D. We booked a one night stay at the AmericInn Hotel  All the rooms were very clean and nice, they had a free breakfast, a bar and a pool. I recommend calling to see if you qualify for any discounts, like being a AAA members. We arrived around 6pm and headed right back out the door for dinner at Al’s Oasis (about a 10 min drive to the city of Oacoma.).

“A South Dakota tradition along Interstate 90”

We read a lot of positive google reviews and wanted to see for ourselves if their pie and home cooked meals lived up to the hype. Turns out it was very good and very reasonably priced. They also had a huge souvenir shop with tons of novelty candy. You can see the happy faces of the kids standing in front of the treats.

Kids at Al’s Oasis in front of the old timey candy.

Day 2


Our next leg of the trip was to the Badlands. Which didn’t take long because the speed limit was 80MPH!! The 2 hour drive brought to the entrance right at lunch time. We dug into our packed coolers and had an outdoor picnic.

“The 70 degree temps were perfect for hiking + no bugs”

My kids were so excited to climb the rocks, they each grabbed a sandwich and away they went eating as they ran off.


We stayed in the Blue Bell Campground in one of the camper cabins. They were perfect for our family. You can see how the inside looks like here.  They sleep 4 comfortably. Bring extra bedding and pillows!

“Bring string lights for added ambiance + don’t forget the campfire s’mores.”

The cabins have electricity and adjustable heat/ac. There were shelves, hooks and a table for storage. I brought along a small microwave and used it to heat up food and hot water.

We stayed in Cabin 2 and had a beautiful view of the sunrise in the morning. But I think the best views were the cabins along the North loop, pictured below.

“The cabins overlook the valley and surrounding hills.”

Day 3


Needles highway was breathtaking and now one of my personal favorite memories.

“The slow pace made it very easy to navigate”

I have to admit I was a little nervous about driving the narrow roads with my van but once we got there I realized there was nothing to worry about.

The lean mean Honda machine bringing us joy to places far and wide.

Having fun posing….as you can see the roads were not terribly busy in October…and I took full advantage when the kids were willing to stay still long enough to grab a photo.

We went close to sunset and were not disappointed.

They really started having fun with the camera…LOL. And as you can see there were some parking spots along the way to pull over and admire the beauty.

Day 4


We decided to take a day trip to Deadwood. In October you miss the shootout in the streets but you still can find a reenactment inside the OLD STYLE SALOON.

Here we are after I played the bar tender and even received a free beer for my role!

They have wonderful maps of all the attractions and a map of the area. We barely scratched the surface of all the things to do. This could easily be a stay in its own.

“If you love history and all things western, this is your place.”


On our way back to the campground we stopped at Mount Rushmore only to find it was under construction and we couldn’t get very close. It was still worth the stop. Be prepared to pay for parking, $10/vehicle and don’t throw footballs inside…we learned that the hard way..oops.

Day 5


On our last day we drove out by way of the wildlife loop. We arrived after the Buffalo roundup so there were less around then usual but we still got to see plenty. I loved that they came right up to the cars.

“I was so excited to see such amazing beautiful large animals so close.”

The buffalo were stuck on the other side of a barbed wire fence for most of our drive which was the only time we got out of the car. Otherwise we stayed safe in the car and let the kids pop their heads out of the sunroof.


Can’t say you’ve been to South Dakota until you’ve stopped at Wall Drug. We chose to stop there on the advice of a friend on our way home to get souvenirs. It was a nice way to end the trip. We played a few games, found a few trinkets and filled our bellies at the Wall Drug Cafe. They have great donuts if you’re in the mood.


Our very last stop was to the Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store about 45 min away from home. It was the perfect ending to a great fall trip and just in time to pick up a few pumpkins, apples and extra treats for halloween. You can see the full post HERE.

  1. Natalie says:

    I love these posts Lisa!!! It’s the BEST combo of your amazing photos and adventurous spirit. Keep it coming 😉

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