Visiting America’s Ultimate Rest Stop: The Wall Drug In South Dakota
Situated in Wall, South Dakota, the Wall Drug is the perfect place to stop during your drive from Keystone to the breathtaking Badlands National Park. On certain days, the Wall Drug can attract up to 22,000 visits that are on their way to Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills or the Crazy Horse Memorial. It’s also the most quintessential American thing to do. Why? Because it was featured in Bill Clevlen’s book of the Top 100 Things to Do in America Before You Die. In other words, the Wall Drug is a must if you are visiting through the country’s pulse.
Plus, there’s no way that you can miss it. Part of the reason this legendary rest stop is so enticing is because of its clever marketing. There are literally dozens of signs – created during a brainstorming session at a 1970’s adverting agency – that litter the highway right before you arrive.
It’s more than just a roadside attraction. The Wall Drug doesn’t detract from its charm. After all, where else can you get 5-cent coffee and free ice water? If that weren’t enough, you also get to experience the best maple glazed donuts this side of the country along with numerous stores filled with all of the cowboy boots, hats, collectibles, memorabilia and toys that you can find.
But that’s not all. There’s also an old-fashioned soda fountain, a mechanical T-rex and a giant Jackalope sculpture outside. In other words, you can get your art and shopping fix, kid-friendly entertainment, lunch and dessert all in this 1,500-square-foot-building. The Wall Drug is more than just a rest stop. It’s a true American experience, right in the heartland of South Dakota.
In addition, there’s also a lot of western history and art sprinkled with Christmas ornaments, magnets and even personalized pocketknives. Simply put, what more could you possibly ask for in the most extravagant bathroom break stop in America? Prepare to spend at least one or two hours wandering The Wall Drug to pick up some souvenirs, do a little shopping, and of course take along about a dozen maple donuts for your trip to either Rapid
City or the Badlands.
The Wall Drug is also as rich in its history as it is in its inventory. Before it became a tourist attraction, The Wall Drug Store was purchased by Nebraska native Ted Hustead in 1931. He was looking for a small town with a Catholic church to establish a business. He bought the Wall Drug, but unfortunately business was slow until this wife Dorothy came up with a light bulb idea that changed everything. She came up with the idea to advertise free ice water to travelers that were headed to the newly opened Mount Rushmore in nearby Keystone.
Soon enough, travelers and families were stopping in one by one to not only pick up their refreshing ice-cold water, but do a little shopping in the cowboy-themed shopping mall and department store. In 1981 Time Magazine even featured the Wall Drug as one of the largest tourist attractions in the north. These days, the Wall Drug attracts some two million visitors each year.
Should you visit The Wall Drug during your road trip across South Dakota, just don’t forget to bring your appetite for the sweet and savory, make a little room for your new souvenirs and of course, dig into the pockets of your front seat for loose nickels for the cheapest coffee in the country. After all, the Wall Drug’s signs on the highway will serve as a reminder during your road trip, over and over again.
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