Day 2 and 3 proved to be some of the more fun and interesting family activities in South Dakota. We started with Mount Rushmore one day and packed Bear Country and Reptile Gardens in to the next.
This is the ultimate of family activities in South Dakota. You simply have to do it while you’re there. We’re only about 10 minutes away from the monument, so we got there quickly. We were a little concerned about parking when traffic stopped on the highway, but it wasn’t an issue in the slightest. Keep in mind we went on a Thursday. The same may not be true on a weekend.
This was our first glimpse as we were driving. We couldn’t figure out what people were looking at, but when we turned around, there he was!
The boys thought it was pretty cool. We saw the monument, looked at some exhibits, and watched a movie about how Mount Rushmore came to be.
Then we walked around a little too. We saw what was left of the building that was the sculptor’s first studio and got to walk part of the Presidential Trail. Unfortunately, about half of the trail and the second and final sculptor’s studio were closed. It looked like they’re doing some remodeling.
It was fun to see a piece of history and watch the boys learning about something so cool.
Jeremy got this little guy into collecting pennies that have been smashed and imprinted with a new image. This was the first one. Now he’s keeping an eye out for the machines wherever we go.
Family Activities in South Dakota: Bear Country
Bear Country is what I would describe as a North American safari. You go for a 30-45 minute drive and are able to see wildlife up close. Some of them get very close to your vehicle, so you’re even required to ride with your windows up.
They have other North American animals other than bears, but the bears are the most exciting part for sure.
We got a big kick out of this bear. It’s like it was guarding the gate!
Family Activities in South Dakota: Reptile Gardens
Our next stop was Reptile Gardens. They had 3 shows that seemed to be the main draw to this place: an alligator show, a bird show, and a snake show. They’re timed so you can see all three within about an hour and a half.
The alligator show was first, and we enjoyed it. The host of the show was full of cheesy jokes that were just funny enough to keep you entertained.
We were waiting for the bird show when it started to rain. Thankfully we were under cover, because before we knew, it was hailing!
Being from Colorado, we’re no strangers to hail, but this was some good sized hail! It didn’t last long, though, and the show was able to go on as planned.
The snake show was next and was filled with humor like the alligator show, because the same guy did both shows. He had made a joke about his alligator show being better than the other guy’s snake show, so that was pretty funny.
One of the best parts of the snake show was that he had a rattle snake that was rattling, so we were able to hear what it sounds like first hand. It’s good to know for sure what that sounds like when you live somewhere like Colorado.
The middle of the Reptile Gardens has a big dome with all sorts of animals in it. It was really quite pretty!
Family Activities in South Dakota: Fun Zone at the KOA
Back at the the Mount Rushmore KOA, we went and hung out at the the Fun Zone for a while. We did mini golf, the playground, and the big bounce pillow.
We also played a short game of chess. I thought I didn’t remember how to play, but I managed to pull out a win! It really was just luck to be honest…definitely not skill!
Being Friday night, more people started coming into camp. It looks like it’ll be a big group, and we’re going to have some close neighbors!