Wall Drug – Kitschy fun in South Dakota’s Badlands

Posted By Allison on Jul 24, 2012

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South Dakota attractions

kitsch n. something cheap and gaudy, usually with sentimental or popular appeal.

That pretty well sums up Wall Drug. This crazy gift shop, named one of the Kitschiest Roadside Attractions in America by Travel+Leisure magazine, is one of those places that makes road trips fun. We stopped by Wall Drug after a day in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Its home is the small town of Wall, S.D., but with signs advertising “free ice water” for miles around, Wall Drug is difficult to miss.

South Dakota attraction

This now-popular attraction was on the verge of closing forever in 1936, when the owner’s wife came up with the idea to put up a sign on the highway offering weary travelers free ice water. That’s when everything turned around. On the day we visited, the parking lot was full of cars from all over the U.S. and Canada. This is where we checked off Maine on our license plate game.

There isn’t just one word that describes Wall Drug. Once upon a time, it was a pharmacy. Today, it is a gift mall where tourists can find everything from toys to collectibles to Black Hills gold jewelry. Between shops, free photo opportunities abound. The biggest and best are in the courtyard where the giant jackalope statue resides. He has a saddle, so climb right up. A few steps away, an animatronic T-Rex roars at visitors every few minutes.

South Dakota attraction

Wall Drug also has a restaurant and soda fountain. We didn’t try the food, but the ice cream cones and floats were a delicious mid-afternoon treat. Don’t forget, there’s free ice water too.

As we walked back to our car after an our or two exploring Wall Drug, a hip young couple from California asked us, “Is it as kitschy as we’ve heard?” Yes it is.

South Dakota attraction


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Hi there! I am the founder of Tips for Family Trips. I am a married mom of two children, ages 10 and 12, living near Salt Lake City, Utah. We took our first child on a two-week road trip when she was four weeks old and we have been traveling as a family ever since. We love to get out of the house to see and do fun things, both far away and in our own neighborhood.


  1. Reid was totally telling me about Wall Drug the other day. I didn’t believe him when he was telling me – I’ll have to show him this post!

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    • Those are pretty rare, but Wall Drug may have a replica for sale. Good luck!

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