WA to MN with Kids -- Ideas?
I am a single dad with two daughters (9 and 11) who are road trip veterans. We've gone down the west coast from Seattle to San Diego several times plus a trip to Yellowstone. We are going to venture to Minnesota this summer for a family reunion. The girls have Mount Rushmore on their "must see" list -- but does anyone have other recommendations for places we should see or routes/diversions we should take? Thanks!
Hi - My husband and I live in Minnesota and have been out to South Dakota a few times. I would recommend staying at least two days in the Black Hills (Mt. Rushmore) area. There is just so much to do, and 99% is family oriented.
The highlights include:
Mt. Rushmore - plan to spend at least a couple of hours touring the monument and visitor centers. Take the President's Trail walk up to the base of the mountain. Chances are you'll see the resident mountain goats!
Custer State Park - Your girls will love to feed the "begging burros" on the Wildlife Loop Road. Also, the park is home to a large herd of buffalo, which are amazing to see in person. Other wildlife includes prairie dogs, pronghorn (antelope), and mountain goats.
While in the park, drive to the top of Mt. Coolidge. Wonderful views!
Custer State Park has several beautiful mountain lakes and you can rent paddleboats and canoes to use at the various lakes.
Also, make sure you take the "Iron Mountain Road" and "Needles Highway" drives. These are spectacular. Get out of the car where you see a pulloff and hike back into the woods a bit. It's beautiful! The Iron Mountain Road drive concludes with a series of Pigtail Bridges going into Keystone, which will make your girls either giggle like crazy, or carsick. Hopefully the first!
In Keystone, there are several touristy things to do, but our favorite has been the Aerial Tramway, a tramway ride to the top of a mountain, where you can view Mt. Rushmore from a distance. There's also a snack counter and several gardens to walk thru. Then, when you're ready to leave, you can slide down the President's Alpine Slide, this bobsled type slide that kids would probably love.
If your girls like this sort of thing, the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs is really neat. It's the site of a large "sinkhole" where many Colombian Mammoths were caught and died thousands of years ago. Scientists are unearthing the skeletons as we speak. There is a big visitor center and many mammoths are visible. Also in Hot Springs is Evans Plunge, a hot spring swimming pool center.
As for the rest of the state, you simply must stop at Wall Drug. It's the law (at least it seems so!). The Corn Palace in Mitchell is worth a quick stop, even if it's just to snap a few pictures and stretch your legs!
I've attached a link to a good website that lists family attractions for South Dakota. Hope the three of you have a wonderful trip!!