One of the biggest perks of homeschooling is the ability to educate your children outside of the “classroom.” With the flexibility to take trips anywhere at anytime, allows students to pursue real-life learning opportunities. Of course, you can visit main attractions such as Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, but there are so many more places to visit in South Dakota that can serve an educational purpose.

Below is a list of must-do day trips in South Dakota to spruce up your homeschooling adventure. Be sure to print out this free map of South Dakota before you head out so your child can become familiar with important places and features throughout the Mount Rushmore State. You’ll also find free Time4Learning lesson tie-ins that you can download at the end of this post to help supplement your trip. Adventure-filled educational trips in South Dakota await you and your homeschooler! Please make sure to contact each site before you plan your visit, as COVID-19 may have impacted their hours of operations.

Home education is not the same in every state. Make sure you’re getting the information you need to start homeschooling in the Mount Rushmore State.

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Field Trips in South Dakota’s Black Hills Region

Field Trips in South Dakota's Black Hills Region
  • Crazy Horse Memorial, near Custer – With a mission to “protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of North American Indians”, this memorial holds the title of the world’s largest mountain carving. Still under construction, upon completion, it is set to depict the warrior it’s named after, riding a horse, and pointing into the distance.  In addition to taking a van ride to the top of the mountain, families can learn from Native performers and storytellers as well as visit the museums and welcome center on site. When in this park (Custer State Park) try to take the Needles Highway, the view is breathtaking!
  • Art Alley, Rapid City – Have a little artist in the family? There’s a unique place in the heart of Rapid City where works of art have transformed the local community and attracts locals and tourists alike. The city grants permits to those that wish to paint in Art Alley. So if your student is serious about painting, you should consider this option. Nearby is also the City of Presidents walk to complete a fun day trip in South Dakota.
  • Mammoth Site, Hot Springs – Is your student learning about the Pleistocene and Holocene epochs in their science studies? Head out to this active dig site and view the largest concentration of Ice Age fossils in the world. Aside from the guided tours and enhanced educational experience with a game app they have summer programs for children ages 4 and up.
  • Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer – One of the longest caves in the world, there’s over 200 miles of passages where you can explore and discover this jewel! Their scenic tour is among the most popular, however, there are plenty more options for the adventurer in you! Learn about the cave’s natural and cultural history, see calcite crystals up close and more. There is another cool cave nearby called “Wind Cave National Park” which you should also check out.
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone – If you’re in South Dakota, there’s no way you can pass up the opportunity to visit one of the most recognized landmarks in the U.S. In addition to taking the Presidential Trail to see the memorial, families can explore the interactive exhibits in the museum, visit the Sculptor’s Studio to learn about the carving process, and take part in the Junior Ranger program. If you’re also interested, Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower is just 1.5 hours away where people participate in a 1 mile hike at MoonWalk starting at 7pm. Just the perfect way to wrap up your day trip in South Dakota!

Field Trips in South Dakota’s Great Lakes Region

Field Trips in South Dakota's Great Lakes Region
  • Kokomo Inn Gallery, Lemmon – It’s amazing what can be created with pieces of scrap metal and other objects destined for the trash can. For no cost, families can view a number of unique sculptures made from an assortment of different items — a perfect way to teach students about recycling, art, and creativity.
  • Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, Chamberlain – SD is rich with Native American history, and this educational field trip destination allows students to learn about the Lakota people. Opened in 1991, the center, whose name means “to honor the people”, families can learn through exhibits, educational programs, and numerous special events including an annual Lakota powwow.
  • Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Philip – Established in 1999, visitors can explore several facilities to learn about the Cold War and the thousands of missiles hidden in the Great Plains. Ideal for high school students, families can begin their field trip at the visitor center to explore the exhibits, watch a park film, and ask questions. Then, check out a tour of the Delta-01Launch Control Facility and Delta-09 missile silo.

Field Trips in South Dakota’s Glacier Lakes Region

SD Glacier Lakes Region
  • Devil’s Gulch Park, Garretson – Allow your child to see some of Earth’s unique features by exploring the rock walls, chasms, and other unusual formations at this park that features various hiking trails. Families can also learn about the history of this area and how Jesse James may have evaded capture here.
  • Falls Park, Sioux Falls – There is a lot to see and do at this 123-acre park. In addition to beholding the magnificent sight of the falls, families can also head up to the Observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the park and city, check out the visitor center, explore the park’s sculptures, a number of historic buildings, and take part in the Stockyards Ag Experience to learn about agriculture.
  • Bramble Park Zoo, Watertown – Animal lovers will learn about tons of species from all over the world at this zoo that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012. In addition to exploring all the animal exhibits, homeschoolers can take part in numerous education programs for all ages including Zoo Detectives, Animal Wrappers, Zoo Business, habitats, and more.
  • Storybook Land/Wylie Park, Aberdeen – Let your child’s storybook pages come to life at this fun destination that allows them to visit Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Old MacDonald’s Barn, the Land of Oz, and more. The 210-acre Wylie Park also features tons of activities like mini golf, playgrounds, and more, making this an ideal day trip for any family visiting the South Dakota area.

Field Trips in South Dakota’s Southeast Region

Field Trips in Northwest Wyoming
  • Union Grove State Park, Township – Families looking to get out of the house for some rest and relaxation can head to this park that dates back to 1936. Homeschoolers can get in some P.E. by hiking, biking, or horseback riding along the Brule Creek, and even do some birdwatching or camping.
  • Lewis & Clark Recreation Area, Yankton – If the weather is too perfect to stay inside, head to this 928-acre park on the shores of Lewis and Clarke Lake. Families can take advantage of the numerous trails to observe nature, hike, bike, and more. The area also features a disc golf course and archery range if you’re looking to try something new.
  • MEAD Cultural Education Center, Yankton – There is a lot to learn at this center that opened to the public in 2018. Families can explore the Dakota Territorial Museum located inside and explore the exhibits as they learn about the area’s history. There is also a Children’s Transportation Museum for homeschoolers to discover the various modes of transportation used between the 1800s and early 1900s.
  • Prairie Arboretum, Freeman – If your homeschooler is learning about plant life in their science curriculum, this arboretum can give them a better understanding on some of the things they’ve been reading about. Families can take the walking paths as they explore this field trip’s destination 40 verdant acres of trees, plants, and flowers.

SD Field Trips Unit Study Suppl.

Is there anything more fun than learning through field trips? To make your experiences at these destinations even more meaningful, Time4Learning members will appreciate this download of free activity tie-ins.