“America's Favorite Roadside Attraction!”
How do you make a living in a town of of 230 people that is unanimously described as being "in the middle of nowhere" by residents and tourists alike in the middle of the Great Depression? You work with what you have-- even if it's not much. This is the story of how a tiny little drug store became the world famous Wall Drug. The history of Wall Drug as we know it began back in 1931, when Nebraskan Ted Hustead bought it. He was looking to move to a small town with a Catholic Church to open a pharmacy in, and Wall, South Dakota met his requirements. Business was pretty slow at first-- total shocker, right? It was Ted's wife Dorothy who finally strategized a brilliant plan to bring in more customers to their establishment: put up billboards offering free cups of refreshing ice water to tourists passing near Wall on their way to Mount Rushmore, which was about 60 miles West. The rest, as they say, was history. Wall Drug quickly grew into a full-fledged tourist attraction. The pharmacy evolved into a virtual mall, complete with a Western art gallery, a chapel, souvenir shops, a soda fountain and restaurant, an arcade, and kitschiness galore. There are huge statues dotted around, including a giant jackalope, an apatosaurus, a tepee, a stagecoach, and more than a few cowboys and outlaws. Their advertising campaign pretty much set the standard for tourist attractions: you can find billboards advertising Wall Drug lining the highways-- especially I-90 between Minnesota and Billings, Montana. You can even find billbords for Wall Drug in the most unexpected of places, like Antarctica and Afghanistan. But, Wall Drug more than a tourist trap-- it's an icon. It brings in 2 million visitors each year... to a town that people would ordinarily drive right past without a second thought. But the fact that, even though it has grown into a massive complex of kitsch and touristy cliches, they'll still serve you a free cup of ice water when you pull up, really does say it all. -Roadtrippers
Total tourist trap, but there are all kinds of oddball things and it's always interesting people-watching. The collection of oil paintings in the dining area is amazing and the fresh-baked donuts are worth the stop. We stop here every time we're heading through.
I agree - tourist trap - BUT YOU MUST SEE IT when in the area - you will regret it if you don't - just don't expect anything but a good place to eat and lots of gift shop stuff everywhere. Expect to spend an hour or more if you have lunch.
Yes it's a tourist trap, but it is the pinnacle of tourist traps. A full city block of cheap donuts, decent food, fun photo ops, games, 5-cent coffee, free ice water and bumper stickers, strange collections of memorabilia, and, of course, kitschy shops. The backyard is a perfect place to let kids run free for a while. Only the hard-hearted can't find something to love about Wall Drug.
I'm not a fan of hiking or camping, and I do love tacky roadside attractions, but if you have to choose between this and the badlands, go with the badlands. You'll spend more time hunting for parking, dodging people on the crowded street (it's really more two blocks of crappy stores all selling the same trinkets, with an old-west theme, not a drug store), trying to find food that isn't cafeteria quality (good luck), an so on. The only reason to go here is so that when your friends tell you they are going on a cross country trip, you can warn them to not waste their time. I wouldn't even say that it's fun for kids.
The Kim Kardashian of stores...famous solely for being famous. Coffee is still a nickel and ice water is still free. Head to the backyard for free wifi.
Wall Drug is a kooky place. And wow do they have a lot of signs. We had originally planned to explore the area but opted to spend more time in the Badlands (I don't regret it). We DID go to Wall Drug for dinner and we got burgers. I kinda wish I'd gone ahead and had the bison burger, but our regular beef burgers were delicious! In going there for dinner we did see a few of the sights. Again, great burgers!
Standard tourist trap - albeit pretty impressive. It's a must stop, but don't expect to be blown out of the water. You more or less go just to say you have been there. Be prepared to fight off the crowds from tour buses.
This place is huge! I found driving through South Dakota to be super boring, so this was a welcome stop. I was traveling with my mom who had visited Wall Drug 51 years ago during a family vacation. She enjoyed her 5 cent coffee -- and try a donut! So good.
World's largest tourist trap. That being said, it's absolutely worth a visit if you're traveling along I-90. There's no other place like this mega-store/knick-knack shrine in the world.
It's a cool place to stop and shop thru, but I don't think we need to go back. It's definitely a junky touristy trap.
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Wall Drug Store
- Sun - Sat: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
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