Have you stopped at Wall Drug, in Wall, South Dakota? If you’ve driven along I-90 in either direction, even hundreds of miles out, you probably have stopped. This fantastical roadside pit stop is absolutely worth a stop, or even a detour, to explore with the kids.
I was lucky enough to meet the third and fourth generation owners of Wall Drug, which is still owned by the original Hustead family. The story of how this sprawling place came to be is as uplifting as the place itself: in the 1930’s, when Wall Drug was the very humble, one-room Hustead Drug Store owned by Ted and Dorothy Hustead, customers were scarce, due to the Depression and drought. Faced with closing their doors, Dorothy Hustead came up with the idea of offering free ice water to passing travelers. She put up a few roadside signs, and the rest is history. Today, roadside advertising is still the #1 way customers find Wall Drug, and trust me, these signs are abundant…and entertaining on the interstate.
You can still get free ice water at Wall Drug, and coffee is still five cents. What else is there? Um…everything? There are departments for Western wear, jewelry, toys, clothing, candy, art, and more. There’s still a working pharmacy, plus a pharmacy museum of sorts, a mining attraction for kids, a play area with water features, a shooting gallery, an arcade, multiple dining options, a soda fountain, and thousands of historic photos of South Dakota history. Prepare to get lost a few times! Honestly, Wall Drug defies explanation, so we’ll show you the place in pictures.
Wondering where to stay while in Wall? Head to Ann’s Motel. This charming throwback to bygone eras of road trip travel lodges is clean and affordable, and best of all, Ann still checks you in with a real key and a friendly smile. Ann’s is just down the street from Wall Drug.
While in the Wall area, definitely head to Badlands National Park!