Wall Drug

If you’ve ever traveled I-90 through South Dakota, you’ve no doubt noticed signs for Wall Drug. That’s because they are everywhere.  The Burma Shave style signs entice weary travelers into their palace of extravagance – food, entertainment and shopping for as far as they eye can see!

After a quiet morning exploring the Badlands, neither of us were prepared for the circus that awaited us at Wall Drug. Well, actually, my pal Johnna was because she had been there before. She warned me that it would be awful but I wanted to see for myself.

I am glad that we went and now can say I’ve been there but have no desire to ever return. There were hoardes of people everywhere – in lines, in stores, in the hallways, in the restaurants and blocking basically anything you would want to see. There were lots of opportunities to buy and eat as well as free photo ops.

We found a quiet corner in one of the dining rooms and the veggie burger wasn’t bad. The aggressively marketed Wall Drug has a long and storied past. It started out as your average drug store that was struggling to survive. One hot summer the owners began advertising to the automobile passengers along the highway that they would find free ice water at Wall Drug. What began as a clever way to bring in potential customers has ballooned into a multi building complex that pulls in scores of visitors every year.

By the way, don’t order water if you’re truly thirsty. I would have paid anything they wanted for a large glass of ice water but their free water is tiny – like the little cup they give you to swish with at the dentist.

The history buff in me loves their story. The introvert in me would rather not spend a lot of time there. But if you don’t mind crowds and are looking for some family friendly fun in South Dakota, I say go give it a shot. And honestly, it’s the kind of thing that roadies should see at least once.

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