Sunset over the beautiful town of Deadwood, South Dakota.

8 Picturesque Small Towns in South Dakota for a Weekend Retreat

South Dakota is a place for self and purposeful discovery in a most beautiful setting. If you are feeling worn out from the day's work, spending the rest of your week at the Evans Plunge Mineral Springs or the Storybook Land is all you need to get back on track. There are gorgeous, scenic towns in this state that will leave travelers in awe of nature's wonders. Here is a list of some charming small towns in South Dakota where one can have a rejuvenating retreat. Get your camera ready to capture all the memories of this unforgettable weekend, complete with the most picturesque backdrops.


Aerial view of Yankton, South Dakota
Aerial view of Yankton, South Dakota.

Yankton is popularly nicknamed the “River City” because of its proximity to the famous Missouri River. This town is a center for all forms of water activities. This river town is perfect if you are looking for a perfect place to bond with your family and colleagues or open one or two of your Chakras. 

Kickstart the weekend with a long and scenic walk along the Double-deck Meridian Bridge, which connects Yankton, South Dakota, and Cedar County, Nebraska. The bridge was shut down but later reopened as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Enjoy the view of the Missouri River while laughing, talking, and bonding. As a result of the absence of cars, you can sit on the chairs along the bridge and meditate whilst the cool river breeze gently grazes your face. 

Just six miles West of Yankton is a popular lake that is a major tourist attraction all year round. The Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area allows visitors to explore the exotic Lewis and Clark Lake. From Swimming to boating, the possibilities are endless here. Wake up to the magnificent sunrise view from behind the lake and self-reflect on the day’s activities while staring at sunset behind the lake, all from the comfort of the room’s window at Lewis and Clark Resort. 

Hot Springs

Overlooking Hot Springs, South Dakota, in winter.
Overlooking Hot Springs, South Dakota, in winter.

Just as its name implies, “Hot Springs,” this South Dakota city is famous for its natural mineral hot springs. Even before the initial European settlements, the native Americans in this area enjoyed and appreciated the healing and relaxing properties of its warm springs. 

What says “weekend retreat” better than a relaxing day spent soaking in the heat from the warm springs, followed by an amazing Spa treatment? Hot Springs is home to two fantastic mineral springs spas, the Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa (with bath houses that have been running for over a century now) and the Evans Plunge Mineral Springs Spa. 

At the Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa, provision has been made for visitors to meditate and do Yoga. When finished at the mineral springs, it's time to learn a little history. Visit the Mammoth Site, an ancient museum and Paleontological monument. Join the host of archaeologists to discover new fossils from the Ice Age era

Rent a cabin at the Angostura State Recreation Area. This area is a popular fishing spot in Hot Springs, so be sure to catch a walleye fish for a great dinner.


Devil's Gulch, located By Garretson, South Dakota, is where Famous Outlaw Jesse James jumped across.
Devil's Gulch, located By Garretson, South Dakota, is where Famous Outlaw Jesse James jumped across.

Approximately 30 minutes from the busy city of Sioux Falls is the beautiful, nature-adorned town of Garretson. This town's population is less than 1200, making it the best choice for a quiet and relaxing weekend retreat!

One of the famous things to do in Garretson is to go on the Jesse James Pontoon rides. Spend quality time bonding and learning the history of caves on this 45-minute ride up the Split Rock Creek. Visit the Devil’s Gulch, the route through which the famous outlaw Jesse James escaped a Posse after robbing a bank. 

Stand on the footbridge and have a replay of how the chase went down in your mind. Searching for unique rock formations in this area is a fun way to connect as a family or co-workers or sit and enjoy the view. 


Historic saloons, bars, and shops bring visitors to Main St., Deadwood
Historic saloons, bars, and shops bring visitors to Main St., Deadwood.

A small town discovered the Black Hills Gold Rush era. Deadwood is a city named after the dead trees found in its gulch. It moved from a gulch of dead trees to a busy town bubbling with miners, gamblers, outlaws, gunslingers, and gold seekers. 

Retreat into this old western town and learn about its history and legends. One of its famous legends is the Wild Bill Hickok, whose stay in the town was short-lived. He was shot dead in a casino holding a pair of aces and eights till today; those sets of cards are “Dead Man’s Hand.” Bill is not the only legend in this town. Go on a self-guided tour around Mount Moriah Cemetery and see the burial places of these great personalities. Deadwood is surrounded by the black hill forest, making it a dream come true for every outdoor enthusiast. From hiking to snowmobiling, this town is a perfect destination all year round. 

The 1895 Jacobs Penthouse is an amazing lodging option, comfortably located between the historic main street and the famous Mickelson Trailhead, that runs from Deadwood through the Black Hill to Edgemont. 


Storybook Land, Yellow Brick Road in Aberdeen.
Storybook Land, Yellow Brick Road in Aberdeen.

Visit the beautiful college town of Aberdeen. This South Dakota is home to the Northern State University but is more than just another college town. It is the perfect getaway destination for a family or work vacation. 

The Wylie Park Recreation Area is a magnet, attracting tourists looking for family-centered activities. The area has a picturesque lake allowing many water activities, from boating to fishing. It is connected to the Storybook land. Explore the entire area to your fill when you lodge at any of the comfortable cabins here. 

The Storybook Land is a must-visit for every adult and child. The area brings to life every childhood story you can imagine to life, from Humpty Dumpty to Wizard of Oz, you name it. Jump on board the Story Land Express and get ready for a mind-blowing adventure. Before leaving, make a final stop at the Dacotah Prairie Museum. 


Aerial view of Mitchell, South Dakota; a small town in the Midwest
Aerial view of Mitchell, South Dakota, a small town in the Midwest.

Mitchell is a cute town in Central South Dakota, home to the World’s Only Corn Palace. This town is always bubbling with visitors coming to look at the beautiful mural designs made from corn and other grains on the palace walls. 

The palace is a multi-purpose arena that has hosted and is still hosting some of the town’s famous festivals, like the annual Corn Palace Polka Festival. Another tourist hotspot in this area is the Pre-Historic Indian Village, an archaeological site that was once made of lodges. You can join the archaeologists to discover new artifacts. 

Learn about the Prairie and the early Native Americans at the Dakota Discovery Museum. The museum covers from the 1600s period before the discovery of the Native Americans to the end of the Great Depression. After a long day learning about history, perhaps extend your stay by lodging at the Lake Mitchel Campground and enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Mitchell.


The town of Pierre in South Dakota.
The town of Pierre in South Dakota.

Currently, the second-smallest capital, Pierre, the capital city of South Dakota, is definitely worth visiting. Experience being in a less-populated state capital than other big and heavily populated cities without sacrificing the amenities.

Despite its population size, the Pierre is bursting with history and activities. Follow the Governor's trail to see big bronze statues of men who have diligently led and served the people of South Dakota. These are not the only statues you would find in town; keep an eye out for statues of veterans and fallen first responders. 

Founded on the Missouri River, fishing is a popular sport in this town, as locals don’t have to leave the area to catch fish. Ever tried hunting? Pierre is a perfect place to start. Hunt for a wide variety of bird species found in the Prairie.

A fun way to bond during a retreat is by having hearty conversations around a bonfire at the Farm Island State Park. Visitors can pitch their tent on the camping ground and enjoy sleeping outdoors.


Aerial view of the town of Vermillion, South Dakota.
Aerial view of the town of Vermillion, South Dakota.

Home to the University of South Dakota, Vermillion perfectly combines academic and rural attitudes. The town is seated on top of a bluff near the Missouri River. The two famous explorers, Lewis and Clark, camped at the mouth of the Vermillion River, close to what is now known as the present-day Vermillion. 

Hike the same paths as the explorers on the Spirit Mound Historic Prairie. This area was believed by most native Americans to be inhabited by dangerous spirits or Little people. The National Music Museum is at the University of South Dakota. The museum houses over 15,000 musical instruments from across different races. Prairie Inn is located near several good dining and lodging options in Vermillion. 

From the towns in the South of the Black Hill Forests to the towns on the Missouri River, South Dakota is an ecclesia of picturesque places with peaceful ambiance. Places with these distinct characteristics are perfect for rebuilding lost bonds and rediscovering oneself. Do you feel disconnected from yourself, family members, or colleagues? Why not plan a weekend retreat in any of these small towns in South Dakota? One thing is certain: visiting any of these places will leave folks with memories to last a lifetime. 

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