Mitchell, South Dakota, is known for being the home to the World’s Only Corn Palace. What many people don’t realize is that there is more to do in Mitchell than explore the Corn Palace. I hope you will be inspired to explore this southeastern South Dakota town, which is located along I-90. This town is easy to get to, and it’s truly one of those iconic towns that you will be glad you made the time to visit. The area is filled with history, hiking, birding, camping, specialty shops, and an opportunity to experience all four seasons. You can visit Mitchell year-round and each month is guaranteed to bring a new experience.
1. Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village
The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is the only archaeological site in South Dakota that is open to the public. Tour the museum before you walk out to the Thomsen Center Archeodome. You will learn about the earthen lodges and how people lived in this area more than 1,000 years ago. The facility itself is very impressive. The area is fairly level and it is fairly easy to walk throughout the grounds. I would suggest that you wear a supportive pair of shoes, as there is a fair amount of walking to do on your visit. It’s also important to note that there is a small entrance fee.
This attraction is a short drive from the Corn Palace, and it makes for a great place to explore the outdoors when in Mitchell. The history that is provided here is fascinating as is the dig area. I have seen a few archaeological sites and this one ranks right up at the top. It’s an impressive thing to see. The parking area is not well-marked. If you think you have driven past the attraction, you most likely have.
2. Dakota Discovery Museum
The Dakota Discovery Museum shares the story of people who came to live in this area of America. The past is preserved through art and artifacts from the region. South Dakota history, as well as the history of North Dakota and adjoining states, is featured in this museum. The Plains Indians, the fur trade, Dakota territory, railroading, farming, and ranching, as well as the 1930s Great Depression stories are told here. This museum is an opportunity to travel west and see things as they were during a period of time that seems to have been long ago. The historic village is a favorite of mine, as I appreciate railroad history and I always enjoy a schoolhouse. As with many museums, plan to visit this one throughout the year, as you will always see something new on every visit. Plan to spend two hours here to take it all in.
3. Guns Of History Gun Gallery
The Guns of History Gun Gallery is a one-of-a-kind collection of guns. Historical experiences continue as you explore Mitchell. You will find guns in this museum from Custer’s 7th Calvary and from the Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Sitting Bull’s shotgun as well as Crazy Horse’s Winchester rifle can be found here. The history of firearms from 1860 to 1890 comes to life in this museum. Most visitors are surprised to learn about how guns have been a large part of history in America. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, so bring your questions to this museum. There’s a good chance that someone will be able to answer the questions you have always wondered about when it comes to guns and history.
4. George And Eleanor McGovern Library
The Dakota Wesleyan University library is named after George and Eleanor McGovern. The library itself is something to see, but this stop is also an opportunity to learn more about American history and politics. This display answers some questions about George McGovern’s loss to Richard Nixon in 1972. This attraction is an opportunity to learn more about George and Eleanor McGovern and a little more about Mitchell, South Dakota. I’m personally always intrigued by libraries, so it’s not uncommon for me to explore a library in a new town. This library is worth a stop, and it’s also a good place to explore a little more of Mitchell.
5. Valtiroty Shiloh’s Tabernacle
Valtiroty Shiloh’s Tabernacle offers an opportunity to challenge your thinking. You can experience the Castle Gift Shop, Castle Play Gardens, Castle Bible Land Museum, and the Castle Memorial of Love. There are numerous artifacts that are older than others in town, some over 3,500 years old. Even if religion is not something you are interested in, I do believe you will find this attraction interesting. The Bible Land Walk Through offers insight into the Bible and more. Plan to spend a minimum of 30 minutes here, or more if you find yourself intrigued, as many visitors do.
6. Lake Mitchell Campground
The Lake Mitchell Campground overlooks Lake Mitchell and offers numerous camping sites. Fishing, swimming, paddle boarding, hiking, and canoeing are some of the popular activities at this campground. Birding is also very popular, so you will want to be sure you have an excellent pair of binoculars along on your camping trip. Tent campers are welcome, as are longer recreational vehicles. This campground is a great place to get out and explore the outdoor area that surrounds Mitchell, South Dakota. An important note is that campers continually rate the bathhouses and restrooms as some of the cleanest around.
7. Hiking And Biking Trails At Lake Mitchell
With more than 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, Lake Mitchell is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true. Bicycle rentals are available to the public, as well. Several trails follow the lake and forested areas along the shore of Lake Mitchell. These trails are fairly heavily used, and it’s fairly easy to see where to go. Fall brings stunning fall foliage, which makes for beautiful views along the lake. Lace up a good pair of hiking shoes and hit the trail full force. These trails are also fairly flat, which makes them out to be easier hikes.
8. Pheasant Hunting
Pheasant hunting is very popular across the Midwest, and South Dakota has a really good name for itself. Hunters Dream LLC is a family-owned guide service that offers pheasant hunting on over 4,000 acres of prime land. If pheasant hunting is something you have always wanted to do, I’d highly suggest that you experience this in South Dakota. Outdoor adventures await you in many different ways, shapes, and forms. Mitchell, South Dakota will not disappoint you when it comes to amazing outdoor experiences.
Bonus: The Corn Palace
The World’s Only Corn Palace is located in the heart of Mitchell. I have visited this palace a few times over the years, and each time I see something different. I appreciate the fact that the history of agriculture comes to life, as I firmly believe it’s the best place in the world to celebrate an ear of corn. Make time to look at the murals, as it’s truly fascinating to see the work that has gone into them. There are a few great selfie spots surrounding the Corn Palace, which also make for fun photo memories. A must stop before you leave Mitchell is the gift shop. You will find anything corn related, and I personally have found some wonderful stocking stuffers through the years.
This makes for the perfect stop to stretch your legs and experience history all in one place. Each time that I have visited, I hear people say that the World’s Only Corn Palace is a bucket-list item for them. This roadside attraction is unique, and it’s also a fun thing to see on any road trip. There is no fee to visit, and it’s an opportunity to celebrate American farmers while traveling across South Dakota.
These eight things (plus the Corn Palace!) are sure to keep you busy for more than a full day in Mitchell. During the warmer months, I’d suggest enjoying a picnic lunch at Lake Mitchell or near the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village. Pack chairs for members of your party to sit in and find a place with a view to enjoy your picnic lunch. Winter brings great cross-country skiing opportunities, as well. No matter what time of year you visit Mitchell, you will find more than a few things to do. The World’s Only Corn Palace may be how you know about Mitchell, but once you spend time in town, you will quickly learn that there’s a lot more to see and do. Planning a South Dakota road trip? Consider these nine unique attractions off Interstate 90 in South Dakota, plus our South Dakota road trip: Sioux Falls to Deadwood.