11 Best Things To Do In Deadwood South Dakota
There’s a variety of amazing landscapes, historical landmarks, and interesting history in South Dakota – including the town of Deadwood. It’s certainly one of those places you’ll wish you’d visited sooner.
You can drive on winding roads through stone tunnels, watch bison inches from your car, or stroll through the historic town. Because of this, Deadwood, South Dakota, is a place that should be on your must-visit list.
The History Of Deadwood South Dakota
When prospectors found gold in the Black Hills in 1874, the area began to buzz with excitement. Then, by 1876 miners had made their way into the northern Black Hills. As they entered the area, a gulch of dead trees was discovered with a gold-filled creek. Miners flocked to the area in hopes of striking it rich, and thus the town of Deadwood was formed.
Consequently, the area transformed from an unknown town into a thriving “Wild West” town filled with miners, gamblers, and outlaws.
Today, Deadwood works to keep their historical town preserved and alive. As a result, you’ll feel as if you could find yourself standing side by side with one of the many famous outlaws from many years ago.
Pro Tip: Deadwood made the list of the 21 Best Places to Visit in 2021.
The 11 Best Things To Do In Deadwood South Dakota
Deadwood is far from a “drive-through” town. Young and old will appreciate the variety of activities it has to offer. You’ll find hiking, shopping, museums and so much more. There’s so much to explore that it’s a destination all on its own.
#1 – Broken Boot Gold Mine
Address: 1200 Pioneer Way, Deadwood, SD 57732
About The Broken Boot Gold Mine: To get in on the gold rush, Olaf Seim and James Nelson made their way to the Black Hills and dug a mine just outside of Deadwood in 1878. Accordingly, it was originally known as Sein’s Mine. For 26 years, the mine produced about 15,000 ounces of gold, which was not very much, sadly. Thankfully iron pyrite was in high demand, and they found plenty of that. The mine eventually closed in 1904.
In 1954, a group of businessmen purchased the mine who wanted to renovate it to become a tourist attraction. The name “Broken Boot” was given to the mine after finding an old boot during the remodeling.
Today you can take tours of the mine several times throughout the day, including an evening candlelight tour. In addition to touring the mine, you can also try your hand at gold panning. You can also take a lesson to up your gold panning game.
Mine tours are free for children 5 and younger, $6 for children under 18, and $8 for adults. Gold panning starts at $10.
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 10/10. Mine tours and gold panning screams “Wild West.” It’s a must-do when visiting the area.
#2 – Adams Museum
Address: 54 Sherman St, Deadwood, SD 57732
About The Adams Museum: Adams Museum was founded in 1930 by businessman W.E. Adams. Adams initially created the museum to preserve and share the history of the Black Hills with others. Today, the museum is living up to that purpose by providing visitors with unique exhibits and interesting events.
Visitors can expect spectacular exhibits such as the Potato Creek Johnny’s 7.346 troy-ounce gold nugget. In addition, there’s a sketch drawing of Wild Bill Hickok by an American illustrator named N.C. Wyeth for those who appreciate historical art.
The Adams Museum has a suggested donation of $5 for adults and $2 for children. It’s a great experience that won’t break the bank!
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 7/10. This museum is great for history buffs, but children might not stay engaged very long.
#3 – Mount Moriah Cemetery
Address: 10 Mt Moriah Dr, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Mount Moriah Cemetery: Exploring old cemeteries is either something you find incredibly interesting or strangely creepy. If you’re someone who thinks they’re interesting, you’ll love checking out Mount Moriah Cemetery. It’s filled with history and notable people dating from the 1800s.
Long ago in Deadwood, South Dakota, there were two graveyards, Ingelside Cemetery and the Catholic Cemetery. Many of the prospectors and miners, along with numerous other townsfolk, were buried in the Ingelside Cemetery. Some of the more notable people buried here were Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, for example.
In the 1880s, the Ingelside Cemetery was moved up the mountain onto Mount Moriah. Due to many unmarked graves, many bodies were left behind during the move. Interestingly enough, people living in the many homes built over the old cemetery have found remains when working out in their yard or digging basements.
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 9/10. This cemetery will take you back in time, providing an interesting look back at the very start of historic Deadwood.
#4 – Historic Main Street
Address: Main Street, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Historic Main Street: Does strolling around taking in a fun atmosphere and learning a bit of history along the way so entertaining? If so, historic downtown Deadwood, South Dakota, is for you. The heart of the town feels like it’s right out of a movie. The City of Deadwood says, “When you walk the streets of Deadwood, you’re strolling through living American history.”
As you walk the almost-mile route, you’ll have the chance to experience more than 140 years of history. You’ll begin your historic Main Street tour at the Fremont, Elkhorn, and Missouri Valley Railroad Depot. This depot serves as one of Deadwood’s History and Information Centers. Be sure to stop along your walk and read the 21 interpretive signs to help you understand Deadwood’s history.
Wild West Kitsch Rating 8/10. This area intertwines the old and the new. The walking tour will likely keep both children’s and adult’s attention.
#5 – Days Of ‘76 Museum
Address: 18 76th Dr, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Days Of ‘76 Museum: The Days of ‘76 first started as a celebration in 1924. This celebration was a way to honor Deadwood’s first settlers. These pioneers were prospectors, miners, muleskinners, and madams who were instrumental in settling the area in 1876. The celebration has since turned into an annual celebration with a parade and rodeo.
Initially, the museum began as a place to store horse-drawn wagons, stagecoaches, carriages, and archives produced by those celebrating. In the present time, it’s a state-of-the-art museum featuring many exciting exhibits reflecting the time. Visitors will feel completely immersed as they’re surrounded by the sounds that would have been heard when the original celebration was taking place.
Admission is free for children 5 and under, $3 for children 6-12 years, and $8 for adults.
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 9/10. This is a unique look back in time that makes you feel like you are a part of the celebration.
#6 – Deadwood Trailhead
Address: Deadwood Trailhead George S. Mickelson Trail, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Deadwood Trailhead: The Deadwood Trailhead is the starting point for the Mickelson Trail. The Deadwood Trailhead is on the north end of the trail. Use of the trail is free while in town, and there is a generous amount of parking at the Deadwood Trailhead. Visitors can fill up their water bottles with fresh water at the trailhead as well.
The Mickelson Trail is 109 miles long and follows an old railroad line from Deadwood to Edgemont. In fact, if you traveled the trail in its entirety, you’d find over 100 converted railroad bridges and four hard rock tunnels. For those wanting to use the trail outside of the Deadwood city area, there is a $4 trail fee.
Wild West Kitsch Rating 7/10. This is a nice trail but not necessarily an exciting tourist attraction.
#7 – Tatanka Story of The Bison
Address: 100 Tatanka Dr, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Tatanka Story of The Bison: One of the many things people expect to see when they come to South Dakota is bison. Experiencing bison in the wild is a unique encounter that sticks with you forever. Tatanka is a Lakota word that refers to bison, and it translates as “big beast.” If you’ve ever been up close to a bison, you know that they certainly are big beasts. Tatanka Story of The Bison is a tribute to these amazing animals.
Throughout the experience, visitors will learn about these magnificent animals. Those who visit will learn how important bison were to the Native American community. Sadly, there was a drastic shift in the bison numbers as their population went from approximately 30 million to just 1,000. Thankfully, today, the numbers have risen again to around 400,000.
Experiencing Tatanka Story of The Bison will give you a new perspective on these animals and the rich history behind them. You should expect to spend about 2 hours exploring and learning. The admission price for children aged 6-12 years is $5, while adults are $12.
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 7/10. This museum provides an interesting look at the famous bison but could be a short-lived activity.
#8 – Adams House
Address: 22 Van Buren St, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Adams House: The historic Adams House was built in 1892. Deadwood’s business leaders would often gather there for dinner and discuss the day’s events. The home was well known for its oak interiors, stained-glass windows, and modern plumbing. It was a grand home in its prime days.
After W.E. Adams died in 1924, his 2nd wife left everything exactly as it was for 50 years. In 1992, Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission purchased the home to preserve it and present it as a house museum for the community. Today visitors can see this beautiful home preserved as if frozen in time. You’ll leave feeling as you’ve stepped back into Western history.
The suggested donation is $2 for children and $5 for adults. Another great family activity that won’t cost you a fortune!
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 10/10. This is the #1 rated place to go to, according to TripAdvisor. Those who appreciate history and historic homes will be sure to love this stop.
#9 – Deadwood Gulch
Address: 304 Cliff St, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Deadwood Gulch: Deadwood Gulch is a 24-hour casino and hotel. This hotel has access to the well-known Mickelson Trail, providing visitors with easy access to outdoor recreation. In addition, the resort has everything from shopping to late-night food. An outdoor patio with a fire pit is available to those staying at the Deadwood Gulch.
The casino offers 24-hour slot machines for those interested in gaming. Gamers receive free drinks while participating in gaming. The casino also has fun promotions such as the weekend “Cash Tank.” In the “Cash Tank,” players have 14 seconds to grab as much cash as they can.
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 5/10. While this is a decent hotel and casino, it is rather standard. If casinos are your thing you will likely enjoy this as much as any other hotel and casino you’ve visited.
#10 – The Midnight Star
Address: 677 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732
About The Midnight Star: The Midnight Star is located on the historic Main Street in Deadwood. It’s unique how it transports you into the past with its nod to Deadwood history. You’ll experience the grand staircase with its elegant chandelier as you make your way to the main casino floor. In addition to slot games, there are also table games for you to enjoy.
When you need a break to get something to eat, The Midnight Star has that covered for you as well. “Diamond Lil’s” is a restaurant within the upstairs area of the casino. This bar and grill offer a casual environment to eat good food while watching current sporting events.
Wild West Kitsch Rating 8/10. While this is a typical casino, it also provides a theming element. This makes it a fun escape while staying on theme.
#11 – Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room
Address: 594 Main St, Deadwood, SD 57732
About Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room: If sitting outside with friends enjoying a glass of wine is your idea of a nice afternoon, you’ll be sure to enjoy Belle Joli Winery Tasting Room. Visitors can enjoy the outdoor patio of the tasting room while taking in the surrounding beauty. The first vines for this winery were planted in 2000 in Belle Forche grew steadily. Eventually, its presence made its way throughout the Black Hills and into Deadwood.
Belle Joli has an entire line of wine and sparkling wines to enjoy. You can enjoy a tasting with friends and discover the perfect fit for you. With an abundance of options, visitors are bound to leave happy with a bottle to take home.
Wild West Kitsch Rating: 7/10. This is a nice local winery with lots of options. Those looking for a nice relaxing day will enjoy its offerings. There is nothing specifically “wild west,” but it does have local roots.
Enjoyable History in Deadwood
Deadwood, South Dakota, takes you back to wild west days of gold mining on the frontier. Even though it’s now a tourist town, you’ll enjoy the history along with activities such as wine-tasting and hiking. Put Deadwood on your bucket list and head out there soon!
Local attractions: If you planning a trip to Deadwood, South Dakota, you might be interested in the best day trips around Black Hills.
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