Pierre Tourist Information and Tourism

(Pierre, South Dakota - SD, USA)

A small and very pleasant city to visit, Pierre was settled in the early part of the 19th century as a successful fur trading post. It was an established town by the 1850s, incorporated in 1880 and capital of the newly formed South Dakota state in 1890, and nowadays, enjoys an understated tourism scene and noticeable small-town vibe, enhanced by its plentiful Victorian properties.

Those with a rental car are advised to take a day out and drive along this stretch of the lengthy Native American Scenic Byway, which passes by some exceptionally beautiful rugged countryside. Outdoor activities are also plentiful around the city, with the hiking trails of Framboise Island being a good distraction alongside the Missouri River. Of interest, the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition actually stayed close by for several nights, back in the early years of the 1800s.

Today, Pierre is vibrant, trendy and certainly appealing, with its impressive South Dakota Capitol Building standing out on the skyline, complete with its huge towering dome. Tourist information is available at the Pierre Visitors Information Center on West Dakota Avenue, which is roughly a 15-minute stroll from the Capitol and just down the road from the South Dakota Discovery Center and Aquarium, across from Lake Sharpe.

Pierre Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

Pierre is far from being a big city and for many, its intimate nature is very much a part of its tourism appeal. There are a number of quite decent attractions based here, although some are situated in the suburbs and will therefore require transport to reach. Located next to Hipple Park and Steamboat Park, and just across from the banks of the Missouri River, the South Dakota Discovery Center and Aquarium is to be found on West Sioux Avenue and features many educational exhibits of a scientific nature. Connected by Poplar Avenue, La Framboise Island sits in the middle of the river and comprises both meadow areas and woodlands, and is remembered for being mentioned in the 1804 journals of Lewis and Clark.

On the northern outskirts of Pierre, the Oahe Dam and Visitor Center can be reached by following Highway US-1806 and is a popular excursion, with this enormous dam being completed in 1962, after almost 15 years' worth of construction work. The nearby Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is worth looking out for and comes with a marina, regular cruises, fishing trips, camping sites and lots of places perfect for waterside picnics, suiting holiday makers. On the eastern side of the city, the Farm Island Recreational Area features further camping opportunities, along with log cabins, a riverfront beach, hiking trails, and the chance to hire canoes and kayaks. The Hilgers Gulch Soccer Complex on Governors Drive is more of a sports field than a football stadium and is where locals often come for a kick around, and for evening entertainment, the State 1-2-3 Theater on West Capitol Avenue is on hand, showing the latest movies across three screens. More information about Pierre Tourist Attractions.

Apart from the hard-to-miss domed South Dakota Capitol, several other landmarks of note are spread around downtown Pierre and beyond. A stone's throw from the Capitol is the World War II Memorial, which proudly stands on East Broadway Avenue and comprises large bronze statues of soldiers. The memorial enjoys a particularly attractive setting next to Capitol Lake and is accompanied by the Flaming Fountain. Further monuments line the lakeside, such as the Law Enforcement Officer Memorial and also the Fighting Stallions Memorial. On the northern side of Pierre, close to the East Shore Recreation Area and the Oahe Dam, is the white-washed Oahe Chapel, which dates back to the 1870s and was built on the site of an old Arikara Indian village. To the southeast of the city, the creation of the sizeable Big Bend Dam in the early 1960s resulted in the formation of Lake Sharpe, and this expansive lake has become a regular haunt of both locals and tourist alike, with its boating, fishing and further offerings of a recreational nature. More information about Pierre Landmarks and Monuments.

A handful of museums is the best that this small capital can manage, although what is on offer is certainly more than worthy of some time and attention. Located on the easterly side of Pierre city center is the South Dakota National Guard Museum, where displays include an array of artifacts relating to the Army and Air National Guard, and information about major American conflicts, including the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. At the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center on Governors Drive are three adjoining gallery spaces, with themed exhibits being dedicated to past Native American Indians from the area, Old West scoundrels and the region's early pioneers. Neighboring Fort Pierre, on the opposite western side of the Missouri River, is where you will discover the Verendrye Museum, a cultural institution founded in the latter part of the 1960s by the Historical Society of Old Stanley County. More information about Pierre Museums and Pierre Art Galleries.

Pierre enjoys an especially central situation in South Dakota, with good highway connections to much of the state. Many tourists therefore choose to venture outside of this small city, simply using Pierre as a base for their South Dakota vacation. A drive along the line of the Missouri River, in either direction, will soon reveal numerous parks and attractions. If you prefer a little more planning when organizing a day trip, then consider excursions to Chamberlain (southeast), Gettysburg (north), Selby (north) or perhaps Winner (south). Day trips to Chamberlain will reveal some exciting rodeo events and sports car shows, as well as recreational offerings based around the Lake Francis Case Reservoir.

Gettysburg is a very small town, with its population numbering little more than 1,000 people, although it does have some quality attractions, such as the Dakota Sunset Museum, while nearby is the West Whitlock Recreation Area. Head further northwards and you will reach Selby, which rates itself as a 'true sportman's paradise', with its plentiful fishing opportunities, nine-hole golf course, seasonal hunting, football / baseball field and swimming pool (at the City Park). As the county seat, Selby is also home to the Walworth County Veteran's Memorial. And at Winner, pheasant hunting in late autumn / early winter is the big draw card for the town, along with a drive-in movie theater and local relics exhibited at the County Historical Society Museum. More information about Pierre Attractions Nearby.

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